The big trip

Trip of the week: an intriguing city break on the Med

Algeria’s capital, Algiers, is ‘enthralling’, with cuisine to ‘rival Beirut’

With beautiful beaches, spectacular mountain and desert landscapes, and fine classical ruins, Algeria is one of the most “alluring” of Mediterranean destinations – and the fact it sees very few foreign visitors only adds to its charm, says Rob Crossan in The Daily Telegraph.

The country’s FLN government relies on oil and gas for export income, and has little interest in promoting tourism. There have also been “lingering security concerns” since the civil war of the 1990s, but the FCO has long advised that most of the country is safe to visit. And unless you’re very unlucky, you will find heart-warming hospitality wherever you go.

The capital, Algiers, is “enthralling”, with cuisine to “rival Beirut”, history that “outstrips Valletta”, and sunshine “the equal of Málaga”. And all this just two hours and 40 minutes from Heathrow.

Algiers was founded as a Carthaginian trading post in the fourth century BC, and the Romans, Berbers, Arabs, Ottomans, Moors and French have “left their mark”. Its kasbah is a maze of alleyways fragrant with the scents of “incense, baguettes and diesel fumes”, whose “high, flaking walls” bear murals of “fallen Leftist heroes”. Elsewhere, there are French colonial-era boulevards, botanical gardens, “Notre-Dame imitation churches” and a Beaux-Arts museum with works by Gauguin, Renoir and Monet.

A brief tour of the country might also include the charming seaside towns of Tipasa and Annaba, and the remains of Roman cities such as Timgad and Djémila, where the museum houses “gargantuan” mosaics featuring “affectionate” images of birds, lion hunting and horse racing. Finally, there are the endless dunes of the Sahara, which are best approached via the oasis town of Taghit, with its ancient, mud-walled ksar (castle) and “highly stylised” neolithic rock paintings.

Lupine Travel (lupinetravel.co.uk) has a seven-day group tour for £845, including guide and meals, excluding flights and visa costs.

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