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Cairo Travel Essentials


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"The City of a Thousand Minarets"

Cairo Tourism

Nestled on the banks of th Nile River, Cairo is the bustling capital city of Egypt, located in the northeastern part of Africa. It is known for its awe-inspiring historical landmarks, including the iconic Pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Right by the pyramids, is popular is the Sphinx, a giant statue with the body of a lion and the head of a human. But Cairo isn't just about history. It's a modern city too, with skyscrapers, bustling streets, and delicious food. 

Cairo is a warm, tropical city housing numerous mosques, castles and churches and thus, came to be known as "the city of a thousand minarets". Boasting a rich history and society, Cairo perfectly blends modernity and olden culture. Cairo is also known for its bustling markets, like Khan El Khalili where one can wander among the haggling crowds and appealing shopkeepers. Take a stroll in the local streets and explore the best of the Pharaonic landmarks. Visit Egyptian Museum of antiquities to expand your knowledge of ancient egyptian history. Witness the land of contrasts with the daily hustle and bustle of the busy downtown and the extravagance at Zamalek.

Cairo is divided into three distinct parts: Downtown Cairo, Islamic Cairo and Croptic Cairo. Downtown Cairo can seem European and modern with squares and grand buildings, while Tahrir Square is the heart of Cairo. It is the perfect place to stay in Cairo. Islamic Cairo is a labyrinth of mosques, souks and breathtakingly beautiful Islamic monuments. The oldest neighbourhood is Coptic Cairo, the site of the Roman settlement of Babylon. It is famous for its historic Christian monuments.

Must Know Before You Travel to Cairo

  • Base Location: Downtown Cairo near Tahrir Square is the central location and close to all the major attractions. Stay in the Zamalek neighborhood to experience the best nightlife and restaurant scene.
  • Sightseeing: To see the pyramids of Giza, the best option is to stay at a hotel in Giza for a night. This will save travel time. 
  • Online Train Tickets: Purchase train tickets for routes like Cairo-Luxor-Aswan online, as it gets difficult at ticket counters due to a lack of information in English.
  • Metro System: It operates from 5:00 AM to 1:00 AM(2:00 AM during Ramadan).
  • Taxi Service: Uber, Careem and Didi operate as ride-sharing taxi services. Uber only operates in Cairo and Alexandria. Private taxis are also available. 
  • Arab Number Plates: Familiarise yourself with Arab numerology, as Egyptian cars only have Arab numbers on their license plates.
  • Student Discounts: Students below 30 with International Student ID card can avail for 50% discount for ebtering all attractions. It applies to Cairo Pass, too.
  • Cairo Pass: Cairo pass costs USD 120-130 with a validity of 5 days. It covers all the archaeological sites and museums in Cairo and Giza except National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. A 50% discount can be claimed in case of possession of Luxor Pass. It can be bought from ticket booth at Pyramids of Ghiza and Egyptian Museum(except fridays). You will need a copies of passport and a passport sized photograph.
  • Scams: Cairo is known to have various scams, especially near famous attarctions and markets. To know more about scams in Cairo and Egypt, read here.

Top Hotels In Cairo

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Shopping in Cairo

Cairo is packed with little boutiques and unique shops. Some of the areas and markets one can visit to shop are:

  • Khan El Khalili: This historic market is a labyrinth of narrow streets filled with shops selling traditional crafts, spices, jewelry, and souvenirs. 
  • City Stars Mall: One of Cairo's largest shopping malls, City Stars offers a wide range of international and local brands, as well as restaurants and entertainment options.
  • Zamalek: This upscale neighborhood is known for its boutique shops, art galleries, and trendy cafes.
  • Tahrir Square: A bustling area in the heart of Cairo, Tahrir Square is surrounded by shops selling everything from clothing and accessories to books and souvenirs.
  • Souq al-Gomaa: It is a famous weekly market selling a lot of fun and quirky items, including vintage clothes and other interesting objects. 

Souvenirs to buy from Cairo:

  • Egyptian Cotton Products: Egypt is famous for its high-quality cotton, so consider purchasing bed linens, towels, or clothing made from Egyptian cotton as souvenirs.
  • Papyrus Art: Papyrus, an ancient writing material, is often used to create intricate paintings depicting scenes from Egyptian history and mythology.
  • Alabaster Statues: Alabaster is a type of stone that has been used for centuries to carve statues and other decorative items. Look for beautifully crafted alabaster sculptures as souvenirs.
  • Spices: Bring home the flavors of Egypt by purchasing aromatic spices such as cumin, coriander, and saffron from local markets like Khan El Khalili.
  • Traditional Clothing: Consider buying a galabeya, a traditional Egyptian garment, as a unique souvenir. These colorful, loose-fitting robes are perfect for lounging or costume parties.
  • Perfumes and Oils: Egyptian perfumes and essential oils are popular souvenirs, with scents ranging from floral to spicy. Look for shops selling locally made fragrances for a memorable gift.

Nightlife in Cairo

Cairo's nightlife is a vibrant blend of modern trends and traditional culture, offering something for everyone after the sun sets. While the city may not boast the same reputation for nightlife as some other global metropolises, it's nonetheless an exciting and diverse scene waiting to be explored.

  • Zamalek: This is the best area to visit to see what the nightlife is like. Baladi bars or people's bars, are very popular here but not safe for women travelling alone.
  • Downtown Cairo: Particularly around the historic district of Khan El Khalili, this bustling area comes alive at night with traditional cafes, street performers, and hookah lounges.
  • Mohandiseen: Mohandiseen is a hotspot for clubs and discos.
Hookah Culture: When it comes to hookah culture, Cairo is undoubtedly one of the best places to experience it. Locals and visitors alike gather in cafes and lounges throughout the city to enjoy the social ritual of smoking flavored tobacco through a water pipe. Whether you prefer a traditional cafe setting or a more modern lounge atmosphere, Cairo offers plenty of options to indulge in this centuries-old tradition.

History of Cairo

Cairo was established in 2,000 BC. The then ruler was King Menes. He was the one who united Upper and Lower Egypt. With the advent of the 1st century, the Babylon fortress was built by the Romans, on the Nile River. Cairo went on to be recognized as the city of Fustat by the Fatimids only later, in the 10th century.

Tips to Visit Cairo

  • Head to a bar in Zamalek or Downtown Cairo for a stunning sunset view of the Nile.
  • Carry toilet paper
  • For female solo traveler's safety, women-only carriages are available in the metro.
  • Avoid anyone offering help or suggestions around the pyramids of giza
  • In case of minor health setbacks, like fever or upset stomach, local pharmacists are efficient enough to help with medicines.
  • Tap-water is unsafe to drink.
  • Be careful while walking on streets as traffic is chaotic and tuk-tuks run recklessly.

Daily Budget of Cairo

For budget travelers exploring Cairo, managing daily expenses efficiently is essential.

  • Public transportation offers an economical way to navigate the city, with fares typically ranging from 2 to 15 EGP depending on the ticket and the mode of transport.
  • Accommodation options vary, but budget-friendly hostels or guesthouses can be found for around 100 to 200 EGP per night.
  • Meals at local eateries and street vendors are inexpensive, with hearty dishes costing approximately 20 to 50 EGP per meal.
  • Sightseeing expenses can vary, but many iconic attractions like the Pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian Museum offer affordable entry fees, typically around 100 to 200 EGP.

In total, a budget traveler can expect to spend approximately 324 to 484 EGP per day in Cairo

Best Time to Visit Cairo

How to Reach Cairo

How to Reach Overview

Reaching Cairo, from various parts of the world is facilitated by a diverse range of transportation options, ensuring seamless connectivity to this historic city. 

How to reach Cairo by flight

Cairo International Airport (CAI) serves as a major gateway to Egypt and is well-connected to cities worldwide. Numerous airlines operate direct flights to Cairo from major hubs across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

As soon as you reach the capital city of Egypt, you may take a bus or a cab to your hotel. You can also possibly take a cab till the nearest metro station and then commute to your area of stay via metro.

How to reach Cairo by road

Traveling to Cairo by road is possible from neighboring countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Egypt shares land borders with Libya, Sudan, Israel, and Palestine (Gaza Strip), providing potential road access to Cairo. However, it's essential to check border crossing requirements, visa regulations, and road conditions before embarking on a road trip to Cairo.

How to reach Cairo by train

While there are no direct international train routes to Cairo, travelers can reach the city by train from neighboring countries such as Jordan and Israel via the Jordanian Railway Corporation (JRC) and Israel Railways. These train services connect to Cairo via Amman and Tel Aviv, respectively. From there, passengers can transfer to domestic trains within Egypt's extensive rail network to reach Cairo. There is also a phenomenal railway starting from Cape Town, South Africa and covering the major countries like Zimbabwe to all the way till Cairo, Egypt. Cairo also has the first of the two metros in Africa. The metro being a rapid transit option takes people to just any stop in and around the city.

How to reach Cairo by bus

The bus connectivity in the city is extremely good. From the standard mini buses being run by Cairo Transportation Authority to the micro buses that are run by Private companies, it is the cheapest way to reach any destination in and around the city.

How to reach Cairo by waterways

While there are no direct international passenger ferry services to Cairo, travelers can reach the city via sea routes to nearby ports. Egypt's Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts have ports such as Alexandria, Port Said, and Suez, which serve as entry points for cargo and cruise ships. From these ports, travelers can arrange onward transportation to Cairo by road or rail.

Local transport in Cairo

Navigating Cairo's bustling streets, akin to the flowing Nile, requires adaptability and a sense of adventure. With nearly 10 million people in constant motion, the city pulses with energy, offering various modes of transportation to explore its vibrant neighborhoods and iconic landmarks.

Metro: The most convenient means of getting around in Cairo is by the Metro. There are three Metro Lines you can take to get around Ataba being ideal to go Downtown, Mar Girgis for Coptic Cairo and Bab al-Shaaria for Islamic Cairo. The Cairo metro ticketing system operates on tiered pricing based on the number of stations traveled.

  • For journeys of up to 9 stations, the fare is 6 EGP.
  • Trips covering up to 16 stations costs 8 EGP
  • Longer journeys, up to 23 stations, incur a fare of 12 EGP.
  • A new ticket category has been introduced for trips exceeding 23 stops, priced at 15 EGP.

Taxi: Taxis remain a popular choice for travelers, albeit with some negotiation required to agree on fares. Uber, Careem and Didi are major service providers with fares typically around EGP 50–60 for downtown destinations. Alternatively, private taxis can be taken fro the road. Expect fares ranging from EGP 50 to EGP 150 for a 30-minute journey, depending on traffic and destination. 

Tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuks offer a swift and thrilling ride through Cairo's labyrinthine streets, with fares ranging from EGP 5 to EGP 25 for short distances. 

Shared bikes: With shared bikes available for just EGP 1 per hour and wide sidewalks in areas like Midan Taalat Harb.

Buses: There buses, minibuses and private buses (microbus) to get around Cairo. While Cairo's bus network lacks route maps, it offers an authentic way to experience the city, with tickets priced between EGP 5–10.

River buses: There is also a River Bus that takes you from Downtown Cairo to Giza as well as Cairo University. 

Cairo Photos

Cairo, Egypt
Pyramids of Giza are the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Cairo is a warm, tropical and beautiful city with innumerable attractions ranging from pyramids to mosques and churches.
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is one of the largest museums in Egypt holding the record of owning the world's largest collection of Pharaonic antiques.

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FAQs on Cairo

What are the places near Cairo?

The top places near to Cairo are Luxor which is 503 km from Cairo, Aqaba which is located 368 km from Cairo, Jerusalem which is located 425 km from Cairo, Amman which is located 494 km from Cairo, London which is located 3512 km from Cairo

What are the things to do in Cairo?

The top things to do in Cairo are Pyramids of Giza, Al-Azhar Mosque, Khan el-Khalili, The Citadel, Old Cairo (Coptic Cairo), Asfour Crystal Factory. You can see all the places to visit in Cairo here

What are the top hotels in Cairo?

There are 919 in Cairo which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Cairo are Green Katamia-Height Golf Panorama, Sandra's place 2, Luxury 230m2 3 beds apartment in Gharb el Golf compound (Fifth settlement), Hossam Ali Elshaer pyramids view apartment with private rooftop, El-Shorouk Housing gate2, New Cairo, Al Rehab Studio.. You can see all the hotels in Cairo here

How much does a package cost for Cairo?

The packages for Cairo start at INR 62990 which can be further customized based on number of people, days, hotel category, vehicle type and customizations. You can have a look at all packages here

What is the local food in Cairo?

The local Egyptian cuisine is known for its distinctive simple cooking and rich flavours. Some of the most popular dishes include aish, pita breads, Falafel, and Ful medames, which is also considered the national dish of Egypt.
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What is the best time to visit Cairo?

The best time to visit Cairo is the pleasant spring or autumn or deep winters. March-April and October-November offer a comfortable season of light breeze and mild temperatures. The hotel rates are fairly cheap at this time and the entire trip is relaxing and delightful. While heavy winter months of December and January are also enjoyable, the hotel rates around this time are at their peak and the city is overcrowded with tourists. One must absolutely avoid visiting in the summer as the scorching heat and the dust storms may get the better of you.
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Cairo Reviews

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Saifudeen Habeebulla

on The Egyptian Museum 6 years ago
Very amazing stories of pharoas dead body. It keeps without any chemical experiment.
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