Cairo

Cairo, the capital of Egypt, the largest city on the African continent, home of pyramids, the birth place of modern civilisation, a blend of opulence and desperate poverty all this and much more.

Cairo is a city which is hyperactive and noisy, the cars just ignore the no honking zones; people brush past you as if you weren’t their or try and sell you something which you didn’t know you wanted, the air is thick and hard to breath and the heat, well the heat would make an snowman sweat. So why would you want to visit Cairo or even have a holiday there? I can perhaps offer three outstanding reasons, the Great Pyramids, the Cairo Museum and the life experience of this enigmatic city.

The Great Pyramids and the Cairo Museum are what 95% of the tourist population are in Cairo for. So when you visit these sites don’t get annoyed about how busy it is, the thing is everyone else will be just as irked as you. However, these sites are popular for a reason, they’re magnificent and truly remarkable and certainly worth the hassle.

Once you’ve done the the top two sites then what else is there? The rest of Cairo! UNSECO recognised Islamic Cairo as a globally important historic place so why not see what it has to offer. Isalmic Cairo is dominated by souks, mosques and city walls although busy dusty and hot almost like every other major capital in the world.

Cairo hotels

There are a huge number of Cairo hotels to choose from. Whether you are looking to splash out and spoil yourself in a luxurious hotel or traveling on a budget and seeking a cheap hotel you’ll find great prices here. Our top tip is to consider if you want to stay in the city and enjoy its vibrant atmosphere or relax in the hotels in the outskirts of Cairo.

Cairo shopping

Throughout its history Cairo has been at the centre of the main trade routes between Africa, Europe and Asia.  Traders from the four corners of the world would come to Cairo and set up their caravanserai and barter or sell their wares.  Spices from the Far East,  silks from Venice, gold and incense from Africa and Arabia, carpets from central Asia would all be bought and sold or exchanged in medieval Cairo.

Today in Cairo you will be able to find the same things, next to the fake Armani Jeans or counterfeit DVD’s.  Although some of the products have changed the atmosphere and character of Cairo’s souks and bazaars have remained the same.  The post modern Cairene trader’s after sales manner has been perfectly crafted to make you fell comfortable with your purchase, regardless of how much he’s ripped you by.

Khan Khalili is the place where everyone goes, and this should not be treated as a a negative quality.  The Khan Khalili or just the Khan, built by the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili, dates back to 1382 and is not just a place to shop but it is a place where you can enjoy the architecture and its geography.  The Khan has organically grown throughout the ages, and you’ll be surprised to find shops in every nook and cranny some in buildings which are hundreds of years old.  So when you shopping take that time out from finding that ultimate bargain and look around you and experience the history and architecture of the place.

What should you buy when shopping in Cairo?  Gold is the standout when shopping in the Khan Khalili and this is perhaps what most people who visit it are looking for.  There are an abundance of jewelery shops all selling small pieces of gold and silver jewellery but you’ll find that the price of gold changes from day to day depending on market conditions.  The next thing on the shopping tick list is sliver, but the try looking further afield than the gold and sliver shops.  The best bargains in silver to be had is in antique jewellery, so keep your eyes open.

Cairo Entertainment

You will not be surprised to know that a such a bustling city in the day is the same during the night.  Cairo, is a city which doesn’t sleep, (queue song). So once you have done the ubiquitous sound and light show at the Pyramids at Giza, and watched another  wonderful belly dance show in your hotel, get yourself into Cairo and sample the breadth of Egyptian culture and evening entertainment.  Sample the delicious Arabian cuisine, soak up the atmosphere and music in bars, visit of the open-air theatres and enjoy the music with the stars as the backdrop at the Opera House Complex.

Cairo Weather

Cairo can be split into two seasons summer and not summer.  In the hot season, May to August, temperatures can reach a stifling 40C which is only just bearable with the relatively low humidity.  In the cooler part of the season, September to April Cairo’s temperatures are a lot more comfortable with average temperatures in the mid 20C.

It is not uncommon during the cooler months for the days to be overcast with the occasional rainstorm.  During the months of March and April the Khamseen, a dry wind from the hot dry Sahara desert, will carry dust into the city making it even it more smoggier and dirty.

Cairo Visa

An Egyptian Visa is required for Cairo and this costs £15 (2008). A visa can be obtained at the airport or by post or person via the Egyptian Consulate. Many people have complained about being ripped off by tour reps, so if you are worried about this then your are probably better to contact the Egyptian Consulate for more information about visas. You should also ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months before entering Egypt.