Poets, sailors, writers or adventurers have felt in their own flesh the magic that the city of Alexandria exudes. Halfway between the culture of the Middle East and Europe, this great Egyptian city has been a cultural and commercial centre of reference for all the peoples who inhabit the Mediterranean for thousands of years.
In Alexandria it is possible to look for the ruins of the ancient lighthouse or the library that managed to fascinate the scholars of the antiquity. But it is also possible to walk through modern neighborhoods such as Corniche, a clear example of European influence in this Egyptian city.
Today, Alexandria boasts of being one of Egypt’s cultural centres. All this is accompanied by a first class cuisine in which seafood and Arabian food are served in restaurants such as Abou El Sid to make you live an unforgettable experience visiting one of the most fascinating corners of the world.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Alexandria
- What to do in Alexandria
- When to visit Alexandria
- How to get to Alexandria
- Where to stay in Alexandria
- How to get around Alexandria
- Cost of living in Alexandria
- Where to eat in Alexandria
Top 5 reasons to visit Alexandria
An exceptional historical heritage
Alexander the Great founded Alexandria more than 2000 years ago, so he has witnessed periods of greatness and others that have not shown such splendor. The best way to understand the rich legacy that lives on the streets of the city is to go to the National Museum of Alexandria to see the pieces that many cultures left behind.
The overwhelming Islamic architecture
Not only did the Greeks and Romans make Alexandria one of their great capitals, different Islamic peoples also forged the character of this city. A place like Abu al-Abbas is proof of this, as is the imposing Terbana Mosque or the Citadel of Qaitbay, all of which show the best of the Islamic style.
The waters of the Mediterranean
The heat can be stifling in the busy streets of Alexandria. Therefore, having beaches like Maamoura at hand is ideal for taking a dip and resting from the high temperatures while enjoying the Mediterranean waters that bathe the city.
The face of modern Egypt
Egypt is now one of the cultural epicentres of the Arab world and Alexandria is its capital in this respect. A visit to the modern Library of Alexandria or a visit to the Nabi Daniel market will open the doors to a cultural atmosphere that has its peak during the celebration of the Film Festival in September.
The taste of the most authentic cuisine
Foodies can congratulate themselves in Alexandria, which has the most vibrant gastronomic atmosphere in the country. The seafood served in the Byblos, the typical dishes of the Al-Farouk restaurant or the literary cafés like the Elite are good places to discover the goodness of the Alexandria’s cuisine.
What to do in Alexandria
Admire Pompey’s column
This triumphal column is one of the largest of its kind in the Roman Empire. Its approximately 25 meters high and the hundreds of tons it weighs altogether give good evidence of this, so it is a visit that should not be missed in any way. In addition, very close by are the Catacombs of Kom el Shogafa, another space of singular beauty in the area.
Visit the renovated Library of Alexandria
The old library, the one that fascinated in antiquity, is still a mystery to specialists today. However, the city has not remained hand in hand and has raised a new one that has become a reference for its extensive collection. The visit to this library can be completed with that of the National Museum and the planetarium, buildings that are within the library complex.
Admire the Montaza Palace
Extensive gardens, views over the Mediterranean and an architecture that takes the best of the architectural heritage of cultures such as Turkish or Florentine. The palace is a jewel of modern Alexandria and can be visited for hours both in its interior rooms and in its external gardens to enjoy a great experience.
Stop at Qaitbay Fortress
Defending Alexandria from the many invasion attempts was the task of this imposing construction since the 15th century. The square occupies the place of the Alexandria Lighthouse, one of the great wonders of the ancient world, so the visit is more than advisable.
See the Roman theater of Kom el Dikka
This amphitheatre is unique in its kind in all Egypt, proof of the importance the city had for the Romans. Discovered in the 20th century, its good conservation ensures one of the great visits to the city and allows you to discover incredible mosaics capable of transporting you to a past as remote as it is fascinating.
When to visit Alexandria
Summers are really hot in Alexandria, although this can be relieved by the many gardens and beaches within the town.
Apart from the heat, summer is also the time when you will find the most crowds of tourists, so it is a good idea to schedule your trip between April and May or September and October to avoid all this.
How to get to Alexandria
Borg el Arab (HBE) airport is the main gateway to this great Egyptian city. When you land here you can take some of the buses that connect to the city and that have a price of 10 E£ or take a taxi for about 150 E£.
If departing from Cairo, the Ramses train station is the starting point for convoys to Alexandria. The services called Turbo are the fastest and have air conditioning at all times, something that may be missing in other types of trains.
Budget or Europcar are car rental companies present at Alexandria airport. You can use their services and drive on highway 75 to the city to get there in a matter of minutes.
Companies such as West Delta or El Gouna provide daily services connecting Alexandria to Cairo and other cities. Travel time is usually within three hours.
Where to stay in Alexandria
Most of the hotels that serve the city and have a greater variety of services are located on the promenade. Accommodations such as the Helnan Palestine with its large area or the Four Seasons San Stefano with spa are a good example of the quality of the city’s hotels.
Alexandria’s most popular neighborhoods
Corniche: the city’s promenade was designed by the Italian Pietro Avoscani and is presented as a great boulevard full of life. Restaurants like Kadoura or Grand Café are located in this place that is completed with exceptional beaches.
The Centre: the inland area around the Corniche is the real centre of Alexandria. It is full of services and has the proximity of many of the monuments to be visited in this Egyptian capital.
San Stefano: This neighborhood occupies the eastern part of the city and is the center of local luxury. It has a beach, with good access to the center and with spaces as sophisticated as the San Stefano Plaza.
How to get around Alexandria
Trams and buses are the most important form of public transport in the city and also the cheapest. Tram travel costs £0.50 whereas buses can go from this cost to £1.50.
Taxis are fast and effective for moving around the city, although you should take precautions when using them. Not all of them have a meter to control the price, so it is best to negotiate the price of the trip before leaving. A normal journey usually costs around £100.
The car is the perfect choice if you’re leaving the city to explore the Nile Delta or the coastal towns near Alexandria. Companies such as Hertz, Budget or Europcar operate in the city and you can find a rental car for around £120 per day.
Cost of living in Alexandria
Shopping in Alexandria is a great option due to its relatively low prices and the presence of places like the Midan Tahrir souk, the Attareen market or the luxury of a shopping mall like the San Stegano Grand Plaza. A coffee in a bar can cost around £20 while dinner for two in an average restaurant is usually around £250.
Where to eat in Alexandria
Seafood is the star product for all those who come to Alexandria both for its price and the quality it offers. Restaurants such as Athineos or La Veranda are specialists in these delicacies. For its part, another like Kushari Bondok usually has more traditional dishes of Arab cuisine. The best restaurants have an approximate cost of 200 E£ per person.