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Cairo is one of the world's great megacities. As beautiful as it is crazy, and as rich in historic finery as it is half dilapidated, Cairo tends to be a city that travelers love and hate in equal measures. Its sheer noise, pollution, and confounding traffic are an assault on your senses, but look beyond the modern hubbub, and you'll find a history that spans centuries. Full of vigor, Cairo is where you really get a feel for Egyptian street life. No trip to Egypt is complete without a stay in the city Arabs call Umm alDunya (The Mother of the World).

First, the drawbacks: Cairo’s crowds make Manhattan look like a ghost town, papyrus sellers and would-be guides hound you at every turn, and your snot will run black from the smog.

But it’s a small price to pay to tap into the energy of this place. This urban buzz is a product of 22-or-so million inhabitants simultaneously crushing the city’s infrastructure under their collective weight and lifting its spirit up with their exceptional charm and humour. One taxi ride can pass resplendent mosques, grand avenues, and 19th-century palaces, with a far away view of the pyramids of Giza. A caked-on layer of beige sand unifies the mix of eras and styles.

  1. Pyramids of Giza - ThePyramids of Gizaare Cairo's number one halfday trip and a mustdo attraction on everyone's itinerary. ThePyramid of Cheops(also called the Great Pyramid or Pyramid of Khufu) is the largest pyramid of the Giza group, and its interior of narrow passages can be explored, although there isn't much to see, except a plain tomb chamber with an empty sarcophagus. Directly behind the Great Pyramid is theSolar Boat Museum,which displays one of the ceremonial solar barques unearthed in the area that has been painstakingly restored to its original glory. Further south on the plateau is thePyramid of Chephren(also known as the Pyramid of Khefre), which has an internal tunnel area that can be entered, and the smallerPyramid of Mycerinu(Pyramid of Menkaure). Guarding these mortuary temples is the lionbodied and pharaohfacedSphinx; one of the ancient world's iconic monuments.
  2. The Egyptian Museum - The absolutely staggering collection of antiquities displayed inCairo's Egyptian Museummakes it one of the world's great museums. You would need a lifetime to see everything on show. The museum was founded in 1857 by French Egyptologist August Mariette and moved to its current home in the distinctive powderpink mansion in Downtown Cairo in 1897. If you're pressed for time, make a beeline straight for theTutankhamun Galleries. The treasures displayed here were all found in the tomb of Tutankhamun; soninlaw and successor of Amenophis IV (later Akhenaten), who died at the age of 18. Thetomb, discovered by Howard Carter intheValley of the Kingsin 1922, contained the largest and richest assemblage of grave goods ever found intact in an Egyptian tomb.
  3. Al-Azhar Mosque - Al-Azhar Mosque is the finest building of Cairo's Fatimid era, and one of the city's earliest surviving mosques, completed in AD 972. It's also one of the world's oldest universities; Caliph El-Aziz bestowed it with the status of university in AD 988 (the other university vying for "oldest" status is in Fes) and today, Al-Azhar University is still the leading theological center of the Islamic world.
  4. Old Cairo (Coptic Cairo) - This small church-filled cluster of twisty laneways lies within the walls of Old Babylon where the Roman Emperor Trajan first built a fortress along the Nile. Parts of the Roman towers still preside over the main street.The Coptic Museum here contains a wealth of information on Egypt's early Christian period and is home to one of Egypt's finest collections of Coptic art. Next door, the 9th-century Hanging Church contains some beautiful examples of Coptic architecture. Further into the quarter, you come to the Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is said to be built near the spot where the baby Moses was found in the reeds. Just outside the quarter, you can also visit the Mosque of Amr Ibn al-As; the first mosque built in Egypt..
  5. Khan el-Khalili (Souq Quarter) - Khan el-Khalili is one of the world's great shopping experiences. This Middle Eastern souq (bazaar) is a labyrinthine collection of skinny alleyways established as a shopping district in AD 1400 that still rings with the clang of metal workers and silversmiths. The main streets have long ago given themselves over completely to the tourist trade (with plenty of cheap papyrus pictures and plastic pyramids on display), but divert off the main drag into the surrounding alleyways, and the tiny stores and cluttered workshops are some of the best places to pick up traditional products in Egypt.
  6. The Citadel - In a commanding location at the foot of the Mokattam Hills, Cairo's citadel was built by Saladin in 1176. The Mosque of Muhammad Ali is the most famous monument and the main reason for visiting. Nicknamed the "Alabaster Mosque," its white stone and tall, disproportionately slender minarets are one of Cairo's great landmarks. The other big reason to come up here are the views across the city; head to the Gawhara Terrace for the best panorama in town.Just to the northeast of the Muhammad Ali Mosque is the El-Nasir Mosque, built in 1318-35 by Mohammed el-Nasir.
  7. Sultan Hassan Mosque - One of the finest examples of Mamluk architecture in the world, Sultan Hassan Mosque is a vision of Arabic artistry with an abundance of stalactite detailing and intricate arabesque features. It was built in 1356-63 for the Sultan Hassan el-Nasir.The exterior, with its large areas of stone, is reminiscent of an ancient Egyptian temple. Directly facing the Sultan Hassan Mosque is the El-Rifai Mosque, built in 1912 to house the tomb of Khedive Ismail and constructed to replicate its older next door neighbor. The ex Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1919-1980) is also buried here.
  8. Bab Zuweila - Of all the Islamic Cairo district's gates, Bab Zuweila is the most interesting. You can climb to the top of this medieval era relic (built in the 11th century) for some amazing rooftop views over Islamic Cairo. The gate itself has two minarets and is the last southern gate of the old town still standing. Right next door is the red-and-white stonework of the Sheikh al-Mu'ayyad Mosque and a few steps further away is the fascinating artisan stalls of the Street of the Tentmakers where Egypt's bright fabric used for weddings and other special occasions is sold in bulk.
  9. Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street - The northern section of Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street is rimmed by fine Mamluk buildings that have been painstakingly restored to their former glory. The Madrassa of as-Salih Ayyub, built in 1247, is a showcase of the tranquil simplicity of Islamic architecture. While directly across the road from the madrassa is the knock-dead gorgeous Madrassa of Qalaun; rightly considered one of the Mamluk period's greatest architectural triumphs. It was completed in 1293 by Qalaun's son Muhammad al-Nasir and has an interior packed to the brim with intricate tile work, fine marble, mother-of-pearl mosaics, and stained glass windows. A little further north is the younger (built in 1309) Madrassa of an-Nasr Mohammed with plenty of ornate detailing to admire, before you come to the fabulous Egyptian Textile Museum with a collection that spans the Pharaonic era right up to the Islamic period.
  10. Ibn Tulun Mosque - The second oldest mosque still standing in Cairo, Ibn Tulun Mosque, was built between AD 876 and 879 and modeled on the Kaaba in Mecca (Saudi Arabia). At the time it was built, it was the largest mosque in existence. The main prayer hall still holds onto fragments of its older decoration of carved stucco and wood, and the mihrab here has remnants of its original gold mosaic decoration.On the mosque's northern side is the 40-meter-high minaret with a fine horseshoe arch over the entrance and a spiral staircase swirling through the interior. If you climb the 173 steps up to its upper platform there are superb views extending over the sea of houses to the north, and to the Mokattam Hills in the east.
  11. Al-Azhar Park - Built over what was essentially a medieval rubbish dump, Al-Azhar Park is the green lungs of the old district. It was opened in 2005 and provides a much needed respite to the overcrowded chaos of Cairo's street hustle. There are also a couple of good restaurants on site, so it's the perfect spot to put your feet up after a long day of sightseeing. If you come on the weekend, the park is packed full of local families escaping the surrounding roar of traffic that cocoons the rest of Cairo.
  12. Zamalek- The Nile island of Gezira is home to the district of Zamalek and the majority of Cairo's arty boutiques and hipster restaurants. Dating from the mid 19th century, the entire area has a distinctly European feel to its architecture with wide boulevards rimmed by Jacaranda trees and splendidly ornate Belle Époque mansions (many of which are now home to various embassies).Zamalek is Cairo's top dining destination, but the southern tip of Gezira also has a clutch of art galleries to explore. The Palace of Arts is housed in the Nile Grand Hall on the former Gezira Fair Grounds, and features a schedule of rotating exhibitions in its galleries. Nearby is the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, which has a fine collection of 20th-century Egyptian art including works by Mahmoud Said and Mahmoud Mukhtar. Much of the southern section of Gezira is taken up by the exclusive tennis courts and riding stables of the Gezira Sports Club, but towering above all the lush greenery is the 187-meter-high Cairo Tower, built in 1961 by President Nasser. A trip up the observation deck at sunset to see dusk settle over the city is a must.
  13. Roda Island- just south of Gezira Island - is home to Monastirli Palace, once the residence of an Ottoman pasha. Inside the palace gardens, right at the island's southern tip, is Cairo's Nilometer - that was used to measure the ebb and flow of the Nile and predict the annual flood heights. Unlike the Nilometers you'll see in Upper Egypt (such as the surviving Nilometer on Elephantine Island in Aswan), this one is a much later construction; built in AD 861. Outside the palace, Roda Island's streets are fun to wander and still have some dilapidated mansion architecture of the early 20th century.The north end of the island holds the gorgeously ornate Manyal Palace, built in 1805-18 in the time of Mohammed Ali. It has unfortunately been closed for extensive - and seemingly never ending - restoration work for the past several years.
  14. Mosque of Al-Hakim - Caliph Al-Hakim is one of the most fascinating rulers of Egypt. His mosque, finished in AD 1013, has functioned over the centuries as a madrassa, Crusader fortress, and mental hospital and was completely restored in the 1980s. The minarets here are the most interesting architectural elements. They were originally round, and their present square casing and domed top sections (resembling an Arab incense burner) date from their rebuilding after Cairo's 1303 earthquake.The mosque sits in between two of the old city district's most important gates. Bab el-Futuh (Gate of Conquests) on the mosque's western side and Bab el-Nasr (Gate of Victory) to the east are similar in form to ancient Roman town gates and were both built in 1087.
  1. Sequoia - Middle Eastern Restaurant

Address: 53 Abou El Feda, Zamalek, Cairo, 11211, Egypt, Phone:+20 2 27350014

  1. Abou El Sid - Egyptian Restaurant

Address: Muhammad Mazhar, AZ Zamalek, Giza Governorate, Egypt, Phone:+20 2 27359640

  1. Felfela - Restaurant

Address: Hoda Shaarawy, Bab Al Louq, Abdin, Cairo Governorate, Egypt, Phone:+20 16561

  1. Left Bank - Cafe

Address: 53 End Abou El Feda, Zamalek, Cairo, 11211, Egypt, Phone:+20 2 27350014

  1. Cairo Kitchen - Restaurant

Address: 118 26 July, Al Gabalayah, Zamalek, Cairo Governorate 11211, Egypt,

Phone:+20 127 255 6505

  1. Maison Thomas - Pizza Restaurant

Address: Muhammad Mazhar، Mohammed Mazhar, AZ Zamalek، Giza Governorate, Egypt

Phone:+20 122 433 6986

  1. Pub 28

Address: 28 Shagarat el Dor St, Egypt, Phone:+20 2 27350972

  1. Cairo Jazz Club

Address: 197 26th of July Corridor, Madinet Al Eelam, Al Agouzah, Giza Governorate, Egypt

Phone:+20 100 443 5716

  1. Le Pacha 1901 - Restaurant

Address: 1901, Meret Basha, Qasr an Nile, Cairo Governorate, Egypt

Phone:+20 2 27356730

  1. Graffiti Bar & Lounge

Address: 1089 El, Nile Corniche, 11519, Egypt, Phone:+20 2 27916876

Cairo has many modes of public transportation that both residents and tourists can ride to get anywhere they need to go. The only problem, however, is that tourists may not be comfortable with the heavy crowds on the tramways and busses as well as the fact that these two systems are not always 100 percent reliable. The subway system is known to run on more of a regular schedule.

Busses: Cairo’s bus system consists of a number of different lines of service. The different services cost different amounts of money to ride. There are standard and mini-busses run by the Cairo Transportation Authority (CTA), and there are also “micro-busses” which are run by a private company. The unfortunate part about the micro-busses is that they are cheap but unreliable. Bus 111 goes from outside Terminal 1 at the airport to Ramses station and beyond. It's the cheapest way to get out of the airport and hop on a metro without dealing with taxis. Fare is usually less than 1 LE. While getting in, tell the driver/conductor to let you know when to get off. Sign language, with some key English words is usually sufficient.

Trams: Cairo has a tram system that has been running since 1896. There are three different lines on the tram system and they are all run by the “CTA.”

Subway: The city has an extensive subway system that runs on a regular (and reliable) schedule. The schedule is as follows: Winter: 5:30 a.m. until midnight. Summer: 5:30 a.m. until 1 a.m. The subway trains run every six minutes. There are currently two lines. It is the fastest and cheapest way to travel in Cairo (cost 1 LE). It is helpful to have a metro map overlaying the city map.

Cairo also has a train system and a ferry system.

  1. Pyramids of Giza - Phone: -Address: Al-Ahram Street, Giza
  2. The Egyptian Museum - Phone: +20 2 25794596. Address: Tahrir Square, Meret Basha, Qasr an Nile, Cairo Governorate 11516, Egypt
  3. Al-Azhar Mosque - Phone:- Address: Al-Azhar Street, Islamic Cairo District
  4. Old Cairo (Coptic Cairo) - Phone:- Address: Kom Ghorab, Misr Al Qadimah, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
  5. Khan el-Khalili (Souq Quarter) - Phone:- Address: El-Gamaleya, Qism El-Gamaleya, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
  6. The Citadel - Phone: +20 2 31583632 Address: Al Abageyah, Qesm Al Khalifah, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
  7. Sultan Hassan Mosque - Phone:- Address: El-Darb El-Ahmar, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
  8. Bab Zuweila - Phone: Address: Al-Muiz li-Din Allah Street, Islamic Cairo District
  9. Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street - Phone:- Address: Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street, Islamic Cairo District
  10. Ibn Tulun Mosque - Phone:- Address: Al-Saliba Street
  11. Al-Azhar Park - Phone: +20 2 25103868 Address: Salah Salem Street
  12. Zamalek - Phone:- Address:Cairo,Egypt

13 Roda Island - Phone:- Address:Nile,Cairo,Egypt

  1. Mosque of Al-Hakim - Phone: +966 50 773 2015 Address: Al-Galal Street, Islamic Cairo District
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