Airport Full Name
The airport is situated 14 miles (22km) from Cairo.
Facilities include a restaurant and several cafeterias, banks and ATMs, bureau de change, pharmacies, an Internet café in Terminal 1, five-star lounges for business and first class passengers, smoking rooms (Terminal 1), tourist information desks and travel agencies. Duty-free is also available. Facilities for disabled passengers are good, but those with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
There are taxis outside the main arrivals hall; the journey to central Cairo takes around 45 minutes. An Airport Shuttle bus is a convenient way to get from the airport to downtown Cairo and along the Pyramids Road in Giza. Public buses and air-conditioned coaches also leave regularly from Terminal 1.
Tel: +20 (0)2 265 4611.
Climate Details (C)
Travel Guides: Cairo
Warning: Protests in Cairo have resumed as conservative religious groups and the military clash over the formation of a new government. Visitors should avoid downtown Cairo, including Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, as the protests have turned violent and clashes with police are frequent.
Africa's largest city with a population of nearly 18 million, Cairo is a chaotic mixture of sights, sounds and smells. It is heaving with life, volatile, polluted and boisterous, with an intensity that both exhausts and invigorates the visitor. It is also distinctive with its ancient monuments in juxtaposition to the modern and cosmopolitan. The congested streets of Islamic Cairo are full of donkey carts, traders and mosques, while camels weave their way haughtily between the crumbling pyramids on the outskirts. Taxis clamour for attention and pedestrians elbow their way past busy coffee houses, where those seeking a brief escape from the hustle and bustle sit sipping at a strong cup of coffee while contemplating the smoke rings of a 'hubbly bubbly' water pipe - in true Egyptian style.
Visitors can also practice the age-old art of bargaining for trinkets, spices and perfume in one of the world's largest bazaars, or pay a visit to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, which houses treasures from Tutankhamun's tomb and is one of the country's main attractions.
Situated on the Nile, Egyptians arrogantly refer to Cairo as the 'Mother of all Cities'; many visitors who have experienced its unruliness would perhaps describe it in less endearing terms. But no matter how it goes down there is no doubt that Cairo is as beguiling as it is messy, and its charm lies in the blend of African, Arab and European influences, the timelessness of the old, and the energy of the present.
The most efficient and reliable public transport in Cairo is the Metro, which has the added advantage of being very cheap. The route connects Helwan in the south of the city to Heliopolis in the north with various branches to Shubra, Ataba and Abdin. There is also a subway line between Giza and Shubra. Trains run from 5.30am to midnight, the first carriage of each reserved for women only. The streets of Cairo are well supplied with taxis, which may have a fare meter but it is not likely to be used. Fares vary and should be negotiated up front and are usually shared. Taxis from hotels tend to cost double that of hailed taxis. The bus and minibus services operating in the city are considered risky for tourists because of overcrowding and the potential for pickpocketing. Buses also require at least a working knowledge of Arabic to navigate. Walking is a fairly good option for taking in the atmosphere of Cairo, but be warned, streets are not marked and maps not much help, so it is easy to lose direction. Driving in Cairo is not for the faint-hearted as few road rules are adhered to, traffic is heavy at all times and streets are poorly signposted. Car rental agencies in Egypt require that drivers be 25 years old minimum and an International Driving Permit is needed.
Desert Riding, Cairo
Viewing the Pyramids by Arabian horseback is a great experience and an unforgettable way to take in one of the world's most famous sights. There is of course, the slightly smellier option of camel riding, a real 'Egyptian experience' and a popular activity with tourists, especially children. Sunrise and full-moon rides are available and after a day out on the sand, head back to the riding headquarters and relax on their deck with refreshments and barbeque while taking in the spectacular views over the Pyramids and Sphinx for the evening laser show.
Costs depend on the itinerary of the ride as chosen by guest
Memphis and Saqqara, Cairo
Memphis and Saqqara are small towns today, but in ancient Egypt they were great cities and seats of power, an identity still traceable in the ruins and relics in each. Memphis is home to the Temple of Ptah, which includes the Colossus of Ramses II, a 33 foot (10m) statue near the entrance, and a small museum.
Only 1.8 miles (3km) away is the plateau of Saqqara, where visitors will find a vast Saqqara Necropolis, containing many cemetaries, pyramids, mastabas and private tombs, including the Mastaba of Ti, the Pyramid of Teti I, and the Unas Causeway and Pyramid of Unas. One of the most famous structures in Saqqara is the Step Pyramid of Djoser, also known as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base. Saqqara is also home to the Imhotep Museum.
Memphis and Saqqara together make a popular excursion from Cairo. There isn't much in the way of entertainment, dining, or accommodation however, so most visitors take a day trip while staying in the capital.
Saqqara Necropolis: Daily 8am-5pm
Saqqara Necropolis: LE60 adults, LE30 students
Magic Galaxy, Cairo
This indoor amusement park spans two floors and features 10 big rides, more than 100 games and rides, and even a Baby Zone section for very young visitors. Kids can enjoy rides such as the Moon Buggy or Falling Star, or even let off some steam in the Soft Play Room or jump on family rides such as the Comet Coaster or Demolition Derby. This is a fantastic attraction for the whole family, and a great way to beat the Egyptian heat.
Dream Park, Cairo
A trip to Dream Park is a must for children of all ages and makes a great day out for the whole family. Featuring rides, shops and simulators, the 160 acre Dream Park is also encircled by a train, making access easy. Visitors can enjoy the 10 stomach-turning adventure rides, or 12 mellow family rides as well as two theatres and one of the largest concert areas in Cairo. 15 restaurants provide refueling stops, and there are five gift shops for souvenirs of your trip.
10am to 7pm in winter, 4pm to midnight in summer. 9pm to 2am during Ramadan, 12pm to midnight Fridays and holidays.
Tickets range LE 60 to LE 120
Old Cairo, Cairo
This small and enclosed area, also known as Coptic Cairo, is the oldest part of the city and was once known as the Roman stronghold of Babylon; some of the old walls still exist. It is the ancient heart of the Coptic Christian community and although only five of the original 20 churches remain they are interesting to visit, along with the first mosque built in Egypt and the oldest synagogue, a representation of three of the major religions of the modern world. It is a peaceful place to wander around and a respite from the busy city centre. Churches of interest are the Al-Muallaqa (Hanging Church), the oldest Christian place of worship in the city, and St Sergius where the Holy Family reputedly sheltered during their flight to Egypt.
Pyramids of Giza, Cairo
The pyramids are the earth's oldest tourist attraction and the Great Pyramid of Khufu (also referred to as the Great Pyramid of Cheops) is the only remainder of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Throughout their history, they have fired human imagination, with much speculation as to their origin and purpose, but most evidence supports the theory that they were built by the ancient civilisation as tombs or great monuments in which to bury their kings and nobles, a place to start their mystic journey to the afterlife. The oldest and largest pyramid, the Great Pyramid, is thought to have taken 20 years to build and is made of about two million blocks of limestone. No one knows how the two-ton blocks were moved into place, but it was known to be the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 40 centuries. The Great Sphinx, known as the Abu al-Hol (Father of Terror), stands in front of the Great Pyramid and is thought to be older than the pyramids themselves.
Tours of the pyramids are conducted by many tour operators in Giza. Access to the interior of the pyramids is restricted, and at least one is closed for renovations at any given period. While climbing the pyramids was once a popular activity, the practise has now been banned. The best time to visit the Pyramids of Giza is early in the morning, before the tour buses descend on them. While unofficial 'tour guides' lurk around the site to demand tips, better-informed guides can be booked in advance from Giza.
Bus 8 from Midan Tahrir
Daily 7am to 7:30pm; pyramid chambers 8am to 4pm.
Site: LE 60. Great Pyramid: LE 100. Other pyramids: LE 30-100. Concessions available
Dr. Ragab's Pharaonic Village, Cairo
This living museum is a fabulous attraction for the whole family to enjoy. Visitors sail down a network of canals in motorized barges where a cast of actors and actresses work to recreate ancient Egypt. All the characters from pharaohs and fishermen to slaves and potters are represented and even moments in history are recreated. Facilities include a cafeteria, playground, restaurant and boat hire.
Open daily 9am6pm. Open until 9pm in summer.
$15; free for kids under 4 years.
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Cairo
With over 100,000 artefacts in 107 halls, the Egyptian Museum provides days of exploration. Inside are treasures from ancient Egypt, including priceless finery taken from ancient royal tombs, and one of the museum's masterpieces, the statue of Khafre (Chephren). The most popular attraction is the Tutankhamun Gallery where exquisite treasures from the tomb of the iconic Boy King are displayed, including the famous solid gold death mask. Another top attraction is the Royal Mummy Room containing mummies of some of the most powerful Pharaohs in Egypt dating from the 18th to the 20th dynasties. The museum also contains collections of artefacts including coins, papyrus scrolls, scarabs and sarcophagi.
Daily 9am to 4:30pm
Khan al-Khalili, Cairo
Buzzing with the activities of buying and selling, Khan al-Khalili is one of the largest markets in the world. It is situated within Islamic Cairo, a World Heritage Site that attracts travellers and locals alike. This is the best place to soak up the colour of Cairo and to people-watch. Traders have been bargaining in these alleys since the 14th century and it is possible to buy almost anything, from exotic perfume bottles to everyday Arabic clothing. On the northern corner of the bazaar is the Mosque of Sayyidna al-Hussein, one of the holiest Islamic sites in Egypt.
Asfour Crystal Factory, Cairo
The Egyptians were the first people to develop the art technology of manufacturing glass and cutting it into beautiful shapes and began doing this 5,000 years ago. Established in 1961 and located in Shobra, the Asfour Crystal Factory Showroom is the largest crystal factory in Egypt and provides crystals to many countries across the globe. Products range from jewellery, 3D laser gifts, figurines and a selection of chandeliers and other light fittings. The jewellery is not of the same standard as Swarovski crystal. But some lovely pieces can be picked up at prices up to 60% cheaper than what you'll find at retail shops.
Hanging Church (El Muallaqa, Sitt Mariam, St Mary), Cairo
The Hanging Church in Cario derives its name from its location on top of the southern tower gate of the old Babylon fortress with its nave suspended over a passage. It's the most famous Coptic church in Cairo with the earliest mention of the church being a statement in the biography of the patriarch Joseph, who lived from 831 to 849. It went on to become known to travellers as the 'staircase church' during the 14th and 15th centuries, because of the twenty-nine steps that lead to the entrance. The visual impact of the church's elevated position has been reduced due to the rise of land surface by around 20 feet (6 metres) since the Roman period. The Roman tower remains mostly buried below ground.
Daily 9am-4pm (except during services).
Coptic Church of St. George (Mari Girgis), Cairo
One of the few round churches still in existence in the East, the Greek Church of St. George features a long set of steps that lead up to the church where visitors will find a relief of St George and the dragon wrapped around the outer brickwork of the tower. For centuries, the church alternated between Copt and Greek ownership, but since the 15th century it has remained Greek Orthodox, and the adjoining monastery of St George is now the seat of the Greek patriarch. The St George Church is most famous for its beautiful wedding hall, ( Qaat el Irsan) which dates back to the 14th century. Despite this, the Moulid of Mari Girgis, a large Coptic festival celebrating St George, is celebrated at the church each April.
Open daily from 8:30am to 4pm
Western Desert Oases, Cairo
From Cairo it is possible to experience Egypt's finest journey on offer, the Great Desert Circuit. It runs for over 621 miles (1,000km) through spectacular desert landscape and is punctuated by four oases situated in a depression: Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga. The first two have hot springs and palm groves, Farafra being the more traditional and rural of the two. To experience the remoteness of the desert travellers can spend an unforgettable night in the White Desert between oases. Dakhla and Kharga are surrounded by old ruins and villages from the times of the ancient caravan routes to Sudan.
The circuit takes around one week and can be travelled using public or one's own transport, or visitors can book a tour. It is also possible to hire a local guide with a 4x4.
Ramses II Statue, Cairo
Discovered in 1882 during excavations, the statue of Pharaoh Ramses II was cut into six pieces in the 1950s and moved to Ramses Square in central Cairo where it stood for a further 50 years. In 2006 the statue moved to a new home near the Pyramids and the Museum of Antiquities, as there were growing concerns that heavy pollution was damaging the 3,200-year-old statue, which weighs 83 ton and stands 36 feet (11 metres) high. Ramses II, who ruled Egypt for more than 60 years during the 19th dynasty of pharaohs, was one of ancient Egypt's most prolific builders.
Saladin Citadel (Al-Qalaa), Cairo
This massive stone fortress of the Saladin Citadel, set in a beautiful tropical location with magnificent views, was built by Salah ad-Din in the 12th century. Visitors have the freedom to roam the castle, which remains in pristine condition, including the execution room. Two other mosques are located at the Citadel, the 13th century Mosque of al-Nasir Muhammad and the 16th century Mosque of Suleyman Pasha. The Al-Gawhara Palace, National Military Museum and Police Museum can also be found inside the Citadel.
Cairo International Film Festival
With a cinematic tradition dating back as far as the 1930, Cairo is known as the 'Hollywood of the Middle East'. The Cairo International Film Festival began in 1976 and the 2008 edition will be screening films tackling issues on human rights and human dignity, with the festival commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Another portion of the festival will be dedicated to the guests of honour, Spanish cinema, and African cinema will be represented in 'The Black Pearl' section, showcasing movies that dismiss the myths of Africa being about jungles, safari, famine, poverty, ethnic conflicts and disease.
November 2011 TBC
The thrilling three-week-long endurance race across the Sahara Desert attracts competitors from all four corners of the globe. The Pharaohs Rally is a 1864-mile (3000km) circuit beginning under the Sphinx in Giza, crossing the finish line in Cairo. Prices range from EUR3700 to participate and it is free to watch.
1 - 9 October 2011
Aida at Giza
The Cairo Opera House produces annual performances of Verdi's opera in front of the dramatic Pyramids of Giza. The famous tale of Aidaremains one of Guiseppe Verdi's best-loved operas, a tragic tale of love featuring an Egyptian captain, Pharoah's daughter and an Ethiopian slave girl, Aida. Contact the Central Reservation Office on (0)2 736 7314.
October 2011 TBC
Pyramids at Giza
The most prominent religious festivals which tourists experience in Egypt are the 'mouleds', which are incredibly lively processions that take to the streets of Cairo on various saints' birthdays. The mouleds generally take place in summer, and blend religion with folklore, usually taking the form of wild dancing accompanied by music, chanting and fireworks. For more information phone +20 (0)2 285 4509.
July and August 2011
Streets of Cairo and other towns and villages
Delicious food and an inviting, cosy atmosphere have made this restaurant one of Cairo's favourite eateries. Soft lighting and tasteful décor create the perfect atmosphere to dine on such dishes as creamy onion soup, veal cordon bleu stuffed with mushrooms and topped with cheese and tomatoes or thick crust pizzas loaded with toppings of your choice. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations essential.
44 Michel Bakhoum Street
This tent restaurant has become a popular relaxation spot with trendy locals and expats and for good reason. On the high banks of the Nile the restaurant has a commanding spot atop the city. Perfect to relax with flavoured tobaccos and traditional Egyptian and Lebanese mezze food although there are other options for light western dining. More of a lounge during the day, the place becomes a club when the sun sets.
3 Abou Feda Street
Koshary Abou Tarek
Consistently ranked as one of the most popular restaurants in Cairo, Koshary Abou Tarek serves up a uniquely Egyptian dish, koshary (sometimes spelled koshari), best described as an Egyptian-style chilli, in large portions for prices even the most budget-conscious travellers will love. As ubiquitous in Egypt as curry is in India, Koshary is available at nearly any street vendor in Cairo, but Abou Tarek's koshary is among the best in the city.
16 Maarouf, Shamplion Street
This unusual restaurant is a mix of heavy ottoman ornaments in a richly decorated haunt. The food too is a mix and the more unusual sounding dishes are most likely to be the best. Traditional home cooking like molokhiyya stew are favourites although the restaurant blends dishes from several backgrounds with a Lebanese flair. Rersvations are advisable.
157 26th of July Street
This popular tourist haunt may be a bit pricey, yet the Oriental décor is stunning. A bubbling fountain, contemporary art exhibits and tapestries adorning the walls create a wonderful dining environment. The Egyptian-Middle Eastern food focuses mainly on grilled meats so stick to local dishes like bamia(stewed okra). Arabesque is popular for business lunches. Alcohol is served. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations essential.
6 Qasr el-Nil Street, Cairo
The Fish Market
Gone are the days of travelling to Alexandria for good fresh fish. Nowadays, those looking for decent sea fare can book a table at the Fish Market, situated on the upper deck of a boat permanently moored on the west bank of the Nile. With no menu and just a display of some of the freshest fish Cairo has to offer, diners pay by weight and choose their own fish, shrimp, calamari, crabs and shellfish which is beautifully prepared by the kitchen as you like. Couple that with a slew of Middle Eastern salads and deliciously home baked bread and you have a recipe for success! Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.
26 Shara al-Nil, Giza (on the American Boat)
The Revolving Restaurant Grand Hyatt
Towering above the city 41 floors high, diners can enjoy truly panoramic views of the city below as the scenery circles by. Besides taking in the Nile, the city and the pyramids an open kitchen in the centre of the restaurant puts on a show serving up an eclectic range of multi-national menu choices. A slightly formal setting is perfect for romantic evenings and a reprieve from the congestion 41 floors below. Reservations are advised.
Corniche El Nile
With authentic ingredients flown in from Bangkok and a highly skilled Thai woman at the helm, it's no wonder the food at Bua Khao keeps guests coming back for more. Renowned for serving the best Thai food in Egypt, the massamanand penangcurries are to-die-for and the tom kar gai(chicken and coconut milk soup) is a great way to start things off. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.
9 Road 151, Ma'adi
Colourful mosaic and carvings adorn the almost every inch of this Moroccan restaurant where Middle-Eastern pigeon meat, colloquially known as the squab,makes a name for itself in the pie pastilla, a semi-sweet Egyptian dish laced with spices and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. The chicken tagine, a stew made with dates served in a colonial ceramic dish comes highly recommended, though adventurous palates may try the squab, which is fried pigeon. Alcohol is not served. Reservations advisable.
Riyadh Tower, 5 Shara Wissa Wassef
Marble lines the floors, alabaster lamps adorn the walls and a piano tinkles in the background inviting diners to twirl across the marble dance floor. Couple that with an amazing panoramic view over the city and an inspired menu and you've got a winner. The mushroom and potato pyramids topped with tomato-mango chutney are delicious, but the classic meat and seafood grills take the cake. Desserts are mind blowing and it is advisable to leave a little room for something sweet. Reservations essential.
Nile Hilton, Maydan Tahrir
Overlooking Maydan Sphinx and complete with exquisite woodwork detailing, the lavish dining area in Kandahar features authentic Indian furnishings. The food tastes as good as the restaurant looks - amazing! The Baingan Bharta(creamy smoked eggplant baked in a clay oven and perfect for dipping fluffy Naan bread in) is an absolute must and Murgh Tikka(spiced chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt) is a firm favourite. Service is excellent. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.
3 Shara Gameat al-Dowal al-Arabiya, Mohandiseen
Sleek and sophisticated, the modern lounge of Sequoia would be right at home in Manhattan or Los Angeles, but it's located in the Zamalek district of Cairo instead. Serving a blend of Asian, Italian, and Egyptian cuisine, the eclectic menu includes both adventurous dishes and safer options for tourists wanting something familiar. Lebanese and Egyptian meze platters are some of the most popular dishes. Located on the banks of the river, the lounge has stunning views of the Nile, and morphs into a posh nightclub at midnight. Open from 1pm to 2pm.
53 Abou El Feda Street, Zamalek