Cairo is the chaotic, dusty, noisy city, where nothing seems quite as it could or perhaps should have been; a city where garbage fill the streets and buildings are falling apart. Yet, I simply loved visiting this chaotic, exotic capital of Egypt.
The city of Cairo is where huge high-rise buildings are uninhabited, while people make themselves a home at completely unorthodox places. Some have settled in Garbage City. Others have moved into the graveyard (City of the Dead ). Yet others have built a home on top of a high-rise building, and moved up there with family, goats and chickens.
Visiting Cairo is simply an adventure! And next to exploring the town, meeting people and getting to know a little about the life of the town, these are my top 6 recommendations for a visit to Cairo.
1. See the Pyramids and the Sphinx
The one and only which still remains of the “Seven Wonders of the World” (some of the pyramids have been around for 5 000 years …) is of course the one thing you must see when visiting Cairo – but not the only sight worth visiting.
Hire a driver to take you out there. There may be quite a lot of hustle and bustle for visitors, and having your own local guide and driver, can take some of the heat off.
2. Visit the bazar: Khan el-Khalili
Busy and bustling streets filled with people, shops and souvenirs. Walking around in there, finding the narrow alleys, talking to people, watching the carpenters work, studying antiques and just observing everyday life at the bazar: this was maybe my favorite spot to visit in Cairo, next to the pyramids.
3. Guided tour of the Mosques
Cairo is called ‘The Home of the Thousand Minarets’. No wonder! Everywhere you look, there is a mosque. Some of these are historic and unique, and absolutely worth a visit. We spent a day in Islamic Cairo on a guided tour.
4. A Felucca ride on the Nile
Spending time in Cairo, you may get exhausted from the heat, the dust and the busy streets. The best thing to do then, I find, is to spend an hour or two on the Nile, watching the sunset from a felucca (sailboat), feeling the breeze on your skin, away from the busy streets of the town.
5. The Egyptian Museum
No visit in Cairo is complete without visiting the Egyptian Museum. My travel to Luxor and The Valley of the Kings wouldn’t have been as rewarding were it not for my visit to the Egyptian Museum only a few months earlier.
All though I had dreamed of going to the Valley of the Kings for years, I’m very glad to have paid a visit to the museum up front. According to Wikipedia, it holds the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, and many treasures of King Tutankhamen.
6. Downtown Cairo
Having spent time Downtown Cairo, I must say this was a highly memorable visit. Seeing the Tahrir Square, where the White Revolution took place, visiting the historic Café Riche, where the author Mahfouz wrote one of his books, and drinking Egyptian beer at a local beer hall with all local male guests gave me an interesting insight to Cairo after dark.
About my travels to EgyptI went to Cairo twice in a short time: First a private trip, visiting friends living there.
Four months later I went back on a presstrip, invited by the tourism authorities of Egypt.