The best things to do in Cairo: a first-timer's guide to ancient and modern Cairo



Description:

Cairo is the largest city in Africa, and one of the most exciting cities in the world. For the first time visitor, Cairo can be a bewildering and sometimes frustrating experience. This trip will help you get the most out of a week’s visit to Cairo. It includes all the best Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic sights, as well as advice on more modern-day activities such as visiting galleries and cultural centres. It also includes some less well-known sights and activities, that not many tourists get to experience. Cairo is a huge, chaotic city, and it’s important to find time to relax. The trip has been designed with this in mind. One of the best things to do in Cairo is to let serendipity be your guide: Egyptians are very friendly, and you never know who you might meet around the next corner, or what incredible, half-forgotten monument you might stumble across. The issue of where to stay in Cairo is always a contentious one. This author’s opinion is that it’s best to stay Downtown, in the thick of things. This makes the logistics of transport around the city much easier. An alternative is to stay in one of the plusher, more expensive resorts near to the Pyramids. The disadvantage of this, though, is that you are quite a way out of town. This trip assumes you are staying Downtown. 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


Day 1 - Cairo


Day 1 is designed to let you find your feet a little in the chaos of Cairo, and so is not that heavy on sightseeing. Start out at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Aim to arrive by 9 am, to try to beat the crowds of tour groups that descend on the museum. The Egyptian Museum is huge, and not very well laid out or labelled, so you might want to hire a guide there to help you to navigate all the history. Whether you do or not, make sure you see the diorite statue of Chephren and the bizarre Amarna art downstairs, and of course the treasures of Tutankhamen on the first floor. If so inclined, you could while away hours or even days browsing the collection here; but ensure you devote at least a good couple of hours to the museum, because it will help to put the other Pharaonic sights you will see in Cairo into context. Spend your afternoon wandering around Downtown Cairo, soaking up the atmosphere and getting your bearings. A good route from the Egyptian Museum would be to walk up Champollion Street, passing the Mashrabia and Townhouse Galleries of modern Egyptian art. Stop for lunch on the corner of Ma’ruf street at Abu Tarek, a famous koshary restaurant. Koshary is a traditional Egyptian dish that is a mixture of pasta, lentils and fried onions, served with tomato salsa and chilli sauce. It’s cheap, filling, and really tasty. Alternatively you could stop at the Arabesque Gallery and Restaurant for some traditional Egyptian food in classy surrounds (at the beginning of Qasr el Nile street), before heading up Champollion. Continue along Ma’ruf to Talaat Harb street, one of downtown Cairo’s main thoroughfares. Turn left on to Talaat Harb, and keep walking until you hit Adli street on the right. This is home to one of Cairo’s only remaining synagogues: an imposing, gun-metal grey brick structure that manages to look both futuristic and gothic at the same time. After the synagogue, take the next right and walk down to Midan Mostafa Kamel; turn right and back down Qasr el Nile street to Midan Talaat Harb. On the way you will pass the Jacoubian Building – on which the contemporary film and novel of the same name was based. At Midan Talaat Harb turn left, and walk down Talaat Harb street to Midan Tahrir (Liberation square). You have done a large loop, and are back near the Egyptian museum. You might want to visit one or more of the art galleries you have passed, to provide a counterpoint to the ancient art you saw in the Egyptian Museum. Mashrabia and the Townhouse galleries concentrate on showcasing high quality contemporary art from local artists, both Egyptian and foreign. In the evening, head to Estoril on Talaat Harb street for some authentic Egyptian food. From here it is a short walk to al-Horeya, one of Downtown Cairo’s most cosmopolitan, and popular watering-holes.


2

Abou Tarek Koshary Restaurant

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Location:

16 Champollion Street, on corner of Maarouf Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2577 5935 / +20 (0)2 2576 1911
fax: +20 2 576 1911
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3

Arabesque

Location:

6 Qasr el-Nil Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2574 8677, +20 (0)2 2574 7898


4

Mashrabia Gallery

Location:

8 Champollion Street
(Off Tahrir Square)
11728 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 578 4494
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5

Townhouse Gallery

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Location:

Hussein El Me'mar Basha Street
(Off Mahmoud Basyouni Street)
11728 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2576 8086
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6

Estoril

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Location:

12 Talaat Harb Street
11111 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 25743102


7

Horeya

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Location:

Midan el-Falaki
Bab el-Louk
Cairo, Egypt


Day 2 - 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 island of Zamalek, trendy home of embassies, boutique shopping, restaurants and bars. Start your visit by ascending the Cairo Tower for spectacular views of Cairo; on a clear day, you might even get a second glimpse of the Pyramids! Spend the afternoon wandering around the relaxed streets of the island, checking out some of the funky cafes and shops. Don’t miss al-Sawy Cultural Centre, at the west end of 26th July Street. This oasis of tranquillity always has some art exhibitions, and often plays host to music concerts in the evening. These can range from heavy metal to classical oud, so pick up a timetable and see if something takes your fancy. Stay on Zamalek for the evening: eat at La Bodega or L’Aubergine, and indulge in spot of bar hopping.


1

The Great Pyramid

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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

The Sphinx

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 383 8823
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5

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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6

Cairo Tower

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Location:

Next to Al-Ahli Sporting Club
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

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7

Al-Sawy Cultural Centre

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Location:

26 July St.
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 27366178
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8

Felfela

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Location:

Talaat Harb Street
11111 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2392 2833


9

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


10

L'Aubergine

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Location:

5a Sayed El Bakry Street
12151 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 20 27380080


Day 3 - Cairo


Take a taxi to Khan al-Khalili in the morning. This bustling tourist bazaar is at its best when filled with throngs of people, so you don’t need to go too early. Spend a few hours wandering the narrow maze of alleys, haggling for souvenirs, and joking with the effervescent stall holders. Make sure you shop around to get a feel for the prices, and don’t let yourself be pressured into buying: you’ll be coming back again at the end of the week! When you need to take the weight off your feet, head to the world famous al-Fishawi coffee shop, and complement your people-watching with a cup of thick, black Turkish coffee, and perhaps a water pipe.

After lunch at the Egyptian Pancake House, pop in to al-Hussein Mosque in the main square, the holiest mosque in Egypt. After that, cross the street and explore the beautiful al-Azhar Mosque, seat of Egypt’s head Imam, and one of the most influential mosques in the Sunni Muslim world. Behind al-Azhar Mosque is the Wikalet al-Ghouri complex: home to a restored mosque/madrassa, a traditional craft exhibition, and site of the Sufi dancing show that you will be returning to on Saturday.

After this, head south towards the Street of the Tentmakers and the medieval south gate, Bab Zwayla. Spend some time wandering around the beautifully restored Islamic monuments in the area, and check out the craftsmen making the traditional appliqué pavilions along the Street of the Tentmakers, a unique Egyptian craft. The vendors here are very friendly, and more than happy to chat about their work. Although still quite touristy, the prices here are much lower than in the Khan itself, and you can pick up some great bargains.

In the evening, head down to Garden City. Just south of Downtown, Garden City is a pleasant maze of tranquil, tree-lined streets, and home to lots of government buildings and embassies. Take dinner either in Taboula (a quality Lebanese restaurant on Latin America street), or in Abu Shakra on Qasr al-Aini.

You are a short walk away from Makan. Situated next to Saad Zaghloul metro station, this centre is devoted to preserving traditional Egyptian culture and arts, especially music. Every Wednesday at 9.00 pm the mixed male and female Mazaher ensemble perform the Zar: a traditional type of African and Middle Eastern music used in healing rituals. Make the most of this unique opportunity to witness, and help support, this endangered tradition.


1

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

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Location:

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


2

Egyptian pancake house

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Location:

Midan Hussein
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2024505871


3

Al-Fishawi Coffee Shop

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Location:

El-Fishawi Alley
(Khan al-Khalili)
Cairo, Egypt


4

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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5

Al Hussein Mosque

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Location:

El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

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


6

Wikalet al-Ghouri

Location:

Muhammad 'Abduh Street
11211 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 2285 4363 (Tourist Information)


7

Mosque-Madrassa of al Ghouri

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Location:

In front of al Ghouri Mausoleum
Islamic Cairo
11728 Cairo, Egypt


8

Mausoleum of al-Ghouri

Location:

Al-Muezz el-Din Allah Street
Near El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

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

Bab Zwayla

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Location:

Sharia al-Muizz el-Din Allah Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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10

Abou Shakra

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Location:

69 Kasr El Einy Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 20 (0)2 2531 6111, +20 (0)2 3531 6222
fax: +20 (0)2 2531 6222
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11

Makan

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Location:

1 Saad Zaghloul St.
El Dawaween
11461 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2792 0878
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Day 4 - Cairo


In the morning, hire a taxi to take you to the Citadel. Again, aim to arrive as close to 9 am as possible. You might want to ask your taxi to wait for you for a few hours, so you can use him later in the day. 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”. If it’s a clear day, you may be able to see the Pyramids for the third time. If the idea of uniforms, guns and carriages gets you going, it may be worth checking out the museums in the Citadel complex. There is a Military Museum, Police Museum and even a small Carriage Museum. Depending on how long you spend at the Citadel, and how hungry you are, you might want to eat lunch at the restaurant. The food is pretty good, but be warned that it can work out quite expensive. If you don’t eat here, you will have to try to grab a snack in the street later on. Once you are finished at the Citadel, get your taxi driver to drop you off at Ibn Tulun Mosque. Again, you could ask him to wait for you here if you want. Note that it is only a short walk from the Citadel to Ibn Tulun, if you fancy trying it: just head down al-Salbiya street, and don’t be afraid to ask for directions. This huge mosque is considered to be the oldest in Egypt that has survived in its original form. Make sure you check out the floral friezes that run around the arches, because local legend maintains they were originally a part of Noah’s Ark. Climb the unique, spiral minaret for yet another perspective of Cairo from on high. Next to Ibn Tulun Mosque is the zany Gayer-Anderson Museum, home to an eclectic collection of art and furnishings from all over the Near East. This is a great place to get some photos of beautifully restored, 16th Century Arabic architecture. Thursday night is the start of the weekend in Cairo, so head to Downtown restaurant/bar After Eight for your dinner. They will almost certainly have some sort of live band playing, and you might end up dancing on the tables with some new Egyptian friends. Since it’s so popular, it’s best to reserve in advance. If After Eight has wet your appetite for partying, grab a taxi to the Cairo Jazz Club and dance the rest of the night away with the beautiful people. Just remember you have another full day tomorrow!


1

The Citadel

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Location:

Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 512 9619


2

Citadel: An-Nasir Mohammed Mosque

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Location:

The Citadel
Salah Salem Highway
11211 Cairo, Egypt


4

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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5

Ibn Tulun Mosque

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Location:

Off 'Abd al-Magid al-Labban (Al-Salbiyya) Street
Ibn Tulun Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

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


6

Gayer-Anderson Museum

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Location:

4 Maydan Ibn Tulun
Ibn Tulun Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 364 7822


7

After Eight

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Location:

6 Kasr El Nil Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 20 10 339 8000
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8

Cairo Jazz Club

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Location:

197, 26th July Street
Agouza
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 3345 9939
fax: +20 (0)2 3347 4819
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Day 5 - Memphis, Cairo


Today is another Pharaonic day, and it’s going to be a long one! Arrange to hire a taxi for the whole day, and leave early to get to Memphis by 9 am. Memphis was where it all began, the original capital of ancient Egypt, and would have been a spectacular city in it’s day. Unfortunately there is not much to see here now, but it’s worth visiting for a sense of completeness. You won’t want any more than an hour here, and once you are done, it’s a short drive to get to Saqqara.

You’re going to want a good few hours at Saqqara, because it’s a huge site: home to the first pyramid ever built, and a number of tombs and other monuments. In contrast with the Giza Plateau, relatively few tourists visit Saqqara, so the site is a very atmospheric place to wander around. Make sure you take sun protection and plenty of water though, because there isn’t much shade.

Start out at the museum, to give you an overview of what you are going to see, before heading to the main site. If so inclined, you could hire a guide to help you find your way around, although this is not necessary provided you have a map of the site. Spend some time exploring the area around the Step Pyramid and Funerary Complex of Djoser, before getting your taxi to take you to the tombs towards the north of the site. Make sure not to miss the Mastaba of Ti, whose detailed reliefs have provided Egyptologists with a wealth of information about everyday life in the Old Kingdom.

Once you have had enough of Saqqara, drive to Dahshur to visit the Red and Bent Pyramids. It’s about a half an hour drive, maybe more if the traffic is bad, so you might want to get lunch before you leave. The restaurant at the Saqqara visitors’ centre is pretty good; if this doesn’t take your fancy, ask your driver to stop somewhere along the way for you to pick up some snacks.

Even fewer tourists visit Dahshur than Saqqara, and you may be lucky enough to have the site to yourself. It’s the home of the second and third pyramids ever built. They were both built by Sneferu, father of Cheops (builder of the Great Pyramid). The earlier Bent Pyramid was a partially successful attempt to build a ‘true’ pyramid, rather than a stepped one. However, the structure started showing signs of stress after being half built, so the architect reduced the angle of the slope from 54 to 43 degrees, giving the pyramid its wonky shape. Unfortunately, the police will often not let you visit the Bent Pyramid, although you can admire it from afar.

The first ‘true’ pyramid in Egypt was the Red Pyramid, so named because of the slightly red hue of its building blocks. This is the third largest pyramid in Egypt (after the Great and Second Pyramids of the Giza Plateau) and you can go inside it. Even if you’ve been inside a pyramid already, it’s still worth entering the Red Pyramid because the internal structure is a bit more interesting: there are a few ante-chambers which precede the burial chamber, which have an interesting, vaulted roof structure. A word of warning, however, entering this pyramid is quite physically demanding: for Indiana-Jones wannabes only! Firstly, it’s a steep climb to get to the entrance (over 100 steep steps), and the interior passages are very cramped. Also, it sometimes has a very acrid smell, almost like ammonia, which can make breathing difficult. However, if this doesn’t put you off, you should certainly visit.

This evening you are going to go to the spectacular Sound and Light show at the Pyramids of Giza. The itinerary varies throughout the year, so you must call in advance to confirm the time of the performance. You should have time to return to your hotel beforehand to relax for a while, and grab a bite to eat. If possible, have dinner at Cedars restaurant in Mohandiseen: fantastic Lebanese food at reasonable prices, with great shisha pipes. The restaurant is very popular with locals, and if you sample their mezze selection, you will see why! If pushed for time, you could go straight from Dahshur to the Sphinx for the Sound and Light show, and grab a bite to eat nearby. Alternatively, Cedars is open late, so you could always go there after the performance.


1

Memphis

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Location:

24 kilometres south of Cairo
Memphis
Memphis, Egypt


2

Step Pyramid of Saqqara

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Location:

North Saqqara
(32 kilometres south of Cairo)
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

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5

Saqqara: Mastaba of Ti

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Location:

North East of Serapeum, Saqqara
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist information)
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6

Saqqara: Mastaba of Ankh-Mahor

Location:

Near by Step Pyramid
Saqqara
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

visit website


7

Giza Pyramids: Sound and Light Show

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 386 3469 / +20 (0)2 385 2880 / +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Egyptian Tourist Authority)
fax: +20 (0)2 384 4257 / +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Egyptian Tourist Authority)
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8

Saqqara: Mastaba of Kagemni

Location:

Beside Step Pyramid
Saqqara
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist information)
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9

Saqqara: Mastaba of Mereruka

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Location:

Step Pyramid of Djoser
Saqqara
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist information)
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10

Cedars Restaurant

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Location:

42 Gezirat el Arab
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 3345 0088 / +20 (0)2 3347 2537 / +20 (0)2 3344 5108 / +20 (0)10 700 1717
fax: +20 (0)2 2414 9387


Day 6 - Cairo


Spend the morning exploring Coptic Cairo, the old Christian quarter of Cairo. Either come by taxi or, if you are feeling adventurous, take the metro from Sadat Station south to Mar Girgis.

The beautiful cobbled streets of Coptic Cairo are a wonderful place to meander around, taking in all of the religious monuments. Start your visit at the Coptic Museum (opposite Mar Girgis metro station) and spend an hour or so there, tracing the evolution of Coptic Christianity. Make sure you also visit the Hanging Church and the Cathedral of St George, before walking down the cobbled alleyway that leads to the picturesque, enclosed religion compound behind the main street. Here you will find numerous other churches, including the Church of St Sergius, where the Holy Family are believed to have sheltered. Don’t miss the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the oldest in Cairo, and take the time to check out the book shop that spills into the main alleyway: it’s one of the best places in Cairo to pick up books about Egypt, the Middle East, and different forms of religion.

The oldest mosque in Cairo, the Mosque of Amr Ibn al-Aas, is well worth a visit. You can get there by walking along Mar Girgis street, or by wandering through the serene Coptic cemetery. Make sure you also find time to visit the craft shops along Mar Girgis street: the vendors are very friendly, and poking around the bric-a-brac can turn up some antique gems. There is also a covered souq called Souq al-Fustat on the right of Mar Girgis street, just before the mosque, which contains traditional craft-work.

Depending on how long you spend in Coptic Cairo – and you could easily spend all day there – you might want to get lunch in one of the many simple cafes along Mar Girgis street; otherwise, pick up something in town later on.

In the evening, take a taxi to Khan al-Khalili and go the Sufi Dancers show at the Wikala of al-Ghouri. The show is a colourful demonstration of the spectacular “Whirling Dervish” style of Sufi worship (strictly, the Whirling Dervishes are a Turkish Sufi sect), and will make you dizzy just watching it! The show is free, and starts at 8.30 pm. It’s best to arrive early to get a good seat. You can either grab dinner beforehand in the surrounding area, or head back downtown afterwards. A good suggestion for a Saturday night is the Greek Club, just off Talaat Harb square: cheap and cheerful, with an open air courtyard that is the perfect place, weather permitting, to sip your post-dinner ouzo and chat the night away.


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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expert pick

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

Greek Church of Saint George (Mari Girgis)

Location:

Mar Girgis Street
Coptic Cairo quarter
Cairo, Egypt


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)
visit website


10

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


Day 7 - Cairo


Head to Manyal Palace first thing in the morning. There is an interesting palace to explore here, and a tranquil garden, but the real reason to visit is to check out the totally bizarre hunting museum. This is not for the squeamish, or the politically correct, because it’s chock-full of the former kings of Egypt’s hunting trophies. There are numerous mounted Ibex heads, elephant tusks, and a even a stuffed lion. The strangest exhibits are the diorama of a lobster attacking a crab, and the display of an ostrich head and feet, yet no body!

From here, take a taxi back to Khan al-Khalili. This is your last chance to pick up those souvenirs and presents that have so far eluded you. Once you are done in the Khan, head north up al-Mu’izz li-Din-Allah street, to the west of the market. This street takes you past a series of stalls selling household goods and shisha spare parts, as well as the garlic market.

There are a wealth of beautiful Islamic monuments along this street that have been lovingly restored. Make sure you pop in to the Beit al-Souhaymi – a fine example of 17th Century Islamic architecture. Also make sure you visit the stunning al-Hakim mosque at the north end of the road.

Take your lunch at Zizo’s, a Cairo institution located opposite the northern gate. This spit and sawdust restaurant offers up the finest spicy sausage sandwiches in the whole of Egypt, no contest!

From here, take a taxi to al-Azhar park, Cairo’s most attractive green space (and former rubbish tip)! Spend a few hours wandering around the perfectly sculpted gardens, reflecting on the wonderful sights that you have seen over the past week. There are decent cafes and restaurants here if you are in need of a spot of refreshment, and the people-watching is fantastic. Keep your eyes open for young lovers strolling amongst the flowers, coyly ‘holding hands’ by each grasping one end of a shared mobile phone! Al-Azhar park is one of the best places in Cairo to watch the sunset, as you experience the haunting power of hundreds of mosques announcing the call to prayer at the same time.

For your final meal, head to Abou el-Sid on Zamalek. This popular Egyptian restaurant serves alcohol, shisha pipes, and some of the finest traditional cuisine in the whole of Egypt. Unless you arrive early, a reservation is essential. Afterwards, return to some of your favourite bars on Zamalek or Downtown, to say your final fond farewell to Cairo.


1

Manyal Palace Museum

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Location:

1 Saray Street
Manyal
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 368 7495
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3

Beit Al Souhaymi

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Location:

Darb al-Asfar Street
Around Bab el Futuh
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509
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4

Hakim Mosque (Al)

Location:

Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)
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5

Bab el-Futuh

Location:

El Muizz El Din Allah Street
Facing Al-Banhawi Galal Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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6

Zizo's

expert pick

Location:

1 Midan Bab al Futuh
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2025926530


7

Al Azhar Park

user rating

expert pick

Location:

Salah Salem Street
Al Darassa
11562 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 510 3868 / +20 2 510 7378
fax: +20 2 512 1054
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8

Abou el Sid

expert pick

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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