A weekend in Cairo: how to make the most of two days in Cairo



Description:

Cairo is the largest city in Africa, and one of the most exciting cities in the world. There is enough to see and do in Cairo to keep you busy for weeks. Luckily, it’s possible to see the best sights in a weekend, if you’re up for it! To make the most of your weekend in Cairo, you will need to hit the ground running, and use your time wisely. Two days in Cairo is enough time to see the most important Pharaonic, Islamic and Christian sights. You can easily see the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum, the Citadel, and Coptic Cairo during a weekend in Cairo, and not be too rushed to appreciate them. You’ll also be able to enjoy a spot of shopping in the fascinating Khan al Khalili bazaar, and sample some authentic Egyptian cuisine. Five thousand years of history in 48 hours – not bad going! Note: this guide assumes you are staying in Downtown Cairo. Since you are spending only a weekend in Cairo, you need to be in the thick of things! Furthermore, note that it's sensible to dress conservatively at all times in Cairo. This is essential, however, on days when you will be visiting mosques or churches.

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Author: Nicholas Rowlands


Church of the Virgin (Al Adra)

Location:

Near the Babylon Fort
Coptic Cairo
11728 Cairo, Egypt


Abu Seifein (St. Mercurius) Church

Location:

Mari Girgis Street
Deir Abu Seifein Convent
11728 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist information)


Greek Church of Saint George (Mari Girgis)

Location:

Mar Girgis Street
Coptic Cairo quarter
Cairo, Egypt


Church of St. Barbara (Sitt Barbara)

Location:

East of Fortress of Babylon
11211 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


Day 1 - Cairo


Start early and aim to get to the Pyramids before 9 am, in order to beat the crowds and the heat. The easiest way to get there is to hire a taxi for the day. Your hotel will be able to help with this, though it would be cheaper to arrange it yourself. Just make sure your driver speaks enough English, and negotiate a fair price in advance. Note that it can take as much as an hour to reach the Pyramids if the traffic is bad. Once at the Pyramids, take the time to explore the site fully. If you aren’t claustrophobic, it’s well worth paying the small extra fee to enter one of the pyramids. There isn’t really anything to see, but the sensation of being inside such a vast mass of rock is incredible. Make sure you also allow enough time to visit the Solar Boat Museum. Once you are done, drive to the Great Sphinx (included in the Pyramids ticket), stopping at the pyramids viewing point along the way. Have fun playing with perspective when taking photos of the Sphinx: if you get your positioning right, you can appear to be patting him on the head, and even kissing him! Grab some lunch at the nearby Felfela restaurant, before driving back to the Egyptian Museum. Depending on where you are staying, you could possibly let your driver go once you get there. Be warned that the Egyptian Museum is huge, but not very well set out or labelled. It might be worth hiring a guide to help you navigate your way around all that history. Whether you do or not, make sure not to miss the diorite statue of Chephren on the ground floor, the collection of bizarre Amarna Art, and of course Tutankhamen’s treasure trove on the first floor. In the evening, head to the island of Zamalek: home of expats and embassies, restaurants and bars. Try to eat at Abou el Sid if you can. It gets very busy, so it’s best to either get there early, or make a reservation. For some post-dinner drinks, stay on Zamalek and check out somewhere like La Bodega, L’Aubergine, or Deals. Make sure you don’t get to bed too late though: you have another full day tomorrow!


1

The Great Pyramid

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expert pick

Location:

Giza Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 383 8823
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2

Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren)

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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3

Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus)

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 383 8823


4

Solar Boat Museum

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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5

The Sphinx

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 383 8823
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6

Felfela

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Location:

Talaat Harb Street
11111 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2392 2833


8

Zamalek

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Location:

Northern tip of Gezira island
Cairo, Egypt


9

Abou el Sid

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Location:

157, 26th of July Street, just down from Diwan book store
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2735 9640 / +20 (0)10 100 8500
fax: +20 (0)2 3748 8109
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10

La Bodega

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Location:

157, 26th of July Street
Balmoral Hotel
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 27362188 - +20(0)2 27350543 - +20 (0)2 27356761 - +20 (0)2 27361115 - +20 (0)105232923


11

Deals

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Location:

5 El-Sayed el-Bakri Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 20 2 736 0502


12

L'Aubergine

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Location:

5a Sayed El Bakry Street
12151 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 20 27380080


Day 2 - Cairo


As with Day 1, an early start is advisable: try to get to Coptic Cairo before 9 am. You can again hire a taxi for the day, or take the metro from Sadat station to Mar Girgis. Coptic Cairo is an oasis of calm in the chaos of the city, and the beautiful cobbled streets are a wonderful place to meander around. Bag as many religious monuments as you can handle, making sure to include the church in which the Holy Family stayed, as well as the fascinating Coptic Museum. Either grab lunch in one of the many cheap cafes along Mar Girgis street, or head straight to the Citadel. You need to drive there, so will have to hire a taxi if you have not already done so. At the Citadel, make sure you visit all three mosques, because they each have their own unique personality. It’s best to start with the Mamluk one, then head to the Ottoman mosque (and the old fortress walls) before exploring the Citadel’s show piece – the huge, opulent mosque of Mohammed Ali. Spend some time soaking up the incredible views out over Cairo that the Citadel offers – you can really understand why Cairo is known as the “city of a thousand minarets”. On a clear day, you may even be able to see the Pyramids! If you haven’t yet eaten lunch, you might want to eat at the restaurant here, though be warned it’s quite expensive. Once you’re done, have your driver take you to nearby Khan al-Khalili – the 500 year-old bazaar at the heart of Islamic Cairo. It’s probably best to part with your taxi here, because time has a habit of warping in weird ways in the Khan, and you don’t want to feel constrained by a meeting time. Khan al-Khalili is a maelstrom of exotic sights, sounds and smells, and the best place to haggle for souvenirs. Just dive straight in and get lost, but make sure you keep your sense of humour with you. When the hustle and bustle gets too much, refresh yourself in al-Fishawi coffee shop, or escape to the calm of nearby al-Azhar and al-Hussein mosques. If you need to refuel, try the local feteers at the Egyptian Pancake House. Spend your final evening Downtown. Head to either the Greek Club or Estoril for a bite to eat, and make sure you find time for a drink in al-Horeya – Downtown Cairo’s most popular watering hole.


1

Babylon Fort

Location:

Mar Girgis Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)


2

The Coptic Museum

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Location:

Mar Guirguis Street
In the center of Old Cairo, across from the exit from the Mar Girgis Metro stop
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 362 8766 / + 20 2 363 9742
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3

The Hanging Church

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Location:

Mar Girgis Street
Coptic Cairo
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


4

Church of St. George (Keniset Mar Girgis)

Location:

Mari Girgis Street
12556 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


5

Church of Abu Serga (St Sergius)

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Location:

Near Mari Girgis Street
(Downtown)
11728 Cairo, Egypt


6

Coptic Cemetery of Old Cairo

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Location:

Religion Compound
Mari Girgis
11728 Cairo, Egypt


7

Ben Ezra Synagogue

Location:

Coptic Cairo quarter
Coptic Cairo
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)
visit website


8

Amr Ibn el-Aas Mosque

Location:

Sidi Hasan al-Anwar Street
Fustat
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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9

The Citadel

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Location:

Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 512 9619


10

Citadel: An-Nasir Mohammed Mosque

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Location:

The Citadel
Salah Salem Highway
11211 Cairo, Egypt


12

Citadel: Mohammed Ali Mosque

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Location:

Citadel Historic Complex
Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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13

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

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Location:

Off Hussein Square
(Across from El Azhar Mosque)
11211 Cairo, Egypt


14

Al-Azhar Mosque

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Location:

Al-Azhar Street
Opposite El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 59 3893
fax: +20 (0)2 59 3893
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15

Al Hussein Mosque

expert pick

Location:

El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


16

Egyptian pancake house

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Location:

Midan Hussein
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2024505871


17

Estoril

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Location:

12 Talaat Harb Street
11111 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 25743102


18

Greek Club (The)

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Location:

21 Mahmoud Bassyouni Street
Midan Talat Harb
11111 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2575 0822


19

Horeya

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Location:

Midan el-Falaki
Bab el-Louk
Cairo, Egypt


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