Straddling Africa and Middle East, Egypt’s Cairo is the biggest city and amongst the most popular tourist magnets of the region. The city makes for a heady blend of pulsating modern dynamism and old world charm. The destination has often been affectionately called ‘Paris on the Nile’ and ‘the mother of all cities’. Be it those iconic pyramids of Giza or the raucous banter of traders at the bustling Khan El-Khalili Bazaar, Cairo has its own brand of charm to bewitch the visitor.
The city emanates an invigorating energy and an excitement and exhilaration engulfs the visitor every day. The astonishing gold of Tutankhamen and other exquisite and ancient artefacts in the Cairo Museum, the maze of narrow streets of Khan al-Khalili bazaar, the Nile island of Gezira, awe-inspiring pyramids of Giza and the fine restaurants for relaxation in the city and indeed puffing leisurely on a sheesha while watching the life of the city whirl past – all make Cairo a unique city in the whole world.
Every year, the destination comes alive with millions of tourists flying in from all parts of the globe. Although, Cairo may spell as a cheap holiday for some, but the experience here is definitely rich for everyone.
Tourist Spots in Cairo
Visit Cairo and be prepared to get boggled by numerous world famous sightseeing attractions. Be it the enigmatic pyramids and the Sphinx, the City of the Dead, or those magnificent museums, churches, and mosques – Cairo has enough tourist magnets to ensure a jam packed week of exhilarating sightseeing to say the least. Checking out the city gives one a rich insight into Islamic culture and some of the forces that has shaped present day Cairo. Most major attractions appear in all tour itineraries which can also be tailored to squeeze in some of the unique attractions in the destination. Whatever you do, don’t skip the chance to take a cheap cruise on the Nile and make sure that you visit the following places during your Cairo holidays.
- Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
- Egyptian Museum
- Coptic Museum
- The Hanging Church
- Mohammad Ali Mosque
- Papyrus Museum
- Pharaonic Village
Shopping Attractions in Cairo
Shoppingmakes for a delightful experience in Cairo. Although, there are not too many malls to choose from, one can indulge in plenty of souks and street bazaars. A major shopping highlight is the city’s world renowned handicraft scene. Cairo is also the fashion nucleus of the Arabic world with the Heliopolis being at the centre of most of the hottest places. Remember, haggling in the bazaars is a part of life in Cairo and seasoned shoppers get to pick up fantastic bargain deals by adeptly using this art. Here are some of the best spots to indulge in retail therapy in Cairo.
- Khan El-Khalili Bazaar
- Fair Trade Cairo
- Midan Talaat Harb
- Midan Ataba
- Khan Ibn Tulul
- The First Mall
Eating Out in Cairo
Cairo spells deliciously delightful for the gourmet. There are scores of restaurants dishing out a myriad array of cuisines including Egyptian, Greek, Italian, Thai, and Lebanese fare. Whether it is cheap street food or splurging out on high end swanky restaurants, Cairo offers plenty of options. The former variety is more common in the downtown area, while Zamalek, Mohandiseen and other upscale areas of the town have the more chic eating out places. Here is a small list of famed eating out areas in Cairo.
- Abou Shakra
- Abou El Sid
- Dar El Amar
- Abu al-Hassan al-Haty
- Abu Tarek
- Alfy Bay
- Asia House
There is a world of cheap guesthouses, boutique hotels, as well as 5 star chains to choose from in Cairo. Hotels offering views of the Nile are much sought after and usually command high charges. Similarly, if you book hotels near the Pyramids of Giza, make sure that your room has a view of the pyramids. However, if you want cheap hotels, then Downtown would be one of the best places to narrow down upon the cheapest deals in the market. Here are some of the budget, mid range, and high end hotels from Cairo.
- President Hotel
- Lotus Hotel
- African House Hotel
- Talisman Hotel de Charme
- Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah
- The Mena House Oberoi
Find the latest airfares and discounted offers on flights to Cairo operating from UK.
Preferred Airlines to Cairo from UK
Airports in Cairo
Cairo International Airport is the main airport of the destination and busiest airport in Egypt. It is the main hub for EgyptAir and hosts domestic, regional, and international passenger and cargo services for more than 30 airlines. The airport also serves plenty of flights from Cairo to the UK. Cairo International Airport has three terminals and is located about 15 Kms north east to the business district of the city.
Best Time to Visit Cairo
A trip to Cairo is best planned during the winter months of December to February. In fact, many tourists book their flights to Cairo with the Christmas and Easter holidays in mind. The nights can be a bit chilly with temperatures dipping to about 8 °C. If you are looking for a flavourful nightlife, plan your trip for the month of Ramadan. However, the days may prove to be boring during this time. Although, the summer months are blisteringly hot, it does not automatically imply cheap air tickets and discount travel to the destination, as the influx of tourists from neighbouring nations tend to jack up prices. Some airlines to Cairo roll out discount air fares and may be able to offer great last minute deals, so a cost conscious traveller must keep a close watch on the air travel market. It is also worth remembering that strong gales lash Cairo during March and April.
Getting Around in Cairo
A cheap and efficient way of local travel is aboard the metro rail system. Its tickets just cost about 1.00 LE and the only major inconvenience is the lack of queuing at the ticket window. One can also avail of cab facilities. The older cabs are of a black and white shade and the fares are usually negotiated with the drivers. The newer taxis are yellow in colour and fares are based on meter readings. Buses are yet another mode of travel. The different types of buses are the red, white, and blue public buses, the air conditioned buses, and the mini buses.
Cairo Travel Tips
Here are some trips to consider for your trip to Cairo.
- Women venturing out alone may expect some unwanted attention in the way of catcalls, but rarely anything more serious.
- Women are also advised to avoid travelling in crowded buses as it can create the scenario for eve teasing.
- In case you get lost, it is better to rely only upon police officers and other security agencies for guidance.
- One has to be very careful on the streets as traffic rules are frequently ignored in Cairo. Furthermore, if your taxi driver drives rashly and does not heed you, it is better to make him stop and get out of the car.
- If you are visiting during late summer or fall before the rains, be prepared for smog.
- Mosquitoes are a major problem in Cairo and are at their worst spree from dusk to dawn.
- An upset tummy can be a very common problem. It is best to avoid minced meats, raw leafy vegetables, cut fruits, egg based dressings. It is also advisable to stick to bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
- Going forth with health related warnings, in case you get a stomach infection, it is better to try drugs available with Egyptian pharmacies rather than using the ones you brought from home.
(Note: This destination guide is based on information gathered from reliable resources available on the internet and provides only general information about the destination. Southall Travel holds no responsibility for any misrepresentation of facts and will not be in any way liable for any kind of eventuality arising from the use of information given in this guide)