Algeria’s fantastic diversity of landscapes and extremely rich cultural legacy (boasting no less than 7 World Heritage sites), combined with its relatively high level of infrustructure and economic development, could eventually make it one of the most popular tourist spots in Africa. Similar to that of Libya, Algerian tourism is best known for its ancient ruins—principally those from the Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine eras. Some of the most famous include Timgad near Batna, Hippo Regius at Annaba, Djemila at Sétif, Calama at Guelma, and ruins from all three empires at Tipasa.
While better known for the Roman ruins, Algeria’s greatest tourist possibilities lie in the Sahara; there simply is no other country on earth that can offer the sort of exciting and exotic adventures around the great desert. The crown jewel is the centre of Mozabite culture in the M’zab Valley. The five interconnected cities are a breathtaking architectural playground evocative of modern cubist and surrealist art. They simply must be seen in person. But the landscapes are impressive as well: the harsh, rugged Saharan Atlas mountains, the endless desert and Hoggar Mountains around the country’s desert capital of Tamanrasset, the huge dune field of the Grand Erg Oriental at El-Oued, the ancient rock carvings of Djelfa, and the Saharan National Park of Tassili N’Ajjer.
If you are going to be in Algeria for a while, a bit of relaxation will at some point be in order, and there is no need to fly over to Tunisia. Although the Mediterranean beaches are underdeveloped, they have excellent potential. Oran (urban) on the Turquoise Coast, Annaba, and particularly Skikda and Ghazaouet all have nice beaches, but the spot to go near Algiers is undoubtedly the resort town of Sidi Fredj.
While in Algiers, Casbah—Algiers’ historic seventeenth century center—is certainly worth a visit. There are a few nice, more laid-back large cities in the northwest, particularly the country’s second largest city of Oran and the historic city of Tlemcen. In the northeast, Constantine is the one major city that deserves a spot on your itinerary.
Though visiting southern Algeria and some of the border areas is currently inadvisable due to security concerns, Algeria’s safety has improved immensely in recent years and for most of the country there are no significant safety worries. With large parts of the country virtually tourist-free, now is the perfect time to enjoy the mysterious sands of the Sahara in historical Algeria.
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