Cairo, Egypt (credit: Thinkstock)
Being the largest metropolis in the Arab World, Cairo attracts countless numbers of tourists, students and ex-pats every year. Those looking to get a glimpse into Egypt's history and experience the culture first-hand will want to make sure a visit to Cairo is on their travel wish list. These are just a few of the many reasons why you should make plans to visit Cairo, Egypt.
Here are seven reasons why you should visit Cairo:
One of the biggest things that attracts millions of tourists to Cairo are the pyramids. No trip to Cairo is complete without a stop at one of the many pyramids that are found scattered across the Egyptian desert. Must-visit pyramids include the Pyramid of Khafre, Pyramid of Khufu, Queens Pyramids of Giza and the Pyramid of Menhaure.
In addition to the pyramids, you will want to make time to visit the Sphinx of Giza. To avoid the large crowds and harsh sun, make your plans to visit the pyramids and the sphinx early in the morning. Other sites to see while in Cairo include Sakkara, Memphis, Giza Necroplis and Cairo's museum.
Though it may be a six-and-a-half-hour drive away, if time allows, take a trip down to the Valley of the Kings and Queens. There, you will see breathtaking architectural designs and history written right in front of you in the form of hieroglyphics on the tomb walls. Tourism is restricted in many of the tombs and only a handful allow outsiders entry inside. But it is still worth the adventure if you have time.
A visit to Cairo will put you deep into Arab culture. This includes learning and experiencing everything from their cuisine to hospitality to their arts and lifestyles first-hand. Many tourists have reported being treated like family immediately upon their arrival in Cairo. Just about everyone in the city is happy to see tourists and treat visitors like they are very welcome.
When it comes to art and music, Cairo is home to a wide range of styles, many of which date back thousands of years. Music styles include traditional harps, flutes, stringed oud and some contemporary instruments. Complementing the music, locals have been known to dance in bright, sequined designed bras and long flowing skirts. You are sure to be amazed by the stunning performances of local belly dancers and find your toes tapping to Arabic beats.
You will have fun exploring the Egyptian National Museum, which gives an insight into the arts of this region, as well as takes you on a journey through Cairo's history.
Many have referred to Cairo as one of the cities in the world that never sleeps. During your visit, you will have plenty of access to delivery services, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other venues that are open around the clock. This means that there are plenty of activities for you to do without worrying about what time it is.
The Nile River
The Nile River is a must-see site when visiting Cairo. This north-flowing river runs right through the city and has set the tone to the city's scenery. At night, make your way to the Kasr El Nil Bridge, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city's skyline that is reflected off the river waters. Guided tours and cruises are available for those wishing to sail the waters of the longest river in the world. Stretching approximately 4,000 miles long, the Nile River is something you do not want to miss.
With approximately 100 mammal species found in Egypt, you are sure to find some unique animals you would not find back home in the States. However, the dry desert conditions and hunting has made many of these species either endangered or severely threatened. Some mammals you can expect to find in Cairo's wild include ostriches, giraffes, camels, Nubian Ibex, gazelles, sand cats and long-eared hedgehogs. You might even be lucky enough to spot a Fennec, the world's smallest fox. In addition to land mammals, Egypt is also home to some marine mammals including manatees, whales, seals, dugongs and dolphins. In addition to mammals, there are more than 100 reptiles and amphibian species including cobras, sand boas, horned vipers, geckos and the Nile crocodile.
To get a closer look at some of the animals found throughout Egypt, make plans to stop at the Giza Zoo. Covering more than 80 acres, this zoo includes Giza's largest park and greenery. There, you will see all of the species and learn how to help protect those that are endangered.
Cairo is a great place to find hidden treasures including colorful clothing, fine jewelry and hand-crafted home goods. Of course, the fun part about shopping is being able to go from bazaar to bazaar looking for unique items to take home with you. However, another fun part about shopping in Cairo is being able to haggle down the prices and chatting with the shop owners. By doing so, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the local culture and you may even be able to pick up a few Arabic words along the way.
Popular markets among tourists while visiting Cairo include those at Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. You will find everything from fruits and vegetables to cotton products and pottery at these markets.
Many foods available in Cairo are available throughout most of the Middle East. Foods such as tahini, falafel and baba ghanoush are popular dishes to try when experiencing the local cuisine. Do not forget to try kushari, a dish made with lentils, rice and macaroni noodles.
While in Cairo, you will be able to curb your sweet tooth too. You will find a variety of sweet shops scattered throughout the city. In these shops, you will find everything from the traditional treats of konofa and basbousa to syrup-infused semolina pastries. Do not forget to stop at a local juice bar and enjoy an ice-cold glass of watermelon juice.
Cairo may not be first on your travel list, but it should be. There are many reasons why you will want to take this trip. You will be amazed by the local culture, food, wildlife and shopping opportunities the city will offer. Plus, you will have the opportunity to go back in time to a world where pharaohs ruled the region. All of these reasons combined will make for an amazing trip that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
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