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Cairo, Egypt

  • Photo of Cairo, Egypt
  • Photo of Cairo, Egypt
  • Photo of Cairo, Egypt
  • Photo of Cairo, Egypt
Photo of Cairo, Egypt
Photo by flickr user ThisIsDuffy

Cairo is best visited between September and May, referred to as 'non summer', temperatures rest between 17C and 25C, in contrast to highs of 38 C in summer proper. You need also to consider the timing of Ramadan - during which whole towns shut before 3pm - think closed bars and restaurants due to fasting and abstinence from alcohol.

Language Barriers:Dialing code: 20+

The main language is Arabic although most traders will happily try some Pidgin English, or French or Italian. Making international calls from Cairo can be expensive so shop around for a phone card rather than just dialing out of your hotel.

Cash, card or cheque?

Piastres and Pounds.

Exchange money before travelling and take US$ with you for the best deals.

Costs?

Expect to pay 2.50 Egyptian pounds (UK£2) for a bottled water in a bar, and UK£8 for a beer. Taxi drivers and market sellers, will definitely expect a haggle, starting at prices they expect to be knocked down on.

Top Cairo attractions

We know a total of 18 attractions in Cairo. See all Cairo attractions.

Holiday ideas featuring Cairo

  • Egypt and the Nile

    The Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Museums, the Nile, Aswan... the difficulty with travelling around Egypt is what you'll have to miss!

  • Cairo and The Pyramids

    To really visit Cairo you need to experience both ends of the scale: spend hours peacefully tracing Egypt's history in the Egyptian Museum, and hours negotiating the alleyways of goods and noise making up the bazaar, Khan-el-Khalili.

Cairo climate

Temperature (°c)

Rainfall (mm)

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

A taxi ride through Cairo: Quick survival guide

The population of greater Cairo is estimated at around 20 millions and when the time comes for you to hit the road you can bet that the other 19,999,999 drivers, pedestrians, truckers, motorcyclists, donkey cart drivers, camel riders, minibus passengers, and pickup truck equilibrists will be in your way. The lack in traffic smoothness, however, is made up for by great photo opportunities!

Distances between destinations are not expressed in kilometres but in driving time and the latter varies greatly depending on the traffic. You can easily double the time announced by most taxi drivers, who are optimistic by nature! Besides, should a high-ranking official be on the move or a popular football team be on the playing, all bets are off. And don’t even think of going anywhere when Egyptians rush home to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan! On the upside, Cairenes are very understanding of delays and might consider that you are “roughly on time” if you show up for a doctor’s appointment an hour late.

While the 1970 black and white Peugeot taxis are slowly being replaced by cars built during the present century, old-timers still form the bulk of transportation on offer in the capital. Some even feature an antique meter that would be of greater use to a museum curator than to the vehicle’s passengers. Bargaining is the name of the game and, let’s face it, a tourist stands a better chance of beating a Las Vegas croupier than a Cairo cabbie at the top of his game. There is no such rule as “divide the price by two”: I was once asked for 100 Euros (approximately 750 EGP) for a journey that should cost between 30 and 40 EGP! Having a rough idea of what the fare should be is always helpful; ask your hotel, your travel agent, a shopkeeper, or try your luck with passers-by. Share a taxi if you can; this is a particularly good option on the one-hour trip from the airport into town. Shop around: always negotiate the fare before boarding the taxi, and don’t be afraid to walk away until you get a more reasonable price—or until you tire of the game.

While you may get used to over-eager taxi drivers at tourist sites, beware that they may be less than enthusiastic about driving to certain destinations at certain times of the day. They couldn’t get rid of me fast enough when I asked to go to Zamalek on a weekday at 3 pm and when I tried to get into the cab before announcing the destination I was bluntly kicked out of the backseat. As it turns out, they didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic jam created by all the students getting out of their private schools! Here again, it would be wise to ask locals for advice.

In conclusion, while it would be a shame to miss out on the “authentic Cairo experience” of a black and white taxi ride, once you have ticked that box, you are free to indulge and order a metered cab instead. Call City Cab on 16516 from any mobile phone or landline and book ahead (up to two or three days notice may be necessary). These air-conditioned yellow cabs are comfortable, reliable, sometimes even non-smoking, and their electronic meters print out receipts! Last word of wisdom: metered fares are expressed in Egyptian Pounds (abbreviated LE) and not in foreign currency!

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