Algeria is becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations in North Africa, so grab your passport and head to the capital for some unique, local retail therapy. If you know where to look, there are many souvenirs to buy, many of which cannot be found anywhere outside of this East-meets-West city.
Kandura Tunics from rue Didouche Mourad boutiques
Kandura tunics, the male clothing worn across the Middle East and North Africa, are a common tourist souvenir, but each country’s take on this traditional clothing differs. The Algierian kandura is usually bright in colour, follows a set design pattern, and each section, from sleeves to the collar, have underlying meanings. Rue Didouche Mourad is the upmarket fashion street in Algiers, where local politicians and celebrities can be seen shopping. This doesn’t mean that the prices are especially high, though. Many of the boutiques on the street will make kandura to measure within a few days, and offer an array of materials and colours to choose from.
Rue Didouche Mourad is in the neighbourhood of Alger-Center, and forms the main artery connecting the port with the new parts of the capital.
Dates from the Kasbah
Sweet and succulent dates can be found across North Africa, but Algerian dates are extra tasty. Fresh dates in the Kasbah, Algiers’ oldest marketplace, are picked in huge date plantations surrounding the city, transported to the Kasbah’s stallholders, and sold within a day to those willing to haggle, making the fruits as fresh as they come. Intricately packaged baskets filled with sticky Neglet dates make great gifts, or can be used to add some extra flavour to mouthwatering Algerian dishes.
Algiers’ Kasbah is located at the heart of the Algerian capital, just a short walk from the fishing port, and surrounded by the oldest parts of the city. It is a maze of narrow winding alleyways and shabby old riads and palaces.
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Original art from Seen Art
This charming but modern art shop is a favourite with Algerian dignitaries and wealthy French visitors jetting over to Algiers for a weekend of luxury shopping. Seen Art showcases and sells paintings, sketches and photography produced by local Algerians, and pays them a sustainable commission for each piece sold. Much of the art sold at Seen Art showcases uniquely Algerian sights, landscapes and people that just cannot be found anywhere else. Of course, you can buy photography and paintings of other North African countries outside of Algiers, but there is nowhere quite like Algeria.
Visiting Algiers is such a unique experience, it’s only natural travellers look for ways to bring a piece of their adventure home with them. These souvenirs will help you remember your Algiers trip like no little knick-knacks from the airport ever could.
Hand-woven carpets from EgyTapis
Carpets are a mainstay of the local economy in North Africa, with tourists heading to neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia to buy a souvenir rug. But Algerian carpets are arguably higher quality than those usually purchased by tourists. EgyTapis, a carpet shop located in the upmarket part of Algiers, buys carpets produced by local producers using locally-sourced sheep wool. Berber women in the mountain villages surrounding Algiers weave these carpets by hand from thick sheep wool, and are paid a fair wage. EgyTapis’s carpets come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, and thicknesses, and are well worth the investment. You could spend a full day in the shop admiring the handiwork.
The EgyTapis shop is located near Algiers airport, in the Algiers suburb of Bab Ezzwar. It is a large showroom filled with rows of carpets on the floor, carpets hanging from the ceiling, and lining the walls, of every colour imaginable.
Keftah tajine sweets from the Souq
Keftah tajine sweets are unmistakably Algerian in appearance and flavour. They are unique to Algiers and have been made by locals for more than a century. The keftah sweets are made of marzipan that has been painstakingly sculpted into huge tajine baking pot shapes, and then filled with assorted dried fruits, melted chocolate, or locally-baked biscuits.
Algiers’ sweet souq is located at the heart of the Kasbah, which is just a short walk from the old fishing port. Stall opening times vary, but they’re generally closed on Fridays.