WHEN TO GO
The best times to visit Cairo are spring and autumn, when the temperatures hold steady around 75 degrees. Summer is unpleasantly hot; daytime temperatures in July and August are often in the mid-90s. The winter months, especially December and January, can be chilly in the evenings, with temperatures dropping into the 40s and 50s. During Ramadan, many tourist sites close an hour earlier than usual to allow fasting staff to make it home for their sunset meal. Shops will offer extended evening hours to make up for lost daytime business.
HOW TO GET THERE
Cairo airport is around 14 miles northeast of the city center. EgyptAir and Delta have nonstop flights from JFK; other U.S. and European carriers have flights that connect in European cities.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Cairo, and their drivers are always ready to chat, even if you might not understand. Most rides in the city cost less than $5. Limousines, considerably more expensive, but often cleaner, can be rented for a particular journey or for a whole day. The concierge at your hotel can help you arrange transportation.
Cairo can be somewhat schizophrenic in its dress codes. Locals may adopt Western or traditional styles. Even among veiled woman you'll see a range of looks ranging from loose head-to-toe black robes with face veils to multicolored skintight clothes that proclaim "I'm an Islamic hottie." The prevailing atmosphere, however, is one of modesty. Out in the street, Egyptians rarely wear shorts or sleeveless shirts and appreciate it when visitors choose to follow suit. Non-Muslim women are not expected or required to cover their hair, even in mosques, but they should cover bare arms and shoulders. In Western-style nightclubs, however, you will find plenty of flesh and 21st-century fashion on display. At social gatherings, Cairenes like to dress upthe furs come out for glitzy parties, and jackets and ties are obligatory for men at the opera house.
The tourist Information desk in the arrivals hall at the airport is open 24 hours a day. The government's official tourism Web site is far from detailed, but it does contain some useful general information (www.egypt.travel). For more on Egypt, visit www.touregypt.net and www.tourism.egnet.net.View Egypt Factsheet