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Cairo is the capital of Egypt and one of the largest cities in both Africa and the Middle East. It is also the 19th largest city in the world, and among the world's most densely populated cities.
On the Nile river, Cairo is famous for its own history, preserved in the fabulous medieval Islamic city and Coptic sites in Old Cairo. The Egyptian Museum in the centre of town is a must see, with its countless Acient Egyptian artefacts, as is shopping at the Khan al-Khalili bazaar. No trip to Cairo would be complete, for example, without a visit to the Giza Pyramids, and to the nearby Saqqara Pyramid Complex.
The brief spring from March to May can be pleasant, but summer temperatures, on the other hand, can reach a searing 38°C, which is compounded by the city's terrible pollution which is at its worst in the fall before the rains.
If visiting during winter, be aware that many buildings, including some hotels and hostels, are equipped with air conditioners but no heaters.Visitors should always pack a warm jacket for evening wear.
When you approach any individual or a group of people for the first time, the best thing to say is the local variation of the Islamic form of greeting "Es-Salāmu-`Alēku" which literally means "Peace be upon you". This is the most common form of saying "hello" to anybody.
However, be careful not to be too friendly or too smiley, especially if you're a female speaking to an Egyptian male, as they might mistake you for trying to befriend them or asking for them to flirt or hit on you.
Greeting in Egypt are mostly based on both the class and religion of the person.
Handshakes are the more customary greeting among acquaintances. When a more close relationship is formed, it is more common to kiss on one cheek then the other while shaking hands. (mostly men)
It is best to follow the lead of the person you are meeting. For no confusions to happen.
Tone of voice
Most Egyptians tend to have a loud voice when they speak, which is common to some other countries in the region. They are not shouting, and you will know the difference.
Women and men should wear modest clothing. It is considered disrespectful to the mainly conservative Muslim inhabitants to see visitors walking around wearing clothing which reveal thighs, shoulders, bare backs or cleavage, except at beaches and hotels. Men should also not walk about bare chested or wearing very short shorts outside of hotels or beach resorts.
People do generally tend to dress more liberally at beach resorts, nightclubs, social outings, weddings, or when engaging in any sport, but there are no places to practice nudism or naturism as being nude in public.
Cairo International Airport (CAI) is the second biggest airport in Africa with more than 16 million passengers a year. It's well served by Egyptair the national carrier and its Star Alliance partners.
If you are planning a trip to Cairo whilst you are on holidays at the seaside, Nile Air and Egyptair offer connections between Cairo and Hurghada or Sharm el Sheik.
Go ahead and exchange some money in the airport - best to do this before going through customs. ATMs for all major cards are available in the arrival halls. Visas are available at the bank counters before immigration.
Getting to downtown Cairo can be a pain. Since the revolution white meter taxis are available at the Terminals. Do not accept a fixed price as they tend to be double the fare by meter.
The most convenient way, however, is by one of the numerous limousine services. Pick-Up points are in front of the terminals (curb side).
Cairo's main railway station - Midan Ramses, which is also the location of the Martyrs Metro Station. Trains run to Cairo from most other regions and cities within Egypt. Trains in Egypt rarely run on schedule and are almost always at least 15 min late, if not later. Trains also depart to the canal cities, but buses are much faster.
Buses arrive to Cairo from virtually all over the country. The two main destinations are Midan Ramsis and Cairo Gateway, formerly known as Turgoman, but vehicles also sometimes stop at other destinations, notably Abbasiya.
You will find that it's useful to have several maps handy if you are looking to get around Cairo on your own. Spellings of street and place names can vary from map to map and from map to actual location, and not every street will appear on every map.
Cairo is home to Africa's first and most expansive metro system. While Cairo's metro system fully functioning is modern and sleek, the two lines are all too limited in scope. But they are a major boon in the areas they cover, and the flat rate fare of 1 LE per trip is a bargain.
What to do
Coffee & shisha
In Egypt there's a coffee shop on every corner, sometimes you could even find them in the middle of the road. They're all similar but different in many ways. Mostly men sitting smoking shishas(water-pipes), Playing backgammon, cards, drinking tea, and reading newspapers. These coffee shops are called Ahwas.
Cairo has a shortage of parks, but a few of them exist.
The most famous is the Giza Zoo located in the Giza district of Cairo, right in front of the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel in Giza. This is actually one of the oldest zoos in the world (it was built approximately 100 years ago).
Hadiqat Al Orman, traslated (Al Orman Gardens). This is a fairly large park in the giza district, close to the Giza zoo, and it can be entered by paying a daily ticket at the gate. It contains a variety of trees and flowers and is a nice place to escape the noise and traffic of the city.
Hadiqat Al Azbakiya, translated (Al Azbakieya Gardens). Another nice park to enjoy the greenery and scenery of trees and gardens, while remaining inside the city.
Al-Azhar Park near Heliopolis, is probably the newest and most recent park to open in Cairo, also with restaurants and entertainment available. It has a good vantage point of Islamic Cairo and the city skyline.
You can also take a stroll along the Corniche el-Nil, and there is a river promenade on Gezira Island.
Desert Park. Wadi Digla Protected Area is a 60 square kilometer environmentally protected park near Ma'adi, that offers opportunity for taking a trek, jogging, rock climbing, and cycling.