Cairo Travel Guide, Egypt
This energetic and colourful city is a wonderful blend of old and new which combine most chaotically.
The capital city of Egypt is filled with history, charm and famous symbols that have made it such a well known and popular destination to visit, but as well as well as the history and culture you will also discover that Cairo is a modern city with art galleries, top music venues, nightlife and a shoppers paradise with plenty on offer from the ancient Khan-el Khalili Bazaar to the extremely modern shopping malls where you can find all the popular western shopping chains as well as an excellent selection of quality items such as perfume, jewelry and souvenirs.
The weather in Cairo stays pretty warm during the winter months of between November and April with temperatures usually between 15 to 24*C during the day often getting cooler and dropping to between 8 and 14*C during the night. During the summer months of May to October average temperatures are between 18 and 36*C which can sometimes rise up even higher well in to the mid 40*C's. The best time to visit Cairo is during the Spring months of March, April, May and the Autumn months of September, October and November when you'll find temperatures are at there most pleasant.
Traffic in Cairo is very chaotic and moves at a great pace, it is therefore often safer to take a taxi rather than drive or cycle.
The Metro system in Cairo is very clean and efficient and runs all day from early till late under the National Authority for Tunnels. The Metro system is also relatively safe and has separate compartments for women only positioned towards the the front of the train, although women are allowed to travel in any carriage they wish. Tickets need be obtained at the Station before departure.
There are several busses that run around the city and tickets are purchased from the driver when boarding. The busses in Cairo do get extremely overcrowded and you will find that many other passengers will all be trying to get on board at the same time as you are, they don't know how to queue so when in Cairo if you want to get on the bus its best to do the same and positively get on board.
The taxi's within the Cairo can be easily recognized as they are black and white and can be obtained by booking one from your hotel or from hailing one from the street. Taxi's are often shared with passengers going to the same destination, so if you see a taxi driving by with a passenger already in it, don't be afraid to shout out your destination to stop the taxi and join the ride there. In Cairo you and not the driver are expected to know what the fare will cost so ask at your hotel roughly what it should cost to go to your destination or if the taxi is being shared seek advice from the other passengers.
There are many bicycle for hire, however caution should be taken when venturing out onto the roads due to the incredibly busy traffic which is non stop all day and night.
The main train station in Cairo is Ramses Station which runs trains out of Cairo to other destinations such as Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan. Ticket reservations can be made in advance from the station or on the day of travel, it is advisable to book ahead if you plan to travel at the weekend.
Cairo International Airport is located around 23 kilometers from the centre of Cairo and has three terminals which are serviced by a free shuttle bus service which runs at regular intervals. There are many International flights in and out of Cairo to destinations such as to London and New York and Paris. The Airport has several facilities such as a Tourist Information Office, Banking Exchange, ATM's, Shops, cafe, restaurants and car hire kiosks and in order to travel from the airport into Cairo you can either take a bus or taxi from outside the airport.
- Car Hire
There are several well known car hire companies in Cairo such as Avis and Budget which can be booked either from the airport or through some hotels. In order to drive a hire car in Cairo you need to be over the age of 25 and have a International Driving Licence. However you should be aware that driving in Cairo is like no other driving culture you will have ever witnessed, the roads are busy on a permanent basis and can get very bumpy. If you can cope with the manic driving then your next challenge will be parking which is also pretty non existent and it is often easier and safer to simply take a taxi.
One of the most popular sports in the City of Cairo is soccer which along with many other sporting events often takes place at the Cairo International Stadium ( Stad El-Qahira El-Dawly) which was built in 1958 and has a seating capacity for just over 74000 people. There is also the opportunity to play golf with several excellent golf courses available in Cairo such as Katameya Heights Golf and Tennis Resort, The Gezira Sporting Club and the Pyramids Golf and Country Club. The Giezira Sporting Club also has facilities for well over 30 other sports such as skateboarding, squash, table tennis, swimming and cycling. Fishing is also popular and you can fish just about anywhere along the banks of the Nile or rent a felucca (small boat) and fish or simply enjoy the Nile that way. Head for the Pyramids of Giza if you are after a camel ride which simply has to be done in this fabulous location just make sure you agree the price before you start and stick to it.
There is a huge and diverse selection of stalls, cafe's, coffee shops and restaurants in Cairo with traditional dishes such as the Egyptian national dish called Koshary which mixes together rice and pasta with chick peas, onions, garlic, lentils and chili sauce into a surprisingly popular and tasty dish, Koshery is so popular that you will find that there are several Koshery restaurants where it is the only thing on the menu. Other popular dish's include Ful medammas which is a popular breakfast dish containing fava beans and there is also a dish called Falafel which is a mixture of pulses and beans that are served as fried balls or patty's and are often with pitta bread.
Koshery, Ful Medammas and Falafel are all excellent dishes to get you started with Egyptian food, alternatively there are all the usual Western chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Hard Rock Cafe and TGI Fridays. Or if you want a slightly more unique dining experience then how about dining on a riverboat whilst journeying up the Nile.
Shopping in Cairo is a totally unique experience and has everything from street stalls, bazaars and tiny boutiques to large Malls with several well known Western shopping chains available. The largest Mall is the incredibly modern Citystars Mall which has 5 incredible floors packed with well over 600 stores which include both Egyptian and Western items. The Mall also offers restaurants to help keep up your shopping strength, an indoor amusement centre and an entertainment and cinema complex all within one site which is close to the airport.
To really get into the Egyptian way of shopping you have to visit the amazing Khan-el Khalili Bazaar or souk which means market place, which contains a huge number of stalls all tightly packed into medieval style streets and alleyways located in central Cairo with many traditional handmade crafts and goods as well as spices, silks, home wares, traditional clothing, jewelry and plenty of souvenir ideas to take home with you, be prepared though as haggling is a must in this area. Within the market there is the well known Fishawi's Cafe which has been running 24 hours a day for well over 200 years and is a great place to relax and enjoy watching all the activity going on around you, the coffee here is exceptionally strong.
If you do plan on buying something then you will need to brush up on your haggling technique which is often both required and expected, be prepared to take your time shopping to give yourself a good chance to find the best product at the most reasonable price.
Cairo is filled with many lively bars and clubs where you will often find great music and a good deal of dancing going on, there are also speciality bars such as jazz clubs and karaoke bars which are always entertaining, and some select bars offer live music as well. There are several more upmarket venues where you can go, such as the Cairo Opera House where you can enjoy music, dancing and art in a sophisticated setting and several Casino's where you can really dress up and enjoy yourselves, or if you wish to relax and enjoy a quiet moment to reflect on your sightseeing there are several pubs that can accommodate you. One thing to be aware of is that due to the Muslim Culture many residents of Cairo do not drink alcohol, although both alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks are served in most places if it is not then you simply need to be respectful of their culture and go somewhere else.
Cairo Travel Attractions Guide
Cairo is well known for its many ancient structures, mosques and museums, which combine brilliantly with the cities modern venues like the Opera House and Tower;
- The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
The site of the Giza Necropolis is home to some of Egypt's most famous symbols and has such wonders as the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the impressive Great Sphinx, there are also the two other Pyramids called Khafre and Menkaure. The shear size and scale of these Pyramids is sure to impress and other attractions at Giza include the sound and light show and of course camel rides... more about The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
- Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities simply must be visited due to the enormous selection of Egyptian Artefacts that are carefully housed inside the museum. One of the most popular areas of the museum is the Tutankamun collection which has on display the amazing gold burial mask as well as many other important finds from the tomb... more about the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
- Liberation Square
Liberation Square ( Midan Tahir) lies in the very heart of Cairo and is surrounded by buildings such as the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, The American University in Cairo and the Omar Makram Mosque... more about Liberation Square
- Cairo Tower
The Cairo Tower is an fantastic landmark that has an outdoor observation deck that offers amazing views of Cairo as well as a cafe and the unique revolving restaurant at the top of the Tower... more about Cairo Tower
- Coptic Museum
The Museum is located in Coptic Cairo and has been protecting, preserving and collecting fine pieces of Coptic Art for over 100 years, the museum has a huge selection on display within a well presented museum... more about Coptic Museum
- Babylon Fortress
The Babylon or Roman Fortress is located in Coptic Cairo which is one of the oldest areas of Cairo. Inside the fortress are several church's which includes the famous Hanging Church and the Church of St. George as well as the Coptic museum which has on display many important Coptic artefacts and information about this unique site... more about Babylon Fortress
- Hanging Church
This uniquely positioned church is beautifully decorated and contains many fine examples of Coptic Art inside. The church is located in Coptic Cairo within the walled Babylonian fortress and is close to the Coptic Museum where some more of the church's possessions are kept safely on display... more about Hanging Church
The Citadel is a walled Fortress that contains several sites of interest such as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, the Al-Gawhara Palace, the Military Museum and the Well of St Joseph which has several hundred steps leading down into the well... more about Citadel
- Sultan Hassan Mosque
This is one of the largest and most impressive Mosques in the World and was built by Sultan Hassan in 1356 as a Mausoleum, Mosque and religious school... more about Sultan Hassan Mosque
- Cairo Opera House
The modern Cairo Opera House regularly hosts excellent performances of music, ballet and dance. The Opera House has 7 theatres which include an open air theatre a large main hall that seats around 1200 people, as well as some smaller more intimate theatres... more about Cairo Opera House
- Festivals In Cairo
Some of the most popular festivals in Cairo are the Cairo International Film Festival, Arabic Music Festival, Book Fair and the exciting Pharaohs Rally. Cairo also has several public holidays where you may find that many shops and businesses are closed or have limited opening hours... more about Cairo Festivals