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Algiers - Algeria

Algeria’s Mediterranean capital bedazzles with its rich history, famously warm hospitality and multicultural food scene. Imogen Lepere enjoys a feast for all the senses

Travel Time 3hrs 10min

Why go?

Once a favourite destination of well-heeled Victorians, ‘Algiers the White’ has fallen off many travellers’ maps, thanks to a bloody struggle for independence in the Sixties and civil war in the Nineties. However, with political stability re-established, it’s emerging as a destination for adventurous travellers looking for an alternative to Morocco. June temperatures tickle the high 20s, making it a perfect month to combine a cultural break with a visit to the golden sands of Zéralda Beach, around 30 minutes’ away.

What to do

This enigmatic city is a truly fascinating blend of colonial boulevards, shaded medieval warrens, romantic Moorish mansions and the glittering minarets of Islamic mosques. Set aside time to explore the Unesco-listed Kasbah. This once-grand maze has been inhabited since 600BC and echoes with the song of goldfinches nesting in the beams of stuccoed houses. Hire a guide from Fancy Algeria fancyalgeria.com to lead you through the labyrinthine streets to sites like the neo-Byzantine basilica of Notre-Dame d’Afrique notre-dame-afrique.org and the Great Mosque of Algiers, one of the world’s few remaining examples of Almoravid architecture. Traditional artisans still hammer copper and mend jewellery in crumbling stone cellars – ideal for souvenirs. Delve deeper into Algeria’s patchwork history at the National Museum of Antiquities musee-antiquites.art.dz on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, which houses such treasures as mosaics from the Roman site of Tipaza. Join the locals for a waterfront stroll along the Boulevard Zighoud Youcef and keep your eyes peeled for the Grande Poste, a magnificent neo-Moorish post office that looks as if it has been carved from vanilla ice cream, before catching the new metro five stops to the Jardin d’Essai jardinbotaniqueduhamma.dz – an elegant garden that flows towards the twinkling Mediterranean.

Where to stay

There are decent international options on offer in the city, as well as others which, while lacking some modern facilities, make up for it with lashings of character. Case in point is the Hotel Suisse 00 213 21 631009, dz.com/">hotelsuisse-dz.com with its clinking elevators and time-warp bar which oozes 1930s charm. More lavish is El Djazair Hotel 0808 145 3778, eldjazairhotelalgiers.com which has an outdoor pool and a lobby decked out with peacock tiles, or the Sofitel Algiers Hamma Garden, 00 213 21 685210, sofitel.accorhotels.com – the most luxurious in the city. Another comfortable option is Lamaraz Arts Hotel 00 213 21 779779, lamarazartshotel.com with its stunning Bay of Algiers views.

Where to eat and drink

Algiers’ food scene is a window into the city’s past. The sound of sizzling lamb fat and mounds of hearty couscous cooked in clay pots tell the tale of the Berbers, who crossed the savage Sahara on foot some 30,000 years ago. The pyramids of spice sweetly scenting the air at Ahmed Bouzrina Market are the legacy of Muslim influence from Indonesia, while shadowy cafés serving croissants and mazagran coffee (traditionally sipped ice-cold) are the result of 132 years of French rule, which only ended in 1962. On Place Port Said you’ll find Café Tantonville 00 213 21 748661, whose ocean-view terrace was a favourite of French bohemians including Camus and Sartre. For steak and couscous classics, head to the Brasserie des Facultés’ 00 213 23 492458 sombre dining room, which is decked out in dark wood and filled with old-school diplomats smoking cigars. Le Bearnais 00 213 21 630307 on Rue Ahmed appears closed at first sight, thanks to its blacked-out windows. But ring the bell and you’ll be whisked into a warm bubble of Algerian hospitality, where blushing duck is served in pepper sauce and there’s a good selection of local wines (many restaurants don’t serve alcohol).

Time running out?

Visit the Martyrs’ Memorial commemorating those who lost their lives in Algeria’s struggle for independence. The views from its esplanade are some of the best in the city.

Map

Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the Algerian dinar (DZD). Time is 1 hour ahead of GMT. Flight time from London is around 3 hours. The airport is 20km from the city centre; there is a taxi rank outside the terminal.

Getting There

British Airways has direct flights from London Gatwick to Algiers Houari Boumédiène Airport. britishairways.com

Lufthansa flies from Gatwick via Frankfurt. lufthansa.com

Resources

Tourism Algeria is the official tourist board. Its website offers a wealth of helpful information for visitor. tourismalgeria.com

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min Temp66791216201713107
Max Temp1616182022263128252017
mm33221001334

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