Visit Egypt’s exotic capital and become captivated by the land of Pharaohs, mummies and ancient pyramids on the Nile.
As one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a visit to the Pyramids of Giza is a must – on foot or by camel. Nearby you can see the Great Sphinx. The colossal monument is believed to be 4500 years old and is a national symbol of Egypt. At night, a sound and light show illuminates the ancient pyramids and the Sphinx, narrating the history of Egypt.
If you’re a fan of ancient ruins visit the oldest part of Cairo, known as the Babylon Fortress. Built by the Romans, it has a monastery and a number of churches within its walls.
Cairo’s Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is full of ancient remnants including mummified bodies. There is much to see there but if you’re short of time head straight for the Tutankhamun Galleries and see the royal mummies collection.
Stunning mosques are found throughout Cairo. The Mohammed Ali Mosque in the Citadel is the best known and well worth visiting. For amazing views of Cairo, the 187-metre-high Cairo Tower has a revolving restaurant and gives 360-degree views of the city.
Eat and Drink
The Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the middle of the Nile is known for its restaurants. Zooba prides itself on its quirky furnishings and creative menu with local produce. Though Cairo’s restaurants are superb, trying its street food is a must. You will find chicken and lamb shawarma (like a souvlaki), tawouk (meat skewers), and koshary – a dish that combines pasta, lentils, fried onions and tomato sauce. Try koshary at the famous Abou Tarek Koshary restaurant.
Egyptian cafes are called ahwas and are central to Egyptian social life. They are open-air spaces, usually just a series of tables and chairs out on the street. For an authentic experience, sit in an ahwa, sip traditional mint tea and smoke some shisha. The tobacco shisha pipe is very popular in ahwas and restaurants across Cairo, with aromatic and fruity flavours like grape and guava available.
Where to Stay
If you want to be where the action is, staying in vibrant Downtown Cairo is ideal. This busy, central area can be quite congested but most accommodation, restaurants and cafes here are reasonably priced and many of the city’s tourist sites, including the Egyptian museum, are nearby.
If you’re after something quieter, the Mohandeseen neighbourhood with its upmarket hotels, restaurants and cafes is located midway between Downtown and the Pyramids. Funky Zamalek is considered the most prestigious district and is a great option if you want to stay close to the Nile.
The Khan el-Khalili market or souk has been a shopping district for thousands of years and remains of the most incredible shopping experiences in the world. Located in the “Islamic Cairo” area of the city, you can visit the labyrinth of stores selling souvenirs, fabrics, spices and handicrafts. For modern shopping, one of the most popular centres is the City Stars Mall for international brands and luxury buys.
Cairo Like a Local
A favourite destination for locals is the Al Azhar Park. In the hustle of Cairo, the beautiful park is a rare space for respite and tranquility. Visit at sunset for a spectacular view of Cairo and the Citadel.