Many people have the wrong idea about Cairo. Some see it as an ancient site, simply because this is how we tend to think of most of Egypt, and Cairo is the capital of the most ancient nation. Others imagine it as a dry town sticking up from a barren desert, which may not have been too far from the truth once upon a time but now misses the mark significantly. The reality in 2018 is that Cairo is a dynamic city that seamlessly blends the past and present. Today, you can have a comfortable, even luxurious vacation there, and still enjoy some of the ancient sites that make Egypt such an alluring destination to begin with.
Consider this a partial guide to some of the essential experiences that can make up this kind of vacation.
Luxury Hotel Booking
Modern day Cairo is actually packed with wonderful hotels, whether you’re looking for views of the Nile, attractive amenities, or full luxury packages. Some of the best luxury hotel offerings include the Four Seasons First Residence Cairo and The Gabriel, the latter of which is known for packing a little bit more flash in the form of a rooftop bar and very trendy accommodations. For a nice hotel with a view of the world’s most famous river, the Kempinski is about as good as it gets, though there are other options. Bottom line: don’t go to Cairo thinking you can’t stay in a world-class hotel, because you most certainly can.
If we’re being open and honest, no one travels to Cairo without the goal in mind of seeing Giza (unless it’s for business or some other specific purpose). Giza, where you can find the three most iconic pyramids in the world as well as the sphinx, is just across the Nile River to the west of Cairo, only a very short distance away. To some extent you can visit the area and see the sights on your own, but this is one instance when a formal tour will serve you well. You’ll be guided through the sights, you’ll have small details pointed out to you, and you’ll learn about the history of it all, and possibly some of the newer discoveries as well.
Nile River Dinner Cruise
Egyptian culture has been twisted and warped by modern interpreters for decades, if not for hundreds of years. And the Nile has certainly fallen prey to this sort of activity. In the film The Prince Of Egypt – weirdly, a whole generation’s closest tie to the ancient civilization – it is portrayed like a backyard creek. In the Bible, it comes across vaguely mystical. And in the video game “A While On The Nile,” which has gained a significant following for its placement on Irish and British gaming sites, the Nile is described as a place to be on the lookout for ancient treasures, and is animated in kind. All of these kinds of impressions obscure the fact that the Nile is a real river, and quite a striking one at that. In addition to having very beautiful areas, the sense of history attached to it makes it alluring. That’s why getting up close and personal with one of the various romantic dinner cruises that are offered from Cairo is a must during your stay. You’ll never think of the river the same way again.
Salah El-Din Citadel
We just covered the notion that Egyptian culture has been warped somewhat by modern interpretations and pop culture. Another issue with Egyptian history, however, is that we think of it almost exclusively in ancient terms. Using some of the same examples mentioned with regard to the Nile, we’ve seen a picture of ancient Egypt develop from the Bible right up through modern slot arcades online, with the entire focus typically on the age of the pharaohs, the Jewish slaves, the buried tombs, etc. Lost is the fact that what we think of as “ancient” Egypt ended thousands of years ago, and there are whole new eras of history to appreciate thereafter. Salah El-Din Citadel is a glorious example of that history, and a place that should be at the top of your list. For those who may be unaware, Salah El-Din is another way of saying Saladin, referring to the famous Syrian and Egyptian sultan who battled the Europeans in the crusades. Saladin built this citadel in the 12th century to protect a religious site during the crusades, and it is now one of the most stunning monuments in Africa.
Last but certainly not least, Cairo has also become something of a quiet foodie destination. This is something that’s been written about here and there in vague terms, but we looked through a list of must-try restaurants and frankly it was jaw-dropping. There’s Sequoia, where the outdoor views are about as picturesque as they could be; Il Piccolo Mondo, an authentic Italian place in a beautifully arranged space; About El Sid, a traditional Egyptian place built around an early-20th century aesthetic – and the list goes on. The main idea though is that this is a great city for fine dining, and that should be taken advantage of.
Have you ever been to Egypt and Cairo? Comment below any of your recommendations!