Things to Know Before You Go to Cairo

How to get around, where to stay, and how much to bring is only the beginning of your preparations. Find out all about the essential things to know before you go to Cairo in our quick guide.

Pyramids of Giza visible from restaurant.

Cairo, a city that cradles the Pyramids of Giza, not only boasts these ancient wonders but also thrives along the Nile River Delta, one the most fertile land areas in the world. From the grand Mosque of Muhammad Ali within the historic Citadel to the treasure trove of manuscripts in the Al-Azhar Library, Cairo is a mosaic of history and culture. 

And as we delve deeper, keep these things to know before you go to Cairo in mind to fully appreciate the splendor of Egypt’s capital.

PLANNING YOUR VISIT

When planning a trip to Cairo, a city rich with history and buzzing with modern life, there are several key things to know before you go to Cairo. After all, efficient planning ensures a fulfilling and smooth experience in Egypt’s sprawling capital.

When to Go and How Much to Bring

  • Best Seasons: The ideal time to visit Cairo is from October to April when the weather is cooler. March and April can be quite dusty, though due to sandstorms. Time your visit well to avoid the scorching heat of summer months.
  • Festivals: Participate in and respect local observances like Ramadan and Eid for a truly immersive experience.
  • Budgeting: Expect daily costs to be around EGP 600 (approx. $32 or £26). Credit cards are widely accepted, but carrying some cash is advisable for smaller purchases and tipping.

Where to Stay

  • Rooftop Terrace Villa: This luxurious villa offers tranquility with easy access to Cairo’s main attractions including the Pyramids.
  • Pyra Hospitality West Pyramids Cairo: Perfectly located near the Great Sphinx, this hotel is ideal for those wanting to stay close to Cairo’s ancient sites.
  • Sahure Pyramid View Inn: Offering stunning views and comfortable amenities, this inn is a great choice for travelers.

How to Get Around

Navigating Cairo can be quite a challenge, but with options like the Cairo Metro and a network of buses, getting around is pretty much manageable. 

For convenience, download the Uber app for safe and reliable transportation. Autorickshaws, known as “tuk-tuks,” are also common and affordable ways to get around, especially in the older parts of the city.

Alley in Cairo’s bazaar.

CULTURE & INTERACTION

Understanding the cultural nuances and social etiquette of this ancient city is essential for a respectful and enriching visit. 

Here are crucial things to know before you go to Cairo:

Local Customs and Etiquette

  • Greetings: Egyptians are warm; a handshake followed by a touch to the heart signifies respect and sincerity.
  • Dress Codes: Dress modestly, especially when you plan to visit religious sites. Your outfits should cover your shoulders and knees, and your shoes should be easy to take off and carry around. 

Language Tips

While Arabic is the official language, English is widely used in tourist areas. Knowing basic Arabic phrases like “Shukran” (Thank you) and “Min Fadlak” (Please) can enhance your interaction with locals. To be sure, a translation app can also be helpful for deeper engagements.

EXPLORING & EXPERIENCING

Cairo offers a tapestry of experiences that cater to diverse interests— from ancient history enthusiasts to culinary adventurers. 

Here are some things to know before you go to Cairo to make your trip unforgettable:

Must-Visit Attractions

  • Pyramids of Giza: No visit to Cairo is complete without seeing these monumental wonders of the ancient world.
  • Khan El Khalili: A major souk in the historic center of Islamic Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike.
  • The Egyptian Museum: Home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities.

Food and Drink

Taste traditional dishes like koshari— a mix of pasta, rice, lentils, and chickpeas topped with tomato sauce, or indulge in ful medames for breakfast. Explore Zamalek for upscale dining options and be sure to try local specialties like falafel, shawarma, and ta’amiya.

Local Experiences

  • Nile River Cruise: Enjoy dinner while cruising along the Nile.
  • Cultural Workshops: Participate in a papyrus making workshop to learn about this ancient craft.
Camel standing before the Pyramids of Giza.

STAYING SAFE & HEALTHY

While Cairo is generally safe for travelers, it’s prudent to avoid less populated and poorly lit areas at night. 

Health-wise, ensure you’re vaccinated against common travel illnesses like Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Tap water in Cairo is not recommended for drinking; so always opt for bottled water. 

These are vital things to know before you go to Cairo you should always keep in mind for your health and safety.

Read More Things to Know Before You Go to Cairo with ThisCityKnows

Cairo is a city layered with history, culture, and modernity. It offers an experience as rich as the Nile itself. Be sure to keep in mind these essential things to know before you go to Cairo so you can navigate the city with confidence and ease.

Better yet, plan your travels with ThisCityKnows, where we guide your journey to ensure it is as enchanting as the land of the Pharaohs itself!

Patty O.
Author: Patty O.

A city girl through and through, Patty has always planned her adventures in and around urban areas. Through her travel writing, she aims to make a compelling case for the global city as a place of endless discovery and satisfaction. Her goal is to detail how urban exploration can fulfill the desires of anyone and everyone, from cultural and culinary adventurers to historical and supernatural enthusiasts.

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