CairoTravel Guide

With its bounty of bustling bazaars, hidden tombs and twinkling turrets, Cairo has long captured the imagination of adventurers and dreamers. Although often referred to as an ancient city, it has a modern side too, where locals and tourists gather to smoke shisha and dance until the early hours of the morning.

Between honking car horns and calls to prayer, Cairo is go, go, go, but that’s exactly why we love it. It’s a complete whirlwind of a place, with a whopping 20-or-so-million inhabitants going about their day. But don’t let that distract you from enjoying your holiday. With the mighty Nile River and Pyramids of Giza right on your doorstep, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Cairo, or shall we say Umm Ad Dunya (Mother of the World), as the Egyptians lovingly call it.

Cairo quick facts

Language

National language

Arabic

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

AUD $0.37

Local time

Monday

7:18am

Currency

Egyptian pound

AUD $1.00 = EGP £31.42

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

AUD $6.36

Electricity

Plug type: C

2 pins • 220V

Explore Cairo

Where to stay in Cairo?

Need a few suggestions of the best area to stay in Cairo? From glitzy five-star hotels to family-friendly resort towns, there’s something for all types of travellers:

Situated in the pulsating heart of downtown Cairo, the Cairo Marriott Hotel forms the perfect base from which to explore. It also offers all the mod cons you could want and need, from ultra-fast Wi-Fi and air conditioning to a wide range of eateries suited to every palate. It’s a stone’s throw from the Egyptian Museum and the Khan el-Khalili bazaar. Oh, and did we mention prime views over the Nile?


Welcome to one of the finest residences in the city. The Four Seasons Hotel lives up to its reputation of high-calibre service and swanky suites.  It also boasts a stellar location, and there’s really no better place to kick off your shoes and watch the city change colour at sunset. When you’re in the mood for a quick dip, head upstairs to the three-tiered rooftop pool – no kids are allowed here if that’s your travel preference. 


Towering above the shimmering Nile River, a stay at the Kempinski Nile Hotel ensures that you’re never too far from the main attractions in Cairo. After a busy day of exploring, there’s really no better place to put your feet up. Comfort is the name of the game here, with a list of added features like the Jazz Bar, rooftop pool and Chocolate Lounge. Yes, you read right! This hotel has its own Chocolate Lounge!


Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Exterior enterance of Egyptian Museum
    • 5 Pyramids in Cairo
    • Great Sphinx of Giza
    • Ancient Egyptian wall art and mummy coffin found in Grand Egyptian Museum
    • Khan el-Khalili street market, rugs and souvenir's hanging for people to view
  • Exterior enterance of Egyptian Museum
    Exterior enterance of Egyptian Museum
    Exterior enterance of Egyptian Museum
  • 5 Pyramids in Cairo
    5 Pyramids in Cairo
    5 Pyramids in Cairo
  • Great Sphinx of Giza
    Great Sphinx of Giza
    Great Sphinx of Giza
  • Ancient Egyptian wall art and mummy coffin found in Grand Egyptian Museum
    Ancient Egyptian wall art and mummy coffin found in Grand Egyptian Museum
    Ancient Egyptian wall art and mummy coffin found in Grand Egyptian Museum
  • Khan el-Khalili street market, rugs and souvenir's hanging for people to view
    Khan el-Khalili street market, rugs and souvenir's hanging for people to view
    Khan el-Khalili street market, rugs and souvenir's hanging for people to view

Things to do in Cairo

With a total of 22 districts, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Cairo. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s what we recommend:

If it’s your first time in the city (or Egypt, for that matter), you’ll want to add the iconic Pyramids of Giza to your Cairo itinerary. As the last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the World, this ancient masterpiece continues to draw visitors from all corners of the globe. While you might need to brave a few crowds to witness them up close, don’t dare let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass you by.


Not to be confused with the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, The Egyptian Museum stands as the oldest archaeological museum in the Middle East. This famously pink-coloured building features well over 170,000 artefacts and glittering treasures once owned by many great pharaohs. While it might literally take a good few years to see it all – a few hours, if not multiple day visits, should suffice.


The Basilica-style Hanging Church of Cairo is one of Egypt’s oldest churches, believed to have been built around 690 AD. The ornate interiors are a feast for the eyes, with bone and ivory inlaid designs with characteristics of Islamic art. As for its name? It comes from the fact that it was suspended just above the gate of the Fortress of Babylon.


A game-changing addition to Cairo’s long list of attractions is the Grand Egyptian Museum, which flung open its doors in 2019. Displaying artefacts from all across the country, one exhibit alone is worth booking a trip to the capital: King Tutankhamun’s burial collection of more than 5,000 pieces displayed in an exact replication of the boy king’s tomb.


This colossal limestone statue depicting a reclining sphinx (with its trademark missing nose) remains one of Egypt’s most renowned landmarks and mysteries of the ancient world. While erosion has not been so kind to her, she’s an absolute must-see, so don’t rush your day visit. It’s well worth spending a bit more time here to fully appreciate the finer details. 


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Cairo

Cairo food and drink

Wondering exactly where to eat in Cairo? Here are a few of our long-standing favourite food spots and restaurants in Cairo:

It’s no coincidence that Koshary Abou Tarek bears the same name as koshary abou tarek — Egypt’s national dish comprised of rice, macaroni, lentils, chickpeas and fried onions. This is one of the best places to sample local Egyptian cuisine. They do it well, so well in fact that this informal restaurant is often frequented by locals. When you do order, just go easy on the hot sauce if you have a delicate stomach!


This family-owned Egyptian restaurant has been serving regular visitors to Cairo for well over 50 years. Boasting majestic views over the city’s skyline, it’s an ideal spot to snap up that dinner for two. Should you want a change in scenery from your regular hotel breakfast, it’s equally delightful during the morning.


How about dinner on the Nile? If that tickles your fancy, hop aboard the Nile City Boat, which champions four types of restaurants serving up a range of cuisine options, including traditional Egyptian, Italian, French, American, Indian and Lebanese. A great treat for families or anyone seeking the perfect sundowner spot.


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Cairo through your eyes

Where to shop in Cairo?

Want to fill your bags with treasures to take home with you? Here’s where all the best shopping in Cairo happens:

Even if you’re not wanting to buy anything during your stay in Cairo, it’s worth peaking your head in at Khan el-Khalili. This famous (and sprawling!) bazaar and souq is situated in the historic centre of the city and offers everything from Egyptian garments and special oils to lights, lanterns and a dizzying array of souvenirs.


Should you like to skip the crowds when shopping in Cairo, head to Souk al-Fustat located in the heart of Coptic Cairo. The boutiques here offer a range of locally designed crafts, garments, carvings and ceramics. It’s also a great add-on to a day trip including the Hanging Church (one of Egypt’s oldest places of Christian worship).


If you don’t like the thought of haggling over prices during your shopping experience in Cairo, make a beeline for Oum El Dounia. This charming store features a brilliant array of handmade products sourced locally and sold at fixed prices. Take your pick from glassware, rugs, towels, tunics, jewellery and paintings.


If you’re on the hunt for an authentically Egyptian tapestry, often used to adorn the interior of Bedouin desert tents, head to the Street of the Tentmakers. Located just south of Khan el-Khalili, this smaller souk is dedicated to the art of tapestry making. What makes it special is that as you browse, you can also watch how the local artisans bring each design to life.


Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Cairo?

Wondering about the best time to travel to Cairo? Here’s a basic outline of what to expect from the weather and the best time to visit Egypt:

During the peak summer months, from May to September, the weather in Cairo is hot and dry. While there are fewer crowds and shorter queues during this time, the temperatures can get quite extreme. The Khamsin Wind also brings in sand storms which sweep across the whole city, putting outdoor activities on hold. If you can handle the heat and are happy to plan around it, summer could be the best time for you.


Late autumn from October to November makes for an optimum time period to visit Cairo when the heat recedes and the winter crowds are yet to arrive. Springtime between March and April also hits the sweet spot, with waning winter crowds and pleasant weather conditions.


During the winter months between December and February, Cairo’s weather is the most pleasant. However, this is when the city lures in most of its visitors. Accommodation rates are also higher, and the more popular hotels and resorts tend to book out quickly. It’s wise to book ahead if you’re travelling to Cairo during this time.


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How to get around Cairo

Here’s everything there is to know about getting around in Cairo:

The city’s metro system is one of the cheapest (and most reliable) ways to get around the city. While it can get crowded in summer and daily rush hour, it is affordable and generally leaves you no further than a 10-minute taxi ride from your final destination.


Cairo Transport Authority operates a network of air-conditioned buses throughout the city. You can expect to pay one Egyptian pound for a one-way ticket, which can be bought at the ticket booth of each bus station.


In Cairo, taxis and tuk-tuks are readily available around every corner. If you’re not keen to negotiate your fare, rather make use of the Uber or Careem apps to hail a driver. Should your final destination be located along the river, hop aboard one of the three Nile taxis, or opt for an independent river bus.


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What are the best parks in Cairo?

Aside from temples and bazaars, the city of Cairo is also known for its botanical gardens and open spaces. Here are a few of our favourite parks in Cairo:

If you’re wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, make your way over to Al Azhar Park. Once a garbage area, this leafy slice of paradise is one of the most loved open spaces in the city. Its location over a hill provides a front-row seat to the cityscape. Don’t forget to pack a few snacks! It’s open every day of the week from 9am to 10pm.


Situated in El Gabalaya St., Zamalek, the Aquarium Grotto Garden was once a famous place where many Egyptian movies were filmed and many love birds met in secret. This garden boasts an impressive network of caves and corridors that you can explore, as well as 49 aquariums brimming with rare fish, turtles and marine reptiles. A great place to take the whole brood!


Located in the Nile, Gezira Island is one of the greenest areas in Cairo. Back in the day, it was referred to as ‘Garden of Plants’ due to its plethora of unique plants from all over the world. The northern section (known as Zamalek) is known as one of Cairo’s most affluent districts and is well worth a peek should you find yourself in this part of town.


The Orman Garden is one of the most famous botanical gardens in all of Egypt and one of the largest in the world. If you adore flowers, time your visit with the annual spring exhibition in March. This is an important cultural event in Egypt and has been running since 1920.  The Orman Garden opens from 10am to 10pm daily, and tickets are EGP 5.


Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

Cairo Frequently asked questions

While there are plenty of ways to get around Cairo, car transport is convenient and easy to organise, if not quick – it’s always peak hour in Cairo. Prepare for some short walks between sites, as it may be quicker than driving!


You could tick off all the major landmarks in two or three days, but why rush? Allow yourself four or five days to take in Cairo at a more relaxing pace. 


The best time to visit Cairo is from October to April, when the sun’s out but it’s not stiflingly hot. If very hot and arid temperatures aren’t your thing you may want to avoid the height of summer in Egypt (June / July).


Visit the Pyramids of Giza, get a selfie with the Sphinx, wander the Egyptian Museum, take coffee and haggle at Khan al Khalili and sail the River Nile. You will not want for things to do in Cairo!


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Cairo is generally considered safe for tourists, but like visiting anywhere new make sure you have your wits about you and take common-sense precautions. If you are travelling outside Cairo there are some places off the beaten track the Australian Government advises against travel to, so make sure you check out the most up to date travel advice when planning your trip.


Comfortable shoes and clothing are essential in Cairo, as it can get hot and you’ll likely be doing some walking. Keep in mind that modest dress is appreciated in Egypt and will not only save you some hassle, it will keep the sunburn at bay! A hat, sunscreen and small notes for baksheesh are also recommended.


There is so much to see and do in Cairo and transport around the city is cheap and easy. Choose accommodation that will suit your style and budget, and go from there.


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The current requirements for travelling to Cairo

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