Alexandria has the reputation of being the second favorite tourist city in Egypt after Cairo. It is especially a place for those who appreciate history, since it was where the enormous Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Library of Alexandria were located.
You can go see historical places such as the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa and the Royal Jewelry Museum, and in the evening, you could go for dinner and a stroll along the waterfront called the Corniche.
1. How Long to Stay in Alexandria: At Least 1 Day
A visit to Alexandria will usually take about one or two days. It takes more than two hours to drive to Alexandria from Cairo Airport (CAI) by private vehicle. It is about 215 kilometers (134 miles) away from Cairo. On the Egyptian National Railroads, the train takes about four hours to go from Martyrs Train Station in Cairo to Alexandria.
Alexandria and its surrounding regions offer a variety of activities for families, groups of friends, and couples.
- Day 1: Explore the Catacombs, go to the Jewelry Museum, and for dinner enjoy dining along the Corniche. Then take a stroll along the Mediterranean as the sun sets.
- Day 2: See the exhibits at the Alexandria National Museum, and then if you wish to experience shopping in a big market area, go to the Souq.
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2. The Best Things to Do in Alexandria
1) Learn about the Amazing History
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. The Ptolemaic Dynasty (323-30 BC) developed the region so that for a while it was known as the greatest and largest city of its time. It was known for its library, learning, science, and the second tallest building in the world, the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Eratosthenes (276–194 BC) calculated the circumference of the earth to within 50 miles (80 km) at Alexandria. Euclid, who developed geometry, taught there too.
While seeing the ruins of past civilizations, you can visit the historical exhibits at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and Alexandria National Museum that was opened in 2003. You could visit Fort Qaitbay that was built on the site of the ancient lighthouse.
2) Shop and Dine
The Corniche is a place to go for seafood along the Mediterranean Sea. The Corniche is a long walkway/big boulevard where locals go to sit by the sea, fish, and enjoy the breeze. It stretches about 20 kilometers and you will find a lot of buildings dating to the 1950s.
If you are interested in buying anything — from jewelry, to food, to antiques — you could go to the Souq. Most big Arab cities have a souq where sellers and traders haggle with customers in a big market area. There is a big souq at the western side of Midan at-Tahrir (‘Liberation Square').
3) Go to the Sea and Beaches
There are beaches on both sides of the Alexandria Corniche along the shore of the Mediterranean. Here are some suggestions:
- For beach and food: El Maamoura Beach is known for nearby restaurants and food stalls at the beach. People like to eat and picnic on the beach.
- For scuba diving: Abu Qir Beach is a private beach located at a fishing village near Alexandria. You can see the fishes and eat some fresh fish too!
Read more on How to Plan Your First Trip to Egypt — 7 Easy Steps
3. The Best Time to Visit Alexandria
Summer (June to September) and autumn (October to November) are the best seasons to visit due to a combination of lower rainfall, less tourist crowds, and better climate conditions to enjoy the amazing beauty of the sea and to do water and beach activities. Both summer and fall weather is temperate, and the temperature stays about the same.
The average temperature during autumn varies from 23℃ (74°F) to 31℃ (88F). The average temperature in the summer varies from 30°C (86°F) during the day to 26°C (79°F) at night.
You should consider avoiding traveling to Alexandria during December, since more tourists come for the Christmas and New Year season, and this means that prices go up.
The busiest month for travel is May. March and February are also busy tourism months.
Learn more about When is the Best Time to Visit Egypt
4. How to Get to Alexandria
Alexandria has an airport called Borg El Arab International Airport (HBE). The best way to get to Alexandria is to take a flight to that airport. There are direct flights from some Arab cities such as Dubai and from Europe such as Paris–Orly, and Milan (on Wizz Air). There are no regular passenger ships from Europe.
From Cairo to Alexandria
You could also land in Cairo International Airport (CAI) and travel there by vehicle or train.
- By road: Cairo International Airport (CAI) is southeast of Cairo. It takes about 2½ hours by road. A taxi ride from Cairo Airport to Alexandria may cost from 30 USD.
- By train: If you are considering taking the train from Cairo, by first going to the Martyrs Train Station, you can get to Alexandria in about 4 hours on the train (about 6 USD). A taxi from Cairo Airport to the train station costs about 3 USD and takes 20 minutes. The total trip from the Cairo Airport to Alexandria might take about 6 hours going by train.
Or you can submit an inquiry to us for a comfortable private transfer.
5. Where to Stay in Alexandria
Tourism in Alexandria is well developed, and you can expect a good standard of accommodation. From economy hotels to luxury villas, whether located in beach areas or the city, you can find one to suit your requirements.
Staying along the Corniche boulevard puts you where you can find most tourist spots and seafood restaurants in walking distance.
Luxury hotel recommendation: You can get a sea view at Hilton Alexandria Corniche. Prices are about 90 USD per night for a double room.
You could also stay in Cairo when you want to visit Alexandria. Cairo has a lot more hotels to choose from.
For families and medium budget travelers looking for high quality: The Valencia Hotel is in downtown Cairo, and it is within walking distance of Tahrir Square and the City of the Dead. Prices are around 61 USD a night.
6. Meals in Alexandria
Arabic seafood is a specialty. There are busy seafood markets where the restaurants can get fresh fish and seafood daily. If you like crab and squid, you should definitely enjoy this place, as they feature in some of their favorite dishes, which they may cover with light herbs and vegetables such as tomato, onion, chili, and cilantro.
For seafood on the Corniche: The Fish Market is a pricey and famous seafood restaurant. It might be the biggest seafood restaurant in Alexandria.
Cheese dishes are also a specialty. There are fried cheese dishes and fondues. Vino bread sticks and fondue is a popular snack.
Alexandria is also noted for delicious breakfast meals. Falafel, tahini, and tomato and cilantro salsa is a popular breakfast combination. You can get an Egyptian breakfast and other meals, and also be at a big tourist location by the Bibliotheca Alexandria and by the sea.
7. Need a Visa? Visa-Exempt Countries
Most visitors traveling to Egypt will need a visa. Travelers from the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia will need a visa, which you can get online through the Egypt e-visa portal (check availability for other countries on the portal). The Egyptian tourist visa costs 25 US dollars and you can pay online through the portal via credit card.
You'll need to present a passport with validity for at least 6 months from the arrival date, your travel itinerary, hotel bookings, and the e-Visa print out upon reaching immigration at the airport in Egypt.
Citizens from the following 10 countries and territories can visit without a visa, and most, except Israelis, are allowed entry for up to 90 days:
- Hong Kong
- Israel (14 days and only to Sinai Resorts)
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- Malaysia (14 days)
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