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Travel Guide Africa Egypt Cairo

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Introduction

Cairo

Cairo

© All Rights Reserved capisco

Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is an amazing city full of life and movement, and it is that way almost 24 hours every day, with the noisy honking of horns, children playing in the streets and merchants selling their wares and services. And here, the Egyptians are most at home in this powerful, modern and ancient city.

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Neighbourhoods

Cairo is a massive city. The central urban area consists of the following districts:

  • Midan Tahir - the central area of the modern city, with the Egyptian Museum
  • Downtown
  • Midan Ramses - includes the main Ramses Railway Station
  • Garden City
  • Islamic Cairo - centre of historic Cairo, with the Citadel, Mohamed Ali Mosque and Khan el Khalili
  • Old Cairo
  • Dokki and Mohandeseen
  • Gezira and Zamalek
  • Giza - including the Haram District where the Giza Pyramids are located
  • Heliopolis and Nasr City
  • Ma'adi

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Sights and Activities

Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

Cairo - Egyptian Museum

Cairo - Egyptian Museum

© All Rights Reserved Kamar

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is home to many fascinating ancient Egyptian artifacts. The exhibition can roughly be split into two pieces. The ground floor follows the history of ancient Egypt, while on the second floor as some specific exhibitions including the the treasures from Tutankhamun's tomb. The most famous of them is the death mask of the young pharaoh. Also on the upper floor is the mummy room, and countless coffins and other smaller items.

  • The Pyramids of Giza are three enormous structures (plus the mysterious Sphinx) that remain emblems of Egypt's grand past and one of the best known places in the world.
  • Khan el-Khalil Souk is a major traditional shopping area in the old city of Cairo.
  • The Coptic District, including many interesting and ancient churches and the 'Fortress of Babylon'.
  • The Cairo Opera House
  • The Khedivial Opera House

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Events and Festivals

Cairo Oriental Dance Festival

The Cairo Oriental Dance Festival celebrates and pays homage to the beautiful Belly Dance. It is celebrated every year in Cairo from July 20-26 and you have the chance to see some of the world's best belly dancers, as well as chat to scholars on this ancient form of dance. With the workshops on offer you will not only have a chance to try the dance for yourself but also learn all about its history and cultural impact in Egypt.

Cairo Jazz Festival

The Cairo Jazz Festival brings together some of the world’s best musicians every year in March. Festival Attend top quality performances from some of the biggest names in the business. Held in three different locations in Cairo, the Cairo Jazz Club is the one not to be missed.

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Weather

Cairo has an arid climate with little rain throughout the year, averaging only around 30 mm a year. Temperatures are warm to hot. From May to October, maximum temperatures are between 30 °C and 36 °C on average during the day, dropping to around 20 °C at night. Hot winds from the southern Sahara desert can make temperatures rise to 47 °C though, especially in May and June. December to March is wintertime, with pleasantly warm conditions of between 18 °C and 23 °C during the day and slightly over 10 °C at night.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max18.9 °C20.4 °C23.5 °C28.3 °C32 °C33.9 °C34.7 °C34.2 °C32.6 °C29.2 °C24.8 °C20.3 °C
Avg Min9 °C9.7 °C11.6 °C14.6 °C17.7 °C20.1 °C22 °C22.1 °C20.5 °C17.4 °C14.1 °C10.4 °C
Rain Days3.52.71.90.90.50.10000.51.32.8

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Getting There

By Plane

Egypt Air is the national airline of Egypte and flies from Cairo International Airport (CAI), 15 kilometres northeast of the centre of Cairo. It has international scheduled flights to and from Abu Dhabi, Accra, Addis Ababa, Aleppo, Alexandria, Algiers, Amman, Amsterdam, Asmara, Assiut, Aswan, Athens, Bahrain, Bangkok, Barcelona, Beijing, Beirut, Benghazi, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Casablanca, Damascus, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Düsseldorf, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Geneva, Guangzhou, Hurghada, Istanbul, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kano, Khartoum, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lagos, Larnaca, Lisbon, London, Luxor, Kuwait, Madrid, Medina, Milan, Montreal, Moscow, Mumbai, Munich, Muscat, Nairobi, New York-JFK, Osaka, Paphos, Paris, Riyadh, Rome, Sanaa, Sharjah, Tokyo, Tripoli, Tunis and Vienna.
Egypt Air also operates domestic flights between Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Sharm El Sheikh, Asyut and Hurghada and most cities are served at least daily.

To/from the airport

  • The Cairo Airport shuttle bus departs every half hour from the airport to Cairo.
  • The Airport Bus Service has both air-conditioned & non air-conditioned operating from Terminal 1. There are several stop bus stations; at Tahrir Square, downtown Cairo, Mohandesin, and along Pyramids Road in Giza.
  • Taxis are available at any time, and operated on a flat fee basis.

By Train

Egyptian National Railways has trains between Cairo's Ramses Railways Station north to Alexandria and south Luxor and Aswan, with a few branches to Port Said and Suez. There are also several luxury air-conditioned day and night trains with sleeping and restaurant cars from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan. If travelling overnight, you can reserve at the Abela Egypt website.

By Car

An extensive road network connects Cairo with other Egyptian cities and villages. There is a new ring road that surrounds the outskirts of the city, with exits that reach to almost every Cairo district.

By Bus

There is a reliable bus system in place in Egypt. You will usually get what you pay for. This might not be the best place to try and save money so try and go for the more luxurious options with air-conditioning.

By Boat

The Nile has been used for transportation in Egypt for thousands of years, and it still is. There are lots of options for day trips in the Cairo area as well.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

Taxis are cheap and easy - make sure you check/agree on the price first. There is little regulation in the taxi industry here, so the quality can change quit a bit too. It is not uncommon for the taxi to have a gerry-can full of petrol in the trunk. So if the smell gives you headaches, always wait for a newer/cleaner looking cab.

The Cairo metro is also a good option. But the stops are not written in English, so you will need to plan it out before hand, and then count stops on the way. If you get on when they are very busy, be prepared to have a crash course in having no personal space. There are also women-only cars. If you are traveling co-ed you will have to make a judgment call about splitting up or not.

There are also "meecro busses" which are small Volkswagen vans that go around on their routes stopping to pick people up. The cost is LE0.75 (75 piaster) per person regardless of how long you ride. Just pass your money up to the driver or a person sitting in front of you after you get in. Foreigners hardly ever ride these, so it won't stop for a white person usually. You will get a lot of stares if you ride as a noticeable foreigner.

By Car

Don't drive in Cairo. Hire a car with a driver instead. You should be fine in most other places in the country, just don't drive yourself around here.

By Foot

In many parts of Cairo there is no real sidewalks. Some businesses may have one and then their neighbor won't. There are also quite often tree stumps and re bar protruding from the sidewalks. It is easier to just walk on the roads and pay attention to traffic. Do not walk on the sidewalks if it is too dark to see your feet very well, or you will trip.

There are also not many crosswalks, or walkways. When crossing the roads in groups, line up next to each other and walk out together. Sometimes you will need to cross multiple lanes. If you wait until all the lanes are clear, you will never cross, so also be prepared to cross lane by lane, frogger style. This is very frightening and depending on the duration of your stay, you may never get used to it.

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Eat

You can eat and be full in Cairo for as little as LE 2 a day. As long as you like talmaya, fuul, and kosherie.

There is an abundance of chain restaurants and fast food places such as Chilis, Pizza hut, Dominoes, Hardys, Mcdonald's, etc. There is also a new trend toward "cafes". These can range hugely in price, quality and atmosphere. But there are more than a few gems where you can get excellent food for a reasonable price from a waiter that speaks English. It is also not uncommon for the owner to come shake your hand if your white and take 20% off an already fair bill or buy you desert if you promise to come back for breakfast. This is especially common in newer cafes that are starting out and are trying to attract a younger and trendier crowd. You can expect to pay LE 30-40 per person (at least) at these establishments for a meal, beverage and desert. Not including Sheesha.

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Drink

This is a Muslim country, so the majority of places do not serve alcohol. Of the ones that do, they generally do not have a menu or signs, so it si difficult to know which ones do serve it.

The local beers are actually not that bad. There are unconfirmed rumors that European brewmasters have been brought in. The hard alcohol/liquor is very expensive. Common international brands are rare. Local brands have an edge to them that hints that industrial use would be a better choice for it.

European coffees are becoming more common, popular and accessible. Some cafes are selling their own blends and you can find a barrista that knows how to use a cappuccino machine.

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Sheesha

Sheesha is a large water pipe used to smoke tobacco blends in Egypt. It consists of a large bowl, a water filled base and a hose. It is the same principle as a bong or a hookah. Many will also have wind covers and ashtrays attached. There are many different types of designs, features, decorations and sizes.

Generally when you order a sheesha at a restaurant you will be provided with a disposable hose, or a disposable tip for the hose. Insist on one if you are not. Pay attention that it came from a sealed package opened in front of you. The staff should tend the charcoal that is used to keep it burning. If it dies down you can just make eye contact with the staff and indicate your sheesha and whoever tends the sheesha will probably be quick in coming.

If you'll be going to the same place repeatedly for sheesha, it is a good idea to tip the sheesha tender directly when he collects your empty sheesha after you have finished. 1-2 LE is sufficient and you will notice how much better your sheesha is tended compared to most other patrons.

The tobacco you smoke is blended with molasses and various fruits. Many restaurants have a sheesha section on their menu. The fruitier blends actually smell like candy. It is a very unique way of smoking. The flavor of the fruit is very strong and it will often last an hour or longer. A worthwhile experience for smokers and non-smokers alike. Ask your server for a Ta-ool (Backgammon) while you smoke and try a very old and traditional Egyptian past time.

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Sleep

Upscale

View our map of accommodation in Cairo or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access is easy to find and cheap. Most cities, such as Greater Cairo and Luxor, and even smaller tourist sites, such as Edfu, boast a plethora of small internet cafés. The price per hour is usually EGP 2-10 depending on the location/speed. In addition, an increasing number of coffee shops, restaurants, hotel lobbies and other locations now provide free wireless internet access. Free wi-fi (Mobilnil) is also available at modern coffee shops such as Cilantro and Costa Coffee, where you obtain access by getting a 2-hour "promotional" card from the waiter, and if you go into almost any McDonald's, you will have access to a free WiFi connection.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international telephone code for Egypt is 20.

Egypt has a reasonably modern telephone service including three GSM mobile service providers. The three mobile phone providers are Mobinil, Vodafone and Etisalat. Principal centers are located at Alexandria, Cairo, Al Mansurah, Ismailia, Suez, and Tanta. Roaming services are provided, although you should check with your service provider. Be aware that using your home SIM card can be very expensive, especially when using internet services but also calling is much more expensive. Try to get a local SIM card for your cell phone instead. Also, it is possible to purchase tourist mobile phone lines for the duration of your stay, which usually costs around EGP 30.

Post

Egypt Post is the national postal service in Egypt. Services are generally reliable, affordable though pretty slow, even if you send post domestically. International letters and postcards take days, if not weeks if send to the US or Australia. They do have express mail services though, but these are relatively expensive. Opening hours of post offices are mostly from 8:30am to 2:00pm or 3:00pm daily except Friday, when all of them are closed. The central ones might keep longer hours, generally until 8:00pm. You can buy stamps here, or at certain newspaper kiosks. In touristic areas, these are available at many shops as well. For parcels, it's much better to use international courier services such as DHL, TNT, FedEx or UPS.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 30.0571
  • Longitude: 31.2272

Accommodation in Cairo

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Cairo searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Cairo and areas nearby.

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