Cairo
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Cairo

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

Our Editorial team's advice

Even if you've never been to Cairo, the pictures you've seen a thousand times in books make the city look vaguely familiar as you see it for the first time with your own eyes. Cairo enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with a hot summer and a mild winter. The best time of the year to visit this enigmatic city is between November and May. In the summer temperatures soar to 40-50C, so the heat in the day can quickly become unbearable for some, despite the heat being a dry rather than a humid heat. If you do decide to go in the summer, be prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn, sleep in the day, and go out at sundown; mornings and evenings are coolest, and this is when local shops and attractions tend to open (during teh summer).

The largest concentration of tourist attractions is in the historical centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, there are still plenty of other sites of interest to visit if you want to get out of the centre. Take, for example, the Pyramids of Giza, some 12 miles south-west of the capital, and the Pyramid of Cheops, which housed the sarcophagus of the Pharaoh after whom it was named and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the only one still standing today.

Those interested in ancient art will certainly enjoy a visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. With over 120,000 objects on display, this is the largest collection dedicated to Ancient Egypt in the world.

The Nile is undeniably one of the city's best assets. Arriving in the capital, you'll be totally enthralled by its majesty and dominant presence. When night falls, it is lit up by the boats and city lights: this is the perfect time for a stroll along its banks!

Cairo is also home to some of the oldest and largest mosques in the world, including the Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun and the Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hassan.

The markets and souks are also popular among tourists and you'll find silk and spices sold by the ton at the city's most famous market, Khan al-Khalili, in the Muslim part of Cairo. As for the souks, An-Nahassin is the most popular and offers a huge selection of leather and brass goods.

Cairo is a city of many contrasts. The clay houses in which most of the population live stand side-by-side with luxury five-star hotels and modern buildings. Furthermore, you can expect to come across a goat or a camel in any street and at any time.

Cairo is the largest city in Africa and with a population of nearly 18 million, it is also one of the most densely-populated cities in the world. The noise, the traffic and the pollution are therefore unavoidable in this huge capital city. Having said that, it is also a city throbbing with life and energy. It has maintained an inexplicable appeal which is sure to seduce any visitor.
If you're planning a trip to Cairo, you can visit flights to Cairo on our website for a monthly overview of airfares and the best deals found by our users.

To see

No visit would be complete without seeing the Pyramids and the Sphinx, located in Giza (some 12 miles south-west of the city). You're sure to be impressed by their size. The construction of the Pyramid of Cheops alone is believed to have required some 2.5 million blocks of limestone.

As you wander around Cairo, you'll appreciate the charming banks of the Nile, which are undeniably one of the city's greatest assets.

Don't miss the oldest and most magnificent mosques, such as the Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun and the Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hassan.

Enthusiasts of ancient art will certainly enjoy a visit to the Egyptian museum in Cairo, as it houses the largest collection dedicated to Ancient Egypt in the world.

The souks and markets, such as Khan al-Khalili, are also worth a visit.

To do

After an exhausting day spent visiting museums and tourist attractions, why not spend the evening enjoying a cruise on the Nile, which you'll find both relaxing and peaceful.

Finally, don't forget to visit one of the city's traditional cafs and to try some of the most exquisite tea and coffee flavours.

pros

  • +  The incredible historical element to the city.
  • +  Stunning landmarks and monuments to explore.
  • +  Great shopping at the city's markets.

cons

  • -  The pollution.
  • -  The busy hustle of the city can be overbearing at times.
  • -  Hawkers are extremely pushy.

To think about

With a population of nearly 17 million, Cairo is one of the most densely-populated cities in the world. The noise, traffic and pollution are therefore unavoidable in this huge capital city. Having said that, it is also a city throbbing with life and energy which has maintained a certain charm that is guaranteed to win you over.

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To avoid

Don't drink the tap water.

Our advice is to come to Cairo with just enough local currency to get to the hotel and then change the rest of your holiday money there. Almost all of the hotels have a bank and the exchange rate is really very good. Also, remember to change small amounts as needed, so as to avoid being left with a fortune in local currency at the end of your stay (when changing back into pounds, the exchange rate is much less attractive).

Don't hesitate to haggle, be it in the markets or when taking a cab.

Don't bother hiring a car, as the traffic in Cairo is quite chaotic. The locals have a strange way of driving, the secrets of which are known only to them... It's a lot safer and more convenient to travel by taxi, which is also a very cheap means of transport.

To try

Fresh fish is one of the local specialities and the national dish is called Ful (simmered fava beans with onions, cumin and lemon).

In addition to Cairo's Egyptian restaurants, there are other gastronomic regions to discover further east. Cairo also has a selection of good French, Swiss, Italian and Asian restaurants. Muslims don't eat pork though, so you'll have a hard time finding it in the local establishments. However, despite the fact that they don't drink alcohol either, a glass of wine or a beer is a lot easier to come by in most restaurants.

If none of the above have convinced you, there are a large number of McDonald's restaurants dotted around the city. Most of the hotels in the city also serve international cuisine. Although you'll have no difficulty finding cheap sustenance anywhere in town, it is true that the best and most expensive food is served in the luxury hotels.

For dessert, it's customary to order a honey and oil-based oriental pastry, which you'll find goes down very nicely with a herbal tea or a Turkish coffee.

To bring back

A visit to Khan al-Khalili market is an absolute must. There is also the maze of alleyways and squares that make up Cairo's main souk to explore. Here you'll find all sorts of goods and souvenirs to amaze your friends with, from the famous parchments, embroidered clothing, and massive cushions to other items with your Egyptian name, or any other motif of your choice, stitched in (but you have to order in advance), as well as some very convincing imitations of well-known fragrances.

Weather Cairo

These indicators are used as a set of criteria to predict overall weather conditions in Cairo . The different indicators are there to help you prepare for your trip to Cairo so you can make plans based on the weather forecast, whether it be a trip to the beach, walking, visiting attractions and museums or winter sports... Here you'll find a precise, overall weather score for each week in Cairo , which takes into account temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds.

Overall rating 92/100
  • Temperature indicators 92% Hot / Optimal

    The maximum temperature is <24, temperature felt between 30C and 33C.

  • Bad weather indicators 100% Dry / Optimal

    Little or no rain (less than 1.5mm per day).

  • Sunbathing indicators 96% Sunny / Optimal

    Sunny (over 80% sunshine).

  • Wind indicators 86% Light breeze / Optimal

    Optimal comfort: optimal wind speed (between 7 mph and 12 mph) in a warm environment (>24C).

  • Humidity indicators 80% Comfortable

    Feeling of comfort due to ideal humidity levels.

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