With a population of nearly 18 million, Cairo is one of the world’s largest cities. If you have not visited the city before, the information in this page is intended to help orient you and provide some basic suggestions regarding accomodation, travel practicalities, eating and sightseeing.
Cairo provides a wide range of accommodation options covering a broad price range. Here are a variety of suggestions, all located fairly close to the conference venue. Our recommended hotel is the Golden Tulip Flamenco Hotel in Zamalek (Midrange), which is offering a special rate to conference delegates: US$70 per night for a single standard room.
Hostel Royal, 10 Elwy Street,Cross Kasr El- Nile St. With Sherif St. Behind the Central Bank, Downtown Cairo
Dina’s hostel, 42 Abd El Khalek Sarwat, 5th floor, Cairo
Intercontinental Cairo Semiramis, Corniche el Nil
Hotel Novotel Cairo el Borg, 3 Saray El Gezirah, Zamalek, Cairo
Golden Tulip Hotel, 2 el Gezira el Wosta Street
Marriot, 16 Saray El Gezira Street
Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, Corniche el Nil
Kempinski Nile Hotel, Ahmed Ragheb Street 12, 11519, Cairo
Getting around Cairo
The metro is generally the fastest and most reliable way to get around Cairo. Tickets can be purchased at any metro station for 1 EGP each and it is possible to buy as many tickets as you wish at once. The metro’s chief advantage is that it avoids the traffic jams that constantly plague Cairo. All journeys, regardless of distance, cost one ticket so it is also extremely cheap. Metro maps are easy to find in all stations and, since the system only has three lines, navigation is easy.
When the metro is not a viable option, taxis are the only real alternative. Cairo’s taxis are generally inexpensive but can be slow due to almost constant congestion. It is therefore always recommended to allow more time than might seem necessary for journeys taken by taxi to allow for potential traffic difficulties.
Cairo has two main types of taxi: old fashioned black taxis which generally do not have meters, and modern white taxis that always have a meter (although drivers sometimes claim that the meter is broken in an effort to get a higher fare, in which case the best response is generally to find another taxi). The modern white taxis are far more common than the older black cars and recommended wherever possible as they are both more comfortable and safer. It is almost invariably cheaper to use the meter than to negotiate a price, regardless of what drivers may tell you. Ensure that either the meter is working or a price has been agreed at the start of your journey to avoid potentially awkward negotiations, and an elevated price, at the end of your journey.
Although many Egyptians speak good English, it is far from universal. It is therefore recommended that non-Arabic speakers keep a piece of paper with the name of their hotel and the conference venue written in Arabic to facilitate communication where necessary.
Finally, crossing roads on foot in Cairo can be somewhat of a challenge at first as there are very few official crossings. Additionally, the volume of traffic in the city can make finding an opportunity to cross roads safely difficult. The easiest option if you are having trouble is to locate some Egyptians crossing the same road and follow them.
Cairo has many world class attractions to visit. Below are some details about a few of the most popular:
The Pyramids and the Sphinx
Located on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, the Pyramids and Sphinx more than justify their fame and are well worth a visit. The easiest way to see them is to book a reputable driver through a friend or your hotel who will wait for you while you visit each part of the pyramids complex and drive you between the different areas. The closest metro station (Giza) is unfortunately further than walking distance away from the entrance with the result that making at least part of the journey by taxi is unavoidable.
The Egyptian Museum
Located in Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum contains a vast collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities and is well worth a visit. It is easily accessible from the Sadat metro station or, if this station is closed, from the Mohamed Naguib or Saad Zaghloul metro stations. It is forbidden to take cameras into the museum and although there is a facility for leaving them for the duration of your visit, you may prefer not to take a camera with you.
In addition to the majority Muslim population, a significant minority of Egyptians are Coptic Christians. Many fine examples of Coptic architecture, as well as the excellent Coptic museum can be visited in the area known as “Coptic Cairo”, which is easily accessible from the “Mar Girgis” metro station.
Good eating options are unfortunately limited in the Downtown area. The following are some reliable options.
Felfela, Hoda Shaarawy, Bab Al Louq, Abdin
Felfela offers good traditional Egyptian food at reasonable prices
The Greek Club, 28 Mahmoud Bassyouni St, Downtown, Cairo
More Egyptian than Greek nowadays, the Greek Club nonetheless offers a good option in Downtown
The Tahrir Table, 11 Tahrir Square, Downtown, Cairo
The Tahrir Table offers good quality Swedish food in Tahrir Square
Café Riche, Bab Al Louq, Abdin, Cairo
Historically a favourite meeting point for revolutionaries, Café Riche offers Egyptian food with a sightly French twist