Cairo Weekend Breaks

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Weekend Breaks to Cairo

Planning a short break to Cairo? Check out Travel Library's recommended Top 10 Things To Do in Cairo. It's a perfect companion for weekend city breaks to Cairo. Once you've been you can add your own tips and suggestions to help other visitors.

Central Cairo

The city's main square and focal point, Midan Tahrir, is home to the Egyptian Museum and many hotels, including the Nile Hilton. Centered on Midan Talaat Barb, downtown Cairo is the unmistakable heart of Cairo, with streets that are packed with glitzy shops and countless thousands of small businesses.

Here you can get a glimpse of the surviving architectural gems and the elegant Paris-on-the-Nile-era Cairo. The Manial Palace Museum has some wonderfully overblown interiors and an overstocked Hunting Museum.

The private Throne Hall is a sight with gilt furniture and ranked portraits of forebears. The magnificent garden is the largest private garden in Cairo and definitely worth visiting.

Egyptian Museum

The museum houses more than 100,000 antiquities from almost every period of ancient Egyptian history. The exhibition that outshines everything else is the treasure of the New Kingdom pharaoh, Tutankhamen. It features an astonishing solid-gold death mask. Other highlights include: the Royal Mummy Room, the Amarna Room (devoted to Akhenaton, the 'heretic king'), the Graeco-Roman Mummies and the larger-than-life-size statue of Khafre (Chephren).

Giza Pyramids

The Pyramids of Giza are the most well known pyramids in Egypt. It is the planet's oldest tourist attraction and the sole survivors of the Seven Wonders of the World. The wonder of the pyramids lies in their age and mysteries of how they were built. These architectural accomplishments are attached to the ancient capital of Memphis, 24km south of Cairo. The oldest pyramid at Giza (and the largest in Egypt), is the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), which stands 146m high. Southwest of Khufu, is the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren); the Sphinx (known in Arabic as Abu al-Hol, 'Father of Terror') is carved from natural bedrock at the bottom of the causeway to Khafre's pyramid. At a height of 62m, the Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus) is the smallest of the three pyramids. The most comfortable way to get to the Pyramids is the air conditioned bus that runs from Heliopolis via Midan Tahrir, where it picks up passengers from beside the Egyptian Museum.

Al-Fayoum Oasis

The Oasis is Egypt's largest oasis and home to two million people. It was a favourite vacation spot for 13th-dynasty pharaohs, who built fine palaces there. These days the region is known for its lush vegetation, abundant crops and amazing variety of birdlife. Qasr Qarun and the Pyramid of Meidum deserves a visit, the vicinity of the lake is attractive and the desert scenery around Wadi Rayyan (just beyond Al-Fayoum) is lovely. The oasis is about 100km southwest of Cairo, and having your own transport is best because the area is quite spread out.

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

The perfect retreat from the sun in summer, it is easy to lose a day wandering this sprawling market. It exudes a truly amazing atmosphere with its labyrinth of bustling alleys lined with merchants displaying traditional crafts. Particularly good buys are spices, perfumes, gold and silver jewelry, carpets, brass and copperware (still produced using traditional techniques), leatherwork, glass, ceramics, and mashrablya. The bazaar is largely unchanged since the 14th century and you will find a wide variety of interesting and artistic goods. Cash is definitely preferred here, but some vendors accept credit cards.

Pyramids Sound and Light Show

A dramatic fusion of light and music recounting the story of antiquity. The dazzling light show and awe-inspiring backdrop of the Sphinx and Pyramids will surely impress you. The show is hosted three times a night in three different languages. The Sphinx plays the role of storyteller, narrating the history of ancient Egypt. shows are held in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Arabic. It is better to call ahead to check the time of the performance you want to attend. Admission: 44EGP for foreign translation shows. Tel: 02/385-7320. Website: Pyramids Sound and Light Show.

Moulid el-Nabi

The commemoration of the Prophet Mohammed's birthday is one of the biggest events of the year and a public holiday. Usually occurring sometime in May, the streets are lit with coloured lights and the scent of food fills the air. The best place to view the celebrations is the El-Hussein Square, where the country's largest and most colourful processions is hosted. It is a local tradition in Egypt to buy children a moulid candy doll for the occasion. Location: El-Hussein Square, Cairo.

Heliopolis

Originally conceived as an exclusive 'garden city' intended to house the European officials who ruled Egypt, it also attracted the Egyptian upper class. Construction began in 1906, using an odd European-Moorish architectural style. In the 1950's overcrowding in Cairo caught up with this suburb and the former desert barrier was breached by a creeping tide of middle-income high-rises. Today these ranks of apartment buildings greatly outnumber the graceful old villas.

The suburb's most extraordinary sight is the Baron's Palace (Qasr al-Baron). Other must-see sights include the Basilica (a miniature version of Istanbul's famous Aya Sofia), and Sharia Ibrahim Laqqany, lined with fantastical architecture.

The Coptic Museum

This renovated old building was established in 1908 to preserve Coptic Christian artifacts from destruction. It houses the world's largest collection of Coptic Art, containing fabulous artifacts (both secular and religious) produced by Copts throughout the ages.

Exhibits are arranged roughly in chronological order, with the upper floor housing an exhibition of Nubian paintings salvaged from villages before they were flooded by the Aswan Dam in the 1950's and 1960's. The wonderful examples of paintings and textile, as well as metal, wood, glass and ivory craftmanship are worth a look and if you are into history, catch a glance at the Nag Hammadi documents on the top floor. A nominal fee is charged. Located at Mar Girgis Street, Cairo. Tel: 02/362-8766.

Felfela

This restaurant is popular with both Egyptians and visitors. It is a good place to taste such Egyptian staples as shorbat 'ads (lentil soup), which is tasty with a squeeze of lemon in it, taamiya (the local version of falafel), and ful (stewed fava beans). Felfela serves beer.

Main courses under £e50 and credit cards are not accepted.

Located at 15 Shar'a Hoda Sharaawi, Downtown, Cairo. Tel: 02/392-2833.

User Suggestions

Azhar Park - Tourist Attraction

Great place you can spend time to watch old Cairo from highest point enjoying the atmosphere around of exotic trees , international restaurant chains and café where you can rest & have drinks .

M/S Nile Crysral Nile Cruise And M/S Nile Scarabee Cruise - Restaurant or Cafe

Nile River in downtown Cairo. You will take a 02- hour's cruise on the Nile River with a magnificent view of city. During the cruise, following dinner, you will enjoy a folklore show and belly dancing. Towards the end of the cruise there is time for you to go up on the top deck to enjoy fresh air and the beautiful city lights

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