Despite being primarily desert, Egypt is a vast and varied land, rich with culture and color and much of the farthest-reaching history in the world. There is fascination to be found here in many places.
Cairo however, is undoubtedly the convergence of all this richness. It absolutely shudders with life. Just walking the crowded market streets for hours, absorbing the exotic Cairo mayhem, is a memorable travel experience to many.
It needs not be said, but no trip to Cairo would be complete without a visit to the Pyramids.
Go and save some time to just walk around and get lost a little ways out in the desert. To just go out there and sit, and to imagine what it was like to see them all those years ago.
A massive souk, or market, in downtown Cairo. This is where all the bustling life of Cairo converges in a dazzling array of colors and sounds and scents. You can find basically anything here, and it is a definite must-see.
One of the most renowned in the world, containing the most extensive collection of artifacts dating from Pharaonic times. The displays are rather poorly labeled, which can be irritating.
The Nile River
The longest in the world and the lifeblood of Egypt. No visit to Cairo would be complete without a leisurely stroll along the Nile, especially at sunset — simply close your eyes and relax, and absorb to the passing Arabic, the passing of the carriages, and the music from the scattered restaurants.
The largest venue in Africa and home to most of Egypt’s finest groups. Extremely good prices.
Other notable attractions include:
– Mosque of Muhammad Ali
– Museum of Islamic Art
– Al-Azhar Park
– Hanging Church
It’s delicious. In addition to having loads of traditional foods more exclusively from Egypt, Cairo puts its own spin on some of the more common––and incredibly popular––Middle Eastern dishes, never failing to disappoint! Definitely try the street food, as there is nothing else quite like it both for flavor and for price. . . .
Some of the most delicious and easily accessible dishes include:
– Ta’meya (Falafel)
– Baba Ghanoush
Microbusses are one of the primary modes of transport for Cairo locals, and an experience which you cannot miss. They are essentially privately-owned vans which thunder around driver-determined routes. . . . anytime you want to go somewhere, flag one down and ask if they are headed towards your destination (use a map if you can’t speak Arabic). Drivers charge their own rates, but it is always cheaper than taxis. If you just hand up a bill, the driver will return whatever he thinks is appropriate, and in general everyone seems to trust one another. It really is quite cheap (I got as low as 2 Egyptian Pounds––about ten cents––for a twenty minute ride.)
And the culture in those things is incredible! You are surrounded by an absolute swarm of chaotic Arabic, and everyone of course thinks you are quite strange.
Taxis are cheap by Western standards, but still the most expensive means of transport. Certain types have meters and certain types do not; but I personally always set my price beforehand.
The metro is not too extensive in Cairo but is extremely efficient for covering long distances if it coincides with your route.
Busses are my second favorite mode of transportation, falling just behind microbusses. They are generally more dependable in the sense that they follow set routes, and perhaps the driving is a touch safer as well.
Nearly every country likes to claim that it is the true heart of human generosity and hospitality. In Egypt however, they surpassed most other countries for the sheer consistency of the warmth encountered there.
Walk a little ways into the quiet streets and greet them with a simple smile; this is an unfailing way to get invited for coffee or tea or maybe even dinner.