Algeria (Arabic: الجزائر) is a country in North Africa. It has a Mediterranean Sea coastline in the north and 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 the secession of South Sudan from Sudan, Algeria became the largest country in Africa. Recent Algerian history has been marred by civil wars. That said, Algeria is gradually restoring order and will prove an interesting — if difficult — destination.
For inquiries about visa application status, please contact the visa office from Monday to Thursday 09:00-11:00
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.
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 airline 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 Aéroport d'Alger official site.
The Algerian train company is named SNTF, tickets can be bought at the Train stations, unfortunately the website hasn't been updated since 2008 and online booking is not possible any more, time tables are subject to change; the best way is to ask for information at the train station itself. 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.
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. As of November 2014 the border to Morocco is still closed and not scheduled to open any time soon.
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 12 hours on highway. Travelling to cities in the Sahara is more difficult since the south is barely connected with good roads, train and bus connections.
From Algiers you can reach almost every major Algerian city by plane, and it is highly recommended to take a flight when travelling longer routes and to Saharan cities. Houari Boumediene, in Algiers, is the biggest airport in the country; there are other airports in major cities like Oran,Constantine & annaba.the other airports are basic .
Air Algérie  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 (such as Oran to Algier). The airline uses Houari Boumediene Airport as its hub, and almost all flights start or land 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, Sétif, In Ames, Tindouf, Timmoun, Tlemcen, Tamanrasset, Tiaret, Tebessa, El Goela, Ouaragla, Hassi Mesaoud, Bejaia, Ghrardaia, Tlemcen, Illizi, Djanet, Touggourt, and Béchar.
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 23 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 :
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 center of Mozabite culture in the M'zab Valley. The five interconnected cities are a breathaking 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 dunefield of Grand Erg Oriental at El-Oued, and the ancient rock carvings of Djelfa and the Saharan National Park of Tassili N'Ajjer.
The Mediterranean beaches in Algeria are woefully underdeveloped, despite excellent potential, owing to the country's poor security situation scaring off almost all tourists. But if you are in the country for a while, a bit of relaxation will at some point be in order, and there is no need to fly over to Tunisia. Oran (urban) on the Turquoise Coast, Annaba, and particularly Skikda and Ghazaouet all have nice beaches. The spot to go near Algiers is undoubtedly the resort town of Sidi Fredj.
Of Algeria's major cities, you may be surprised at the number of things to see. Algiers is a big, beautiful, thriving Mediterranean city with great architecture, ranging from French colonial superbe buildings (like the "Grande Poste", a mix of French and Arab architecture) to the ancient area of the Casbah. Oran is a wonderful and dynamic city in the West of Algeria with a lively feeling, very good seafood restaurants, beaches, museums, nightclubs, mosques, churches, castles... Annaba, Skikda, Mostaganem, Cherchell, Tipaza and Bejaia are other beautifuls coastal cities where great architecture meets the magic blue of the sea.
Constantine is an incredible city with awesome buildings built on huge cliffs, the whole city is crossed by bridges, overlooking the Rhummel river and the countryside.it's the oldest city in the country,built by phoenicians,romans,ottomans,french and arabs.a great mixture lf history,nature and culture.its famous for its suspended bridges,ruins,cuisine,traditional dresses and local andlucian music "Malouf" .it is also famous for its sweets such "Baklawa" "harissa" "chbah-safra" and the very famous "djawziya",all of them can be bought from shops in the ottoman "Medina" (kasbah and swika)
Tlemcen is a jewel in the Western part of Algeria, next to the Moroccan border. It is a former capital of the Maghreb region and enjoys numerous amazing Moorish buildings such as mosques but Tlemcen is also a city of art with handicraft, Arabo-Andalu music and traditions. The "Lalla Setti" plateau overlooks the city and can be reached by a brand new cable car, there can be found parks, restaurants, woods, fountains, a splendid hotel and an incredible view on the city and its surroundings.
Azazga if you are looking for something a little unique and amazing is a perfect place, drive through the mountains of Tizi Ouzou, in Azazga. Along the way you can encounter some of the local wildlife. Monkeys are found crossing these local roads and you can stop and feed them.
Travel on camels in the Sahara desert. Locations:
Get on cable cars in (constantine,algiers,annaba,oran and tlemcen) for breath-taking from above views.
Hike the ahaggar mountains to see a great sunset.
Desert surfing on sahara dunes.
Jump from sea cliffs of Annaba
Walk through the "jardin d'essaie" botanic garden
Travel to the port in Bejaïa and sit along the waters edge or enjoy some of the local scenery. On occasion vendors will line the boardwalk of the port and sell goods, get pictures taken with exotic animals, and even eat at local restaurants while watching the boats traveling in and out of port.
The official languages are Arabic and Tamazight(Berber language).The dialects of Arabic spoken in the north african "Maghreb" Region are closely related to each other,but not to the middle-eastern ones.They are called darja (or darija) and have been influenced by french and berber vocabulary to various degrees.
Standard arabic is taught in schools from the very first year and the vast majority of the population understands it. It is also the language used in newspapers and radio broadcasts. However,like in every arab country,the locals feel uncomfortable speaking a literary,formal language and will inevitably slip words from their dialect in it.
French, the colonial language, is still widely spoken, and almost every local that you meet will be bilingual in Arabic and French. It is the language of business and technology.Old and rural folk in addition to low-income individuals may have a heavily-accented,poorly worded French.
Tamazight or Berber is also spoken by many people in Algeria, mainly in rural areas. Berber people are proud of their ancestry and you will rarely hear arabic spoken inside their communities. The largest berber groups are the Kabyles and Chaouis in the east,the Mzab in the interior,and the nomadic Tuaregs in the deep south.
Many young people now have at least basic knowledge of english,some (mostly the highly educated) reaching total fluency. The linguistics branch in High Schools enabled algerians to learn Spanish and German,thus a minority of the population have some understanding of them.
Some common pharses in Algerian Arabic :
Algeria uses the Algerian dinar (DZD).
USD1 = DZD109.3.
There are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 dinar coins. Banknotes circulate in denominations of DZD100, DZD200, DZD500, DZD1000 and DZD2000.
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 dollars it could be hard to find a bank that exchange less common currencies.
ATMs are widely available 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 necessary just enter two zeros before your pin.
Living in Algeria is very cheap compared to western conditions. For example, DZD300 will get you a full meal or bus ride from Algiers to Oran (400km). Renting a mid-sized apartment will cost normally DZD60,000 (6 months in the advance) a month.
Algerian food is delicious,varries from region to an other,in general its a mixture of berber,french,mediterranian(italian,spanish and turkish) and arab cuisine.
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 18.
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, sometimes it is on the menu, sometimes 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. Brown-bagging of alcohol is very common as you are not expected to publicly display those beverages in the streets. Consumption of drinks is social but private, thus it mostly occurs only indoors or in remote areas. If someone invites you into his home and does not offer alcohol, he expects you not to be drunk or smell alcohol, and does not expect you to bring your own bottle or even discuss drinking alcohol in front of his wife and kids.
All cigarettes are sold freely. Smoking in the presence of someone who is not a smoker in a public place requires his permission, if someone does not like the smoke, cough or ask you not to smoke, just stop and say sorry. This is what the locals do. If you are invited to someone's house do not smoke unless the host does and after he does, you can ask for permission to smoke (is it okay if I smoke in here?) If you are in a restaurant or coffee terrace where people smoke, you can smoke, if you are with locals who are not smokers, ask them first if it is okay. Less and less people smoke, it is because of a global health awareness not because of religion. Women smoking, not many, social and not religiously, smoking women are stigmatized by the society.
For housing, it really is not difficult, as there are luxury hotels and cheap ones throughout the country. The price of a beautiful deluxe room for a couple costs between € 150 and € 250 per day, as there are rooms from € 10 to € 45 for low budget tourists. It should be noted that many services are available in luxury hotels, such as the cafeteria, bar, restaurant, nightclub, pool, etc.. In addition it should be noted that during the summer season from June 15 to August 31, many owners rent houses and cottages on the Mediterranean Sea from Port Say (Marsa Ben M'hidi) in El-Kala. Prices vary depending on the number of pieces, usually between 700 euros to 3000 euros per month, electricity included, but it is best to book in advance through an acquaintance or a travel agency. Also, many Algerian uses the site on the Internet ads, bids are sometimes interesting and even opportunities to be missed, but it is always best to send a loved one to visit the place before paying money to the deal. There is also the complex Meskoutine Hammam (spa, pool, etc.) which is located near a waterfall from which flows a source of hot water at 98 ° C. This is the second source the hottest in the world after the geyser in Iceland. The price, depending on the number of rooms in the bungalow, varies between 1500 and 3000 AD (15 to € 30) per day.
The safest way and most friendly to learn is to get closer to a small circle of people and listen. There is also a tradition of oral transmission of knowledge. It is also good to be open to others and not to refuse what they offer: accept it willingly.
Unemployment is at 9%, the government encourages foreign investment in different sectors. Unemployment is, however, one major problem in Algeria. In fact, it is very difficult to identify the phenomenon in the absence of a real substantive work, able to give an exact idea of the exact extent of the phenomenon. What we know, for cons, is that the informal economy and undeclared work occupies a vast majority of Algerians and spares no industry. Some sources estimate that about 40% of the part played by the informal sector in the country's economic activity, and the phenomenon has never been considered in the evaluation of the unemployment rate in Algeria.
Despite many western advisory warnings against visiting Algeria, the security situation is getting better. Terrorism in 2005 was focused only in isolated areas such as heavily wooded mountains in less developed regions of the center and attacks near the Libyan or Malian border caused by war in those two countries. Security forces are doing their best to protect visitors to these areas, but tourists must take caution when visiting these places. They have to give their itinerary and plans to the local police before taking the road.
Do not travel after nightfall; travel by plane if you can rather than 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 you travel to a foreign country.
As with most Muslim countries, prostitution is illegal and punishments are severe, so it's best to avoid it while staying here.
Huge improvements have been made in this sector with the construction of dozens of brand new hospitals throughout the country.
Algerian doctors are highly qualified and offer a good service and pharmacies are well supplied.
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.
Tap water is considered not drinkable although its quality is better than before. Once boiled, there is no problem in consuming it. Algeria enjoys a large variety of excellent mineral bottled water.
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. Even the mention of certain topics can draw unwanted attention and, at very least, make your visit far more unpleasant.
Remember that what may be deemed normal in some cultures is not the same in others so while hand holding is an excepted form of affection for couples on the streets, public displays of affection should be kept to the confines of your own room, especially that of kissing. However, kissing on the cheek is a well known custom of greeting in this country for people who know each other.
Follow the guidelines for dress as well, although many women in this country have pulled away from the traditional dress, it still shows respect to wear clothing that covers the body. Avoid tank tops, short skirts or shorts, or anything that may seem too revealing. This maintains respect not only for the country, but also for the elders who hold tight to their traditions and values.
Emergency phone numbers
Police: 17 or 1548
Civil protection (medical emergency and fire department): 14
National Gendarmerie (especially outside cities): 1055
Support for children : 3033 . Numbers of administrations, hospitals and different agencies can be found on the yellow pages (pages jaunes) in airports and some hotels and on the internet. As its developed in Algeria (but mostly in french), you can check this website: http://www.pagesjaunes-dz.com
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice for Algeria