Cairo! The city with the thousands of minarets, a magical destination overflown by pictures, adventure and plenty of mystery that promises to stay engraved in your travel memories. A different civilization with numerous surprises, outstanding monuments and works of art which cannot but lure you into visiting it. That was the reason we got attracted and the reason we decided to organize our first trip outside of Europe, aspiring for a special experience at Cairo. Our full travel guide below, will provide you with all you need to know and do at your first visit at Cairo.
Table of Contents
- The biggest city of Africa and capital of Egypt.
- 6,7 mil estimated population within the city and an estimated 10 mil within the periphery.
- There are only 2 underground metro systems in the African continent, one of which is found at Cairo.
- The climate is desert warm and tropical, but with high humidity.
- The International Airport of Cairo is the biggest of Egypt and the second largest in Africa.
For more information regarding Egypt read here.
From the airport
VIP Cars: At the exitsyou will find up to 7 seat mini vans that will take you at youraccommodation at a certain predetermined price.
Taxi:You can get the black and white taxis at a predetermined price ranging from 50 EGP – 80 EGP or the newer white taxis that are equipped with a taximeter. However, certain drivers might set an starting price of more than100 EGP, because they know some tourists negotiate bargains.
Check prices here.
Uber: The well-known application will free you from bargaining, you will already know the price of the ride and feel more secure being able to observe your journey’s route.
Bus: Bus 356 connects Terminal 1 (international flights) to the city center. However,it is not preferred as the timetables are not respected and there are delays.
It is a 45 minutes distance depending on the traffic. In order to secure your journeyfrom the airport, we suggest that you book a hotel that includestransportationfrom and to the airport in its services.In any other occasion, the experience of finding and negotiating a price with one of the many drivers, willfeel chaotic and frustrating.
Transportation within the city
Underground Metro: Functional and the mostcost-efficient means of transport in the city, it will free you from the traffic and loud streets. The price of the ticket depends on the journey, but the highest pricereaches up to 7 pounds (50mins approx.). For women there are separate wagons in each train.
Tok Tok:You will have to negotiate and price as there is no meter at the tricycle, but you will experience it’s vibrant adventure.
Taxi: We do not advice the use of taxi within the city. You will find it challenging to communicate with the drivers, as most speak minor to no English at all. The times we took the taxi at Cairo, we showed the address at the driver and he de-touredforcing the price of the meter to go up (whereas some were not even using the meter) and at the end they asked for double the meter price, providing with less change at the end.
For taxi routes and prices check here.
VIP Transport:Private transport with a driver or touristguide depending on the package. Many hotel services bookorganized tours with a driver or tourist guide. However, there are those hotels that function as mediators with local drivers and take certain commission. For this reason, make sure to conduct research for the prices on the tours you desire.
Best things to do in Cairo
It is considered to be one of the richest museums in terms of the number of its exhibits that are amongst the greatest of the pharaonic Egypt. It has 120.000 exhibits, among which you will find papyri, jewelry, coins, statues and personal items of pharaohsthat were found on the burial excavations. The most importantexcavationin global history was that of king Tutankhamun. From the findings discovered, that which stands out is a mask of 11 kilos, andis one of the most important exhibits in the museum. The mummies of the kings with impress you (e.g. Ramses III, AmenhotepIII, Sneferu, Nefertiti) which are found in very good condition. Bewareas for some exhibitspictures are not allowed and you might be fined if you act otherwise.
Also, in 2020 the Grand Egyptian Museum openen which contains around 50.000 exhibits. Some of which moved from the Egyptian Museum.
The pyramids are among the most famous touristic sights of the world. Thousands of tourists flood Egypt every year, exclusively for this region. Even if it is referenced everywhere as a touristic sight of Cairo, it belongs at the region of Giza which is very close.
More information for the necropolis and the pyramids you will find in our article here.
Part of the Old Cairo, which constituted the first stages of Christianity in Egypt, consists of the Babylonian Fortress, the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, as well as several other Coptic Churches and historic sites. In the Coptic Cairo it is believed that the Holy Family visited the area and stayed at the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Abu Serga) so that they could hide during Herod’s invasion. The cobbled alleys and fortress walls add a picturesque touch to your tour.
Or else, the Acropolis of Cairo, was built between 1176 and 1183 AD, in order to prevent the Crusaders. It is known for its three mosques (Muhammed Ali, Al-Nasir, Muhammad and Sulayman Pasha) in which you will admire the imposing Islamic architecture.
Amr Ibn Al-As Mosque
This is the first mosque built in Egypt and throughout Africa. It is currently the fourth largest mosque in the Islamic world. You will be asked, as in all mosques, to remove your shoes before entering and women are given cloaks to wear over their clothes to cover their bodies.
It is the largest and most famous bazaar in Cairo, as well as the oldest. You can find literally everything from souvenirs, jewelry and herbs to handmade clothes and rugs. It was our choice from which to buy some souvenirs for our home and acquaintances, since we had heard that there are great bargains in product prices, something you should not be ashamed to do.
Walk with felucca
Felucca was a type of small wooden boat in the area, mainly in the Eastern Mediterranean. The ideal time for your walk in the Nile with this floating vehicle is mainly in the afternoon, when the sun has set, making the landscape idyllic for photos that will be unforgettable.
Cruise and dinner on the Nile
Delightful dinner along the Nile accompanied by music and oriental dances. The lights from the cruise ships and the feluccas that take a walk reflect the Nile, creating a romantic atmosphere. There is usually a large buffet with various local Egyptian dishes. The shows usually include belly dances from both men and women, which, however, are accompanied by various other shows in which even the guests can participate. Based on our experience, the duration of the cruise is about 4 hours and the cost is 40 € per couple. Our hotelier had asked for double the money to get the commission. We recommend that you use an application, such as Getyourguide. The reason is to avoid the commission requested by travel agencies and hoteliers, after first reading the reviews of available tours.
The large park it looks like an oasis of greenery in the city. Wander through its gardens and alleys, enjoy the fountains and take a breath of fresh air away from the noise of the city. There is a mandatory entrance and inside you will find cafes and restaurants. We preferred to eat at the Misr studio in the center of the park, where in addition to the wonderful traditional food, we were impressed by the architecture of the building and the view of Citadelle.
Excursion to Alexandria
The city of Alexandria is less than 3 hours away. Alexandria is the second largest city and the main port of Egypt. Known for its ancient lighthouse and library and many more points of interest. More information can be found on our article here.
Bus routes from Cairo to Alexandria can be found here.
Cairo Opera House
The Cairo Opera House is a cultural landmark and performing arts center located in the heart of Cairo, Egypt. The opera house was inaugurated in 1988 and serves as the main venue for performing arts in the city, hosting a wide range of events including operas, ballets, concerts, and theatrical performances.
The opera house complex features several performance spaces, including the Main Hall, which can seat up to 1,200 people and is used for large-scale productions such as operas and ballets. There is also the Small Hall, which can seat up to 500 people and is used for smaller productions such as chamber music concerts and theatrical performances.
In addition to the performance spaces, the Cairo Opera House also houses several other facilities, including rehearsal rooms, a music library, and an art gallery. The gallery displays a rotating collection of artwork from local and international artists. The architecture of the Cairo Opera House is stunning, with a modern design that incorporates traditional Egyptian motifs. The exterior of the building is adorned with sculptures and carvings that depict ancient Egyptian gods and symbols.
At 187 meters you will enjoy the panoramic view of the city. A tower whose shape symbolizes the flower of the Pharaohs, the Lotus. At the top you will find the revolving platform with the restaurant, which offers a unique view of the pyramids, the Nile and the whole city, and each rotation lasts 70 minutes.
Arabic coffee (or tea) and hookah
Fans of coffee should try the Arabic coffee in the kettle with spicy spices in a store that you will find on your way. In these cafes (ahwa) they offer hookahs with special flavors such as apple smoke and their local tea is just as wonderful. We recommend the Fishawy Coffee Café, the oldest coffee shop named after the large mirrors and large wooden frames that decorate it.
Check out what to do in Cairo here.
Where to eat in Cairo
Sequoia: Large armchairs and hanging lanterns offering views of the illuminated buildings on the Nile, Sequoia Restaurant will offer you high quality Mediterranean cuisine.
Felfella: In the city center, you will find our favorite Felfella restaurant, where you can taste traditional Egyptian food. The decoration with the live quails and pigeons in the cages (which we later saw in the list as stuffed or fried), the low lighting with the oriental lanterns and the service, in addition to their delicious food, won us over.
O ’Pasta: For something different from the local flavors, O’ Pasta offers Italian cuisine with reasonable prices and amazing service.
Abou Tarek: A good solution for fast and filling food in Cairo, Abou Tarek has only served Koshary since 1950.
In addition to traditional cuisine, in the city you can eat at well-known world restaurant chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut.
When to go
The best time to visit Cairo is during the winter or early spring. During this period, the temperature values are comfortable enough to move within the city, without the hot sun spoiling your plans. We personally made our trip to Cairo in December. The weather was great with temperatures up to 22 degrees at noon and a slight chill during the night. However, the weather is not always stable, there are several changes during the day and large deviations from morning to night.
Summer months are almost forbidden for a trip to Cairo. The hot desert sun will not allow you to enjoy your activities and high humidity is annoying. Rainfall is rare in winter and summer, so it’s hard for any rain to spoil your designs.
Useful Sites & Apps
In the last few years we have been travelling we have singled out some applications, which we use before every trip or during it. We have chosen them over others for their validity, ease of use and variety in the options they have to offer. We describe below in detail what these are together with their characteristics.
Booking.com is a popular online booking platform for accommodations worldwide. With a vast selection of hotels, apartments, villas, and more, Booking.com offers travellers the convenience of finding and booking their ideal stay in just a few clicks. The site’s user-friendly interface and extensive filtering options make it easy to narrow down search results based on specific preferences such as price, location, amenities, and more. As a result, Booking.com has become a go-to destination for travellers looking for hassle-free booking options. With competitive pricing and a loyalty program that rewards repeat bookings, Booking.com is a top choice for travellers seeking great deals and a seamless booking experience. For available rooms and prices look here.
One of the best, most trustworthy, and most convenient 5-star airport taxi companies for your airport transfer based on user reviews across various platforms such as Google, Tripadvisor, and Trustpilot. Welcome Pickups offers a great experience and safety to its travelers. Local English-speaking drivers, flat, pre-paid fee, flight monitoring for delays, 24/7 Customer support + free cancellation. Check your options here.
With more than 1 million properties worldwide, the options never end, ideal for low budget opportunities even in expensive destinations. In addition, because it hosts homes or villas on its website, it makes you feel more familiar with each destination.
Hotels.com is a leading provider of hotel accommodation worldwide, offering booking services through its own network of localised websites. Once you reach 10 nights, you’ll have a free night which you can apply at checkout. You can earn multiple free nights by continuing to book with Hotels.com, though. The platform gives travellers one of the widest selections of accommodation on the net, including both independent and major chain hotels as well as self-catering in over hundreds of thousands properties worldwide. The company offers a one-stop shopping source for hotel pricing, amenities and availability. Find the best deals here.
Tripadvisor helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travellers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before. With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions of nearly 8 million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places nearby. Find available offers and book your accommodation here.
Omio is a leading travel platform that helps you easily plan and book your trips. With a comprehensive network of trains, buses, and flights across Europe and beyond, Omio allows you to compare and choose the best travel options for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or an extended vacation, Omio’s user-friendly interface and competitive prices make it easy to create unforgettable travel experiences. Check available routes here.
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search engine, helping millions of travellers find the best flights, hotels and car rentals. With a user-friendly interface and powerful search technology, Skyscanner makes it easy to compare prices and options across hundreds of travel providers, giving you the best deals for your trip. From budget to luxury, domestic to international, Skyscanner has everything you need to plan your next adventure. So whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, start your journey with Skyscanner and discover the world like never before. Available flights and prices can be found here.
GetYourGuide is an online marketplace for booking travel activities and experiences. With a wide variety of tours, activities, and attractions available in destinations around the world, GetYourGuide makes it easy to find and book unique experiences for your next trip. From city sightseeing tours and food and wine tastings to outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, GetYourGuide has something for every type of traveller. With a user-friendly website and mobile app, and a commitment to customer satisfaction, GetYourGuide is a top choice for travellers seeking memorable and authentic experiences. For available activities and tours check here.
DiscoverCars.com offers a hassle-free car rental booking experience, with a wide range of rental car options available worldwide. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, DiscoverCars.com offers competitive rates, 24/7 customer support, and flexible cancellation policies. With no hidden fees and a user-friendly interface, booking your rental car has never been easier. Choose from a variety of car rental options, including economy, luxury, and family-friendly vehicles, and enjoy the freedom of the open road on your next adventure. Book with DiscoverCars.com today and start exploring the world on your own terms!
Here you will find last minute discounts on vacancies from hotels. This is an amazingly simple app and it doesn’t take long to book a room.You may search in each town for sights and maps. Furthermore, you can check the reviews and photos of other travellers in order to be sure about the reliability of each hotel. It also has a 24/7 customer service. If you’re stuck somewhere and you need a room desperately, this is the perfect app for you.
City Maps 2Go
Maps for travelling, hiking, mountain cycling and many other activities. A necessary app for every adventure, activity or touring abroad. You may only download one map per country, whereas it was possible to download two in the past. For an additional map you need to pay. Alternatively, as soon as you have looked at the information on a map you can delete it and then download a new one.
You can mark all the places of interest on the map you have downloaded. Whether they are sights, shops, or restaurants you can use the directions guide to get there. The great advantage to this app is that you don’t need to have internet connection although it might get stuck a few times. Nevertheless, it is quite a reliable and useful app.
Once you have marked all the places you want to visit prior to your trip, you can also book your accommodation accordingly. This way you can be sure you’ll be staying somewhere close to all places of interest.
iVisa.com is an online platform that helps travellers obtain electronic visas, eVisas, and other travel documents quickly and easily. With an extensive database of travel requirements for over 200 countries and a user-friendly application process, iVisa.com makes it simple for travellers to apply for and obtain the necessary documents for their trips. Whether you’re planning a vacation, business trip, or other travel experience, iVisa.com can help you navigate the complexities of travel documentation with ease. More information for the necessary travel documents, depending on your nationality and destination can be found here.
Find a city’s hidden gems & cool places directly from the people who know it best. Keep local travel ideas in your pocket. Simply choose your list of cool places & click ‘download’ on the confirmation screen after checking out. The link will open in Google Maps. Hit ‘follow’ and save it for later. Download your Local Travel Guide here.
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