Have you ever heard the name of the pyramids and their amazing history?
Yes! Cairo is the home of pyramids. You can explore them and enjoy the amazing history of Egyptian royals, gods and many more. The other most significant factor is the river Nile. These things make Cairo one of the most visited Arab cities.
Why should anyone visit the city?
The most famous and important thing to explore in Cairo are the Pyramids. They are scattered all over the desert of Egypt and some of them are very famous like the Pyramid of Khufu, Khafre, Pyramid of Menhaure and Queens pyramids of Giza. Try to visit early in the morning to stay safe from harsh sun and huge crowds. There are many other historical sites and museums to explore in Cairo.
How does one get to the destination (airport, ferry or others)?
Cairo International Airport is one of the busiest airports of the world. It is the second busiest airport of Africa. It welcomes all the big airlines from all over the world and domestic flights as well.
Egyptian National Railway is the extensive and well connected system in the entire country. You can easily travel in the air-conditioned and comfortable coaches to Cairo from all the major and minor cities.
The bus network of Egypt is also a decent option to reach Cairo from different parts of the country. Different bus companies operate in the entire country. You can book them online in advance or from the bus spot.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
There are no common violent crimes in Cairo whereas snatching, scamming and pick pocketing is pretty common in the tourist areas especially the areas near the pyramids. It is better to take care of your belongings everywhere. Security services and police are very active in the city especially the areas with crowds of tourists. Women should wear conservative clothing and should not walk alone anywhere to stay safe from verbal abuse and sexual harassment. It is better to travel with a partner if possible instead of travelling alone.
What’s the weather like?
- December to February is the peak tourism season. It is the time of winter when the sightseeing becomes very pleasant because of the weather. Day time is mild and evenings have refreshing cool breeze. Major tourist spots have long lines on the entrance during entire winter season.
- March to April is the spring season and the best time to visit Cairo. Day time is very mild and evenings have pleasant cool breeze. Tourism also becomes less whereas accommodation prices remains high.
- May to September is the summer time and most of the travelers do not like this hot weather. Lack of rain makes the heat more unbearable and sigh seeing becomes uncomfortable in the day time. You can get some amazing hotel deals if you plan during this time whereas these prices rise in the month of Ramadan.
- October to November is another pleasant time to see Cairo. The temperature remains bearable for sightseeing whereas the crowds are very low. Some hotels offer very good deals during this time of the late fall.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
The official language of Cairo is Arabic whereas the dialect is specifically, Egyptian. Cairo is one of the major commerce and tourist cities so most of the people speak English. Locals, taxi drivers and shop keepers try to speak English even if they are not fluent. It is not difficult to communicate in Cairo.
What’s the local currency?
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
Official currency of Cairo is the Egyptian Pound. Many places in Cairo accept Euros and US Dollars. However, if you want to exchange money then do it after reaching Egypt to get a better rate. Do not use USD and Euro for purchases in Cairo because it will cost you extra.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
- Zamalek is located on the Gezira Island. It is an expensive and exclusive district to stay because most of the wealthy locals live in this area. Different embassies, high end hotels, restaurants, exclusive shopping stores and entertainment places are located in this area. Some budget friendly hotels are also located in this area. The district has a plenty of greenery with the beauty of Nile River.
- Maadi is the home to some of the best sceneries of the city. Maadi Corniche is the promenade famous for the fascinating views of the Nile. You will find some of the oldest villas of Cairo, remarkable restaurants and exclusive places in this district.
- Downtown is also an amazing area with a modern twist. It was designed and settled by the French architects in 19th It is a very budget friendly district with a variety of food and accommodation options.
- Haram is the part of the city where the pyramids are located. You can stay at this historical district to see the thousand years old history closely. The exact area is known as Giza where you will find a lot of luxury and budget friendly places to stay and eat. Many other ancient Egypt monuments and antiques are located near this area.
What’re your top 3 hotels (budget, moderate, luxury) and why?
- Tahrir Plaza Suites is the budget friendly place to stay among many casual eateries. It is located near the Egyptian Museum and Khan El-Khalili market. This is the perfct place to stay for the food lovers.
- Fairmont Nile City Hotel is located near the Nula river. Rooms have deco style interior with floor to ceiling windows. Rooms have coffee makers, safes, free Wi-Fi and complimentary toiletries.
- Le Meridien Pyramids is the luxury place to stay. Hotel has an outdoor pool, bar, hot tub, gym, sauna and many massage treatments. Rooms have work desks and balcony with the wonderful views of the famous pyramids.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
- Metro is the most efficient and best option to travel in the city. Currently there are three lines to travel to different parts of Cairo. Egyptian government is working to expand the metro system to other areas as well.
- Taxis are the secondly best option if the metro is not available for your desired destination. There are two types of taxis. Black and white cabs are cheap because they mostly do not have air conditioning and you can hire them after negotiating the price. Other ones are the yellow cabs which charge according to the meter and they are a little expensive.
- Uber is also available in Cairo that you can hire by their app. If you are the first time visitor of Cairo, then do not use Uber sharing.
- Tour buses are a great way to explore different attractions with the guided tour. They give you pick and drop from your hotel whereas they charge a little extra then the taxis.
- Felucca are like gondola in Venice. They are available in the Nile for different attractions.
- Car rentals is the worst way to explore Cairo. Parking is horrible and traffic situation is also not very nice to drive.
Can you highlight the Top 5 MUST see sightseeing?
- Old Cairo is the oldest settlement of the city. You will see some of the oldest worshipping places, historical places related to Muslims, Jewish and Christian community. Mosque, Synagogue and other places belonging to the 9th century and hanging church of virgin Marry from the 4th
- The Pyramids of Giza are the unique feature of Egypt. They are made of Huge bricks and stones. 4000 years old complex contains temples, burial chambers, hieroglyphs and figurines with many other historical things of the ancient royals of Egypt.
- Cairo Tower is the most famous landmark of Cairo after the Pyramids. It is styled as a lotus plant and the tower is almost 187 meters high. You can book sky garden café for a meal and see amazing panoramic views from the observation deck.
- The Sphinx is the ancient mark of Egypt that can be used as the identity if you represent the country. This is a reclining lion with the human head in the West Bank of Nile. It was constructed thousands of years ago at Giza for mysterious reasons.
- The Egyptian Museum of Antiques is one of the most popular museums of the country with around 160,000 exhibited pieces from the ancient history of Egypt. You can explore the collections from different dynasties and the belongings of the Pharaohs.
What’s the best place to take a photo?
There are a lot of things in Egypt which are unmissable for the travel itinerary album. Pyramids, Nile Valley, Sphynx, museums, there is a lot to click and keep in memory. You should carry your camera everywhere and click amazing photos of the amazing past of Egypt.
What about the top 3 restaurants?
- Fasahet Somaya is the post revolution setup so you will be able to find some of the most authentic foods in the menu. There is a delicious variety of seasonal and regional cuisines. It opens from 5pm to 7pm so you have to arrive early to get a seating in the limited space. This place worth it because you will feel like sitting in a dining room of a friend.
- Maison Thomas is very popular in Cairo for Zamalek. This is like a thin crust pizza that is prepared in the kitchen of this brass and mirrors place since 1912. The food has typical Egyptian twist so Zamalek is not American or Italian but completely Egyptian.
- The Grill Restaurant and Lounge is the best place to grab delicious steak with the fascinating views of River Nile. Starters are also a big treat for the guests because they include oven baked bone marrow that is served with pan fried foie grass with pine nuts, apricots and figs. Menu also has an extensive range of sea food.
What about the top 3 breakfast places?
- 30 North is the perfect breakfast place for the amazing coffee and tasty dessert lovers in the morning. You will get fresh brewed Portuguese coffee, Vietnamese coffee and many other varieties.
- Ovio is the home of delicious pancakes and pastries for the morning. You can pair it up with delicious coffee. There are also egg and seafood options to add in the morning meal. It is a bit expensive place.
- Miette is the French eatery serving the best croissant in Cairo. They have a huge variety in the menu to select your favorite sandwich, cheese and omelettes. You can also get chocolate and almond croissant.
What’s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
There is a huge variety of food available in Cairo. You can try a plenty of Arabian foods made by the expert chefs. Koshary is a must try thing that is considered as Egyptian national dry dish. It is made with chickpeas, rice, macaroni, lentils, fried onions, tomato sauce and spices. You will find it in almost all the small and bit eateries of the city. This is the best thing to eat if you want something light during sightseeing instead of a huge meal.
What about food markets?
Khan El Khalili is the oldest market of the Middle East that dates back to the thirteenth century. it is located in the Islamic area so you can learn a lot about the ancient Islamic history of Egypt. The market has a lot of historical buildings and you can see them while strolling among the streets. You can get a lot of traditional food of Egypt and can buy a fancy sheesha (hookah) from this place.
El Azbakeya Wall is the famous market for the rare, old and used books. Some of the books belong to eighteenth century or even before that. You can also visit Azbakeya gardens and grab a nice snack from the market.
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
Cairo become even livelier and vibrant in the night than the day because of its amazing nightlife.
Zamalek is the most famous area for the nightlife with many exclusive bars and clubs. Alcohol is not a very big part of the nightlife where as there are a lot of things to do. The major element of the nightlife is dance.
Downtown of Cairo has a lot of baladi bars where you can listen to some typical Egyptian music tones and watch dance.
The environment of the bars and nightlife areas are male dominant so solo females might find it a bit uncomfortable. There are a lot of coffee houses where sheesha (hookah) is served along with the live dancing and music performances.
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
Roof top bar at the Kempinski Nile Hotel is one of the most amazing roof top area to sit. It offers a beautiful rooftop swimming pool, bar and marvelous views of the river Nile. Swimming pool is only for the people staying in the hotel whereas restaurant and bar is open for everyone.
The Greek Club Tahrir is the favourite of the downtown people. You will find many locals sitting and spending a wonderful evening. It is designed in the Greek style whereas the bar only serves beer.
Can you recommend the best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
There are many markets in Cairo which worth visiting. They are vibrant, beautiful and entertaining. You can explore the culture of Egypt and the lifestyle of locals. Some of the famous markets are:
Khan AL- Khalili is the ancient bazaar where you can buy perfume, spices, leather goods, jewellery, exotic items and a lot more.
Souk al Fustat is the clothes market. You can buy some of the best linen curtains, bedsheets, clothes, candle holders, furniture and many more.
City Stars Mall is the huge shopping mall of Cairo. You can find a huge variety of products to buy. Mall has many brand stores, food court and luxury stores.
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
- Ain Al Sokhna – Fishing
- Ismailia – have sea food at the bank of Suez Canal
- Fayoum – Sand boarding
- Fayed – Jet skiing
- Alexandria city tour
- Memphis, Saqqara and Dashur – Historical area exploration
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables? If so, what’s the best Casino in town?
Egypt is a Muslim country so gambling is illegal whereas three tourist cities have casinos. Cairo is one of the cities where international hotels have casinos. However, Egyptian citizens are not allowed to do gambling. Casinos of Cairo are:
- Casino Semiramis At International Hotel
- London Club Cairo Casino
- Cairo Marriott Hotel and Omay Khayyam Casino
- Crockford’s Cairo
- Casino Barriere El Gezirah
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
- Spend a plenty of time in exploring and learning about the history of Egypt. There are many fascinating facts related to them.
- Females should not interact with strangers unless needed. Sometimes local strangers offer you hookah if you wave or talk to them. Avoid it and move on.
- Do not buy things from the hawkers on tourist spots. Most of them sell very low quality things in the name of artifacts.
- Keep your hand sanitizer and toilet roll in the backpack.