Algeria (Arabic: الجزائر al-Jazā’ir) ,, is an Arab and Berber country in North Africa. It has a Mediterranean Sea coastline in the north. It is surrounded by Morocco to the northwest, Tunisia to the northeast, Libya to the east, Niger to the southeast, Mali to the southwest, Mauritania and Western Sahara to the west. After Sudan, Algeria is the second-largest country in Africa.
Much of recent Algerian history has been dominated by civil wars and subsequent warlordism. That said, the country is gradually restoring order and will prove an interesting - if difficult - destination.
Officially, 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 "Schukostecker" or "Schuko", or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Canadian and US travelers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Algeria.
For inquiries about visa application status, please contact the visa office from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 11:00AM
1. Remember to submit your passport when you apply for a visa and please attach two recent passport pictures (glued or stapled) to the two forms, one on each form. The passport must be valid at least 06 months after the date of entry to Algeria.
2. A non-refundable money-order (individual) made payable to the order of the Embassy of Algeria in the amount of $135 for US citizens. All other nationals must check with the Visa Section for the applicable requirements and fees.
3. Business Visa applicants must include a letter on official letterhead from their employer stating the purpose of their trip, and the full names and addresses of their contacts in Algeria. Applicants must submit with their application an invitation letter from the Algerian company they intend to visit.
4. Work Visa applicants must submit with their visa application an employment authorization delivered by the Algerian Ministry of Labor. The Embassy will not accept any authorization faxed or mailed separately.
5. Tourism Visa applicants must submit an itinerary of their airline travel and a confirmed Hotel reservation in Algeria.
6. Family / Guest Visa: Applicants must provide with their application an invitation from their host in Algeria and notarized at the city hall of the place of residence of the Algerian host. The Embassy will not accept invitations faxed or sent separately.
Spouses of Algerian Citizens should submit a copy of the valid Consulate Registration Card of their spouse and a sponsorship letter signed by the Algerian spouse.
Return of Passports: Applicants may pick up their passports at the Embassy or send a prepaid self-addressed envelope. The Embassy is not responsible for the lost or delays of document by the post office or other visa services.
- Complete documentation is required. Any incomplete documentation may extend the processing time or returned to applicant at cost. - Processing of an application may be delayed, if prior agreement by Algerian authorities is required. Furthermore, the Embassy reserves the right to request additional documentation from any applicant. It is not the responsibility of the Embassy if there is any delay in the processing of the visa application. - Applicants should make travel arrangements to Algeria based on the date of entry indicated on their visa. Applicants should not arrive in Algeria before that date; they will not be allowed to enter. In case of change in travel plans, applicants must obtain a new visa.
Citizen of the following states can travel visa free : Ecuador, Guinea, Haiti, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Montenegro, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen.
Citizen of the following states can obtain a visa on arrival : Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Zambia, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda.
Most major European airlines such as (Lufthansa, Air Berlin, British Airways, Air France, Iberia, Alitalia, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines) fly daily to Algiers but there are also some long-haul routes such as (Beijing, New York, Montreal, Doha)
From the United Kingdom flying via Barcelona or Madrid can be cheaper than flying direct.
From the United States the cheapest way to get into Algiers is via London (British Airways), Paris (Air France) or Frankfurt (Lufthansa).
The national airlines Air Algerie flies to many destinations in Europe especially France but also to some cities in Africa and the Middle East. All destinations served by Air Algerie from Algiers : Abijan, Alicante, Bamako, Barcelona, Brussels, Basel, Beijing, Beirut, Berlin, Cairo, Casablanca, Dakar, Damascus, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Milan, Montreal, Moscow, New York JFK, Niamey, Paris, Rome, Tripoli, Tunis.
For more information about the Algiers airport check the official site Aéroport d'Alger.
The Algerian train company is named SNTF (http://www.sntf.dz/), tickets can be bought at the Train stations or online. The network in the north is dense. You can reach Algeria by train from Tunisia, although you will have to change the train at the border post. All border points with Morocco are currently closed.
If you can try to catch the newer trains they are more comfortable and climate-controlled.
The realistic and most secure way to reach Algeria by car is across the Tunisian border. The Mauritanian and Malian borders present some security problems, and the Moroccan border is closed. Note that, if you want to get into Algeria from Niger or from the Tozeur border post in southern Tunisia, you'll have to contract an official guide to accompany you across the Saharan routes; otherwise, police will not allow you to get into Algeria with your car. There are no problems if you want to get into Algeria from the Tunisian border posts in the north.
The prices are usually more expensive than flying so if you can and have no car take a plane. Most connections are offered by Algerie Ferries .
Algeria is a huge country and travelling between major cities can take a lot of time and nerves as well, while the distances in the more populated north are not so big and a trip from the east to the west can be done in a day travelling to cities in the Sahara is more difficult since the south is barley connected with good roads, train and bus connections.
From Algiers you can reach almost every major Algerian city by plane, it's highly recommended to take a flight when travelling to longer routes and to Saharan cities. Algiers Houari Boumedine is the only modern Airport in the country the other airports are to more like airfields and have lacking infrastructure.
Air Algerie is the national carrier with many flights to almost all Algerian cities with an airport. The Prices vary regarding of the length of the flown route, airfares to smaller and Sahara cities tend to be pricier than between bigger cities (e.g Oran - Algier). Air Algerie uses Algiers Airport as its hub and almost all flights are starting or landing there. There are seven daily flights to Oran from Algiers and five daily flights to Annaba and Costantine, other destinations served from Algiers daily or several days weekly are : Adrar, El Oued, Tebessa, Batna, Biskra, Setif, In Ames, Tindouf, Timmoun, Tlemcen, Tammanrasset, Tiaret, Tebessa, El Goela, Ouaragla, Hassi Mesaoud, Bejaia, Ghrardaia, Tlemcen, Illizi, Djanet, Touggourt, Bechar.
It's usual to take a taxi to travel between near cities or in cities, the prices are pretty moderate but when travelling between bigger cities with large distances taxis are the same or more expensive as flying. Try to avoid unoffical taxis since it's very likely the driver will rip you off. Most Taxis have no taxmeter so arrange a price in advance. Many drivers will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge but never pay more than 30 DA per KM regardless of what you are told. Tipping is not nessecary but you can round up to the next 10 Dinars.
The road network is well developed in the north, the Algeriean goverment has made much improvements in the last years regarding road building, new highways were built to replace the already marod roads. The most important highway is the 1200 km long N1 (Route est-ouest) from Annaba to Oran, almost all bigger cities in the north are connected to this highway including Algiers.
A car is not absolutely necessary because of the well running public transportation system, but could be sometimes useful to reach more remote areas. Keep in mind that driving habits are completly different compared to western norms and that rules and prohibitive signs are more seen as Guidelines, even by the police! It would be a wise decision letting a local algerian do the driving for you in the first days to get an impression of the driving style, if this is not possible it's recommended to stay on the highways.
Do not try to reach saharan areas with another car than a 4x4, occasional dunes on the roads and extreme temperature changes will offer a challenge for the driver and the car.
Fuel is extremely cheap and will not cost more than 15 DA per liter.
The Algerian Railways are operated by SNTF , currently the trains and lines are being modernised. Ten comfortable highspeed trains named Autorail were bought, currently two of them are in operation. Tickets can not be bought online, only at the train stations, prices are quite moderate but more expensive than buses or taxis but in return you will have more comfort and enjoy wonderful landscapes.
Main Routes :
Algeria is a vast country offering tourists a wide selection of attractions and activities. The capital city of Algiers has a rich past and ruins at Djemila, Tipasa and Timgad are fascinating to see. Main attractions in Algeria include the National Museum of Fine Arts as well as the Bardo Ethnographic and Local Art Museum. Step back in history by making your way to the Hauts Plateaux where you will discover the historical city of Tlemcen as well as the Grand Mosque, Almohad ramparts and Masourah Fortress.
Heading out towards the formiddable Sahara opens up a whole new world of attractions in Algeria. The holy town of Beni-Isguen, with its well-guarded gate and auction market, makes for an interesting stop. Ouargla, also known as 'the golden key to the desert', is a lovely town featuring a malekite minaret, market square and gorgeous architecture. Natural attractions in Algeria also abound with Kabylia and the Chiffa Gorges. Take in the beauty of the ocean along the Turquoise coast or the Sidi Fredj peninsula.
The official language is Arabic, but be warned: Arabic spoken in the Maghreb Region (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) is quite different then the Arabic spoken in other parts of the Arab World, so don't be surprised if you don't understand anything said to you even if you are competent in standard Arabic. Algerian Arabic contains many French Words.
However, all Algerians who have been to school will be able to speak standard Arabic; if you don't understand someone, ask just him to speak standard Arabic (al-arabiyya al-fus'ha). Egyptian Arabic is also widely understood because of the popularity of Egyptian cinema.
French, the colonial language, is still widely spoken and almost every local you meet will be bilingual in Arabic and French.
Generally, only the younger generations in Algeria can understand some English, but most people are able to communicate in French.
Some common pharses :
Travel on camels in the Sahara desert. Locations:
The Algerian currency is the Dinar (DZD) As of Dec 2010, 1 US $ will give you 73 Dinar. There are Coins in the order of 5 DA, DA 10, 20DA, 50DA, and 100DA and notes in the size of 100DA, 200DA, 500DA, 1000DA.
Money can be exchanged at Banks or Post offices. Make sure that the exchanged bills are in a good condition, people tend to be picky with accepting ripped and older bills. Be careful with other currencies than Euro or US$ it could be hard to find a bank that exchange less common currencies.
ATMs are widely aviable and can be found in every post office or larger bank you can withdraw Algerian Dinar with any major credit card and maestro cards. If a pin with 6 numbers is nessecary just enter two zeros before your pin.
Living in Algeria is very cheap compared to western conditions for an example 300 DA will get you a full meal or bus ride from Algiers to Oran (400km). Renting a midsized apartment will cost normally 6000 DA a month.
Algerian food is delicous it's a mix of Arabic and French cusine.
Algeria produces a selection of wine (not in big volume in more) and also beer. However, Algeria is a Muslim country, and you do not find alcohol sold everywhere, you have to know where to find it. Wine and alcoholic drinks are sold in the few bar restaurants in the big cities, high end hotels, and night clubs. Some bar restaurants can be found in nice parks, so if you are in a nice wooded park, look for the restaurants. The fast food restaurants open and affordable to the public do not sell beer, and the coffee shops do not sell alcohol. If you visit Algiers or coastal cities, there are fish restaurants in almost every fishing port, the fishing is traditional and the fish sold is very fresh; usually, these restaurants sell alcohol but you have to ask (do not expect to see it, some times it is on the menu, some times not). Finally, you can buy your own bottle of Algerian wine to take home in discrete shops that sell alcoholic drinks. It is better to buy it at the Algiers airport. In smaller towns, buying alcohol can be challenging; you usually find them at the edge of the towns in sketchy areas and the conditions in which the alcohol was kept is sometimes questionable. Some Muslims drink but they consider it a sin. It is in private but socially. If some one invites you into his home and does not offer alcohol, he expects you not to be drunk or smell of alcohol, and does not expect you to bring your own bottle or even discuss drinking alcohol in front of his wife and kids.
Despite many western advisory warnings against traveling to Algeria, you should know that terrorism in 2005 was focused only in the following areas: Chlef, Ain Defla, Relizane, Laarba, Medea, and Collo. As of 2009, terrorist attacks are mostly directed against police offices and other government targets. Terrorism is highly active in the South of Algeria as well. Do not travel after nightfall; travel by plane if you can, instead of by car; avoid minor roads; ask the police if you are unsure about your surroundings, and nothing unusual should happen to you. Also, you should trust only official travel advisories when it comes to personal safety when are in or travel to a foreign country.
Algiers is frequently struck by power cuts, which means that refrigerated foods may go bad. Therefore, you should take extra care when eating in restaurants, as the likelihood of getting food poisoning is always there.
Mosquitoes are also a problem in Algeria, but they are just a nuisance, as malaria is not common. In urban areas, city-wide sprayings against mosquitoes are periodically carried on.
Do not expect good water quality, for drinking you should buy bottles of water.
Always use sun protection when traveling in Algeria.
As in all of North Africa, the dominant religion in Algeria is Islam, and appropriate religious prohibitions and attitudes should be in order. If visiting a mosque, for example, be sure to be dressed conservatively and remove your shoes before entering it. Alcohol policy is not the same all over the country, with some cities prohibiting bars and/or liquor stores. Keep in mind to drink only at home or in a bar; never in public.
Also, given the ongoing political strife, talking politics is not advisable.