Tips for travellers in Algeria

Etiquette

Algerians are warm and welcoming, and hospitality is a dearly-held value.

Greeting rituals vary based on the region, but generally people greet each other with two kisses on the cheeks and a handshake. Many but not all women, will shake hands with both men and women, so men should wait for the woman to initiate the handshake. Locals frequently greet visitors with tea or coffee, and it is better to accept it as a sign of goodwill. Discussions are often oriented towards personal life and family as well as professional projects.

Language

Modern Standard Arabic is used in schools, government offices and the media. In practice, Darja, the local Algerian dialect of Arabic is more commonly used. French is prevalent in business, though this is less true outside of Algeria’s main urban areas, where Arabic or Tamazight is used in all aspects of daily life. English is becoming increasingly attractive for young Algerians though its use remains limited.

Business Hours

Business hours are from 8am to 5pm, with a one-hour lunch break usually taken at noon. Public administrations are usually open until 4:30pm. During the month of Ramadan, companies allow their employees to leave early. Since 2009 the weekend falls on Friday and Saturday.

Dress Code

Urban business dress codes for men are very similar to prevailing norms in Western Europe and North America. Dress codes for women are slightly different and can vary from liberal to conservative. Female visitors should pay particular attention to ensure that their shoulders, knees and chest are covered. Outside of major cities, traditional dress is usually the norm and travellers should wear more conservative clothing.

Tipping

Service is usually included in the bill, although it is appreciated to leave a few extra coins depending on the quality of the service.

Visas

Applications for visas are usually conducted by visitors in their country of residence prior to arrival. Business visas require a letter of invitation and proof of accommodation. Together with valid travel insurance this is usually enough to obtain a visa for up to three months.

Electricity

In Algeria 220-V, European-style two-pin plugs are used. Both US- and UK-style plugs require adaptors, though these can easily be found and purchased.

Transport

Although new motorways are reducing travel time between cities, road congestion in urban areas remains a critical issue in Algiers and traffic has traditionally been a challenge.

However, tramway and metro systems have been introduced in recent years to improve urban transportation in most major cities. The Algiers metro extension to El-Harrache was completed in mid-2015 and the extensions to Ain Naadja and the Lower Casbah are set to finish in 2016. Tramways, metros and cable cars are also available or are being constructed in other cities such as Oran, Constantine and Tlemcen.

Other forms of public transportation are popular and widely used. Buses, which are operated by both private and public companies, offer affordable fares and some operators have made efforts to improve the level of comfort on board. As of 2015, a number of buses even offer a free Wi-Fi service to passengers.

Taxis remain the most common way to travel. They run on a shared basis and while they are easier to find in the larger cities, they also operate longer trips on specific routes. Taxis are fairly cheap but, for trips outside specific routes, negotiations are often required.

In addition, domestic flights are available between most major cities in Algeria on routes operated mainly by Air Algerie and Tassili Airlines.

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The Report: Algeria 2015

The Report

This article is from the The Guide chapter of The Report: Algeria 2015. Explore other chapters from this report.