Cairo, the largest city on the African continent and in the Middle East, offers a beguiling blend of modern and ancient marvels. Although some travelers blitz through en route to the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids of Giza, it’s well worth wandering through the spice-scented souks and ornately decorated mosques of this culturally rich capital.
History still oozes out of every corner of Cairo, though…
Three days in the Egyptian capital is plenty of time…
Like Paris in the 1920s, the cultural heart of Cairo…
WHEN TO GO
From November to March, temperatures in this desert metropolis tend to be pleasant during the day, with slightly chilly nights. From April onward, the thermometer starts climbing and stays hot well into October.
NEED TO KNOW
Visas: U.S. citizens will need a passport valid for at least six months as well as a visa to enter Egypt. A renewable, single-entry 30-day visa can be obtained at the airport for US$25 and a multiple-entry visa is available for US$60.
Money: The currency is the Egyptian pound, although some small tour operators may prefer U.S. dollars, so it pays to keep a few in your wallet. Banks and major hotels will all exchange currency and ATMs are widely available within the city.
Travel Health: Be sure to check with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities for the latest health and safety information, including travel protocols and requirements like negative COVID-19 tests, quarantines, mask mandates, and more in connection with COVID-19. Before traveling, research and prepare for what to do if you get sick while away.
Getting Here: Fly into Cairo International Airport.
Getting Around: Avoid Cairo’s notorious traffic jams by taking advantage of the efficient metro system. If you’re going beyond the subway’s bounds, taxis are plentiful—just keep an eye on the meter and watch out for scammers.
Local Lingo: Modern Standard Arabic is the official language, although you’re likely to hear a few different dialects spoken around the city. Learning even a few phrases is a great way to foster goodwill with locals. “Es-Salāmu-`Alēku” means “peace be with you” and is the customary greeting, while “Maa Salama,” which means “with peace” is a polite way of saying “goodbye.”
Must-Have Apps: Cairo 360; Daily News Egypt
Insider Tip: If you’re shopping for souvenirs in one of the traditional souks like the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar, haggling is not just expected — it’s half the fun. Just make sure to only engage if you’re serious about purchasing something and ask the seller to make an offer first in order to kick off negotiations.