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 mightset an starting price of more than100 EGP, because they know some tourists negotiate bargains.
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.
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.
In 2020 it is foreseen that the Grand Egyptian Museum will open and which contain around 50.000 exhibits. Some of which will be moved from the existing 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.
Cairo Opera House
For art lovers we recommend Cairo Opera House. South of Gezira Island in the Nile, where you will find a wide variety of performances and concerts.
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.
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 that we have been traveling, prior to reaching our destinations or even when we have already arrived, we have been using websites and their respective apps to help us choosing and immediately distinguish what is best for us and our pocket. We have chosen them over others, either because they are convenient for us, or for the corresponding levels of rewards they have. Without meaning that there are not many others out there that are practical. We present them to you below:
With a plethora of options, traveler categories depending on the reservations they have made with the ultimate goal of enjoying unique discounts and offers, promo codes for you and your friends,instant cash credits and much more. Start booking and discover all the possibilities. For available rooms and prices look 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. Available rooms and prices here.
Registering here is free and easy. Every hotel on this platform will grant a free tenth night, so if you stay for ten nights the tenth night is free.
There is no person on the planet who has not used this platform at least once to read reviews about places that interest them. The largest travel platform in the world with the ability to browse hundreds of millions of travel reviews and opinions to meet the needs of even the most demanding traveler. See compare and then book or visit.
All you need is a click away. Find the best deals from the best companies on trains, buses, airplanes and ships. Transfer to thousands of destinations in cities and countries in Canada, the United States and Europe. We use it often when we are already abroad and want to visit a neighboring country or city. Check available routes here.
The first place every traveler consults before each trip. Immediate and fast comparison of prices from airlines around the world. We love the filter to any destination that lists in ascending order the most economical destinations for the dates we have set. The best solution for traveling at the last minute. For available flights and prices look here.
A site for those who love activities and excursions or even museum visits. All available activities and tours around the world gathered in one place per day and time. Be mindful that before you book, to have read carefully the reviews from each provider to avoid any misunderstandings and problems, either with the benefits or with the conduct of each activity. We have tried it many times from Africa to America and Asia without any problems. For available activities and tours check here.
For car rentals at the lowest prices. By providing services in more than 150 countries, with many offers and continuous support in 12 different languages whichever way you prefer.
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.
More information for the necessary travel documents, depending on your nationality and destination can be found here.