What to do and see in Algiers? A city suspended between its colonial past and Arab traditions, Algiers is a metropolis full of places of interest: let's all discover them.
A crescent-shaped bay is the setting for a city that literally dazzles your eyes. Algiers, with its stark white buildings at the foot of the hill, was in fact nicknamed by the French "la blanche" (the white one) at the time of colonialism. The blue of the sky and the sea, the white of the houses and the yellow of the desert make Algiers an out of the ordinary destination, waiting to be discovered.
The capital of Algeria and a very important commercial port on the Mediterranean, Algiers is splendid when viewed from the sea: the majesty of the hills and the Atlas mountain range give way, lower down, to the white houses and buildings arranged like an amphitheater. More than a city, Algiers is a real metropolis: there are more than three million inhabitants living in the three different areas into which it is divided. And every area has a lot to tell. All you have to do is begin your journey to discover Algiers, its places of interest and its main attractions.
What to see in Algiers: discovering the city's layoutBefore starting your tour of the places of interest in Algiers, it is advisable to understand how the city is organized and divided up. Each area, in fact, is characterized by a separate identity that carries the signs of its past history with it.
The lowest part, located in the flat area near the sea and at the foot of the hills, is the one where visitors will perceive the influence of French colonialism: the urban fabric, in fact, is reminiscent in every way of a typical European city. From the wide boulevards to the numerous churches, from the museums to the cafés, when you walk along these streets you will feel as if you have been teleported to France.
The part of Algiers located on the hills, however, is very different. It is there that Arab traditions prevail and the urban fabric bears witness to this. This is the oldest part of the city: the Kasbah dates from the sixteenth century was built as an Ottoman fort. However, although it is undoubtedly one of the most authentic parts of Algiers (as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing many important monuments), it is a good idea to read up well on it before entering and, perhaps, go there accompanied by a local guide: the Kasbah is densely populated and, often, squalor dominates.
The third part of Algiers, on the other hand, grew up in the years following the end of colonialism: it is a suburban area, still expanding today.
What to see in lower Algiers, the "French" part of the cityThis tour of Algiers starts from the area closest to the sea, which most of all bears the signs of past French rule. It starts from Maqam Echahid, the "martyr's sanctuary", the symbol of Algerian independence. Built in 1982 and inaugurated four years later to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the country's independence, it is an imposing concrete column that stands out against the blue African sky.
Not far from the sanctuary, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the city's public green spaces by visiting the El Hamma Botanical Garden. A 58-hectare green lung with over 1200 different species of plants awaits you. This garden is so beautiful and distinctive that it was chosen as a set to shoot a number of scenes from the film Tarzan. In short, it is the perfect place if you want to spend a few totally peaceful hours.
Museums in AlgiersBefore embarking on your tour of the old town of Algiers, linger for a moment in the city's museums, located right in the French quarter. Start with the National Museum of Fine Arts, which is located inside the botanical garden mentioned previously. It is a quiet and uncrowded place that displays a wide selection of local and international artists. Conclude your visit on the terrace, from where you can enjoy a splendid view of the garden.
Continue your tour of the museums in Algiers at the Bardo National Museum, a perfect place to get in-depth knowledge of the city: inside, in fact, you will find objects and artifacts which, thanks to the particular exhibition route, will allow you to retrace the main stages of the history of Algiers and Algeria in general. Opened in 1927, it is housed in a Moorish villa that will win your heart.
Not far away is the Museum of Antiquity and Islamic Art: the exhibition takes visitors on a journey that began more than 2500 years ago, to discover the millenary beauty of a decidedly fascinating and constantly evolving country
Visit places of interest in Algiers Kasbah, the old townLook for a local guide and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Algiers Kasbah, built on the ruins of Icosium, a Phoenician city. The narrow streets, steps, wooden doors, and buildings huddled together against each other form the oldest part of the city, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Built on a hill, the Kasbah is a maze of alleys offering sublime views. Compared to the flatter part of Algiers, strongly influenced by French rule, here you can experience a more authentic atmosphere full of strong Arab traditions.
Start your tour of the Kasbah of Algiers from the Ketchaoua Mosque, whose history is particularly troubled: built during Ottoman rule at the end of the 1700s, it was then converted into a Catholic cathedral by the French and then once again became a place of Islamic worship after the independence of Algeria. It is now one of the most visited monuments in the country and impresses visitors with a façade that still preserves a splendid mixture of Moorish and Byzantine stylistic elements.
If you want to visit an older mosque, we recommend that you head towards the Great Mosque, which was probably built around the year 1000. Please remember that you can only admire mosques from the outside because visits are forbidden to non-Muslims.
Not far from there you can find another place of interest in Algiers: Bastion 23, a beautiful example of Moorish architecture. Also called Palais des Rais, this beautiful building has recently been restored and restored to become a formidable museum center. Visit the palace, the exhibitions organized inside and take a look at the walls of the citadel, from which you can enjoy a splendid view of the sea. Compared to other palaces of the same period, Bastion 23 is probably the best kept and preserved.
Attractions and places of interest aside, visiting the Kasbah of Algiers mean visiting a city within a city that, today, is increasingly in contrast with the modern palaces that you will have seen in the lower part of the city.
What to eat in Algiers: getting to know Algerian gastronomyAlgerian cuisine, and that of Algiers in particular, is strongly influenced by the geographical position that has made the city an important port on the Mediterranean Sea. And while there are also dishes of French origin, the real Algerian signature dish is couscous, accompanied by vegetables, meat, and fish.
Fish is the main ingredient, and you will find it in many preparations. From swordfish with olives to marinated tuna, you'll be spoilt for choice.
As far as meat is concerned, however, as in many other Islamic countries, consumption of lamb, often served in salt, is widespread in Algiers.
During your feast, finally, you must try the most popular drink in the city, cherbat, a preparation of cinnamon and sugar.
When to goWhen is the best time to go to Algiers? In general, temperatures are mild in winter and rather hot in summer: proximity to the sea, however, mitigates the heat of the city due to the pleasant breezes from the Mediterranean. For this reason, we recommend that you book your flight to Algiers in the spring, from March to April, which will allow you to easily visit the city without suffering too much from the heat.
In general, however, before embarking on a trip to Algiers, you need to find out about the social and political situation in the country: you can do so online or by contacting the Algerian embassies in Italy.
In addition to a passport with residual validity of at least six months and at least one blank page for the application of the entry stamp, to visit Algiers you need to have an entry visa (to be requested in your country of residence): this will allow you to stay in the city for a maximum of 30 days.
Remember that when leaving the country you will have to present to the customs authorities the documentation showing the expenses incurred during your stay, including hotels.
In addition to a passport with a residual validity of at least six months, to visit Algiers you must carry an entry visa (to be applied for in your country of residence): this will allow you to stay in the city for up to 30 days. Remember that when you leave the country you will have to show the customs authorities documentation showing any expenses incurred during your stay, including hotels.