The 2nd largest city in Africa, there’s no doubt that Cairo has a reputation that proceeds it. But what that reputation is can differ widely depending on who you’re speaking to. Yes, love it or hate it, Cairo is a city that seems to divide opinion like no other.
And for that reason, I’m calling it a Marmite city! (shout for the Brits reading this!) I’d heard both sides of the coin before I finally got to this mammoth metropolis – my last destination in Africa after my journey the length of the continent’s east coast – and to be honest I really wasn’t sure which side of the debate my heart was going to fall.
And to be totally honest, I’m still not 100% sure! For starters, it’s pretty full-on, what with the traffic and pollution and hustle and noise. And while this can be exciting, I know it can also be intimidating and disconcerting for many travellers. Of course, first on the list, it has to be the big daddy of them all!
Cairo’s most famous attraction, and rightly so, the pyramids of Giza are one of life’s bucket list greats and truly have to be seen to be believed. Heading here and allowing several hours to explore the area, which includes a museum and the Great Sphinx too is an absolute must while in Cairo. Giza sits on the West Bank of the Nile, as opposed to Cairo, which sits on the East, but getting here is easy enough.
Independent travellers can take the metro and then a bus, but I’d highly advise heading there with a guide as the way to go. Unbelievably good value for money, your appreciation of these 5,000 year old monuments will be all the more significant if you have someone to explain their history to you! Tours also tend to include entrance fees, lunch and aircon transport, which is an absolute godsend in this steaming desert country! Supposedly one of the greatest museums in the world, it’s not hard to understand this grandiose accolade when you walk inside the Egyptian Museum.
The country’s leading exhibition of ancient treasures, just about anything that was salvaged from a tomb, temple or pyramid was brought to Cairo and is now housed in room upon room of amazingness here! A walk through the Coptic area of Cairo is a fascinating half day trip, that will help you become familiar with the ancient Christian roots of this land and marvel at the modern days churches that still survive. Top of the list is the Hanging Church, which sits above ancient Roman ruins and is really beautiful.