Travel Guide of Oran Algeria – 11 Best Things to Do
Oran is one of Algeria’s largest and most significant cities. Founded by Moorish Andalusian traders around AD 937, its history has been influenced by the Ottomans, Byzantines, Romans, Spanish & French, and Arabs to name just a few. This coastal city has relaxed, yet vibrant energy, and the colonial architecture here is stunning. Explore a little further, and the crumbling buildings of Oran’s Sidi El Houari and Derb neighbourhoods will leave you bedazzled.
Oran was part of the Spanish Empire from 1509 until 1708, it was also ruled by the Ottomans and French. Their influence can be seen in the architecture and structures that monopolize the cityscape.
A Travel Guide of Oran – The most beautiful city in Algeria
We flew to Oran from Marseille in France with Volotea, we reserved tickets online using our go-to flight booking website, Skyscanner.com.
Oran is well-connected via Ahmed Ben Bella international airport and easily accessible by trains from cities like Algiers, Bechar, and Tlemcen in Algeria. There are options to reach Oran Algeria by ferry from France or Spain. Cities worth checking ferry fares are Marseille, Almeria, and Alicante.
Currency in Oran, Algeria
At the time of our visit, (March 2022) the official rate to exchange 1 EUR = 147 DZD.
The black market rate of exchange was 1 EUR = 215 DZD. As you can see, the black market rate is considerably better.
All prices you see given in this blog are based on the black market rates.
Marty walking through the city of Oran Algeria
Transport Options from Oran Airport to the City
The airport is 15 km from the city. The easiest, quickest way to reach your hotel is by taxi. A ride from the airport should cost between 1000-1500 DZD, depending on the time of your arrival. If you arrive on an evening flight, the price will be a little higher.
Tip:The moment you arrive in Algeria, get a SIM card. Then, download the Yassir ride-sharing App. Use Yassir to book a taxi upon arrival at Oran airport. It’s easy, reliable and you can see the price of the ride before you book it. Always keep smaller notes and coins to pay your driver after your ride is complete.
You can also take a shuttle bus to the tram station, Es Sénia Terminus. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes to 60 minutes and you can buy a ticket on the bus. The single ticket price is 40 DZD. From Es Sénia Terminus take the tram to the city centre – Place du 1er Novembre. Again, the ride is 40 DZD.
Please Note: The shuttle bus operates between 07:30 to 17:30.
Good to Know: When you leave Oran, a Yassir ride to the airport from the city centre is cheaper, expect to pay around 600-700 DZD.
Cash is King in Oran
Cash is king in Oran, Algeria
Algeria is a ‘cash’ type of society. If you want to save at least 30% on everything you buy inside this country, I’d recommend bringing enough Euros or USD in cash to change on the black market. The official rate to change cash in the bank is 1 EUR = 147 DZD, however, the black market rate was 1 EUR = 215 DZD. This is a significant difference and you will certainly save loads of cash.
Just be careful when changing your currency, as it’s not entirely legal. Try and do it out of the view of others if possible. You can find guys on the streets with bundles of cash to exchange or in the back office of ‘shops’ that appear to be selling souvenirs etc.
The best place to change cash is at the ‘Marche de la Bastille‘. Ask the locals where you can exchange euros or dollars and they will point you in the right direction.
Getting Around in Oran Algeria
Walk: Oran is a great city to explore on foot. Be sure to visit the gorgeous Boulevard Soummam to view some beautiful architecture.
Public transport: Oran has a reliable tram system that extends through the city. A single ticket price is 40 DZD. We chose to use the Yassir taxi in Oran as short rides (between our IBIS Hotel and Centreville, approximately 3-4 km is a flat rate of 200 DZD). We found the convenience and affordability of Yassir very useful during our entire trip to Algeria.
Where to Stay In Oran
Where to stay in Oran Algeria? Ibis Hotel was a good choice, this was our room.
Some great areas to stay in Oran are around Batna, and Boulevard Soummam in the city, or Rue Khmisti if you prefer to be closer to the beaches of Oran.
We stayed at IBIS Hotel, approximately 3.5km from the city centre. Rooms were clean and comfortable and the price was 9000 DZD (approx 42 EUR) per night for 2 people. The price for a single room is only 500 DZD less. This price is based on paying cash at the black market rate. At the time of our visit (March 2022), the rate was 1 EUR = 215 DZD.
When you search on Booking.com and other hotel booking websites for hotels in Algeria, the search will give you very few options. But once you arrive in Oran Algeria or other cities in the country, you can find many hotels available at a much cheaper price, such as the hotel I’ve suggested below.
For a better-valued hotel in the Batna area in Oran, I recommend Hotel Timgad. Rooms are clean and comfortable and the hotel is in a fantastic location amongst some beautiful buildings just outside. Rates are 4800 DZD for a standard double room (2 people), including breakfast. Email them for a reservation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 00213 (0) 41 36 15 01/11/14.
Craving a little more comfort? For a very comfortable stay in Oran, Algeria, I’d recommend you stay atFour Points Sheraton.
11 Best Things to Do in Oran, Algeria
1) Walk along Front De Mer
One of the most beautiful walks you can take in the city of Oran is along the Front de Mer or seafront boulevard. Overlooking the port, it offers nearly 2km of a palm tree-lined boulevard with views of the sea on one side and a mix of captivating buildings, boutique shops, and ice cream parlours on the other.
You will also see the famous Santa Cruz Chapel and Fort of Santa Cruz straddled on the mountains in the distance.
2) Marché de la Bastille and Mdina Jdida Market
You will soon discover that markets are an important part of Algerian culture. Algerians shop daily for fresh meat from the butcher stalls, and fresh produce from market vendors. The markets are also a meeting place for locals to meet up and shop together or catch up over a mint tea on the street or even a game of dominoes in the corner.
The markets have the freshest produce
If you’re after an experience and some of the freshest fruit and vegetables I’ve seen for quite some time, head to Marché de la Bastille or Mdina Jdida market. The produce usually has prices per kg for food, so you don’t need to haggle over the price to pay for a few oranges or a punnet of strawberries. I appreciate this when I’m travelling, especially if your French or Arabic language skills are not so good. In saying that, a smile, hello, and thank you in these languages will be much appreciated by the locals.
Don’t miss the street food in Medina Jdida. Vendors set up in this market selling fruit, cakes, and various sandwiches. Keep your eye out for a sandwich called Karantica. It’s simple, cheap, and tasty.
3) Eat the best Chicken Shawarma Sandwich in Oran
Eat the best chicken shawarma in Oran, Algeria right here!
Need a quick bite while you’re out exploring Oran? Stop by at 31 Rue Larbi Ben M’hidi for the best poulet shawarma (chicken sandwich) you’ve ever eaten. A super clean eatery to sit down and enjoy a super affordable meal if you have the time, or order your shawarma and eat on the go. You can’t miss the large turning chicken meat grilling at the front of the shop.
Delicious chicken shawarma is 200 DZD (that’s less than $1) is loaded with yummy marinated and grilled chicken, chips, and the best sauce ever! If you like it a little spicy, ask the guys for a little harissa (chili sauce) inside your sandwich. Highly recommended.
4) Visit Oran Library
One of the best things to do in Oran Algeria is to visit Sacré Coeur.
Built in the early 1900s as a Catholic cathedral, Sacré Coeur was converted into a library after independence. The building is a good example of Byzantine architecture, I highly recommend a visit.
5) Fortaleza de Santa Cruz
The fort of Santa Cruz is one of the most recognised landmarks in Oran. It is visible from just about every crossroad of the city. Sitting high on top of the mountains, the fort was built in the 16th century by the Spanish after defeating the Ottomans. I’d recommend taking a Yassir taxi to the top. We paid 280 DZD ($1.45). The views are fantastic!
The entry fee to Santa Cruz fort is 160 DZD (0.83c)
6) Santa Cruz Chapel
Santa Cruz Chapel in Oran, Algeria
The French built this chapel in 1850 during the outbreak of Cholera that took the lives of thousands of people in Oran. The chapel is situated just below the fort. The unmissable statue of the Virgin Mary that stands atop the chapel with her arms open wide was set there to guard the city against the pandemic. There is no fee to visit the chapel. The views of Oran from this perspective are magnificent.
7) Eat lunch at Cintra Restaurant
One of Oran’s oldest bar-restaurant, Cintra Restaurant has enticed several well-known artists, historical figures, and writers.
The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine, and it’s one of the few places where you can enjoy a beer or a glass of wine in Oran, Algeria. Not to mention, this restaurant is nearby one of my favourite streets in Oran, the stunning Boulevard Soummam. I absolutely love the architecture on this street.
8) Place d’Armes
The Place du 1er Novembre, also known as the Place d’Armes is the central hub of Oran. The square is easy to find and in the centre of the square stands an obelisk. It includes a portrait of Emir Abdel Kader- one of the country’s greatest anti-colonial leaders and topped by a statue called La Gloire. Place d’Armes is famous for landmarks that include the Opera house and Hotel de Ville and its impressive statues of lions.
9) Stop for coffee and enjoy the views
Take a break and enjoy a coffee in Oran, Algeria.
Take a break from exploring this gorgeous city and enjoy a coffee at Le Petit Royal Coffee, a cute little cafe overlooking Boulevard Soumman.
10) Explore the Old Town of Sidi El Houari
The old town of Sidi El Houari is equal to what the Casbah is in Algiers. Home to many landmarks and historic buildings, the crumbling architecture here has unfortunately not received any restoration or efforts to preserve this historic district. The entire Sidi el Houari district overlooks the sea, as it is built along the slopes of the Aïdour and Wadi Rhi. It’s worth catching a taxi here to wander around the streets and uncover what real-life is like for its residents.
11) Spend a day at the beach
Go and chill on the beach in Oran, Algeria.
15 km outside of Oran city centre is the seaside resort area of Ain el-Turck. The area itself was named after the beach, which is a major draw for visitors to Oran. Sure, it’s a little touristy over this side of town and the strip is lined with cafés, restaurants, and hotels that obviously cater to tourists – but if you’ve been craving some beach-time, you can find it here.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Don’t leave home without arranging travel insurance for your visit to Algeria. We recommend SafetyWing Travel Insurance. These guys offer Travel Medical Insurance that covers people from all over the world, while outside their home country – The best part is that COVID-19 coverage is included in their very affordable plans.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best things to do in Oran, Algeria. It was without a doubt one of our favourite places to visit in Algeria. It also features on our list of 8 AMAZING Places to see in Algeria.
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Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 190 countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.