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    Egypt is synonymous with Pharaohs, pyramids, temples andantiquities. Through this ancient and arid land flows the Nile, amighty river which has shaped civilizations for centuries. Egyptlays claim to being the oldest tourist destination on earth. Greekand Roman travellers arrived as far back as 430 BC to marvel atsome of the very sights that make it a beloved tourist destinationtoday. The magnificence of the painted Valley of the Kings,exquisite temples, and the pyramids were all sought-after objectsof admiration in these long-gone days, and many were already 2,500years old.

    With desert landscapes, rugged mountains that reach to the sea,dusty cities full of exotic sounds and smells, and green strips ofagricultural land snaking along the banks of the Nile, Egypt hassomething to offer travellers from all walks of life. There isspectacular diving in the Red Sea resorts. Unique desertexperiences await, whether on the back of a camel to Mount Sinai oron a jeep safari to the inner oases. The colour and chaos of Cairois prevalent in its markets and bazaars such as Khan al Khalili. Instark contrast are the tranquil felucca cruises on the Nile River.Egypt promises an unforgettable experience of history andrelaxation - a mixture of discovery and pleasure.

    Visitors have come for years from far and wide to experienceEgypt's world-famous attractions for themselves.

    Cairo, the capital, houses the market place Khan el-Khalili, theEgyptian Museum, and the necropolis at the City of the Dead. Justoutside stand the iconic pyramids of Giza, and the Sphinx. To thenorth sits the port city of Alexandria. Founded by Alexander theGreat, the city is home to the Pharaohs Lighthouse, one of theseven wonders of the ancient world. The city is at the estuary ofthe Nile. One of the best ways to experience Egypt is a boat cruisedown this mighty river.

    On the banks of the river lies Luxor. Built on the ancient siteof Thebes, Luxor is home to the Valley of Kings and the tombs ofTutankhamun and Ramses II. Further south Lake Nasser offers peaceand quiet, and visitors can take a multi-day cruise from Aswan toAbu Simbel, the site of the great temple of Ramses II.

    The Red Sea is world-renowned for its scuba diving.Holidaymakers flock to resorts such as Hurghada for the warm watersand abundance of ocean life. In stark contrast are the plains ofthe Sahara. Egypt plays host to a corner of this arid landscape,featuring the rocks of the White Desert, and the palms and olivetrees of the Siwa Oasis. If you've ever dreamt of being anexplorer, the ancient world awaits.

    Khan al-Khalili

    Buzzing with enthusiastic buying and selling, Khan al-Khalili isone of the largest markets in the world. Situated within IslamicCairo, the World Heritage Site attracts travellers and localsalike. On the northern corner of the bazaar is the Mosque ofSayyidna al-Hussein, one of the holiest Islamic sites in Egypt. Themarket is the best place to soak up the colour of Cairo and topeople-watch and the streets themselves are charming with arches,carvings and mosaics. You will get many amazing photo opportunitieswandering the labyrinthine little streets, just be sure not to getlost!

    Traders have been bargaining in these alleys since the 14thcentury and it is possible to buy almost anything, from exoticperfume bottles to everyday Arabic clothing. There is, of course, alot of junk as well but treasures and great bargains can be found.Be prepared to barter as the prices originally stated will alwaysbe much too high and the merchants expect you to negotiate.Although some of the traders are delightful others can get pushyand rude. Unfortunately, women travelling alone will almostcertainly have to put up with a certain amount of harassment. Nomatter how many times you visit this vibrant market you will alwaysfind something new and enchanting, just keep a careful eye on yourwallet.

    Khan al-Khalili Khan al-Khalili juliegomoll
    Egyptian Museum of Antiquities

    With over 100,000 artefacts in 107 halls, the Egyptian Museumprovides days of exploration. Inside are treasures from ancientEgypt, including priceless finery taken from ancient royal tombs,and one of the museum's masterpieces, the statue of Khafre(Chephren). The most popular attraction is the Tutankhamun Gallerywhere exquisite treasures from the tomb of the iconic Boy King aredisplayed, including the famous solid gold death mask. Another topattraction is the Royal Mummy Room containing mummies of some ofthe most powerful Pharaohs in Egypt dating from the 18th to 20thdynasties (there is an additional cost for this room). The museumalso contains collections of artefacts including coins, papyrusscrolls, scarabs and sarcophagi. There is a cafeteria, bank, postoffice, gift shop and library at the museum and taped audio guidesare available in English, French and Arabic. Visitors should beaware that photography is not allowed.

    Although a trip to Egypt would feel incomplete without a visitto this incredible museum, its location on Tahrir Square means thatforeigners must be cautious visiting during periods of unrest. Ifthere are demonstrations on the square it is best to avoid thearea.

    Address: Mariette Pasha Street, Tahrir Square
    Opening time: Open daily 9am to 7pm (9am to 5pm duringRamadan)
    Egyptian Museum Egyptian Museum Dan Lundberg
    Pyramids of Giza

    The pyramids are the earth's oldest tourist attraction and theGreat Pyramid of Khufu (also referred to as the Great Pyramid ofCheops) is the only remainder of the seven ancient wonders of theworld. Throughout history the pyramids have fired humanimagination, with much speculation as to their origin and purpose.The most compelling theory is that they were built by the ancientEgyptian civilisation as tombs or great monuments in which to burytheir kings and nobles; a place to start their mystic journey tothe afterlife.

    The oldest and largest pyramid, the Great Pyramid, is thought tohave taken 20 years to build and is made of about two millionblocks of limestone. No one knows how the two-ton blocks were movedinto place, but it was known to be the tallest man-made structurein the world for over 40 centuries. The Great Sphinx, known as theAbu al-Hol (Father of Terror), stands in front of the Great Pyramidand is thought to be older than the pyramids themselves.

    Tours of the pyramids are conducted by many tour operators inGiza. Access to the interior of the pyramids is restricted, and atleast one is closed for renovations at any given period. Whileclimbing the pyramids was once a popular activity, the practise hasnow been banned. The best time to visit the Pyramids of Giza isearly in the morning, before the tour buses descend on them. Whileunofficial 'tour guides' lurk around the site to demand tips,better-informed guides can be booked in advance from Giza. It isoften best to ask your hotel's advice on guides.

    Address: Pyramid Road, 11 miles (18km) southwest of thecentre
    Transport: Bus 8 from Midan Tahrir
    Great Pyramid of Giza Great Pyramid of Giza Nina Aldin Thune
    Old Cairo

    Once known as the Roman stronghold of Babylon, Coptic Cairo isthe oldest part of the city and the heart of the Coptic Christiancommunity. Home to 5 original churches alongside Egypts firstmosque and oldest synagogue, these ancient walls house three of themajor religions of the modern world in one special area. It is apeaceful place to wander around and a respite from the busy citycentre.

    Churches of interest are the Al-Muallaqa (Hanging Church), theoldest Christian place of worship in the city, and St Sergius wherethe Holy Family reputedly sheltered during their flight to Egypt.You can take the metro into Coptic Cairo from Tahrir Square. It isuseful to have a guide when exploring the area as there is so muchhistory to discover and so much to see. However, visitors who choseto explore alone will feel the power and age of the place andshould still be able to find all the major attractions.

    Old Cairo Old Cairo David Stanley
    Temple of Karnak

    The main place of worship in Theban times, and built over aperiod of 1,300 years, the massive Temple of Karnak in Luxor is anincredibly impressive structure. It was known as Ipet-isut, themost select of places, to the ancient Egyptians and it is one ofthe largest religious buildings ever erected. One of the world'sgreat architectural achievements, the Hypostyle Hall, is filledwith immense stone pillars still bearing the engraved and paintedinscriptions from the 12th Dynasty, and covers an area of 64,583square feet (6,000 sq metres). The complex also contains the Avenueof the Sphinxes, the Sacred Lake, and many huge statues, halls,ornate wall murals, obelisks and colonnades.

    One of the lesser known attractions of this vast temple complexis the small Temple of Ptah, hidden on the northeastern boundary.It is very special because the room is intact - giving a realisticsense of what the dark temple interior would have felt like inancient times - and a statue of Sekhmet remains in place, lit up bynatural light. The Temple of Karnak can be a bit overwhelmingwithout a guide, or at least a good guide book, so be sure toeither hire someone or do your research to fully appreciate thewonders of the place.

    Temple of Karnak Temple of Karnak Michael Tyler
    West Bank

    The West Bank is an area of limestone hills and valleys riddledwith tombs and temples across the river from Luxor. Goats roamfreely among the ruins, and the tiny settlements on the slopesprovide a splash of colour in an otherwise desert-like barrenness.The 59 foot (18m) high pair of enthroned statues of the Colossi ofMemnon are the first things most visitors will see on the WestBank. These are the only remaining structures of the mortuarytemple of Amenophis III.

    Most travellers come to visit the Valley of the Kings, where thesecretive tombs of the Pharaohs were built to immortalise theirmummies and treasures for eternity. In an attempt to thwart tombrobbers, traps and deceptions were part of the architecturalplanning. Dramatic descents, spectacular murals on the passage andchamber walls and a replica of the original sarcophagus at the endof the tunnel create an awe-inspiring atmosphere. There are anumber of areas and tombs to explore and highlights include thetombs of Tutankhamun and Ramses II. However, the country's finesttomb, the Tomb of Nefertari, lies in the Valley of the Queens,which has exceptional painted murals. Nefertari's tomb is open tothe public after a restoration project. However, only small groupsare admitted at a time, and each visitor must pay 1000 EgyptianPounds (about $56). Also worth a visit is Hatshepsut's Temple, themortuary temple of Egypt's only female Pharaoh.

    Colossi of Memnon Colossi of Memnon Silke Baron
    Nubia Museum

    The Nubia Museum in Aswan is an excellent introduction to thehistory and culture of the Nubians. It contains a collection ofartefacts from Nubia (the region approximately between Aswan andKhartoum in Sudan) and an exhibition of Nubian culture and crafts.It also portrays the history and people of the Nile Valley fromancient times until the present, and has a hall full of impressivestatues and tombstones from the region.

    One of the most interesting exhibits is that covering theproject of UNESCO to move monuments like Abu Simbel, endangered bythe High Dam on Lake Nasser, to higher ground. Visitors can get anidea of what the area looked like before the floods and how mucheffort was put into preserving this endangered ancient culture. Atthe Nubia Museum you can see weaponry, pottery, jewellery, statuesand the ever-popular mummies. The exhibits are well organised andlaid out and have good English labels. The museum is wellair-conditioned, making it a popular retreat from the heat of theday. It is also open until late, providing a good option for anevening of culture.

    Address: el Fanadek Street (Opposite Basma Hotel)
    Nubia Museum Nubia Museum David Stanley
    Abu Simbel

    The two temples of Abu Simbel - the Temple of Ramses II and theTemple of Hathor (the Sun God), dedicated to his wife Nefertari -were cut out of the sandstone cliffs more than 3,000 years ago. Notonly are these ancient temples among the most magnificent in theworld, but their removal and reconstruction are recorded as animpressive engineering feat. The temples were relocated, verysuccessfully, during the construction of the High Dam on LakeNasser in the 1960s. The monuments were threatened with submersion,and after an appeal by UNESCO, in co-operation with the EgyptianGovernment, they were dismantled and reassembled exactly as before,about 197 feet (60m) higher up.

    The intimidating sight that first greets the visitor at AbuSimbel is that of the four colossal statues guarding the entranceto the Grand Hall of the Temple of Ramses. The interior is highlydecorated with relief paintings and is supported by eight statuesof Ramses acting as giant pillars. Leading off the hall are paintedsanctuaries and chambers. The Temple of Hathor is smaller andsimpler, also with statues guarding the entrance and amanifestation of the Sun God portrayed above. It is aligned in sucha way that the sun's rays reach inside to illuminate the statues ofAmun-Re, Ramses II, and Re-Horakhty twice a year. The statue ofPtah, a god of the underworld, remains in shadow. The temples areconsidered to be the grandest and most spectacular monuments builtduring the reign of Ramses II.

    Abu Simbel Abu Simbel Andrew Crump
    Coptic Church of St George (Mari Girgis)

    The only round, or domed, church left in Cairo, the Greek Churchof St George features a long set of steps that lead up to thechurch, where visitors will find a relief of St George and thedragon wrapped around the outer brickwork of the tower. Theoriginal church dated back to the 10th century, or earlier, butthis ancient structure largely burned down and the current churchreplaced it in 1904. For centuries, the church alternated betweenCoptic and Greek ownership, but since the 15th century it hasremained Greek Orthodox, and the adjoining monastery of St Georgeis now the seat of the Greek patriarch. Despite this, the Moulid ofMari Girgis, a large Coptic festival celebrating St George, iscelebrated at the church each April.

    The St George Church is most famous for its beautiful weddinghall (), which dates back to the 14th century. StGeorge was a warrior saint imprisoned and martyred near the church,which is built on an ancient Roman tower. Sadly, this wonderfulbuilding is often not included in tours of Coptic Cairo but it iswell worth the visit and very easy to find. The church andmonastery are visible from Mari Girgis Station.

    Address: Mari Girgis Street, Old Cairo
    Coptic Church of St. George Coptic Church of St. George Francesco Gasparetti
    Hanging Church

    The Hanging Church in Cairo derives its name from its locationon top of the southern tower gate of the old Babylon fortress, withits nave suspended over a passage. It is the most famous Copticchurch in Cairo with the earliest mention of the church being astatement in the biography of the patriarch Joseph, who lived inthe mid-19th century. It went on to become known to travellers asthe 'staircase church' during the 14th and 15th centuries, becauseof the twenty-nine steps that lead to the entrance.

    The visual impact of the church's elevated position has beenreduced due to the rise of land surface by around 20 feet (sixmetres) since the Roman period, not to mention the rise of tallbuildings around it, but it is still an impressive and beautifulchurch. The Roman tower upon which it is built remains mostlyburied below ground. It is calm and peaceful inside and visitorsare not pestered here as they may be at many other Cairoattractions. Among the highlights of the church are the intricatecarvings and mosaics which decorate the walls, windows anddoors.

    Address: Shara Mari Girgis Street, Old Cairo
    Hanging Church Hanging Church David Berkowitz
    Asfour Crystal Factory

    The Egyptians were the first people to develop the arttechnology to manufacture glass and cut it into beautiful shapes.This ancient civilisation started making crystals 5,000 years ago.Asfour Crystal was established in 1961 and the Asfour CrystalFactory Showroom is one of the largest and most respected crystalfactories in Egypt and provides crystals to many countries acrossthe globe. They are said to be the world's single largest employerof skilled crystal workers. Products range from jewellery to 3Dlaser gifts, figurines and a selection of chandeliers and otherlight fittings. The jewellery is not quite of the same standard asSwarovski crystal but some lovely pieces can be picked up at thefactory at prices up to 60 percent cheaper than what you'll find atretail shops, and there are some beautiful, creative pieces onshow. Asfour Crystal is most famous for their crystal chandeliersand there is a vast array to choose from. The hundreds of shininglights and glittering crystals in the showroom make it a magicalspace, worth seeing even if you don't purchase anything. There isalso a small display detailing the manufacturing process, andhelpful and knowledgeable sales staff available to help. A taxcertificate is given with all purchases.

    Address: Industrial Zone: 5 Asfour Crystal, St. Shoubra AlKheima.
    Crystals Crystals Alexander Baxevanis
    Saladin Citadel (Al-Qalaa)

    The Saladin Citadel is a massive stone fortress, set in abeautiful tropical location, built by Salah ad-Din in the 12thcentury. Visitors have the freedom to roam the castle, whichremains in pristine condition, and which boasts incredible views ofCairo. If you are lucky enough to visit on a clear day you will beable to see all the way to the pyramids. The execution room isparticularly interesting but just wandering around this ancientcitadel is fascinating. The Mohammed Ali Mosque (also called theAlabaster Mosque) crowns the citadel and this magnificent place ofworship is the highlight of the fortress. It was built between 1824and 1857 and modelled on the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Thereare two other mosques within the Citadel: the 13th-century Mosqueof al-Nasir Muhammad, and the 16th-century Mosque of SuleymanPasha. As always, women visiting the mosques must wear looseclothing and be prepared to cover up (there are scarves availableat the entrance for this purpose if you do not bring your own). TheAl-Gawhara Palace, National Military Museum and Police Museum canalso be found inside the Citadel.

    Address: al-Qalaa, Shara Salih Salem
    Saladin Citadel Saladin Citadel Ahmed Al Badawy
    Ramses II Statue

    Discovered in 1882 during excavations, the giant statue ofPharaoh Ramses II was cut into six pieces in the 1950s and moved toRamses Square in central Cairo where it stood for a further 50years. In 2006 the statue moved to a new, temporary museum a fewmiles outside of Cairo, as there were growing concerns that heavypollution was damaging the 3,200-year-old statue, which weighs 83ton and stands 36 feet (11 metres) high. The moving of the massivestatue was a technological challenge and has been covered in adocumentary by National Geographic.

    Ramses II, who ruled Egypt for more than 60 years during the19th dynasty of pharaohs, was one of ancient Egypt's most prolificbuilders and there are a number of statues of him remaining inEgypt. However, none are as impressive as the colossus. All in all,the statue is beautifully preserved although one side isdiscernibly less perfect as it was exposed to the elements forcenturies before its re-discovery in 1882. The expression on hisface is serene and quite enthralling.

    The famous statue was moved for the final time in January 2018.It now takes pride of place in the entrance hall of the GrandEgyptian Museum. This 650,000-square-foot museum is currently underconstruction and will have capacity for up to 100,000 artefactsupon completion in 2020.

    Ramses II Statue Ramses II Statue Barrylb
    The Pharaonic Village

    This living museum is a fabulous attraction for the whole familyto enjoy. Visitors sail down a network of canals in motorizedbarges where a cast of actors and actresses work to recreateancient Egypt. All the characters from pharaohs and fishermen toslaves and potters are represented and even moments in history arerecreated. Apart from the faithful reproductions of ancientEgyptian buildings, clothing and lifestyles, there is a completereplica of the tomb of Tutankhamen and a number of museums andinteractive exhibits covering different periods of Egypt'shistory.

    Exhibits and activities change regularly making it a differentexperience every time you visit, but favourites include themummification exhibit and the Cleopatra exhibit. There is a smallamusement park, a restaurant, shops and an art centre, as well asboat hiring facilities. The experience is fun and educational andwill take a family at least a few hours to fully appreciate so besure to allow sufficient time.

    Address: 3 El Bahr El Aazam St, Cairo.
    Opening time: 9am to 5pm daily. Open until 7pm in the peak summermonths.
    Cleopatra Cleopatra Tanna Valentine
    Magic Galaxy

    This indoor amusement park spans two floors and features ahandful of big rides, more than 100 games, and even a Baby Zonesection for very young visitors. Kids can enjoy rides such as theMoon Buggy or Falling Star, and family rides like the Comet Coasterand Demolition Derby. They can spend hours ensconced in games andfun activities, or even let off some steam in the Soft Play Room.This is a fantastic attraction for the whole family, and a greatway to beat the Egyptian heat for a while, or take a break fromhistorical sightseeing. The focus of the amusement park is onchildren aged between two and 12 but there is fun to be had for allage groups.

    Upon entry you will get a Magic Galaxy Card which is prepaid foruse of games and rides and can be recharged with fresh fundswhenever needed. The cards also accumulate points from certaingames and you can pick prizes according to how well you have done.If you happen to go on your birthday you'll get a whole bunch ofnifty discounts.

    Address: 4th & 5th floor Helioplis City Stars Centre, Omar abnEl khatab Street
    Bumper cars Bumper cars Lesley Parker
    Dream Park

    A trip to Dream Park is a must for children of all ages andmakes a great day out for the whole family. Featuring rides, shops,fun activities and simulators, the 160-acre Dream Park is alsoencircled by a train, making access easy. Visitors can enjoy anumber of stomach-turning adventure rides, or a selection of mellowfamily rides, as well as two theatres and one of the largestconcert areas in Cairo. Numerous restaurants provide refuellingstops, and there is a selection of gift shops for souvenirs. TheDream Park claims to be the largest and most unique amusement parkin the Middle East and can host up to 30,000 visitors. It wasdesigned by the same people who designed Universal Studios.

    Address: Oasis Road, Cairo.
    Opening time: 10am until at least 7pm.
    Dream Park Dream Park Sebastien V

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    With the small exception of its strip of Mediterraneancoastline, the whole of Egypt has an arid desert climate. Theweather is constantly hot and dry and there are only two seasons.Summer brings blistering heat between May and October. Winter ismild and warm, and stretches from November to April. As is typicalof desert climates, it tends to get cold at night in Egypt,whatever the season, so be sure to bring something warmer for theevenings. Egypt has a low annual rainfall and the majority of rainfalls in the coastal region. It hardly ever rains during the summermonths. A phenomenon of Egypt's climate is the hot wind that blowsacross the country, known internationally as the sirocco and toEgyptians as the khamsin. These desert sandstorms usually arrive inApril but occasionally occur in March and May. They can continuefor days and cause temperatures to rise dramatically as well ascause damage to crops and buildings.

    The best time to travel to Egypt is during the mid-winter,between December and February, when temperatures range comfortablyfrom 68°F to 79°F (20 to 26°C). If you are keen to visit in summerthen the best city to spend time in is Alexandria as it has coolersummer temperatures then the rest of the country.


    This tent restaurant has become a popular relaxation spot withtrendy locals and expats and for good reason. On the high banks ofthe Nile the restaurant has a commanding spot atop the city.Perfect to relax with flavoured tobaccos and traditional Egyptianand Lebanese mezze food although there are other options for lightwestern dining. More of a lounge during the day, the place becomesa club when the sun sets.

    Address: 3 Abou Feda Street

    Delicious food and an inviting, cosy atmosphere have made thisItalian restaurant one of Cairo's favourite eateries. Soft lightingand tasteful décor create the perfect atmosphere to dine on suchdishes as creamy onion soup, veal cordon bleu stuffed withmushrooms and topped with cheese and tomatoes or thick crust pizzasloaded with toppings of your choice. Open daily for lunch anddinner. Reservations essential.

    Address: 44 Michel Bakhoum Street
    Bua Khao

    With authentic ingredients flown in from Bangkok and a highlyskilled Thai woman at the helm, it's no wonder the food at Bua Khaokeeps guests coming back for more. Renowned for serving the bestThai food in Egypt, the and curries are to-die-for and the (chicken and coconut milk soup) is a great way tostart things off. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservationsadvisable.

    Address: 9 Road 151, Maadi
    The Revolving Restaurant Grand Hyatt

    Towering above the city 41 floors high, diners can enjoy trulypanoramic views of the city below as the scenery circles by.Besides taking in the Nile, the city and the pyramids an openkitchen in the centre of the restaurant puts on a show serving upan eclectic range of multi-national menu choices. A slightly formalsetting is perfect for romantic evenings and a reprieve from thecongestion 41 floors below. Reservations are advised.

    Address: Corniche El Nile
    The Fish Market

    Gone are the days of travelling to Alexandria for good freshfish. Nowadays, those looking for decent sea fare can book a tableat the Fish Market, situated on the upper deck of a boatpermanently moored on the west bank of the Nile. With no menu andjust a display of some of the freshest fish Cairo has to offer,diners pay by weight and choose their own fish, shrimp, calamari,crabs and shellfish, which is beautifully prepared by the kitchenas you like. Couple that with a slew of Middle Eastern salads anddeliciously home baked bread and you have a recipe for success!Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations advisable.

    Address: 26 Shara al-Nil, Giza (on the American Boat)

    Overlooking Maydan Sphinx and complete with exquisite woodworkdetailing, the lavish dining area in Kandahar features authenticIndian furnishings. The food tastes as good as the restaurantlooks. The (creamy smoked eggplant baked in a clay ovenand perfect for dipping fluffy Naan bread in) is an absolute mustand (spiced chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt) is afirm favourite. Service is excellent. Open daily for lunch anddinner. Reservations advisable.

    Address: 3 Shara Gameat al-Dowal al-Arabiya, Mohandiseen
    Koshary Abou Tarek

    Consistently ranked as one of the most popular restaurants inCairo, Koshary Abou Tarek serves up a uniquely Egyptian dish,koshary (sometimes spelled koshari), best described as anEgyptian-style chilli, in large portions for prices even the mostbudget-conscious travellers will love. As ubiquitous in Egypt ascurry is in India, Koshary is available at nearly any street vendorin Cairo, but Abou Tarek's koshary is among the best in thecity.

    Address: 16 Maarouf, Shamplion Street
    Cairo International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 13.7 miles (22km) from centralCairo.
    Time: Local time is GMT + 2.
    Transfer Between Terminals The three terminals are about two miles (3km) apart and arelinked by a free shuttle, which departs about every half anhour.
    Getting to the city: There are taxis outside the main arrivals hall; the journey tocentral Cairo takes around 45 minutes. The Airport Shuttle bus is aconvenient way to get from the airport to downtown Cairo and alongthe Pyramids Road in Giza. Public buses and air-conditioned coachesalso leave regularly from Terminal 1.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies at the airport include Avis, Budget, Europcarand Hertz.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis may have fare meters but are unlikely to use them. Faresvary and should be negotiated up front. Cairo taxis are black andwhite.
    Fascilities: Facilities include a restaurant and several cafeterias, banksand ATMs, a bureau de change, pharmacies, an internet café inTerminal 1, five-star lounges for business and first classpassengers, smoking rooms (Terminal 1), tourist information desksand travel agencies. Duty-free shopping is also available.
    Parking Parking is available adjacent to Terminal 1, at a rate of EGP 5per hour.
    Luxor International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated four miles (6km) east of Luxorcity.
    Time: Local time is GMT +2.
    Getting to the city: The best way to the city is by taxi (journey time 15min), butthere is also a regular bus service available, although it isgenerally very crowded.
    Car Rental: There are car rental agencies at the airport.
    Fascilities: Airport facilities include bureaux de change, restaurants,shops, a tourist information desk, post office and luggage storage.Wheelchairs are available for disabled passengers; airlines shouldbe notified in advance.
    El Nouzha Airport
    Location: El Nouzha Airport is located in Alexandria, about fourmiles (7km) southeast of the city centre.
    Time: GMT+2
    Getting to the city: Taxis are available outside the terminal building and faresshould be negotiated before entering the taxi. Drivers often preferto be paid in US Dollars, Euros or British Pounds.
    Car Rental: Car rental agencies include Sixt and Hertz.
    Hurghada Airport
    Location: Hurghada Airport is located three miles (5km) south ofthe city of Hurghada El Dahar.
    Time: GMT +2
    Getting to the city: Taxis are available outside the terminal building but ratesshould be negotiated before entering the taxi. Drivers often preferto be paid in US Dollars, Euros or British Pounds. The journey timeto Hurghada El Dahar (downtown) is approximately 20 minutes. Youcan also find transfers from the airport to town by minivan or bus;minibuses are available outside the airport, leaving once full.
    Car Rental: Car hire is available at the airport
    Parking The airport's single parking lot offers both short-term andlong-term parking.
    Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport
    Location: Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport is located 11 miles(18km) northeast of Sharm el Sheikh centre, near RasNasrani.
    Time: GMT +2
    Getting to the city: Regular taxis and tourist taxis (which are known to chargealmost double that of regular ones) can be found at the taxi rankoutside the arrivals area. Blue and White taxis are the only onesallowed to go into the town centre of Naama Bay. Minibuses alsooperate to Sharm el-Sheikh and leave once full. The journey toSharm el-Sheikh centre is approximately 20 minutes.
    Car Rental: Car rental is available from the airport.
    Fascilities: There are ATMs in the arrivals hall, cafes, restaurants, bankingand currency exchange facilities, a news agent, jewellery shop anda souvenir shop. There are also disabled facilities. Travellersrequiring assistance should contact their airline prior todeparture.
    Parking Short- and long-term parking is available.

    The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which isdivided into 100 piastres. Most credit cards are accepted in majorhotels and restaurants. Banks are usually closed on Friday andSaturday, but private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are opendaily and banks in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branchesof the Egyptian British Bank and Banque Misr have ATMs availablethat accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus and are quite common in themain tourist areas.


    Arabic is the official language although English andFrench are widely spoken, especially in the touristareas.


    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European-styletwo-pin plugs are standard.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens must have a passport valid for six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Egypt. A visa is required, except fortourists arriving at Sharm El Sheik (SSH), Saint Catherine (SKV) orTaba (TCP) airports, and staying in the Sinai resort area only forup to 15 days. Visas can be obtained on arrival, for a maximum stayof 30 days, and for a fee starting from USD 25. E-visas can beobtained online at

    British citizens must have a passport valid for six monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Egypt. A visa is required,except for tourists arriving at Sharm El Sheik (SSH), SaintCatherine (SKV), or Taba (TCP) airports, and staying in the Sinairesort area for up to 15 days. Visas can be obtained on arrival,for a maximum stay of 30 days. E-visas can be obtained beforedeparture at

    Canadian citizens must have a passport valid for six monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Egypt. A visa is required,except for tourists arriving at Sharm El Sheik (SSH), SaintCatherine (SKV), or Taba (TCP) airports, and staying in the Sinairesort area for up to 15 days. Visas can be obtained on arrival,for a maximum stay of 30 days. E-visas can be obtained beforedeparture at

    Australian citizens must have a passport valid for six monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Egypt. A visa is required,except for tourists arriving at Sharm El Sheik (SSH), SaintCatherine (SKV), or Taba (TCP) airports, and staying in the Sinairesort area for up to 15 days. Visas can be obtained on arrival,for a maximum stay of 30 days. E-visas can be obtained beforedeparture at

    South African citizens must have a passport valid for six monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Egypt. A visa isrequired.

    Irish citizens must have a passport valid for six months beyondthe period of intended stay in Egypt. A visa is required, exceptfor tourists arriving at Sharm El Sheik (SSH), Saint Catherine(SKV), or Taba (TCP) airports, and staying in the Sinai resort areafor up to 15 days. Visas can be obtained on arrival, for a maximumstay of 30 days.

    US citizens must have a passport valid for six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Egypt. A visa is required, except fortourists arriving at Sharm El Sheik (SSH), Saint Catherine (SKV) orTaba (TCP) airports, and staying in the Sinai resort area only forup to 15 days. Visas can be obtained on arrival, for a maximum stayof 30 days, and for a fee starting from USD 25. E-visas can beobtained online at

    New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for six monthsbeyond the period of intended stay in Egypt. A visa is required,except for tourists arriving at Sharm El Sheik (SSH), SaintCatherine (SKV), or Taba (TCP) airports, and staying in the Sinairesort area for up to 15 days. Visas can be obtained on arrival,for a maximum stay of 30 days.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enterEgypt, if arriving within six days after leaving or transitingthrough infected areas. Persons without a valid yellow fevercertificate, if one is required, will be subject to quarantine. Thewives and children of Egyptian men and the children of Egyptianwomen born after 25 July 2004, are exempt from visa requirementsupon presentation of a birth certificate, passport or National IDCard of the relative. Passengers with a passport with gender "X"must have confirmation that their entry has been approved beforedeparture by the Ministry of Interior.

    It is highly recommended that your passport has at least sixmonths validity remaining after your intended date of departurefrom your travel destination. Immigration officials often applydifferent rules to those stated by travel agents and officialsources.

    Passangers travelling from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone willbe screened on arrival for Ebola, and will be subject toquarrantine if the disease is suspected.

    Travel Health:

    A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entryinto Egypt from travellers over one year of age coming frominfected areas. No other vaccinations are required but vaccinationsare commonly recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid.Travellers to Egypt should come prepared to beat the heat with ahigh factor sunblock and drink plenty of water to combatdehydration. Tap water in the main cities and towns is normallychlorinated but it is still advisable to drink only bottled wateror tap water that has been boiled or filtered. Visitors should onlyeat thoroughly cooked food and fruits they have peeled themselvesto prevent travellers' diarrhoea. The waters of the Nile arecontaminated and should not be consumed.

    Medical treatment can be expensive and standards vary socomprehensive travel health insurance is strongly advised,including evacuation insurance. Medical facilities are generallyadequate for routine ailments in the big cities and main touristareas but outside of the main centres medical facilities can bevery basic in Egypt.


    Tipping is known as 'baksheesh' and some small change isexpected for most services, though small change can be hard to comeby. 'Baksheesh' can be a useful practice in order to gain entry toseemingly inaccessible places, or for extra services - a small tipcan open doors, literally. A service charge is added to mostrestaurant and hotel bills but a tip of about five percent isnormally given directly to the waiter. Taxi drivers are tippedabout 10 percent.

    Safety Information:

    The US Department of State and the British Foreign Office advisecaution when travelling to Egypt, as there is a high threat fromterrorism. All travel is advised against in North Sinai. All butessential travel is advised against in South Sinai, however thearea within the Sharm el Sheikh perimeter barrier (including theairport, Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay, and Nabq) isprotected by enhanced security measures and has experienced littleviolence. The resort areas in Hurghada have similar measures inplace, although isolated incidents in non-tourist areas have beenreported. Other areas under travel advisories include the borderwith Libya and swathes of Egypt's western desert (west of Cairo andthe Nile Valley). Travellers should stay up to date on travelwarnings and advisories.

    Terrorist attacks have been ongoing, with several bombingstaking place in Cairo and other regions in the last few years.Attacks against tourists have been reported.

    Demonstrations are common near foreign embassies and aroundTahrir Square in Cairo, and in other cities, including Alexandria.There have been incidents of foreigners, including BritishNationals, being targeted and attacked during protests. There havealso been reports of sexual assaults on women duringdemonstrations. Tourists are advised to avoid all street protestsand gatherings and not to attempt to cross road blocks.

    Visitors to markets and major tourist sites will experience afair amount of hassle from touts and are advised not to carry moremoney on them than needed as petty crime is a concern. Women shouldbe extra cautious when travelling alone as incidents of harassmentand sexual assault are not uncommon. Women should be particularlyalert when visiting spas and doing other tourist relatedactivities, and should be careful to dress conservatively. Racismtowards black and Asian people is prevalent and consideredacceptable. Egypt also has a poor train safety record with severalfatal accidents each year.

    Local Customs:

    Egypt is a conservative society and visitors should respectlocal customs and sensitivities. Homosexuality is solemnly frownedupon and homosexual acts are illegal. Public displays of affectionare frowned upon. Religious customs should be recognised,particularly during the month of Ramadan when eating, drinking andsmoking during daylight hours is forbidden by Islam. During Ramadantravellers should be discreet in public places or choose to partakein the custom themselves. Travellers to Egypt should dress modestly(women's clothes should cover the legs and upper arms). Photographyof military institutions is prohibited and the Suez Canal counts asa military institution. Egyptians can be sensitive about anyphotography of infrastructure and it is best to ask for permissionif in any doubt.


    Egyptians are friendly and approachable at work, and personalrelationships are very important when conducting business. Businessis usually conducted formally in Egypt. However, meetings may nottake place in private and it is normal for them to be interruptedwith other matters. Punctuality is important for visitors doingbusiness, though don't be surprised if your contact is late orpostpones the meeting. Be patient. Dress should be formal andconservative; suits and ties are standard and women should dressmodestly. Women may encounter some sexism in the business world.Most Egyptians are Muslim and therefore one should be mindful ofIslamic customs. English is widely spoken and understood, althoughattempting to speak some basic Arabic will be highly appreciated.The normal working week runs from Sunday to Thursday. Businesshours vary, but in the private sector it is usually 9am to 5pm andin the public sector 8am to 3pm. Avoid scheduling business tripsduring the month of Ramadan as working hours are minimised duringthe holiday period and many key players will not be available.


    The international access code for Egypt is +20. Most hotels,cafes and restaurants around major tourist centred areas providefree wifi access. International calls made from hotels have highsurcharges. It is also possible to phone long-distance from the24-hour Post, Telephone and Telegraph (PTT) offices that areavailable in the major cities. For international directory phoneenquiries dial 140.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers over 18 arriving in Egypt do not have to pay customsduty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g tobacco; alcoholicbeverages up to 2 litres; and perfume for personal use. The importand export of local currency is limited to EGP 5,000. Banned itemsinclude firearms, cotton and drugs.

    Useful Contacts:

    Egyptian Tourist Authority:

    Egypt Embassies:

    Egyptian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 9666342.

    Egyptian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 74993304.

    Egyptian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 234 4931.

    Egyptian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 3431590.

    Egyptian Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for NewZealand): +61 (0)2 6273 4437.

    Egyptian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 660 6566.

    Foreign Embassies in Egypt :

    United States Embassy, Cairo: +20 (0)2 2797 3300.

    British Embassy, Cairo: +20 (0)2 2791 6000.

    Canadian Embassy, Cairo: +20 (0)2 2461 2200.

    South African Embassy, Cairo: +20 (0)2 2535 3000.

    Australian Embassy, Cairo: +20 (0)2 2770 6600.

    Irish Embassy, Cairo: +20 (0)2 2728 7100.

    New Zealand Embassy, Cairo: +20 (0)2 2461 6000.

    Egypt Emergency Numbers : 122 (Police); 126 (Tourist Police); 123(Ambulance)
    Western Desert Oases

    From Cairo it is possible to experience Egypt's finest journeyon offer, the Great Desert Circuit. It runs for over 621 miles(1,000km) through spectacular desert landscapes and is punctuatedby four oases situated in a depression: Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhlaand Kharga. The first two have hot springs and palm groves, Farafrabeing the more traditional and rural of the two.

    To experience the remoteness of the desert travellers can spendan unforgettable night in the White Desert between oases. Dakhlaand Kharga are surrounded by old ruins and villages from the timesof the ancient caravan routes to Sudan. The Great Desert Circuit isa fascinating journey and really allows travellers to grasp theenormity of the Egyptian desert and appreciate the history ofexploration in the region. The roads are in good condition, withhardly any traffic on them, and the whole circuit can be done inanything between 16 hours and a week (you can linger as youplease). Some of the oasis towns are lovely places to spend a nightbefore setting off on your road trip again.

    Transport: The circuit takes between a day and a week depending ondesired schedule and can be travelled using public or one’s owntransport, or visitors can book a tour. It is also possible to hirea local guide with a 4x4.
    The White Desert The White Desert Vyacheslav Argenberg
    Memphis and Saqqara

    Memphis and Saqqara are small towns today, but in ancient Egyptthey were great cities and seats of power, a legacy still traceablein the ruins and relics in each. Memphis is home to the Temple ofPtah, which includes the Colossus of Ramses II, a 33-foot (10m)statue near the entrance, and a small museum. Memphis was once thecapital of Egypt and you can still tell how impressive it oncewas.

    Less than two miles (3km) away is the plateau of Saqqara. Herevisitors will find the vast Saqqara Necropolis, containing manycemeteries, pyramids, mastabas and private tombs, including theMastaba of Ti, the Pyramid of Teti I, and the Unas Causeway andPyramid of Unas. One of the most famous structures in Saqqara isthe Step Pyramid of Djoser, also known as the Step Tomb due to itsrectangular base. Saqqara is also home to the Imhotep Museum.

    Memphis and Saqqara together make a popular excursion fromCairo. There isn't much in the way of entertainment, dining, oraccommodation at these sites, however, so most visitors don'tovernight.

    Pyramid of Djoser Pyramid of Djoser Charles James Sharp

    One of the most worthwhile things to see and do in the Cairoarea is take an excursion to Dahshur, a royal necropolis in thedesert, where the oldest true pyramid, the Red Pyramid, can befound. Some of the burial sites and pyramids date back to the OldKingdom of the 4th dynasty and the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramidwere built by Sneferu in about 2600 BC. The Bent Pyramid isso-called because the angle of its sides is not quite straight,probably the result of an ancient engineering mistake. The RedPyramid, made out of red limestone, was built after the BentPyramid and is thought to have been the first true, straight-sidedpyramid in Egypt. The famous Pyramids of Giza were modelled on thisdesign. You can usually climb into the Red Pyramid and descend downa tunnelled ramp into its three interior chambers which is a rareprivilege. There are other tombs of interest scattered around thearea and you can't walk far without stumbling on some wondrousancient ruin.

    Dahshur is about 20 miles (32km) from Cairo and makes for afascinating excursion from the city. The drive takes under an hourand follows a scenic route which passes through date orchards.Dahshur is far less crowded than most other big tourist attractionsand visitors experience far less of the hassle from locals andtouts that they do at Giza. At this site you can still get thethrill of an explorer discovering something mysterious andancient.

    However, the empty nature of this famous archaeological site ispartly due to occasional sectarian violence in the nearby town ofDahshur, so travellers are advised to check out travel alerts togauge how safe it is before they visit.

    Dahshur Dahshur Daniel Mayer