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Cairo see + do

Cairo is one of the world's most layered cities, dubbed "Umm Al Dunya," or "Mother of the World," by locals. Its sites and cultural heritage reflect more than five millennia of human occupation, from the earliest pyramids and the world's first stone monuments to a thousand years of Islamic architecture, the colonial downtown, and new suburbs emerging on the desert's edge. Package tours cover the obvious pharaonic and Islamic sites in a mere two days, but Cairo is a city to savor through long walks in historic neighborhoods, visits to a surprising variety of museums, and timeless vistas of desert and river. A prearranged guide can be useful, but many Cairenes speak some English and are happy to give directions; you'll appreciate the culture by taking local taxis and striking out on your own. At heavily touristed areas such as the Egyptian Museum, and Khan El-Khalili, self-appointed guides will offer their services, along with souvenirs you may not want to buy. A friendly but persistent "no, thanks" deflects the touts.

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Cairo Opera, Cairo

Don't just collapse into bed after a hot day visiting the Pyramids. Evening performances at the Cairo Opera House on Zamalek island feature international guest...more

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The Citadel, Cairo

Saladin, an invader from Syria, built the Citadel in 1183 to protect Egypt from the Crusaders. Sitting atop its massive original foundations, the complex was...more

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Coptic Museum and Old Cairo, Cairo

Situated in two early-20th-century buildings within the walled Roman fortress of Babylon, the Coptic Museum contains such artifacts as funeral stelae carved...more

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Egyptian Museum, Cairo

Built between 1897 and 1900, this museum is filled with the golden treasures of pharaohs, and archaeological finds tracing Egyptian civilization over more than...more

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El Sawy Culturewheel, Cairo

Located under the 15th of October Bridge in Zamalek, El Sawy has emerged as Cairo's most eclectic cultural space. Nightly 8 pm performances, accessible to...more

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Grand Mosques and Islamic Cairo, Cairo

Following the invasion of the first Arab army in 641 and the relocation of the capital from the Greco-Roman port of Alexandria to the site of present-day Cairo,...more

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Ibn Tulun Mosque and Gayer-Anderson Museum, Cairo

The Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque (dedicated to Egypt's ninth-century ruler, born to a Turkish slave of Mongol origins) is one of the largest mosques in the world and...more

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Makan, Cairo

Housed in a refurbished 19th-century printing plant, Makan is the home of the Egyptian Center for Culture & Art (ECCA), an organization founded in 2002 to...more

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Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo

Reopened at the end of 2007 following a five-year, $15 million restoration, the museum houses one of the world's greatest collections of Islamic objects. The...more

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Oum Kalthoum Museum, Cairo

This lovingly curated shrine to the Egyptian diva sits on the southern tip of Roda Island next to the famous Nilometer, where for centuries priests and taxmen...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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