Cairo City Guide

Cairo City Guide
Quick Facts
Known Names:
Population:9.54 million (2017)
Area Code:+20
Currency:Egyptian Pound (EGP)
Time Zone:Eastern European Time - UTC/GMT+2

General Information / Guide

The mysterious city of Cairo, situated along the Nile River, is the capital of Egypt. The eastern part of the city along the Nile represents its historical ancient section, while the western part constitutes the modern side. Hosting cultural and historical tours, Cairo serves as the starting point for trips across Egypt, witnessing civilizations dating back to the Pharaonic period. With its pyramids, sphinxes, desert safaris, mummies, royal tombs, and rich history, Cairo offers an unforgettable holiday experience. About 94% of the population is Muslim, and the city is also known as the 'City of a Thousand Minarets' due to its numerous mosques.


Climate / Weather / When to Go

Cairo, characterized by a dry desert climate, experiences very rare rainfall. The period between May and October is very hot, with an average temperature of 35 degrees Celsius. The temperature difference between day and night is significant. While rainfall is minimal, the humidity is high due to the Nile River. Dust storms may occur in March and April.

The winter season, occurring between November and April is the most suitable time to visit Cairo, with daytime temperatures ranging from 19 to 29 degrees Celsius and evenings from 5 to 11 degrees Celsius. January and February, with minimal occurrences of desert winds, sandstorms, or dry days, are popular tourist months.


How to Get There

Cairo International Airport, located around 22 km from the city center, is accessible via direct and connecting flights from various locations. To reach the city center, travelers can opt for taxis or cab apps, both taking approximately 25 minutes. For a more affordable option, you can take the bus, 111 to Shoubra and 381 to Imbaba, which is quite cheap compared to taxis but takes approximately 50 minutes. 


Food / Restaurants / What to Eat and Drink

Traditional Egyptian dishes such as falafel and kebabs are renowned in Cairo. The city offers a variety of dining options, including popular places like 'Khan El Khalili Restoran,' 'Abou Tarek,' and 'Felfela,' where you can taste authentic Egyptian cuisine. If you prefer seafood, you can visit the Fish Market. However, it is advisable to avoid open-air food vendors due to city dust. The city's numerous cafes offer delicious coffee, but some are exclusively for men.


Important Places / Places to Visit

  • Abu Simbel Temples: These two temples are considered engineering marvels, dedicated to Ramses II and the wife of the Sun God Hator, Nefertari.
  • Giza Pyramids: Includes the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), built around 2600 BCE, with a height of 146 meters. It is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Due to limited daily entries, it is advisable to purchase tickets in advance.
  • Cairo Tower: Erected in 1961, this TV tower stands as the city's tallest structure with a height of 187 meters. It offers a breathtaking view of the Nile River and the beautiful city of Cairo.
  • Egyptian Museum: A museum featuring 107 halls and over 100,000 artifacts. Popular sections include galleries showcasing ancient royal tombs, sarcophagi, Tutankhamun's treasures, and a room dedicated to mummies.
  • Saladin Citadel (City Citadel): Built in the 12th century, this fortress is filled with Islamic art. The citadel offers a magnificent view and houses notable sites such as the Muhammad Ali Mosque, Suleiman Pasha Mosque, and several museums.
  • Al Azhar: In this part of the city, there are impressive architectural structures from the Fatimid period. You can explore five significant mosques, including "Al-Hakim" and the old madrasa known as "Al Azhar."
  • Old Cairo: This small area is the oldest part of the city and is considered the center for Christians. It holds the city's oldest mosque, synagogue, and around 20 historic churches. Exploring the narrow streets in this region can be a unique and enjoyable experience.
  • Dashur: Another pyramid area where you can see the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid, modeled after the Giza Pyramids. Dashur is located 32 km away from Cairo.
  • City of the Dead: This section, originally a Mamluk Cemetery, provides intriguing details about the city's past and present. Currently, nearly 3 million people from the city's impoverished areas live in these burial homes.
  • Museum of Islamic Arts: Reopened in 2010, this museum exhibits artworks from the 7th to the 19th centuries related to Islamic art.


What to Do

Explore the Nile River with a boat tour to see the Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings. Diving activities are available in the Red Sea, showcasing coral reefs and shipwrecks. Egypt also offers various resorts for those seeking a beach vacation. Enjoy camel rides near the pyramids, desert safaris, shopping in the city markets, and relaxing in the famous coffee houses.


Nightlife / Bars / Entertainment

In Cairo, there are two types of bars: traditional Egyptian-style cafes and Western-style bars. Cafes often cater exclusively to men, while other bars have no such restrictions. Due to alcohol restrictions in the city, bars and nightclubs, especially in certain conservative areas, typically close by midnight. After these hours, entertainment can continue in hotel bars, some of which remain open until early morning.

Popular bars in the city include 'El Horreya' and 'Pub 28,' and for live music, you can visit the 'Cairo Jazz Club' or the 'El Sawy Culturewheel' for classical Arabic music. To watch belly dancing, 'Kahire Sheraton' is a good choice, and for Sufi performances, 'El Ghouri Arts Centre' is recommended.


Shopping / What to Buy

Sphinxes, papyrus, pyramid miniatures, gold or silver jewelry, and handicrafts are among the souvenirs you can buy in Cairo. El Khalil is the largest and most famous market in the city. Built in the 14th century, this market area also features authentic places like the coppersmiths' bazaar in its narrow streets.

In Cairo, you can also visit 'The First Mall' or '35 Sharia Giza.' If you're interested in buying glass and crystal items, 'Asfour Crystal Factory' is a good place. Egyptians are pioneers in the field of glass arts.


Festivals/ Events

January: Cairo International Book Fair
February: Egypt Fitness Fest
February: The Abu Simbel Sun Festival 
March: Cairo Jazz Festival
March- April: Downtown Contemporary Art Festival
May: Cairo Fashion Festival
August: Wafaa Al Nil Festival 
September: Cairo Bites
November: Cairo Film Festival
November- December: Hakawy International Festival For Children
December: Panorama Of the European Film



Holidays / Festivals / Important Days

7 January: Christmas Day
25 January: Revolution Day 2011- National Police Day    
25April: Sinai Liberation Day    
1May: Labour Day
30June: 30 June Day
23July: Revolution Day    
6 October: Armed Forces Day
Sham El Nessim 
Islamic New Year
Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad
Eid al-Fitr
Eid al-Adha


Things to Pay Attention to / Important Information

In Cairo, Friday and Saturday are considered the weekend, and Sunday is the first working day of the week. Bargaining and tipping are common practices in Egypt. It is recommended to check prices at several places, negotiate before making a purchase, and be cautious about pickpockets. Taking into consideration the air pollution in Egypt is also advised.



Cairo has an extensive web of transportation, offering several options to its visitors. Cairo's metro system, the first in Africa, consists of three lines with ticket prices based on the number of stations. Despite being crowded, it's an efficient option for avoiding traffic jams, with key interchanges at Shohadaa, Sadat, and Attaba. Public buses, marked in red, white, and blue, cover the entire city, including air-conditioned options at a slightly higher cost. Micro-buses are recommended for women due to safety concerns, and bus stations are scattered throughout the city. Ride-sharing services like Careem and Uber are preferable for taxis, given varied pricing and conditions. Driving in Cairo is discouraged due to overwhelming traffic, inconsistent road conditions, and challenging parking.

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