Cairo is not just about Pyramids, it is a bustling capital city with lots to see and do. As well as the many museums and attractions, Cairo also offers some great shopping opportunities and a good choice of bars and clubs.
Amongst the noise and chaos of 16 million residents, Cairo does offer the odd oasis of calm and tranquillity as well as many places to visit and enjoy. The city's Islamic quarter helped to create its nickname of the 'City of a Thousand Minarets' due to the large number of mosques, making up for many of the city's must see sights.
An entry Visa is required for Egypt and costs approx 15 GBP per person.
Things to do
No visit to Cairo is complete without a tour of the city's most famous landmark; the Pyramids and their guardian the Great Sphinx. Located on the Gisa Plateau just a few kilometres south of the city, it's a great spot for a camel ride and is also the site of the Giza Sound and Light Show.
The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities offers a deeper insight into the country's captivating history; collections include the treasures of King Tutankhamen, statues and royal mummies.
Another must do is a trip to the buzzing Khan El-Khalili Market, whether it's to barter or simply to gaze in wonder at the hustle and bustle of this colourful market which dates back to 1382. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the countless stalls sell an array of locally produced goods from spices to lamps, and jewellery to souvenirs. The Fishawi's Ahwa is one of Cairo's oldest coffee houses and offers a true taste of Egyptian culture, open 24-hours every day for 200 years this is great place to watch the world go by and smoke a shisha pipe.
Islamic Cairo forms a large part of the city housing numerous mosques throughout, some attached to an Islamic school, called a madrasa, hospitals (maristan), and some with tombs and mausoleums. Major mosques include the Mosque of Mohammed Ali (named after a 19th century ruler) found in the walls of the Citadel, the Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun is the oldest mosques in Egypt and one of the largest in the .
Coptic Cairo is where you will find many of Egypt's churches including the Hanging Church (the centre of Coptic worship) and the Ben Ezra synagogue, Egypt's oldest synagogue.
The Pharaonic Village is a good place to learn the history and experience the lifestyle of Egypt in the time of Pharaohs, beginning with a one-hour boat tour which sails along canals as you pass by recreated scenes of life in ancient Egypt.
Out and about
With the exception of Giza's pyramids, Cairo's main sights are all on the east bank and easily reached by taxi or Metro. Traffic is heavy at most times of the day, and the metro particularly busy during rush-hour.
It's important for tourists visiting a Muslim country to dress conservatively particularly in cities away from the beach resorts; in Cairo men should avoid short shorts or a sleeveless top, while women should not wear shorts, low or tight tops.
From the Khan El-Khalili lively bazaar to the air-conditioned 21st century shopping centres, Cairo offers a place to barter for a bargain or splash your cash on the latest designer gear. If you're looking for fabrics, including Egyptian cotton head to the Wekalat al-Balah neighbourhood, the Tentmakers Bazaar for appliqué work and Mohammed Ali Street; for musical instruments and, although you probably won't want to buy, the Camel Market makes a fascinating trip. This is, and has been for over a thousand years, truly a shopper's paradise.
Restaurants in Cairo offer a wide range of cuisines and include Indian, Thai, Japanese, French, Italian and of course Egyptian. There are numerous snack stalls and street restaurants, hotel restaurants and Nile boat restaurants, where you can enjoy a journey along the Nile while you dine.
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