You will find that it’s useful to have several maps handy if you are looking to get around Cairo on your own. Spellings of street and place names can vary from map to map and from map to actual location, and not every street will appear on every map.
A selected list of Cairo highlights:
- Al-Azhar Mosque. One of the pillars of Islamic thought and home to the world’s oldest university.
- Cairo Tower185m (610 ft) high on Gezira Island offers a 360° view of Cairo, along with the Giza Pyramids off in the distance to the west.
- Citadel and Mosque of Mohamed Ali Pasha, inIslamic Cairo. A grand castle built by Salah Al-Din. Also parts of the water pipes (Majra Al-Oyouon) are still there, these pipes used to carry the water from the Nile River to the citadel. Mohamed Ali is considered to be the founder of modern Egypt, the ancestor of the last King of Egypt, King Farouk.
- Coptic Museum, inCoptic Cairo.
- Egyptian Museum (250m north of Tahrir square) ☎ +20 2 2579-6948 Located in the Midan Tahrir area and officially named The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities but known to all as the Egyptian Museum, it hosts the world’s premier collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts.
- Ibn Tulun(مسجد أحمد بن طولون), (Close to Sayida Zeinab). Arguably the oldest mosque in Cairo, built between 868-884.
- Khan El Khalily. Cairo’s souk area where visitors will find many merchants selling perfume, spices, Gold, Egyptian hand craft.
- Pharaonic Village. About twenty minutes drive from the centre is a village representing and showcasing Egypt. It starts with a boat ride which shows the ancient Gods and rulers followed by live demonstrations of how Egyptians lived and worked. Besides this (included in basic EGP110 ticket) there are various museums showcasing the pyramids, mummification, Islamic history (not very accurate), Egyptian history, rulers of the past century and modern Egypt. The cost of the basic boat tour ticket along with 8 museums is EGP150 (Dec 2012), but the cost with 4 museums with the village and a yacht tour of the Nile (not so special) is EGP145 (Dec 2012). Additionally each museum can be individually seen by paying EGP5. Overall this place is a good summary of Egypt (though nothing inside is real). EGP100-150.
- Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. The only remaining monuments of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it is the country’s most famous tourist attraction.
- Saint Samaan The Tanner Monastery. In Zabbaleen (garbage people) Area. (District of Manshiet Nasser) below Mokkatam Hills, not far away from the Citadel (not within reasonable walking distance). Coptic Christian churches and halls built inside large caves and beneath excavated cliff faces. As public transport does not enter this area, arranging for a hired car or finding a tour (if there is one actually running) are the only realistic ways of reaching the monastery. The Zabbaleen are not used to interacting tourists; taking photographs of them, especially while at work, could result in a misunderstanding.
- Al-Azhar Park. A recently opened landscaped gardens overlooking the Citadel
- Abdeen Palace. About 1km from the Midan El-Tahrir a five minutes walk, home of the last king of Egypt the exiled king Farouk.
Coffee & sheesha
Have a coffee, mint tea or Cola at El Fishawy’s coffee shop in Khan El-Khalili. Smoke a sheesha water pipe (try the “double apple” flavor) and watch the world go by. Great cheap entertainment.
Ride a felucca along the Nile River. A great way to relax and enjoy a night under the stars in Cairo. Feluccas are available across from the Four Seasons Hotel in Garden City. To charter your own, negotiate a fair price of no more than 20 to 30 LE for about a half hour for the boat, or 50 LE for an hour, no matter how many people are on it. Pay after your ride, or you may get much less than you bargained for. Public boats with loud Arabic music and a giggling crowd are also available for LE 2 for 1/2 hour.
Cairo has a shortage of parks, but a few of them exist.
- The most famous is the Giza Zoo located in the Giza district of Cairo, right in front of the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel in Giza. This is actually one of the oldest zoos in the world (it was built approximately 100 years ago).
Note:Like most zoos in the undeveloped countries animals are suffering there. cages are small and animal condition is bad. a giraffe is said to have killed itself this year (2014). lions trapped in small cages move like crazy around their tiny cage with their starving body. elephant is tied with a chain and left in the sun. etc
- Hadiqat Al Orman, traslated (Al Orman Gardens). This is a fairly large park in the giza district, close to the Giza zoo, and it can be entered by paying a daily ticket at the gate. It contains a variety of trees and flowers and is a nice place to escape the noise and traffic of the city. However, it may be very crowded with locals especially on weekends and public holidays like the Eid, etc.
- Hadiqat Al Azbakiya, translated (Al Azbakieya Gardens). Another nice park to enjoy the greenery and scenery of trees and gardens, while remaining inside the city. It is located in the Azbakiya area of Cairo, and the best option is to take a taxi.
- Genenet El Asmak, another park located in Zamalek. It is a nice park, which also includes several large caves containing water aquariums, where you can see different species of fish and underwater life through glass windows. Like other parks, a very cheap ticket enables you to enter and enjoy the day there. Genene El Asmak means Garden of the Fish in English.
- Merryland, in Arabic (Genenet El Merryland), located in Heliopolis district near Roxy Cinema. Again, another park with trees and gardens and nice scenery, but in the last 5 years ago, a number of restaurants and cafes have also opened up inside the park, which means it is now a place where people can eat, drink, and enjoy the park all together.
- El Hadiqa El Dawliya, in English this means (The International Garden), located in Nasr City district. It is one of the more recently opened parks, built when Nasr City district was built. Again, it is another park, with sections containing different copies of famous buildings from around the world. (The copies are much smaller of course and are like small statues that you can view (ie. The Eiffel Tower of Paris, The Great Wall of China, The Windmills of Holland, etc.) Interesting to see.
- Al-Azhar Park near Heliopolis, is probably the newest and most recent park to open in Cairo, also with restaurants and entertainment available. It has a good vantage point of Islamic Cairo and the city skyline.
You can also take a stroll along the Corniche el-Nil, and there is a river promenade on Gezira Island.
- Desert Park. Wadi Digla Protected Area is a 60 square kilometer environmentally protected park near Ma’adi, that offers opportunity for taking a trek, jogging, rock climbing, and cycling. Wadi Degla is also a good spot for bird watching, and viewing the various reptile species, plants, and deer that reside there. You can take a cab from Ma’adi to the entrance at Wadi Delga. Cab drivers in Ma’adi should know where to go.
Other options for relaxation include visiting the Giza Zoo and the Cairo Botanical Gardens, or watching horse racing at the Gezira Club in Zamalek, or, when you need a break from city life, try a round of golf on the famous Mena House Golf Course overlooking the Pyramids, or The Hilton Pyramids Hotel tournament Golf Course and nearby Sixth Of October City , Ten minutes drive from Giza Pyramids.
Or if the family, and especially children are fed up looking at monuments and museums, a ten minute trip from the Giza Pyramids by micro-bus, taxi, or car, will take you to two of the biggest and best theme parks in Cairo, Dream-park, and Magic land, both in nearby Sixth Of October City.
Magic land is also part of The Media Production City complex, including The Mövenpick Hotel, where visitors can take a tour of the Egyptian TV and drama sets, and studios which house many of the Egyptian and other Arabic TV stations.
Citystars is Egypt’s premier shopping mall and is quite comparable to a foreign mall. It offers most international brands and most international food chains. It offers a cinema and amusement park. McDonald’s, TGI Fridays, Fuddruckers, Ruby Tuesday, and more are all here.
Go horseback riding in the desert from one of the Nazlet El-Samaan stables such as FB Stables (contact Karim +20 (0)106 507 0288 or visit the website : ) in Giza. Ride in the shadow of the Great Pyramids or further afield to Saqqara or Abu Sir or camp out over night with a barbecue and fire. Popular with expats who keep their horses at livery, FB Stables is also great for a ‘tourist’ type ride to view the Pyramids from the desert. Longer rides to Saqqara and Abu Seer can be arranged in advance, as can sunrise, sunset and full moon rides. Other than the horses and good company, one of the best things about FB is their amazing rooftop terrace (with bbq) with unrivaled views over the Pyramids – a great place to relax with a drink whilst watching the Sound and Light show.
Music and culture
- Sufi Dancing– The Al Tanura Troupe offers performances every Saturday,Monday and Wednesday night at 7PM at the Al-Ghouri Mausoleum. Doors open at 6:00PM. Price is 30LE for foreigners and 2LE for Egyptians. This picturesque place is situated nearby the Khan el Khalili souk, on a narrow street between the Al Azhar and Al Ghouri mosques.
- The Culture Wheel(الساقية Al-Saqia). The largest independent cultural centre in Cairo, offers concerts almost every night.
- The Garden Theaterin Al-Azhar Parkoffers a range of musical performances. The venue is also a great place for an evening stroll.
- Cairo Opera House
- Egyptian Centre for Culture & Art (MAKAN)Egyptian Traditional music.
- The Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, Hussein El Me’mar Pasha street, ☎(+202) 2 576 80 86 (email@example.com). Daily 10AM-2PM, 6PM-9PM, F 6PM-9PM
- Cairo Jazz Club, 197, 26th July Street, Agouza, Giza (From Zamalek, just before Sphinx Square), ☎(+202) 2 3345 9939. Daily 5PM- 3AM. Live entertainment from local and international musicians, a great food and beverage menu (happy hour from 7-9PM) and a relaxed atmosphere. 7 nights a week.