Famed for its ancient attractions and dubbed by the locals as the 'mother of all cities', Cairo is Africa's largest city and its traditions spread beyond its most famous sights. Cairo is literally heaving with activity and its sheer intensity and modern hustle and bustle is a complete juxtaposition from the historic ruins that draw the majority of tourists. The city is blisteringly hot throughout the year, and it's best to avoid the summer months when the temperatures can be unbearable - September-April are the best times to visit. There are regular flights from many UK airports direct to Cairo International Airport with most journeys lasting around five hours.
| The Great Pyramid is the last remainder of the seven wonders-of-the-world....|
With its pyramids, museums, bazaars and the River Nile, Cairo is an intense city for all travellers...
Cairo is perfectly suited to those looking for the ultimate city experiences, who like to be on the move and sightseers aiming to take in some of the most magnificent buildings ever developed. There's plenty to keep families entertained with the many sites and attractions but generally this is a holiday best suited to singles and couples that want to stay active. Be conscious of the time you travel - during the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan, many businesses work half days and a lot of the tourist areas close early.
What to do...
When it comes to sightseeing in Cairo, you will be spoilt for choice. The city is packed with fine 19th Century buildings and ancient districts, but most famously it offers the pyramids of Giza - the world's oldest tourist attraction. The pyramids were built, it is speculated, to be used as tombs for the great kings of the ancient civilisation and they stand as a stunning remnant to the past. The Great Pyramid is the last remainder of the seven wonders-of-the-world. The Sphinx (known as the Father of Terror) is said to out date the pyramids and is as impressive as the hype suggests.
The River Nile itself is a major tourist draw. Cruises along the Nile are vastly popular and a great way to explore its beauty, particularly with the incredible sunsets and the opportunity to hop off and visit the ancient temples during the day. Old Cairo is also well worth visiting, particularly if you fancy a break from the constant activity in the main city. It is the home of five of the original 20 churches of the Coptic Christian Community and Egypt's first mosque and its oldest synagogue. If you're looking to explore Egypt's history under one roof then visit the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, located in the downtown area, with more than 100,000 artefacts including royal mummies of some of the most powerful figures in Egyptian history.
Some of the lesser-known sights that you might wish to take in include the Western Desert Oases, with many hot springs to discover, the Birqash Camel Market where hundreds of camels are swapped daily, and Dahsur with its 4th and 12th Century pyramids.
Shopping in Cairo is a unique experience perfect for those who love to pick up tourists trinkets such as onyx Pharaoh cats, and it's a great opportunity to haggle. The most famous market is Kahn al-Khalili, situated within Islamic Cairo, with traders bargaining and offering everything from perfumes to clothing. It's a great place to people watch too and get a real taste of modern Egyptian life.
The nightlife in Cairo is comparatively quiet for such a large city with the men tending to congregate in coffee houses and the women visiting each other at their homes. Nonetheless there are some exciting venues such as Latex, which caters for clubbers, Palmyra, which gives you an insight into traditional belly dancing and the Cairo Jazz Club, which is a nightclub, bar and restaurant rolled into one. The restaurants throughout Cairo are expanding in numbers, but you should head to the most affluent areas to make the most of eating out.
Cairo City Breaks