The Khan El Kalili
This is the granddaddy of street markets and in the heart of ancient Cairo. A huge labyrinth of alleys, street, shops and stalls. There isn't a lot that you'd want that you can't find here and it's trivially easy to get lost, which is part of the fun.
DO keep an eye on your wallet or purse though. Knives, furniture, pots and pans, clothes, ornament, kitchen stuff, spices…..the list really could go on for ever. This is a definite must of any trip to Cairo.
I've spent a good few afternoons lounging in Cairo's cafes and they're great places to take a break and while away 5 mins or the entire day. Grab a cup of good, strong, sweet Egyptian coffee. Puff on a sheesha (the Egyptian hubbly bubbly pipe filled with smooth apple tobacco) and enjoy a game of Egypt's national pastime-backgammon. Brush up on your skills though, these guys are good!
Now just a suburb of Cairo this was once an impressive city in its own right and still contains several impressive old ruins. Worth a visit, but perhaps for the fashion shops that have made this area their own rather than for the traces of the glorious past of ancient Cairo.
You have to try Koshray, Egypt's national dish. It's a delicious combination of macaroni, spaghetti, rice, lentils, chickpeas, garlic, chili, onion and tomato. Really quite good.
The only remaining wonder of the ancient world, The Grand Pyramid of Cheops standing around 500 feet tall is of course many people's highlight of their trip to Cairo.
Located at Giza about an hour outside the city, all 3 pyramids are truly spectacular. Although you are no longer permitted to climb the pyramids on your Giza tour you can enter Cheops to visit the king's burial chamber. Access is along a narrow passage way which is definitely not for the claustrophobic. If you can do it, it's worth the effort.
Also on your Giza tour you can't help notice the Sphinx. I actually found the Sphinx almost as impressive as the pyramids. It has a tail!, surprised me for some reason…..
One thing that is worthy of some thought is whether to strike out on your own for your Giza tour or allow your hotel to arrange a tour for you. I did the former but on reflection the latter maybe the better choice. By yourself you are a constant target for merchants, camel tour guides, beggars, and thieves. On a tour with a guide there is at least some degree of protection.
The Egyptian Museum
A keen Egyptologist would be happy for a lifetime here. There is a huge range of Pharaoh Era antiquities including the impressive death mask of King Tut made from gold. (The mummy was “recovered” and taken to the British museum in London)
A Nile Cruise
Renting a felucca (with boatman!) is easily done on the Corniche on the banks of the Nile. The boats are little changed in design from centuries ago and A Nile cruise is a most relaxing way to spend a few hours.
Cairo is a city that can feel a little intimidating a first and many people, after getting a quick first impression, can't wait to get out! However the longer you stay, the more it and its glorious past grabs you. It's truly one of the most magnificent cities in the world.
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