The capital and largest city in Algeria, Algiers is a cosmopolitan city that sits in a bay along the Mediterranean coastline. The modern part of the city is located along the coast, while the old part climbs the hill behind it.
Algiers is not as popular for tourists as other major cities in northern Africa, but tourism is growing, as is its facilities. It offers numerous hotel options, attractions and lovely architecture, with many visitors being impressed by the amazing hospitality of the local people and businesses.
Lets explore the best things to do in Algiers:
1. Explore the old city
Officially known as the Casbah, this is an ancient part of Algiers that is built on a hill overlooking modern Algiers. This part of the city dates back to the 17th century, founded on the ruins of old Icosium.
The Casbah is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its exceptional architecture, which includes Ketchaoua mosque, mosque el Djedid and mosque El Kébir. It is also home to the Casbah Palace, which is well worth visiting.
The palace, or Dar Aziza, was built in 1791 and named after the Princess Aziza Bent ed-Dey. It is a beautiful, white palace with a courtyard, numerous terraces and a spectacular grand staircase.
2. Visit the Notre Dame d’Afrique
This magnificent Catholic basilica was built in the late 1800s and is a great example of the Neo-Byzantine style that was happening in French Algeria at the time. It took fourteen years to build the church, which opened its doors on 1872.
Notre Dame d’Afrique sits on the north side of the city on a cliff overlooking the bay of Algiers. It’s often pegged as being a mirror for the Notre-Dame de la Garde, which is located in Marseille on the other side of the Mediterranean.
The basilica is unlike many others built at the time, as its floor plan means that the choir is at the southeast of the chapel, rather than the east. It also features 14 beautiful stained glass windows.
3. Stroll around the Bab El Oued neighbourhood
This was once the neighbourhood for the poor pied-noirs, though it has now changed into one of the city’s most well-liked areas.
Bab El Oued sits along the coast in Algiers’ city centre. It is the home of famous Algerian footballer Djamel Keddou, athlete Baya Rahouli and world-renowned Muay Thai champion Dida Diafat.
The neighbourhood is most known for its square with the three clocks and for its great market Triplet. Spending an afternoon wandering around the area is a great way to get out of the main tourist drags and explore a more local part of the city.
4. Pay respect to those killed in the Algerian war of independence
The Maqam Echahid is an iconic monument that opened on the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence. It is a large concrete structure that was built to look like three palm leaves that are joined together to protect a flame beneath it; the ‘Eternal Flame’.
The monument is 92 metres high, consisting of the three palms, three Islamic turrets with a diameter of 10 metres each, and a six metre dome at the top. The site also has an amphitheatre and a crypt, as well as being home to the Museum of El Mujahid.
Maqam Echahid is located on the hills overlooking the Hamma neighbourhood. It took nine months to build and in February 1986 it was inaugurated by the then President Chadli Bendjedid .
5. Walk along Rue Didouche Mourad
Stretching from the Grande Post office to the Heights of Algiers, Didouche Mourad Street is one of Algiers’ main shopping strips. It is right in the centre of the city, with small shops and restaurants being lined along it.
It is a popular attraction, home to landmarks like the Grande Post office, the Faculty of Algiers and the park of Galland. It is a vibrant street that demonstrates what real life is like in Algiers.
The tree-lined street is a great place to people watch while sipping a coffee in a café or enjoying a beer at a local pub. Still, one of the biggest draws is its Haussmann-style architecture.
6. Visit the city’s oldest mosque
Dating back to 1097, the Great Mosque of Algiers is the oldest in the city. It is one of the world’s few remaining examples of Almoravid architecture.
The mosque was built under sultan Ali ibn Yusuf and features a large rectangular courtyard, a prayer hall with 11 naves, an 18th century mihrab and 14th century minarets. It also has an enclosed courtyard.
The Great Mosque of Algiers is located in the ancient Casbah area near the harbour. It is a beautiful white building that was constructed out of stone, brick and wood, decorated with elaborate ceramic and wood ornaments.
7. Escape the heat
Just west of the city are some lovely seaside resorts that are great for escaping the heat and getting out of the vibrant city. All of these towns have accommodations, restaurants and shops that sell souvenirs.
The coastal town of Sidi Fredj is one of the most visited resorts, which sits on a peninsula around 30 kilometres outside of Algiers. It is an attractive town with lovely architecture, a harbour and sandy beaches.
The town of Zéralda is also popular, especially thanks to the Mazafran tourist complex. It too has some great hotels, shops and restaurants.
8. Spend a day at Aquafortland
No matter what age you are, Aquafortland will have something for you. It is a fun waterpark and a relaxing spa all in one.
The waterpark features three swimming pools, four water slides, an outdoor Jacuzzi and a man-made sandy beach. It also boasts trampolines, basketball courts, a games room and an adventure course.
Aquafortland Spa is a tranquil, indoor space to enjoy getting completely pampered. It has a heated indoor pool, Jacuzzis, a steam room and even a fitness centre that offers group classes.
9. Wine and dine at the Sheraton Club des Pins Resort
This seaside resort is a great place to spend an evening, and you don’t need to be a guest of the resort. Anyone can enjoy dining in one its fantastic restaurants and sipping cocktails in its bars.
Dine on Italian cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisine or Asian cuisine at one of the resort’s restaurants, or enjoy seafood at its seasonal terrace restaurant while overlooking the bay. Afterwards, head to the resort’s lounge for some live music played on the piano, or sip on a cocktail in the chic lobby bar.
10. Admire local art
The Farid Benyaa Gallery, or Galerie d’art Farid Benyaa, is a gallery that focuses on the life and work of the local artist. Farid Benyaa is said to be one of the country’s most talented artists in history.
The gallery was opened by the artist himself to showcase his own artwork and host personal exhibitions. It also features art of others Algerian artists, be it visual art or music.
The Museum of Popular Arts features a wide collection of local arts and crafts. It has both traditional and modern items, all of which were crafted by local artists.
11. Play a round of golf
The city’s main golf course, the Algiers Golf Course is a top notch golf course that is easily accessible from any hotel in the city. The golf course boasts spectacular views of the city and the coast, making it very appealing to visitors.
It is an 18-hole golf course that is spread across 10 kilometres. Visitors that forgot their clubs can rent a set while enjoying a round at this beautiful course.
12. Become a historian
There are a few fantastic museums in Algiers that are a must for anyone interested in the history of the country. The Bardo Museum is arguably the best in the city, which is not only a museum but also an architectural landmark.
The Bardo Museum is located in a magnificent, restored Turkish mansion. It features some of the finest artefacts ever found in Algeria, including ancient fossils, rock carvings, leatherwork and jewellery.
The National Museum of Antiquities really takes visitors back in time, as it displays numerous ancient relics that tell the story of the country’s ancient times. These include ivory carvings, Libyan period totemic warriors and an impressive coin collection.
13. Discover different architectural styles
The Djemaa el-Djedid Mosque is an extremely unique mosque, as it mixes a variety of architectural styles in its design. The mosque was originally constructed in 1660 in Ottoman style, but since then it has gone through numerous changes.
Today, the Djemaa el-Djedid Mosque shows examples of Turkish, Italian and Andalusian architecture, as well as its original Ottoman design. It is a spectacular building that features vaults, domes, columns and wood finishes, all of which are perfectly designed.
Non-Muslims can’t enter the mosque, but they can admire it from the outside.
14. Head to a mall
There are a few massive malls in the city, though the best by far are the Centre Commercial Bab Ezzouar and the Centre Commercial Al Qods.
The Centre Commercial Bab Ezzouar is a 60,000 square metre mall that houses over 230 shops and services. It is a six level building, three of which are part of the shopping mall and feature numerous international brand shops, including Zara, Adidas, Lacoaste and MAC.
The Centre Commercial Al Qods is the largest mall in Algiers, consisting of 165 square metres of space.
It features over 430 shops and services that are spread across 18 floors.
15. Stop and smell the flowers
The Botanical Garden of Hamma is a stunning garden located in the Mohamed Belouizdad district. The garden is considered to be one of the world’s most important botanical gardens.
The Botanical Garden of Hamma opened in 1832 on five hectares of land. In 1837, it increased to 18 hectares, and today it is a whopping 58 hectares.
There are over 1,200 plant species in the garden, though this number used to be much larger. In addition to the public gardens, it is also home to the Algerian National Institute of Agronomical Research.