You are currently viewing Cairo – Egypt
Cairo - Egypt
Share it with the world

The largest city in the Arab world

Coming to Cairo, one of the greatest cities in the word notably for its incredible architecture and of course, being home to the only surviving Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is a must do in a lifetime for anyone. Although in my case not the first anymore, but the third so far as or May 2024 and likely more to come in the coming years and continue discovering this incredible country full of amazing sights in every corner. While the first time was a quick and short trip just to Cairo and Alexandria, the second time was the most complete covering all the way from Cairo down to Abu Simbel, merely 3 kilometres from the border with Sudan, including a Nile river cruise and visiting plenty of cities such as Luxor, Esna, Kom Ombo and Aswan, temples and sites from what once was the most advanced and longest ancient civilization ever. Today I can only write a minor update after the third time which was once more pretty much reduced to Cairo and Alexandria.

This is the largest city in the Arab world, and one of the largest in the planet. A massive melting pot of ancient civilizations and cross-roads of cultures, ever growing as far your eyes can reach. Once the epi-centre of the world’s second oldest civilization known to man. It is amazing to think about the fact that we are closer to Cleopatra in time than the original Egyptians! It’s fascinating to think about it, and of course the invaluable legacy left and the few we still know about them with only around 15% of the entire civilization uncovered from the sand, and that is already vast. Just image what further surprises we will eventually get to see from the archaeologists.

In Cairo, no matter what you might hear in the news, sometimes sad, other horrific when there is a terrorist attack, what is certain is the great and fascinating people; truly nice and helpful, very hospitable and kind, making you feel very secure and protected; and there are hordes of people. Way too many inhabitants everywhere, packing the streets and the roads everywhere. It is a very safe city and a tourist should not fear nor be scared. Egypt is a very strong tourist destination, ever growing and developing, and in the last years the safety has improved at giant steps especially for tourists, no matter the city.

Being such a huge city and having an endemic lack of mass transit system, expect the traffic to be one of the worst you have ever seen. To me, this was only comparable to some cities in India such as Delhi or Mumbai. The only chances to move around will be by taxi in most of the cases, bearing long time at the many traffic jams. Hopefully they keep expanding the metro system as currently there’s a great lack of lines and coverage, and buses are… how to explain, a mystery to understand in the routes, directions and system overall. In the other hand, when comparing my first time in Cairo in 2013 with the later visits in 2022 and 2024, upon completion of the inner motorways, the traffic was not worst than any large European city. And at merely 30 minutes from downtown Cairo to the International Airport by bus that’s way faster than most of the cities I’ve ben in the world.

Nevertheless, the population keeps only growing exponentially, and the government had no other choice than build a new capital some 40 kilometres east of current Cairo. They named it New Cairo and as of 2024 it is quite advanced, with majority of the governmental buildings, ministries, embassies and presidential palace already moved, plus a gigantic new business district home to the tallest skyscrapers in the whole of Africa. Both Cairo and New Cairo are already linked by the new metro lines and easy to reach one another. When completed, it should be home to 5 million people but when looked on a map, it seems just as an extension to the east of current Cairo, a total metropolitan area home to over 25 million people.

Something you should have in consideration while in the city is the wind. While it sounds irrelevant at first, however when it does occur, it does carry sand storms and desert dust. You might think it is pollution (which in part it is), but it’s merely that, dust and sand reducing the visibility and turning the blue sky into grey/brown-ish tones. The more wind the worst the situation can turn, and it can last for several days. So why mentioning this in here you may ask, well, our own experience. Back in 2013 we had 2 days with perfect blue sky and full visibility, and the remaining 3, specially on the last day, with such problem. But hey, don’t take me wrong, you can still go out, do the sightseeing and everything, it’s just annoying that everything in you gets dusty, although the worst is not having a blue sky, specially if on the day you’ve planned the Giza Plateau.

Navigating the city is easy once you get the orientation. Remember it is simply massive, lots to see and do, and incredible landmarks. Plan at least 3 days for the city itself coupled with Giza Plateau, or 4 when including some more funerary complexes near Cairo such as Dahshur and Saqqara. Now after the third time in the city I can say it was way easier and faster to visit that the first time. With the arrival of Uber and discovering how easy is to take a taxi, and how extremely cheap these are then it is pointless to plan any other transportation, it just don’t make any sense. And we are not only talking about moving within the city from a place to another, but also getting an Uber or taxi to go to the entrance of the Saqqara and Dahshur necropolis and back. As easy as that. Although I must say my 2022 trip was an all inclusive guided tour with my family, so that helped a lot to see and enjoy the most, door to door without any effort.

As a few notes regarding food, restaurants and bars over all, this is a city where you have absolutely everything! From incredible Arabian dishes from all over the Arab world, to every imaginable Western chain restaurant. Name it and you have it. But the local food is truly fantastic, and generally inexpensive unless of course, you chose to go to upscale places, for what there is no need. Within the Islamic Cairo walled area the restaurants are more pricey than elsewhere, some of which tourist orientated, but that’s easy to avoid by simply looking at the clientele, the more locals you see the better no doubt. Then along the Al Haram Avenue, that one going from Giza metro station all the way towards the Giza Plateau and the Pyramids you have everything you could fancy for, especially all the fast food eateries, local and westerns, same situation around Tahrir Square.

For more information on Cairo, visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Egypt’s currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.

What to see and do in Cairo

  • Islamic Cairo This is the old and traditional Cairo. The entire of it is has been listed an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Follows the entire al-Muizz Street, and it’s where you will find most of the historical and architectural gems of the city. Mosques, palaces, madrassas, mausoleums and traditional houses, everything based around the main street and the many small alleys where everything is a big market (Khan el-Khalili), surrounded by the ancient city walls. There are too many monuments to even list here, hence the ones below are merely the major ones. There is an unique ticket which gives you access to 8 of the historical places needing access ticket. It is worth to do it, as the interiors are really unique and perfectly preserved and restored. The nearest metro station is El-Geish at the north, where you walk south along Al-Hosneya Street towards the old city walls.

-Saladin Citadel Offering the best views of the whole city and Pyramids. Within the citadel there are many buildings, museums and mosques. This will take a while to visit the whole complex, which is also part of the UNESCO listed area. Entrance fee as per 2022 is 200 EGP.

-Mosque of Muhammad Ali Built between 1830 and 1848, one could think you are out of sudden in Istanbul where you can see the very same kind of Ottoman mosques. Free to enter its impressive interiors during the non-prayer times.

-Al-Nasser Mohammed Ibn Kalawoun Also known as the Alabaster Mosque. Right across the Muhammad Ali Mosque. Built in 1318 as the royal mosque of the Citadel. Special to mention are the interiors, courtyard and minarets superbly carved.

-Salah el-Deen Square Along the western side and outside of the Citadel itself.

-Bab El-Azab One of the main gates into the Citadel. Overlooking the square and avenue, with the Sultan Hassan Mosque at the other side.

-Sultan Hassan Madrassa and Mosque and Al-Rifa’I Mosque Right along the north-western side of the square. Unfortunately not opened to tourists.

-Ibn Tulun Mosque Located farther west from the Sala el-Deen Square, jsut mentioning here as being home to the oldest minaret in Egypt. It’s a beautiful sight, however a bit more off-side therefore only consider it if you have enough time to complete the rest of of the monuments within the district, which are more important.

-Al Mangar, Bab el-Wazir and Al-Tabanaa Street Heading north from the east side of Sala El-Deen Square, with several mausoleums, mosques and monuments along the way.

-Mosque and School of Prince Itmish Al-Bajasi Dating from 1383.

-Mausoleum of Tarabay al-Sharifi Completed in 1504, a great example of late Mamluk architecture, located on the edge of Bab al-Wazir Cemetery.

-Amir Khayrbak Funerary Complex Established by the Ottoman governor of Egypt Khayr Bak in 1502.

-Aqsunqur Mosque Completed in 1347, it is also known as the Blue Mosque, built in Syrian style.

-Mosque and Madrassa of Umm Sultan Sha’aban Built in 1369, meters ahead from the previous Aqsunqur Mosque.

-Beir al-Razzaz A 190 rooms mansion built in the 15th century. Currently the easter side has been restored and opened to the public with craftsmen shops.

-Mosque of Amir al-Maridani Built in 1340 during the Mamluk Sultanate.

-Bab Zuwayla The main southern gate leading out of the medieval core at the southern end, built in 1092. Few meters away from the northern end of Al-Tabanaa Street.

-El-Khayamiya Cloth Market Opposite the Bab Zuwayla.

-Mosque of al-Salih Tala’i Mosque Next to the cloth market.

-Al Moez Ldin Allah Street The main thoroughfare cutting from north to south the entire UNESCO listed Islamic Cairo. An astonishing monumental street like no other, although the side and parallel streets do also contain incredible architecture.

-Mosque of Sultan al-Muayyad Shaykh Immediately after Bab Zuwayla. Completed in 1421 having its minarets both on top of the Bab Zuwayla. Contains richly decorated interiors and exteriors.

-Mausoleum of Sabil Muhammad Ali Pasha Built in 1820, although not opened to the public, it is beautiful from the exterior.

-Al-Fakahani Mosque Built in 1736 in the Fatimid period in Ottoman style, reusing the great doors and several columns in the courtyard from the previous older structure.

-Sultan Qansuh Al-Ghuri Complex Completed in 1505, with the mausoleum at one side of the street and the mosque opposite, interconnected with a roof and market street in between.

-Al Azhar Street Running perpendicular to Al Moez, where few meters east is the Alazhar Mosque being one of the oldest mosques in the city and second oldest university in the world, and across the road, the Mosque of Imam Hussein. This mosque marks the eastern edge of Khan el-Khalili Market, but not accessible to tourists.

-Khan el-Khalili Market This is the main bazaar within the medieval Islamic Cairo. Its main entrance in on Sekat Al Badstan Street, perpendicular to Al Moez Ldin Allah. Do not miss while you are here paying a visit to the historic El Fishawy Cafe (the “Glasses Cafe”). An unique charm from the bygone Belle Epoque.

-Madrasa and Mausoleum of al-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub Completed in 1249, another of such impressive historic structures with fine architecture.

-Qalawun Complex Built by Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun in 1304. Containing a hospital (bimaristan), a madrasa, a mosque and its own mausoleum, considered the world’s second most beautiful after India’s Taj Mahal. Notice the fine detail in the elaborate decoration and carvings of the Elzaher Barqooq Mosque.

-Sabil-Kuttab Ismail Pasha Just opposite Qalawun Complex.

-Beshtak Palace One cannot imagine the luxurious and opulent interiors. Few meters north from the Qalawun Complex.

-Sabil-Kuttab of Abdel Rahman Katkhuda Marking the fork between the main street and a parallel one. One of the most famous Ottoman style buildings in Cairo.

-Wekalet Bazara’a, Mosque Jamal Al-Din Al-Estadar and Mausoleum of Tatar al-Higaziya Taking the street along the right side from the previous Ottoman house, you come to Al Bashmakena Street, where few meters ahead you’ll find this complex.

-Khanqah of Baybars al-Gashankir Continuing north through the maze of tiny streets after the previous complex.

-Bayt al-Sihaymi Heading west of Khanqah of Baybars al-Gashankir along Haret al Darb al Astar (perpendicular to Al Moez Street). This is the Best preserved Ottoman merchant’s house in the city.

-Sulayman Agha al-Silahdar Mosque Back in Al Moez Street, corner with the Bayt al-Sihaymi towards the north.

-Masjid Al-Aqmar Another of the many historic mosques along the main street, just after the Bayt al-Sihaymi few meters south.

-Al-Hakim Mosque Towards the northern edge of the old town, right by and walls and main north gate leading outside of the historic district.

-Bab al-Futuh The main and impressive northern gate of Islamic Cairo. Just nearby is the smaller one Bab el-Nas.

  • Coptic Cairo The oldest part of the city (bearing Giza of course), located on the east bank of the Nile River yet not far from it, farther south at a considerable distance from the Islamic Cairo and the Citadel. The nearest metro station is Mar Girgis, which is just right there in the middle of every sight in the area. Although not as impressive as the Islamic district, it is in any case, totally different in architecture. Here you will find the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the remains of the Roman Castle of Babylon and the Synagogue.

-Mosque of Amr ibn al-As Located at the north of the Coptic Cairo district, some 10 minutes walk from the metro station. Was built in 642 becoming the first mosque ever built in Egypt and the whole of Africa. Restored and expanded over the centuries, destroyed and rebuilt, the current structure dates mostly from the 18th century.

-Roman fortress towers of Babylon The most visible archaeological remain of the once huge Roman fort. Notice within the stone blocks and bricks, the hieroglyphs. Such stones are coming from the Pyramids and other ancient Egyptian constructions.

-Church and Monastery of Saint George Built within the Roman Babylon Fortress in the 10th century, the current structure dating from 1904.

-Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus Church Right behind the Saint George Church, originally dating from the 4th century church, believed to be built on the place where Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus once rested.

-Saint Barbara Church The next church, behind Saint Bacchus. Another of the oldest Orthodox churches in Cairo, dating from the 5th century.

-Ben Ezra Synagogue The oldest in Egypt, built in the 19th century on the site believed to be where baby Moses was found.

-The Hanging Church Sharia Mar Girgis Dating from the 5th century, it is the main sight with its nice patio and church. Landmark of the Coptic Cairo, built atop the enormous main gates of the Babylon Fortress.

-Coptic Museum Just side by side north of the Hanging Church, nowadays home to precious items safeguarded from the churches and buildings in the area.

-Nilometer Located in Rhoda Island, one of two major islands in the river, measuring the level of the water since antiquity. You can reach it across the metro station and tracks, over the Manasterly Bridge, some 20 minutes walk altogether.

  • Downtown West aligning with the River Nile, and in between both the Islamic and Coptic neighbourhoods. Mostly residential and business area where the streets and avenues are wider and follow an orthogonal grid compared against the older districts with the labyrinthine maze of streets.

-Nile waterfront Best appreciated from any bridge crossing the Nile. Not the most impressive sight, but the view of the Nile with the Cairo Tower is iconic.

-Cairo Tower Across the Nile river, opposite from Tahrir Square. One of the tallest towers where you can enjoy 360 degrees views of the entire city, inspired in ancient Egyptian architecture.

-Midan Tahrir (Tahrir Square) Metro Sadat. This is the city’s main square and major transit hub, home to many former ministries, government offices and embassies; museums, and hotels.

-Arab League building Facing the river and the Ritz Carlton hotel, along the west side of the square. Nothing special, however at the other side of the road you can find an impressive beaux-arts palace.

-Mogamma Building Completed in 1949 in modern style, is a complex of former government administrative offices. You cannot miss it, it’s the huge white building at the south of the square.

-Egyptian Museum At the northern edge of the square. Although currently very run down and relegated to the amazing new one at the Giza Plateau, it is nevertheless, containing some of the finest Egyptian antiquities in the world. Entrance fee as per 2024 EGP200.

-Midan Talaat Harb Square Along Kasr Al Nile Street which heads northeast diagonally from Tahrir Square, you find this charming circus with nice architecture around, feeling an absolutely Mediterranean flair.

-Prince Said Halim’s Palace Next to Midan Talaat Square, the former home of the once Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire between 1913 and 1917.

-Ramesses Train Station Al-Shohadaa / Martyrs metro station. In older maps you can find it as the old name, Mubarak Station. The major railway terminus in the country, where taking a train towards the north, Alexandria or south, Luxor, Aswan and beyond.


If you are arriving into Cairo on a flight, you will need to get the Visa on arrival for 25$ (as of October 2022, and at least if you are an European citizen). For other nationalities please check online the requirements needed. Never risk travelling there without knowing your needs. It is a very straightforward transaction done in few minutes. This can be obtained at both the main International Airport, and the smaller Sphynx International which caters largely low cost carriers. There are flights to pretty much everywhere in the world, and Egypt’s flag carrier, Egypt Air is one of the best in the word in terms of service, punctuality and brand new machines.

From the airport to the city, there is no “proper” public transportation as such, other than minibuses which we did not manage to figure out how they really work. However, getting a taxi or an Uber are the best and quickest option for sure, not to mention the little they cost, generally less than 3 Euros, but please ensure taximeter in on when getting on a taxi or negotiate the price beforehand, or to avoid any dispute, get an Uber where you will pay what the app says, nothing more.

Within the city there are 3 metro lines, very helpful is you happen to be near a metro station, but not ideal for the general sightseeing. More lines are due to open and/or under construction hence the situation will soon change considering the massive size of the city. As for buses, forget about them as it is too complicated to figure out the routes, timetable or anything. The best option as already mentioned earlier, get an Uber or a taxi. Plentiful, you will rarely need to wait over 2 minutes.

As for getting away from Cairo to say, Alexandria or anywhere south of Cairo all the way up to Aswan by train, it is very simple and super economic. Furthermore with the introduction of the new Spanish built Talgo trains, distances are shortened in time and in great comfort. These trains are more expensive than the Egyptian standard ones, but worth for longer distances. In any case, I would recommend to use an Egyptian at least for one leg of your trip. To Alexandria is little over 2 hours, where you can get there in old style, and back in a Talgo. Of course buses long distance buses are nice with plenty of frequencies through the day.


As the capital city, every chain of hotels are present. From the very top high luxurious to the more modest and anything in between; and depending on the political situation when tourism industry can get affected, with a rise and decline in matter of weeks, it can be the case you can find incredible deals at high end hotels.

In any case, there are many 4 star hotels offering very competitive rates, so you should not have any problem in finding a great place and nice deal. The best location would be without any doubt around Tahrir Square, however this is where the top luxurious and massive hotels are, with generally very high prices. Anything in between Tahrir and Islamic and Coptic Cairo is a great location too. Now, for the hundreds of hotels along the main road leading to Giza Plateau, the Al Haram Avenue, is somewhere I would not recommend you that much. You will end up in the middle of nowhere after sightseeing, far from public transport and very touristy. And for the ones thinking in getting a hotel they sell with views to the Pyramids, well, let me be honest, the views are crap and you do not really need that since you will have the most astonishing views from the main gates to the necropolis. These hotels have in general bad reviews, and you will end up surrounded by McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and countless tourist traps with low quality and high prices

Start by having a look at some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as,, Expedia,, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers. Then, if your budget is still not met, there is a good selection of properties through airb&b and the likes of course.

In the 2022 trip, I stayed with my family at the Intercontinental Semiramis. One of the largest and tallest hotels in Cairo, and one of the very best. We were given floor 25 with the most incredible views over Tahrir Square and the entire east of Cairo and beyond. The sunrise was something to remember forever, simply stunning. The super large room, super large terrace, extra large double bed and pretty much everything large, so well maintained and comfortable, clean and great treat from everyone is something very memorable. If a downside, which in any case is something that applies to absolutely every large property like this one, the breakfast. No matter how large the restaurants are, the amount of people is way too much to coop with the demand. Some times we had to wait for any table to become available, others for the staff to replenish the food stalls but in any case, this did not stop us from enjoying the gorgeous immense choice of food and its great quality. As for location, right by Tahrir Square you cannot be any wrong, that’s the very heart of the city thus was very nice returning from long sightseeing days and come out at night looking for a restaurant to have dinner through the elegant streets.

Back in 2013 we found our place at the Gawharet Al Haram Hotel, 103 Al Haram St, 00202. Simple 4 stars hotel, previously owned by the Spanish chain HUSA, but now run independently. Notice and be aware that the location which Google maps shows for this hotel is totally wrong. It’s not at the beginning of the street near the metro station, as opposed, it’s towards the end, really near the Pyramids itself. Very friendly and welcoming staff, comfortable, clean and nice, with a small pool which can be at such weather and after returning from your sightseeing day, a salvation to refresh and renew your batteries. But after the recent hotels we’ve been afterwards, I would not recommend this location as explained above.

Photo Gallery

Cairo, Egypt, October 2022

Share it with the world

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »