Algeria travel guide
Algeria is not generally considered to be a tourist destination and despite a gradual decline in violence between the 1990s and now, attacks against foreign tourists are a concern. While the main cities are heavily policed, a copycat Al-Qaeda organisation has orchestrated violent attacks on UN workers and Americans in particular. That said, those who do travel to the region will find that Algeria is not short on sightseeing opportunities.
The capital city of Algiers, sitting on the northern coastline, is a growing metropolis. Once a strategic point of entry for would be conquerors from Europe and the Middle East, it now welcomes the presence of multi-nationals such as Carrefour and Quick. Historically the most popular remnant of battles waged on the city's coast is the Cashbah, the labyrinth citadel (now a world heritage site) which was first built in 1660. Also along the coast is Tipasa, a pleasant seaside village which holds some spectacular Roman ruins. Timgad, which is further south, holds North Africa's most extensive and best preserved Roman Ruins.
Typically Mediterranean in climate, Algeria has warm sandy beaches, particularly around Oran, a popular tourist destination in the summer months. The infamous Sahara Desert begins right where the coast ends, rocky at first, elevating over the vast Haut Plateaux (High Plateaus) before becoming untold miles of sand and sun. In the far south of Algeria is the Hoggar mountain region which holds the nation's highest peak, the Tahat Mountian, and caverns of rock paintings dating back to the time of the Berbers, over 10,000 years ago.
The unit of currency is the Algeria Dinar (DZD), which is divided into 100 centimes. Algeria has a cash-based economy. Although ATMs are available in the bigger cities most won't accept international cards. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. Credit cards are only accepted at large hotels.
Language : Arabic and Berber are the official languages in Algeria. English and French are used in some government departments and media.
Electricity : Electrical current in Algeria is 230 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin and Schuko plugs are standard.
Entry Requirements :
US nationals require a passport valid for at least six months upon arrival. Visa required.
UK nationals require a passport valid for at least six months upon arrival. Visa required.
Canadian nationals require a passport valid for at least six months upon arrival. Visa required.
Australian nationals require a passport valid for at least six months upon arrival. Visa required.
South African nationals require a passport valid for at least six months upon arrival. Visa required.
Irish nationals require a passport valid for at least six months upon arrival. Visa required.
New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for at least six months upon arrival. Visa required.
Passport/Visa Note :
Passport must be valid for at least six months after intended stay. Visas are required for all visitors except when in transit and spending less than 24 hours without leaving the airport. A transit visa for up to 48 hours can be obtained from airport authorities. Visitors may be required to produce return/onward tickets, other documents for next destination, and proof of sufficient funds. Those arriving from yellow fever risk countries must carry proof of vaccination.
Travel Health :
Travellers visiting Algeria should be aware of the risk of malaria and the use of mosquito nets and repellent will help reduce the risk of contracting the disease. Travellers should also make sure they receive a booster hepatitis A vaccine before travelling to Algeria. A tetanus booster vaccine is also recommended and rabies occurs in some parts of the country so travellers coming into contact with wild animals should be cautious. HIV/AIDS is also prevalent throughout the country.
A 10% tip is expected but may be factored into the price at more upmarket venues.
Safety Information :
Algeria's president has lifted the two-decade state of emergency, however this is widely believed to be an attempt to pacify growing unrest within the country. Travellers to Algeria should always be vigilant and check with their tour operator or travel agent before embarking. Travel to most of the southern part of Algeria is advised against by most Western governments, including: Tamanrasset, Tindouf, Boumerdès, Bouira and Tizi Ouzou. Long trips and overland travel should be avoided, as well as crowds and protests. Terrorism is a big problem in Algeria, taking the form of kidnappings, bombings and cross-country ambushes.
Local Customs :
Being a predominantly Islamic state, visitors would do well to familiarise themselves with the religion before going to Algeria. Holy months and days mean businesses are often closed for lengthy periods. It is advisable not to travel there during the holy month of Ramadan. Homosexual activity is illegal and punishable by imprisonment. Women are expected to dress conservatively and no smoking is allowed in public. Drinking of alcohol is also frowned upon though some locals might partake. Photographing of police or military personnel or establishments is strictly prohibited.
Pleasantries are considered essential to business dealings in Algeria. Ask after one another's health and demeanour. Do not back out of a handshake too hastily. Closeness is an expression of warmth and familiarity to Algerians. Business cards are used, if possible though, have them translated to Arabic and/or French.
The international access code for Algeria is +213. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The area code for Algiers is 21. Algeria's mobile network operates on the 900 to 1800 band for GSM. Internet usage in Algeria is growing but infrastructure is still limited.
Duty Free :
Travellers are allowed to import 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, half a litre of Eau de Cologne and 150ml of perfume in opened bottles and 1 litre of alcoholic beverages per person. Travellers may export an unlimited amount of tobacco products. Narcotics, firearms and gold are strictly prohibited.
Houari Boumedienne Airport
Location: The airport is located 11 miles (18km) southeast of Algiers.
Time: GMT +1
Contacts: +213 21 506 000
Transfer between terminals: The terminals are linked by a free shuttle bus.
Getting to the city: A bus run by ETUSA operates between the city and airport roughly every 30 minutes between 6am and 7pm.
Car rental: Car hire companies include Hertz and Rapide.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available outside the terminal; a ride into Algiers takes up to 50 minutes in heavy traffic.
Facilities: Airport facilities include ATMs, currency exchange, information points, duty-free shopping, and restaurants.
Parking: Long and short-term parking is available.
Departure tax: None
Algeria holds all the hallmarks of a Mediterranean climate. Warm but wet in the winter along the coast while extremely cold on the higher plateau. Summers are dry along the coast and downright arid as you progress inland. The hot sirocco wind can make for an unpleasant summer.
United States Embassy, Algiers: +213 0770 082 000
United Kingdom Embassy, Algiers: + 213 (0)770 085 000
Canadian Embassy, Algiers: +213 0770 08 30 00
Australian Embassy, Paris, France (also responsible for Algeria): +33 1 4059 3300
South African Embassy, Algiers: +213 21 484 418
Embassy of Ireland, Berne, Switzerland (also responsible for Algeria): +41 31 352 1442
New Zealand Embassy, Paris, France (also responsible for Algeria): +33 1 4501 4343
Algerian Embassy, Washington: +1 202 265 2800
Foreign Embassies in Algeria
Algerian Embassy, London (also responsible for Ireland): +44 020 7589 6885
Algerian Embassy, Ottawa: +1 613 789 8505
Algerian Embassy, Canberra (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 02 6286 7355
Algerian Embassy, Pretoria: +27 12 342 5074
14 (Ambulance and Fire Services); 17
Algeria Emergency Numbers
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