6 must-dos in Oran

Visiting Oran: What are the best things to see and do in the city nicknamed the « Radiant City »?

Oran is a city of one million inhabitants located in north-western Algeria, on the shores of the Gulf of Oran. Algeria’s second-largest city after its capital, Algiers, this port metropolis nestles at the head of a bay open to the north and overlooked by the Aïdour mountain. Founded in the 10th century by the Andalusians, the city experienced a succession of Arab-Berber dynasties, then Spanish occupation, before being reconquered and… becoming the country’s second-largest city under French colonization!

Following the independence gained by the Algerian nation in the middle of the last century, it remains the economic capital of the West of the country and a leading economic center throughout North Africa. What’s more, there’s no shortage of attractions to entice potential visitors to Oran and immerse themselves in this city at the confluence of all cultures. Above all, Oran is a striking contrast: an urban, trendy metropolis with an impressive list of monuments, cultural and heritage sites that are a pleasure to contemplate.

Wondering what to do in Oran during your stay? Here’s the answer with our 6 must-sees to visit Oran and enjoy your trip without missing a beat!

Also read about the Oran guide:

1. Santa Cruz Fort

Fort de Santa Cruz, Oran

L’Aïdour is a 430-meter high hill overlooking the city of Oran. Over the centuries, it has been of great strategic importance, which is why the Santa Cruz fort was built here, the scene of fierce fighting between the Ottomans and the Spanish! The hill is criss-crossed by numerous footpaths, each offering a unique view of the bay, and the fort can be explored with a guide. One of the major points of interest for those looking for something to do in Oran!

2. Hassan Pacha Mosque

Built at the end of the 18th century by the bey Mohamed El-Kébir, the mosque is a jewel of Islamic architecture, and can be seen from afar thanks to its cone-shaped minaret covered in typical Ottoman faience. Located on the right bank of the Oued Rhi, in the Sidi El-Houari district, visits take place in the morning, except on Fridays, and enable visitors to discover the astonishing crescent-shaped inner courtyard and walls adorned with oriental-inspired geometric motifs. A must for anyone wishing to visit Oran while enjoying a cultural stroll.

3. The Mediterranean city garden

Jardin Citadin Méditerranéen, Oran

Photo credit: Facebook – Guide Oran

In summer, cool off in the alleys of the Jardin Citadin Méditerranéen, a municipal park in the heart of the city frequented by children and couples in love: enjoy a skewer of coriander-grilled meat served by street vendors, or lounge on the park’s lawns with a breathtaking view of the nearby Mediterranean Sea. For the more sporty visitors to Oran, there are even fitness trails dotted around the park!

4. Habibas Islands

Îles Habibas, Oran

Photo credit: Facebook – Oran-mer

Located offshore, some thirty kilometers northwest of the city of Oran, the Habibas islands are home to numerous plant and animal species, some of which can only be found here!

Secret and reserved for connoisseurs, they are not easily approached: to do so, you’ll need to negotiate with a fisherman who, for a few dinars, will agree to drop you off. Classified as a marine nature reserve, this is a unique excursion where you can enjoy unspoilt wilderness right on the North African coast. Ideal when visiting Oran!

5. The Zabana national museum in Oran

This astonishing museum boasts a wide range of collections, each more fascinating than the last: from traces of the first prehistoric man on Algerian territory, to Muslim art, not forgetting the section devoted to the revolution or that linked to the city’s history, this museum is certainly a place of interest to discover when you’re looking for something to do in Oran. What’s more, the site boasts one of the region’s finest libraries, as well as works by contemporary artists.

6. The heart of the city

We couldn’t leave out… the streets of Oran: make the most of your stay and take a stroll around Place du 1er Novembre, the heart of the city’s historic center, where you can admire the obelisk built in tribute to Emir Abdelkader, then the buildings constructed in the purest style of colonial architecture. Once you’ve left the heart of the city, head for the famous 2-kilometre-long seafront, stretching from the Zabana traffic circle to the Palais du Bey, where you can enjoy the sea air and a well-deserved break by the water.

How to get to Oran

Oran has an international airport, located in the commune of Es Sénia, 12 km south of Oran. Of course, the best way to get there is by air, and our partner Ulysse will help you find a flight at preferential rates.

As a port city, Oran can also be reached by sea: many boats make the crossing to Oran! What’s more, Oran’s modern, high-performance infrastructure (several railroad lines link the Oran railway station, to the east of the city, with the rest of Algeria) means that you’ll never be far from Oran.

There’s also a fairly good road network, but it’s not very dense once you leave the urban area, so you can vary your means of getting to the city and, once there, visit Oran with ease. Oh, and one more thing: the Oran metro won’t be in service until 2022, so you’ll have to use a rental car, cab or bus to get around the city!

Where to stay in Oran?

Oran is a large Algerian city with many different types of accommodation and sectors, each with its own advantages, to choose from depending on your profile as a traveler visiting Oran.

For typical, family-style accommodation, don’t hesitate to choose one of the many charming guesthouses in or around the city, run by authentic, friendly Algerians. Those on a comfortable budget can also opt for a room in the European quarter of the city center, near the Place du 1er Novembre, to benefit from all Western amenities: you can find the hotel of your dreams in Oran by searching on this hotel comparator.

And if you prefer a flexible, affordable solution, opt for Airbnb: this platform is making headway in North Africa, and for just a few euros you’ll be able to enjoy an apartment that’s just like you, so you’ll feel right at home!

Now you know how to make the most of the charms of this unique region when you visit Oran. But will you be able to choose what to do in Oran and… who will you choose to assist you in your Algerian adventure?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Oran,dz