Cairo Travel Guide
With its ancient monuments, its medieval city and its modern skyscrapers, a trip to Cairo is a journey through history. In fact, it is one of the most exciting cities in the world.
Its 17 million inhabitants make it one of the most populated capitals on the planet. It occupies a strategic position that makes it a crossroads between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which has made it a prosperous and culturally diverse city.
You must visit the fabulous pyramids of Giza, the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But Cairo is so much more. Midan Tahrir and Old Cairo, home to Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, will thrill you.
Soak up the Cairo atmosphere by entering the traditional cafes and trying the famous local water pipes. In summer, fresh fruit juices will suit you just fine.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Cairo
- What to do in Cairo
- When to visit Cairo
- How to get to Cairo
- Where to stay in Cairo
- Getting around Cairo
- Cost of living in Cairo
- Where to Eat in Cairo
Top 5 reasons to visit Cairo
The Pyramids of Giza
No one can leave Cairo without admiring one of the most famous artificial structures in the world. This complex of pyramid-shaped tombs and the Great Sphinx form a fascinating setting.
Saqqara and its contrasts
In this place you will find some of the oldest pyramids in the country. The best known, which was built by the famous native architect Imhotep, offers a striking contrast to the pyramids of Giza.
The City of the Dead
Next to the Citadel and in the oldest area of Cairo is located this unlikely necropolis, through which one million people pass every day. The most surprising thing is that thousands of them usually live inside it.
Cruise on the Nile
The Nile is the soul of Cairo. It offers visitors a refreshing disconnection from the warmth of this metropolis. You decide: a luxury cruise for several days or a short tour in one of the many Faluca boats that you can rent from half an hour.
Riding in the desert
Horseback riding through the pyramids during the sunset is a memorable experience. You also have the possibility of camping at night, under the stars and having a barbecue dinner.
What to do in Cairo
The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the wonders of the ancient world and one of the most recognizable icons of humanity. It is an ancient tomb that inspires mysticism and power, an engineering feat that continues to move and intrigue its visitors. Discover the glorious relics of the ancient Egyptian empire and take great pictures.
Admire the Guardian of the Tombs
With the body of a lion and a human female head, the Sphinx of Giza is a mythical and enigmatic creature. Tourists who see it feel its power, and are greeted with mysterious stories and legends.
Behold the treasures of the pharaohs
The Egyptian Museum is located in the Midan Tahrir district and offers the largest collection of Pharaonic treasures. Mummies, sarcophagi, masks and hieroglyphics flood the history of this civilization with color, beauty, mystery and charm. Without a doubt, the mask of Tutankhamen, cast in pure gold, is the highlight.
Walking around the Citadel
The Citadel of Cairo is a medieval Islamic fort that was built at the time of the Crusades with a protective function. It now dominates the city and provides spectacular views, as well as minarets, large courtyards and incomparable palaces.
Shopping at Khan el-Khalili
Khan el-Khalili is a large souk located in the heart of Cairo, full of tradition and character. It has an abundance of souvenir stands, craft shops, food stalls and fantastic spices. Its aromas are incomparable. The conversation of local vendors, saffron, clothing, statues and lemonade are some of its most characteristic elements.
When to visit Cairo
The winter months, between November and March, are the best time to travel to Cairo. Temperatures are therefore moderate: 18°C during the day and 7°C at night. In spring, from March to May, the climate is warm but still bearable. Also autumn offers reasonable temperatures, although the pollution of the city is high. In summer, which is usually scorching, you will find plenty of offers and promotions.
How to get to Cairo
Cairo International Airport (CAI) is the second largest airport in Africa. Different international companies, Egyptair and low cost airlines work there. It is located 12 kilometers northeast of downtown Cairo. Bus connections are not easy, but official and Uber taxis work well. At your hotel, you can also book a limousine or minibus for the transfer.
Cairo is the centre of the Egyptian railway network, which is acceptable. The main station is Ramses, in Midan Ramses, which is well connected to the metro. There are regular connections to Alexandria, Aswan, Luxor and other major cities. Trains usually arrive a quarter of an hour or more late and there are no trains to the airport.
We do not recommend you to rent a car in Cairo, because the traffic laws are confusing, chaos is part of the traffic, many fines are given and there is a high risk of accidents, some of them caused.
Egypt’s extensive bus network covers the country’s main capitals. In Cairo, the base stations are Midan Ramses and the new covered Cairo Gateway station. Regular services are provided at Port Said, Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh, Siwa, Taba and Nuweiba. Minibuses are cheaper, but also less safe and are prohibited, on some routes, for tourists. The bus station at the airport is located opposite Terminal 1.
Where to stay in Cairo
Midan Tahrir, located in the modern heart of Cairo, is home to most of the city’s major hotels and is a great alternative for luxury stays. The Pyramids View Inn offers excellent value for money overlooking Giza. In the centre, the InterContinental Citystars is an infallible choice.
Interesting neighborhoods in Cairo
Midan Tahrir is the commercial center of Cairo. With a Parisian design, it houses the Egyptian Museum and the great skyscrapers.
Islamic Cairo is the historical centre and is full of mosques. The souk is also located there. Medieval architecture and some of the best Turkish baths in Cairo are part of its appearance.
Zamalek is a luxury district located on the Nile Island of Gezira. It includes an excellent selection of restaurants, shops and accommodation.
Getting around Cairo
Cairo has a large network of public buses, classified in red, blue and white. They cover the whole city but often arrive full. The price of an air-conditioned bus is E£ 2. The metro, the largest service in Africa, applies a flat rate of E£ 1 per trip.
Official taxis are completely white and use meters. Generally, they are more comfortable and cheaper than unofficial ones. You will pay E£ 2 or E£ 3 if there is more than one passenger, as well as an additional fee of between E£ 5 and 7 per night. Uber’s fares are a good option, so you can avoid haggling with the taxi drivers.
For your sake, forget about driving in Cairo. It’s usually frustrating, stressful and expensive. You’ll pay about E£ 900 a day for a compact car. Go to companies like Sixt and Europcar and take out travel insurance – crashes are common. You can easily park in the huge car park at Tahrir Square.
Cost of living in Cairo
The Khan el-Khalili bazaar is the main souk of the city and will allow you to make a real master on price haggling. Glassware and all kinds of handicrafts, spices, food and clothing abound in its stalls. If you prefer high-end shopping, head to Zamalek, where you can buy local handicrafts at Fair Trade Egypt.
Groceries and others
You can buy food at any of the street stalls. If you prefer a more western approach, the City Stars shopping centre is the largest in the city, and includes a Spinney’s supermarket. A 33cl bottle of imported beer will cost you E£ 30.10 and, a cola of the same size, E£ 5.
Where to Eat in Cairo
This city offers a wide range of restaurants, from traditional Egyptian and Middle Eastern cuisine to Asian and Western cuisine. In the centre you can find local street food at a good price. In Mohandissen and Zamalek you will find the most exclusive restaurants.
An economy meal will cost you about E£ 50 and a luxury meal about E£ 300. Koshary El Tahrir and Abou Shakra are two excellent possibilities.