Cairo and Egypt have always been a dream destination to me. In France, we learn about the Egyptian history as soon as middle school and that’s when I started to be fascinated by this country as well as its heritage. At some point I even wanted to be an archeologist to fly to Cairo and discover artifacts, mummies and sarcophagus from Ancient Egypt.
However, the first time I went to Egypt was not to make extraordinary archaeological discoveries… But to attend a wedding ! I discovered the city of Cairo in April 2018 and got the chance to live a unique experience that I will never forget. That’s why I would like to share with you some of the reasons why I fell in love with this city.
Margaux’s tip : Cairo is a city that never sleeps. Delivery services, restaurants and venues are open around the clock which is fantastic. This also means that there are plenty of activities for you to do without worrying about what time it is.
6 Reasons to visit Cairo
My best friend is Egyptian and living in Cairo, so let’s say that I was already acquainted to the Middle East / Arab hospitality, friendliness and generosity. But Cairo is no exception. In my experience, all the Egyptians I met were kindhearted, thoughtful and helpful. They will always make you feel at home and look out for you. So don’t worry if you are lost or if you are in trouble, you will always find people willing to give you a hand and help you out.
I agree that in the Western media Egyptians and the Middle East in general are portrayed in negative ways. Little advice: don’t let yourself be influenced by the negative press, but instead keep an open-mind, this way you’ll realize that most of the Egyptian population is welcoming, altruistic, helpful and friendly.
Culture shock but it is a must !
If it’s your first time in Cairo, you might come across a culture shock. The city is completely different from what I have experienced in my previous travels. I’ve never seen something like this: a chaotic, noisy, tumultuous and messy city with constant traffic and the impression that the capital never sleeps. I remember the first morning, I was stunned by the locals way of driving. At first you can think that there are no regulations whatsoever… But there are actually unspoken rules. For instance, I discovered that honking is a language on it’s own ! To be honest, you have to live it, to believe it ! This organized mess is quite an experience.
Cairo is also filled with different influences, from pharaonic history to modern nightlife through vibrant music and art scenes, there is a lot to explore. Keep an open mind and enjoy to the fullest the Egyptian lifestyle !
Visit the Egyptian museum
Have you always dreamed of seeing mummies, the treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb or real papyrus ? Then rush to the Egyptian museum of Cairo, which gathers one of the world’s most important collection of ancient artefacts (approximately 120 000 items). The museum is quite huge, you can spend easily 2 or 3 hours inside. Personally, I visited the second level of the museum with an official guide who was able to tell me all about the story of Tutankhamun and the other artifacts. For his expertise, I paid 200 Egyptian pounds (per person for 1 hour), the entry to the museum is about 80 Egyptian pounds for 1 adult.
Don’t miss the gold mask of Tutankhamun, which is to me one of the greatest artistic achievements in Ancient Egypt.
Food lovers, let me warn you, you’re going to enter heaven. I’m a big fan of arabic dishes and let me tell you the egyptian food is divine. Koshary, falafels and molokheya are a must try ! Another good reason to enjoy the egyptian delicacies is that it’s super cheap. If you ask me, the service I loved most was the 24/7 deliveries. A common thing in Egypt, but a wonderful one for me ! Say goodbye to your diet and enjoy the perks of Cairo’s culinary scene.
I wrote you an article about the 6 restaurants to try in Cairo.
Beaches 2 hours away
Cairo is located only 2 hours away from the world’s most beautiful beaches. It would be a shame to miss the splendid Red Sea, don’t you think ? During my trip, I went to Sokhna, a cute little beach resort with clear blue waters and peaceful sandy beaches. But the highlight of that day was to see a family of dolphins playing on the horizon. A beautiful show offered by nature ! Egypt is also famous for its amazing and beautiful marine life. Colorful coral reefs, turtles, sharks, dolphins… The Red Sea has a rich marine ecosystem worth exploring !
Immerse yourself in the History
The Great Pyramids of Giza, the Nile, the Sphinx, temples, hieroglyphs… I think we agree that seeing these sights and famous landmarks is pretty exceptional. When I was standing in front of the Pyramids, I remember thinking “How ? How is it possible that at that time they managed to build such structures? It’s completely insane !”. Of course, the pyramids will be the highlight of your trip, but let’s not forget the islamic history and the impressive architecture present in the capital. Can you guess how old are the streets of old Cairo ? A 1000 years old ! Besides, mosques are as beautiful as ancient temples. During my trip, I visited for the first time in my life a mosque, but not any mosque… The Amr ibn el Aas mosque which was the first one to be built on egyptian soil in 642. Pretty intense ! No matter where you go in Cairo, you’ll immerse yourself in the long history of the city.
What I don’t like about Cairo
- Pollution: Cairo suffers from the worst air pollution ever !
- Traffic jam: Traffic is a nightmare in Cairo. To cross the capital from 6th of October to New Cairo, it took 2 hours !
In a town as dynamic and unique as Cairo, with culture, diversity and welcoming locals, you’ll never run out of activities to do. I fell in love with Egypt, that’s why I’ve decided to go back there for summer 2019 and discover more sights. Have you already visited Cairo ? If so, do you have places to recommend ? I would love to hear your story, so don’t forget to leave a comment !