Visiting Oran: What are the top activities and attractions to explore in the city known as the ‘Radiant City’?
Oran, the vibrant coastal city situated in northwest Algeria, is a hidden gem brimming with history, culture, and natural beauty. Boasting a rich blend of Mediterranean influences and North African traditions, Oran offers visitors a remarkable experience that captures the essence of Algeria. From stunning architecture and captivating museums to scenic landscapes and delectable cuisine, this city has something for everyone. In this guide, we will explore the five essential things to do in Oran, allowing you to make the most of your visit and create lasting memories in this captivating Algerian city.
- 1. Santa Cruz fort
- 2. Hassan Pasha Mosque
- 3. The Mediterranean City Garden
- 4. The Habibas Islands
- 5. The Zabana National Museum in Oran
- 6. The heart of town
- How to go to Oran?
- Where to stay in Oran?
Oran is an agglomeration of one million inhabitants located in northwestern Algeria, on the edge of the Gulf of Oran. It is the second-largest city in Algeria after Algiers, the capital. This port metropolis is nestled at the bottom of a bay open to the north and overlooked by the mountain of Aïdour. Founded in the 10th century by the Andalusians, it has witnessed a succession of Arab-Berber dynasties and experienced Spanish occupation before being reconquered and becoming the second city in the country under French colonization.
Following the independence acquired by the Algerian nation in the middle of the last century, Oran nevertheless remains the economic capital of the West of the country and a leading economic center in North Africa. Moreover, it possesses numerous assets that capture the interest of potential visitors who wish to explore and immerse themselves in this city at the confluence of diverse cultures. Oran is, above all, a captivating contrast: an urban and trendy metropolis boasting an impressive list of monuments, cultural sites, and heritage spots that are a pleasure to behold.
If you’re wondering what to do in Oran during your stay, here is the answer with our six must-visit destinations in Oran. Enjoy your trip without missing a beat!
1. Santa Cruz fort
The Aïdour is a 430-meter hill that provides a commanding view of the city of Oran. Throughout history, it has held significant strategic importance, which led to the construction of the Santa Cruz Fort atop the hill. The fort has witnessed fierce battles between the Ottomans and the Spaniards. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the hill by walking along its many paths, each offering a unique perspective of the bay, and can also discover the fort with the assistance of a guide. It is a major attraction for those seeking things to do in Oran, providing a captivating historical and scenic experience.
2. Hassan Pasha Mosque
The mosque, built by bey Mohamed El-Kébir in the late 18th century, is a splendid example of Islamic architecture. Its cone-shaped minaret, adorned with Ottoman-style earthenware, makes it visible from a distance. Situated on the right bank of the Rhi wadi, in the Sidi El-Houari district, visits to the mosque are conducted in the morning, except on Fridays. Exploring the mosque allows visitors to marvel at the remarkable crescent-shaped interior courtyard and the intricate walls adorned with oriental-inspired geometric patterns. It is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the cultural richness of Oran through a leisurely stroll.
3. The Mediterranean City Garden
During the summer, a delightful escape awaits you in the alleys of the Jardin Citadin Méditerranéen, a municipal park located in the heart of the city. This park is a popular spot for children and couples in love to enjoy. You can cool off and unwind by strolling through the park’s pathways. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor a delicious skewer of grilled meat with coriander from the street vendors in the area.
If relaxation is what you seek, find a spot on the park’s lawns and treat yourself to a breathtaking view of the nearby Mediterranean Sea. It’s the perfect setting to unwind and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
For those with an active lifestyle, the Jardin Citadin Méditerranéen also offers fitness trails scattered throughout the park. Engage in some exercise while exploring the green surroundings. It’s a fantastic option for fitness enthusiasts visiting Oran.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation, culinary delights, or an active experience, the Jardin Citadin Méditerranéen provides a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Oran during the summer months.
4. The Habibas Islands
The Habibas Islands, located approximately thirty kilometers northwest of the city of Oran, are a hidden gem known to few. These islands are home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, some of which are exclusive to this region.
Visiting the Habibas Islands is a special experience, but it requires some planning. To access the islands, you will need to negotiate with a local fisherman who, for a small fee, can transport you there. This secluded archipelago is classified as a maritime nature reserve, ensuring its preservation and protection. It offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in untouched and untamed nature, right off the coast of North Africa.
Exploring the Habibas Islands is an ideal excursion for those visiting Oran and seeking an adventure off the beaten path. It allows you to witness the beauty of unspoiled landscapes and encounter species that are exclusive to this unique ecosystem. Make sure to include this extraordinary experience in your itinerary when you visit Oran.
5. The Zabana National Museum in Oran
The museum in question is a truly remarkable establishment that presents a wide range of captivating collections. Each section of the museum offers something unique and fascinating. From traces of the earliest prehistoric humans who inhabited Algerian territory to the rich displays of Muslim arts, including sections dedicated to the revolution and the history of the city, this museum is undoubtedly a must-visit destination for those seeking things to do in Oran.
Moreover, the museum site includes one of the most exquisite libraries in the region, allowing visitors to delve into a world of knowledge and exploration. Additionally, art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to admire the works of contemporary artists showcased within the museum.
This museum serves as a gateway to the rich cultural heritage and history of Oran, providing visitors with a profound and enlightening experience. It is a place of great interest and discovery, offering a glimpse into the diverse aspects of the region’s past and present. Don’t miss the chance to explore this extraordinary museum during your visit to Oran.
6. The heart of town
We cannot overlook the enchanting streets of Oran, where the key to an exceptional experience lies in exploring and immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere. One of the essential places to visit is the Place du 1er Novembre, which stands as the true heart of the city’s historic center. Here, you can admire the remarkable obelisk erected in tribute to Emir Abdelkader, a prominent figure in Algerian history. Surrounding the square, you’ll find buildings showcasing the finest examples of colonial architecture, transporting you to a bygone era.
Venturing beyond the city center, make sure to explore the renowned seafront, stretching for 2 kilometers from the Zabana roundabout to the Palais du Bey. This picturesque waterfront area offers an invigorating seaside experience, allowing you to soak in the refreshing sea air and take a well-deserved break along the water’s edge. It’s a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the beauty of the coastal scenery.
Strolling through the streets of Oran, from the historic center to the captivating seafront, unveils the city’s charm and reveals its rich history. Embrace the opportunity to explore these remarkable areas and make the most of your stay in Oran.