Is Algeria safe to travel? That remains to be seen. Algeria represents the tenth largest country in the world and the biggest one in Africa. Just a “swim” away across the Mediterranean, this vast country opens up to the world with snowy mountains in the north, along with a marvellous coastline.
Of course, much of the country is embedded in the Sahara desert and this represents another potential touristic goldmine. You can find anything, from attractive cities like Algiers and Constantine to ideally preserved Roman sites, such as Timgad or Djemila.
The land of this country has been subject to a lot of empires and dynasties, from which we mention the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans or the Byzantines. Each of these great empires left a lot of cultural value behind and you can be a witness to this impressive heritage.
While tourist facilities have been missing from this country, starting with 2004 a broad strategy has been implemented to increase the number of tourists. There are a lot of sites that are part of UNESCO in Algeria: besides the aforementioned Roman ruins, you can find the first capital of the Hammadid empire (Al Qal’la of Beni Hammad), Tipasa, a town that shares Phoenician and Roman roots or even an urbanized oasis in the M’Zab Valley.
Highest Risks You Are Exposing Yourself to When Visiting Algeria
Overall Risk: HIGH
While many people are saying that this country harbours true wonders, we advise that you should take a great deal of thinking before you start your adventure. Apparently, travelling to Algeria comes with quite an amount of risk involved. For example, the UK government advises to stay away from the borders that separate Algeria from Libya, Mauritania, Mali, Niger or Tunisia.
The potential threats include terrorists, kidnappers, thieves and so on, but more of this later. The main point is that most countries (even New Zealand) put a great emphasis of taking steps with great measure when entering Algeria and you have to keep yourself informed about the current situation at all times.
Pickpocketing Risk in Algeria: HIGH
According to osac.gov, the situation isn’t too good in Algeria when we talk about crime. Strictly speaking about statistics, the first sign of bad news is that the Algerian government doesn’t publish its own crime statistics, not to say that there is quite a number of crimes that go unreported.
Nevertheless, you should know that the most common crimes include pickpocketing and other similar activities. These crimes of opportunity, as they are called, are done by criminals that act during high-traffic hours and in areas with many people. The usual targets represent people that show unfamiliarity with the surroundings or those that don’t really blend into the crowd.
- How to avoid pickpockets in Algeria?
A first advice would be to not present yourself as a tourist. Try to blend in as much as possible and not give clues about your origin. Another fact which you should know is that thieves are usually fewer in the areas frequented by foreigners. That’s because there is a larger police presence there.
For example, Algiers is safer than other places since you can find many security forces there and also this city uses an extensive camera network to check on its civilians. The video surveillance in Algeria is consistent in 7 major cities and continues to grow with each passing year.
- What to do if you’ve been pickpocketed in Algeria?
If the worst possible scenario has happened, then, by all means, don’t try to do justice on your own. You don’t know who you might be messing with and that’s why it’s better to avoid trouble. The only solution is to go to the police to seek help. Ask around for directions to the precinct and the authorities should be able to help you.
Scams risk in Algeria: HIGH
According to worldnomads.com, you might encounter some scammers in Algeria. A popular choice in Africa seems to be the Tour Guide Scam. Basically, there are con men who pose as guides in order to take your money. Other scams include distractions used to rob you or taxi drivers who might take advantage of your tourist allure in order to over-charge you.
- How to avoid scams in Algeria?
With the tour guide scam, the answer is quite simple. Don’t go around and trust anybody you’ve met on the street. You should resort to licensed guides only. Getting one through your hotel seems like the most recommended way of getting a secure tour guide. If that doesn’t work, then you can ask around in concentric circles around your hotel.
Be that as it may, you should remain vigilant and a skeptic at all times. Not every friendly face is trustworthy. Also, when you are approached for anything after you have just used the ATM you should politely refuse. The reasons are pretty self-explanatory.
- What to do if you got scammed in Algeria?
As it was the case with the pickpocketing scenario, you shouldn’t approach the criminals on your own. ALWAYS call the police or the security guards. You don’t know the surroundings, you don’t know which places are safe, you don’t know who you might encounter. It’s better to lose a few bucks than to get hurt, right?
Kidnapping risk in Algeria: MEDIUM
According to this map that shows the potential for kidnapping across the globe, you should add this risk to your list of potential harms in Algeria. The OSAC advises against venturing into the Sahel region as there are many incidents caused by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Usually, these kidnaps are used as means of financing the AQIM. However, there hasn’t been a kidnapping made by terrorists or other types of armed groups since the Kabylie incident in 2014.
- How to avoid kidnappings in Algeria?
Obviously, a first step in avoiding such a tragedy would be to enter your embassy’s site and see which places are not to be visited. You should avoid the Sahel region altogether and instead, stick to the major cities. When you are travelling with your children you should pay extra attention but more of this later.
Keep a low profile, stick with the rest of the tourists and venture in places which are protected. Don’t visit remote areas and stay clear of the border regions. You should seek advice from professional security before you decide on going into a risky area and if you still plan on going, then make sure that you have some personal security measures (weapons or guards).
- What to do if you got kidnapped in Algeria?
If you fall into the hands of such predators, then you should remain calm (we know how condescending this might sound) and wait for the authorities to solve this. If a member of your family or an acquaintance falls victim to kidnapping, then you should contact the embassy and the police and, by all means, don’t negotiate with the captors.
Theft risk in Algeria: HIGH
We already brushed on this subject earlier, with the pickpocketing scenario. Thus, you might already have an idea about how bad is the level of crime in Algeria. If we were to include muggings, residential burglaries, staged robberies and so on, then the picture can get pretty grim.
There are thieves that pose as police officers or guards in order to make people trust them and let them inside. Many of these men are armed and they might not be satisfied with just robbing you, instead, they might try and keep you for ransom. The violent crimes are on a rise in Algeria and the perpetrators are most active during night time.
However, the mortality seems to be quite low for how this scenario seems to play out. In Algiers, for example, a city of over three million people there were only 4 reported murders in 2017.
- How to avoid getting robbed in Algeria?
We know that these robberies happen during late hours and they often appear in low-income neighborhoods. This being said, you should avoid such surroundings at all costs. Stay in your hotel at night and if you have to travel, then seek refuge in homes with grilled windows and doors. Seemingly, a house that looks to be secured might be enough to discourage robbers.
- What to do if you are robbed in Algeria?
From the best Algeria safety travel tips comes this one: you should assume that robbers are extremely well-prepared criminals and they might be prepared for confrontation. That’s why you should avoid violence at all costs. If you find yourself in a situation where you are facing a gun, then don’t resist. Do what they say and don’t make eye contact.
After you escaped this unwanted situation, report to the police and do as instructed by them.
Terrorism risk in Algeria: HIGH
It seems that terrorism is the root of all evils in Algeria and is another factor that should tell you how safe is Algeria for tourists. There are numerous attacks and kidnappings performed by such organizations. This Algeria safety guide tells you to enter this country with extreme caution.
You should know that terrorist groups are active in the Sahara region. The previously mentioned AQIM and its affiliates, including ISIS (or Daesh) are present in Algeria and they wreak great amounts of havoc.
These terrorists want to hurt Algerian security services, government officials, and Westerners. In 2017, the majority of the attacks targeted military and police officers using all kinds of evil methods. IEDs (improvised explosives), ambushes or suicide bombings seem to be the most used ways of getting kills and spreading terror.
If you are curious about hard facts, then you should know that in 2017 two policemen were killed in August and two others were wounded in February. Both of these incidents followed suicide bombings.
Another fact that should be deeply embedded in your minds is the fact that AQIM and its affiliates seem to be particularly hostile towards Westerners. Foreigners are intentionally targeted and in the recent years, there have been numerous attacks resulting in foreigners being kidnapped and/or killed.
- How to avoid terrorists in Algeria?
First, you should always maintain a high level a perception. You must be in control of your surroundings and be aware of what happens around you. To avoid attacks, steer clear of large crowds. Keep your profile as low as possible and keep in check with the local news.
Always listen to what the local authorities have to say and do adhere and respect any restriction and instruction they might issue as it may save your life.
- What to do if you encounter terrorists in Algeria?
You should always avoid conflicts. Run away as fast as you can from any sign of violence. Remain cautious at all times and keep in touch with the authorities and your embassy. You should remain calm and ready to act because in this type of situation your life depends on every decision.
Risks for women travelling alone in Algeria: MEDIUM
Is Algeria safe for women travellers? You can say that for the most part, Algeria is pretty safe for women. However, there are still reports of women being robbed or worse. That’s why you should be ever-cautious and do what you can to remain unnoticed.
- How to avoid unwanted incidents?
Women are advised to not travel alone, especially during the night. You should stay clear of risky areas and always keep ways of communicating with the authorities. Even during daylight and especially at night, women should not access remote streets.
Also, a special page from the Algeria safety guide is dedicated to women hiding their jewellery or other signs of wealth. You shouldn’t flash your money in public as you might be seen as an easy target for robbing, kidnapping or worse.
Rape risks in Algeria: MEDIUM
Another key fact that should be known in seeking the answer to “is Algeria safe for women” is that the Algerian Penal Code does stipulate that rape is a punishable offence. However, the article of the Penal Code doesn’t give a definition of rape. This ambiguity leads to a great number of unfair trials. The women who fall victim to this atrocious thing might find it extremely difficult to report the act and they might not find the justice they deserve.
- How to avoid it?
Algeria safety tips include blending in with the crowd. Make yourself as unnoticeable as possible. Dress as to not make any sort of impression and always travel in groups. Avoid going in uncertain areas and keep a way of reaching the police in the event of something undesirable happening.
- What to do if something happens?
The short answer would be to run as fast as you can. This is the kind of situation where you must reach within yourself and pull out your animal instincts. Fight as hard as you can and cry for help. Call the police, call anyone and ask for their aid.
Risks for people travelling with children: MEDIUM
The level of risk is medium and not high because we consider that children are always looked upon. The biggest risk is represented by kidnaps. A spokesman of the National Gendarmerie, according to osac.gov, spoke about 23 recorded cases of child kidnapping in 2016.
The same year is marked by 887 cases of missing or kidnapped children. The reasons vary from family disputes to terrorists. From this high number, however, all but 8 cases remained unresolved.
The Algerian Directorate General for National Security has recorded 1418 calls that complained about kidnappings in 2017.
- How to avoid your children being kidnapped?
First, you should know that the Algerian law enforcement has implemented a security plan that is used to help downgrade the level of this phenomenon. This translates into police officers disguised as civilians in areas where the majority of the reports happen. We are talking about schools and residential neighborhoods.
Secondly, you shouldn’t let them out of your sight. Children are often mischievous creatures that disappear without a trace if you don’t pay close attention. That’s why you must keep a constant look on them. Is Algeria safe to visit when we talk about children? It can be, but with extra measures of security.
- What to do if your child is kidnapped?
It is a parent’s worst nightmare, we know, but we must talk about this unwanted scenario nevertheless. Well, a first step would be to keep your mind together (again, pretty condescending, we know). Call the embassy and the police. Do not try to rescue them on your own because you will most definitely fail.
Natural disasters risk in Algeria: MEDIUM
At last, we can talk about something that doesn’t evolve the evil that resides in some people. The situation regarding natural disasters in Algeria is not as scary as the other ones.
There are some areas in Algeria which are prone to some devastating floods which lead to substantial material damage.
The Northern part of Algeria (that’s right, where the mountains are) consists of a seismically active zone. But earthquakes and floods happen everywhere right?
- How to avoid floods and earthquakes in Algeria?
A tongue in cheek answer would be to not visit Algeria. But a serious Algeria safety guide, including this one, will tell you to check the current status of the country before your flight.
Of course, earthquakes are yet to be predicted, but floods generally take place in the same spot over the years. Avoid those areas or the seasons when they happen and you should be fine.
As for earthquakes, you could stay away from the North in order to not feel the ground move.
- What to do if you are caught in a flood or an earthquake in Algeria?
For both situations is the same: try to remain calm. If you encounter a flood, then seek a high and secure place and wait for the rescuers to come. Earthquakes are a little bit dangerous but major ones don’t happen often.
In the event that they do appear, you should seek shelter and steer away from windows or other collapsible objects around you.
Top 3 Most Dangerous Cities in Algeria
It is quite the paradox, isn’t it? Algiers is the capital of Algeria and it represents the safest place and the most dangerous place at the same time. It is the safest because it contains the highest levels of security available and it is the most dangerous because there is the highest density of thieves and there are a lot of terrorist groups here as well. In 2017, BusinessInsider placed it number 7 in a top 10 least liveable cities.
One of the biggest cities in the Maghreb region, Oran is beautiful and scary at the same time. Many people advise against going alone in its neighborhoods at night, especially if you are a foreigner. You must keep to yourself and not flash around your valuables. If you are a woman, then travel only with accompanied and only during daylight. Stay aware at all times.
Basically, this list consists of the top major cities in Algeria. Because the government doesn’t publish its crime statistics we have to answer questions like “is Algeria safe to visit” or “how safe is Algeria for tourists” with logic and internet reviews. Constantine is a major city in Algeria and if you google its name related to terrorist attacks it will be enough to make you stop and think.
Algeria is truly a thing of beauty. From snow-covered mountains to a Mediterranean coastline and from marvellous cities to the scary vastness of the Sahara desert, this country has the potential of being one of the most attractive tourist destinations.
However, since the terrorist wave increased and crashed upon this beautiful place the risks which have to be endured by tourist increased exponentially. Before you decide on going there, please consult with your embassy and perform proper research.