Alternative Egypt Travel Guide
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Cairo Travel Guide

Cairo Travel Guide

Introduction and alternative sightseeing ideas including Downtown Cairo, Old Islamic Cairo, Lesser Visited Pyramids, The Camel Market and more.

First time visitors to Cairo might find it a little overwhelming. Over populated, polluted and congested, Cairo is home to some 18 million people and growing all the time.

The streets are dusty, the roads are noisy and the traffic is laughable. But if you stick around long enough to get under the skin of the place, you’ll soon start to appreciate the alluring chaos of Africa ’s largest city.

On arrival at Cairo Airport, most tourists who pass through Cairo make a B-line straight for the Giza plateau. Home to the great Pyramid, not to mention several thousand post card vendors, men touting camels, pizza hut and KFC. The Egyptian museum is next on any classic itinerary. Together perhaps with a brief shopping/toilet stop at one of the many papyrus institutes, this completes the common perception of Cairo' s “must see” sights.

But once you’ve visited the afore mentioned, and ticked them off your ‘to do before you die’ list you might want to consider visiting the following:

Downtown Cairo

Downtown Cairo is the beating heart of the city. In addition to hosting the country’s most famous museum, it’s also the also the location of ‘Tahrir Square’ or freedom square, the launch pad of the 2011 revolution and the ongoing ‘place to protest’.

For a retail extravaganza, clothing stores comprise the majority of outlets along the main strip of ‘Talaat Harb’ just a short distance away.

Khan El Khalili Market and Old Islamic Cairo

Much Cairovean life revolves around shopping and Khan El Khalili is the most famous market of them all. A maze of interwoven streets with areas dedicated to jewellery, perfume, spices and an abundance of tourist tat to boot.

If you want something more authentic, Old Islamic Cairo and its market is a short walk away. This is the oldest part of the city and arguably the most elegant. City walls, palatial homes and towering mosques make for a most rewarding afternoon stroll.

Enjoy the architecture and see a Sufi show. There's plenty of good food to try downtown in the form of foul, falafel, kosheri, and even Egyptian style pancakes.

Other Pyramids

While the hoards head to the Pyramids of Giza, the discerning traveller makes time for the Pyramids of Saqqara, the oldest in the country and all the more unique for their ‘Step’ architecture.

A little bit further away, and far less crowded are the Pyramids of Dahshur. If you have childhood dreams about standing in the sand surrounded by nothing but desert and pyramids, this is the only place in Cairo to do it.

The Birqash Camel Market

Not the faint hearted, camels and their meat are bought and sold each and every day at the Birqash Camel Market located 60km outside of Cairo. Herded more than 700 miles from Sudan, the animals that survive are often in poor condition, auctioned off for a life of hard labour or for an upcoming feast. Friday’s are most popular with tourists, as the trading is at its busiest and most animated.

Food and Drink

Egypt has some outstanding cuisine and in Cairo, visitors can certainly sample most of it. Read more about restaurants in Cairo.

The River Nile

Whatever you choose to do don’t miss the River Nile, you hardly can. Just be sure to take some time out to appreciate it, preferably at sunset when the mighty river is accompanied by the sound clash of prayer calls across the city.

Read about Cairo Itineraries>>

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