Travel Guide Africa Algeria Algiers

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Introduction

Algiers's Harbour

Algiers's Harbour

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The white city, Algiers is an historically significant city on the Mediterranean coast of Algeria. The Phoenicians were the first to take advantage of the harbour in 1200 BC; the Roman, Vandal and Byzantine empires successively passed through; but it wasn't until the Berbers came along in the 10th century that the Algiers we know today was first established. Now, Algiers is Algeria's main commercial hub, as well as its capital and largest city. Its harbour is important both as a centre for trade and a refuelling station.

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Neighbourhoods

Algiers can be divided into two main sections: the old and the new. The latter is situated by the shore and is characterised by French architecture and urban layout. The kasbah is the old part of the city, constructed while the city was under the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. At its centre is the Kasbah, a citadel built for the local ruler, or dey. The kasbah is sprawled along the steep hill behind the modern town.

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Sights and Activities

The Kasbah

The Kasbah was built by the Ottomans during the 17th century and now stands as the most prominent building in the kasbah, or old town. It was built on the site of Icosium, the original Phoenician settlement in the area. The kasbah as a whole has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.[1]

Mosques and churches

There are a number of historic mosques and churches in Algiers:

  • The Grand Mosque, which dates back to the 11th century.
  • The New Mosque, only comparatively new, built in the 17th century.
  • The Holy Trinity church, constructed in 1870.
  • Ketchaoua Mosque, a cathedral-turned-mosque built in 1612.
  • The Notre Dame d'Afrique, a cathedral combining Roman and Byzantine styles, finished in 1872.

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Events and Festivals

European Cultural Festival

One of the most interesting festivals in Algeria in early-May, this cultural event assembles artists from some 16 countries to perform traditional rhythms, jazz and flamenco. It is held in three different cities, Algiers, Tlemcen and Constantine.

National Day

Held on June 19 each year, National Day commemorates the anniversary of the fall of Mohammed Ben Bella in 1965.

Pan-African Cultural Festival

The PanAf festival involves performances, exhibitions, and events at different locations throughout Algeria. More than 8,000 artists, musicians, authors, and actors from the African Union congregate in Algiers, Blida, Bourmerdes, Tipaza, and other cities to promote the arts.

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Weather

Algiers is located along the northern coastline of Algeria and therefore has a Mediterranean climate wit warm, sunny and dry summers (May-September) and relatively mild winters when most of the rain falls (November-March). Temperatures in summer usually are around 30 °C, sometimes more. Winters are around 15 °C to 20 °C but can drop to just a few degrees above zero at night sometimes. Absolute maximum and minimum temperatures are 42 °C (August) and 0 °C (December).

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Getting There

By Plane

Houari Boumediene Airport (ALG) is located near Algiers. Air Algerie is the national airline, flying to destinations in Algeria like Oran, Constantine, Annaba, Adrar, Ghardaia, Hassi Messaoud, Tamanrasset, Tébessa, Tlemcen and Zarzaitine. International airlines that fly to Algiers include Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, Iberia, Alitalia and Royal Air Maroc.

The distance to the centre of Algiers is 20 kilometres and you can use the route N5 following directions of Bab Ezzouar. Taxis are available, but regular buses connect the airport to downtown Algiers as well. The Algiers Metro Line 1 will connect the airport with the centre of Algiers. This connection is planned to be completed by 2010.

By Train

There are daily services in the north between Algiers and Oran, Béjaia, Skikda, Annaba and Constantineoperated by the Société Nationale des Transports Ferroviaires (SNTF (French), Algerian Railways).

By Car

Being the capital of the country most, if not all major roadways in Algeria begin and end in Algiers. So getting into Algiers is quite easy. However, the infrastructure of Algerian roadways is not highly regarded so arriving by road might not be the most desirable option. There are a number of road projects around the country that are aimed at improving the infrastructure, most notably the East-West highway running from Annaba in the east to Oran in the west, of course coming through Algiers.

Be careful about traffic jams, especially in downtown Algiers. There are almost no traffic lights. Lights are replaced by policemen. There are police and military checkpoints almost in every municipality. Slowing down is highly recommended. Utilization of mobile phones when driving is strictly prohibited. Be sure to have your seat belts on.

By Bus

La Gare Routiere, Algiers's central bus terminus, in the commune of Hussein Dey (about 7-10min drive from downtown), offers a plethora of bus services to most major Algerian cities and towns. It is a very cheap and efficient way to get to/from a pair of Algerian cities. Most of the coaches used are modern and air-conditioned so the rides are, more often than not, comfortable. However, there are a few old coaches still in service, so try to avoid those, for the ride won't be as pleasant.

For long distances such as Algiers-Tammanrasset or Algiers-Annaba travelling by plane is recommended due the long duration.

By Boat

International
Algerie Ferries is one of the major operators, with scheduled services between Marseille and Algiers. SNCM travels between Marseille and Algiers as well. Finally, Cnan Maghreb Lines has boats between both Barcelona and Marseille, and Algiers.

Domestic
There are ferry services between several port towns, like Algiers, Annaba, Oran and Ghazaouet.

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxis are a fast and cheap way to get around in Algiers. They can be found at taxi stands but negotiate the price before riding. A tip is not expected but can be given if the service was really good.

By Public Transport

Algiers' public transport system is lacking, but there was a major improvement with the opening of the metro. There are buses operating within the city centre and to the suburbs.

After more than three decades of construction the first segment of the Algiers Metro finally opened on 1 November 2011. Line 1 services ten stations from Tafourah Grande Poste just south of Gare d'Alger, the central railway station, in the city centre to Haï El Badr, with stops along several of the most important places in the city.

Tickets can be purchased at the station, either from a ticket machine (multiple languages - but appear to only take coins, not including 200s) or from an attendant. A single trip ticket costs 150 Dinar, or a 10 trip ticket can be purchased for 400 Dinar.

Buses operate within the city centre and to the suburbs: tickets are purchased on the bus for 20 dinar. Typically, a man with a bundle of tickets approaches you when you board.

By Foot

Much of central Algiers can easily be explored on foot.

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Eat

There are several restaurants in the Bois des Arcades area. This is the hill 0.5km South East of the big Martyrs memorial. Particularly good views over Algiers and the coast can be found from here. The hill is also a woodland, so is a nice area for walking too.

  • Al Boustan Restaurant (El Boustene), Bois des Arcades Riadh El Feth. Panoramic restaurant overlooking Algiers. The restaurant is modern and very smart. An outdoor terrace offers the best views of Algiers and the coast. Food is excellent.

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Drink

In recent years, Algeria has resumed the production of wines. Algeria was famous for the production of particularly fine red wines. The new production is also of very high quality and will be appreciated by wine aficionados. It is rarely found on the international market. Locally produced beer is good quality. Alcohol is readily available in hotels, good restaurants and shops.

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Sleep

A good place to look for a hotel is Rue Abane Ramdane, which is very central in Algiers. There are several hotels with prices starting from approx. 2000 DA - 2500 DA for the cheapest category.

  • Central Touring Hotel, 9, rue Abane Ramdane. Has some kind of atmosphere, though for a cheap price. There are various categories of rooms, with shared toilets / showers, private showers only or private toilet + shower. 2000 DA - 5000 DA.
  • Hôtel El Badr, 31, Rue Amar El Kama ex (rue de chartres), ✉ contact@elbadrhotel.com. Located in the Casbah, quite run-down inside. It offers online booking, but prices are much cheaper if you just come and pay in cash (especially if you change money the unofficial way). Noteworthy is that this hotel can send you an official booking confirmation which the Algerian consulates will (hopefully) accept for visa application. from about 1300 DA.
  • Ibis Alger-Aéroport Hotel, Route de l'université, ☏ +213 21 98 80 20.
  • Hotel Suisse, rue Lieutenant Salah Boulhart (ex-Drouillet), ☏ +213 21631009. Town centre hotel. Old and charming, but reasonably comfortable. Good value for town centre. Wireless internet throughout is fast.
  • Hilton Alger Baghlia, ☏ +213 21 21 96 96.
  • Sheraton Club des Pins Resort, Boite Postal 62, ☏ +213 21 37 77 77. Beachfront resort.
  • Sofitel Algiers Hamma Garden Hotel, 172 Rue Hassiba Ben Bouali, ☏ +213 21 68 52 10.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are Internet cafés in all larger towns and cities.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Algeria is 213.

To make an international call from the Algeria, the code is 00.

Post

Algeria Post offers fairly reliable though relatively slow services. Mail posted in any of the main cities along the coast takes three to four days to reach Europe; posted elsewhere, it could take much longer. Parcels sent by surface mail may take up to two months to reach Algeria. You might get better and faster deals with international couriers like DHL, TNT or UPS. Post offices are generally open from Saturday to Wednesday from 8:00am to 5:00pm and Thursday from 8:00am to 12:00pm, but the main post office in Algiers (5 boulevard Mohamed Khémisti) is open 24 hours.

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This is version 18. Last edited at 10:05 on Jul 29, 19 by Utrecht. 47 articles link to this page.

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