15th Apr 2012 5:00pm | By Clare Vooght
Our guide for how to spend two days in Egypt's capital
09:00 A sense of chaos hits you as soon as your arrive in Egypt’s capital – cars weave in and out of each other as they hurtle down highways with unmaked lanes, buildings are unfinished, the smog is inescapable. But you soon get used to the fascinating volume of the city, and we guarantee you’ll be sucked in by its mesmerising historical sites. Egypt’s capital, is made up of two parts on either side of the river – Cairo and Giza, but the latter is usually referred to as Cairo, too. GIza is the home of the Pyramids and the Sphynx, which you’ll see in their surreal splendour, rising up from red-brick houses and modern hotel buildings on the edge of the city. Don’t be suckered in by the night-time light show – it’s tacky and the garish lasers make the ancient monuments look small and fake – but get there early in the morning before it gets too hot. The tombs are empty but their narrow passages are still worth a look inside. Admission is £6.20 and it costs an extra £10.30 to go inside.
12:00 Take a pit stop at one of the nearby cafes – between parked-up camels and cars on the roads around the Great Pyramids. Sit back for five with some Egyptian tea (best drank with spoonfuls of brown sugar), lunch and shisha.
13:30 Now head downtown to the huge Egyptian Mueseum (egypt.travel). Next to the now burnt-out husk of the former National Democratic Party HQ, it’s a surprise the museum didn’t burn down, being so close to the blazing building for days during the revolution. Luckily, its treasures are still held in all their glory inside – Tutankhamun’s gold mask, statues of Egyptian pharaohs and gods, and mummified people, crocodiles and pets. There’s enough to see in there to take up the entire afternoon. Entry is £6.20.
19:00 You’re a stone’s throw from the infamous Tahrir Square. So, providing things are settled when you’re visiting, explore the area, which is home to grand hotels, the original downtown campus of the American University in Cairo, the Omar Makram Mosque, and a statue devoted to the nationalist hero who resisted Napoleon I’s invasion of Egypt.
20:00 Sample some traditional Egyptian koshari – a lentil, chickpea, pasta, rice and spicy tomato dish. It’s cheap, hearty and the tastiest can be found at Egyptian fast food chain Koshari al-Tahrir. There’s a branch just off Tahrir Square.
23:00 Crash out at Oasis Hotel (oasis.com.eg), but not before grabbing a beer in the Thirsty Camel Bar, onsite. Alcohol’s pretty hard to come by outside hotels, so you might be ready for a nightcap. The hotel is comfy, air conditioned and a double room costs from £112.