Egypt has a lot to offer to its visitors that need at least a week to scratch the surface. When visiting Egypt, you can’t miss Cairo, with its iconic sites like the Great Pyramids of Giza or Khan El Khalili. However, plan your Egypt itinerary carefully and save some days to make day trips from Cairo to the country’s famous and off the beaten path destinations.
Being short on time in Cairo prevents you from going to faraway destinations like Dahab or Aswan. So, basing yourself in Cairo gives you plenty of options, such as exploring a hidden gem Wadi Degla Protectorate, where you can go hiking and BBQing without having to leave the city.
But that’s not your only option; you can go on several unforgettable day trips from Cairo to several underrated destinations that are only a short ride away from the capital.
This is a guest post by Nadine, an Egyptian curly-head who decided to quit the norm because it just doesn’t suit her. She ditched her 9-5 as a magazine editor to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time digital nomad and inspire aspiring travelers to embark on their own solo adventures.
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When talking about day trips from Cairo, the second-largest city in Egypt, should get the first place. Also dubbed as the Pearl of the Mediterranean, it is only 2.5 hours away from Cairo by car. Named after its founder, Alexander the Great, Alexandria reflects the cosmopolitan side of Egypt. Apart from its Graeco-Roman history, various foreign diasporas, mostly Italian and Greek, had lived in the city at some point. Because of that, Alexandria has an incredible vibe that screams diversity and art that quickly shows in its streets, architecture, and every single corner. It’s also noteworthy that it was once home to one of the Ancient Wonders of the World, Pharos, the lighthouse.
You can’t miss several landmarks in Alexandria, like the famed Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Citadel of Qaitbay, the Catacombs, the Roman Amphitheater, and the Pompeii Pillar. And if you’re into museums, you should head to the Royal Jewellery Museum and the National Museum of Alexandria.
Alexandria is known as Egypt’s food capital, and it’s mostly famous for its seafood. Make sure to treat yourself with lobsters at the Greek Club or seafood specials at local restaurants. You also don’t want to miss the Alexandrian gelati; it’s not ice-cream, and it’s not gelato; it’s even better.
How to get to Alexandria from Cairo: If you don’t have a local to drive you or if you didn’t rent a car, you can go by bus or train. Bus operators include Blue Bus, Go Bus, Superjet, and West Delta. There’s also a ride-hailing app that operates mini-vans called SWVL that you can use within the city, just like Uber and its competitor, Careem.
When is the best time to visit Alexandria: It’s best to visit in winter when it’s emptier and the weather is better. In summer, Alexandria’s humidity can be unbearable. It’s usually much colder in winter than Cairo and often rains throughout December to February.
The North Coast
Not so far away from Cairo either, this northern paradise is a local’s favorite summer destination. The North Coast spreads along the Mediterranean sea from Alexandria to Marsa Matrouh. So, it’s not really a city to visit, but rather an entire coastline full of an endless variety of beach resorts. There are budget resorts and lavish ones, with only one thing in common, the pristine waters best known for crashing waves. The North Coast, commonly known as “Sahel” among Egyptians, is more of a group destination, as most of what you can expect is a fun day at the beach, followed by an all-nighter at any of the finest bars or clubs.
The North Coast is a very exclusive destination; to go there, you need to have a place or know a property owner. There are several hotels in some resorts, but they’re at the more upscale ones.
How to get to the North Coast from Cairo: You can go by car or book an SWVL ride. Just note that SWVL has a specific drop off locations, so you must have a ride to your final destination. Uber and Careem also operate in the region, but they’re usually pricey.
When is the best time to visit the North Coast: It’s a summer destination, so that’s your only option. The whole place usually shuts down during winter as it’s pretty cold over there.
This magnificent hidden gem is only 1.5 hours away, making it one of the best day trips from Cairo. Picture sand dunes, picturesque lakes, and sunkissed fields; this is Fayoum. There are tons of activities to do and places to visit in Fayoum that suit all interests. If you’re into an adrenaline-fueled vacation, then you don’t want to miss sandboarding, which is one of the activities Fayoum is best known for. There, you can also go kayaking, camping, or go on a desert safari. As for arts and crafts lovers, another stop you must make when in Fayoum is Tunis Village, which is best known for pottery making.
Additionally, nature in Fayoum will not let you down; the iconic Lake Qaroun and the Magic Lake will surely take your breath away. Wadi El Rayan protectorate, which is home to Fayoum’s iconic waterfalls and the UNESCO World Heritage site Wadi El Hitan, is also a must-visit. Wadi El Hitan embraces the fossil remains of Archaeoceti, an extinct type of whale.
How to get to Fayoum from Cairo: You can do Fayoum by SWVL or rent a car. In case you go with the latter, don’t think of going into the desert with a sedan car.
When is the best time to visit Fayoum: It’s too hot in summer to visit Fayoum, that’s why it’s more of a winter destination. From November till March, the weather is warmer and milder.
This hidden gem and a perfect option for the day trip from Cairo is on a different continent, but it’s only 2.5 hours away from the city. Ras Sudr is a beach town in South Sinai, the Egyptian peninsular situated in Asia. It’s best known for being the number one kitesurfing spot in the country. Its shallow waters and winds make it perfect for learning and practicing the adrenaline-fueled water sport. So, if that’s your thing, you’ll love to spend a weekend in Ras Sudr. If you have more time, though, you don’t want to miss out on exploring the rest of South Sinai.
How to get to Ras Sudr from Cairo: You can go to Ras Sudr by car, GoBus, or SWVL.
When is the best time to visit Ras Sudr: Sinai is privileged with warm weather so that you can enjoy Ras Sudr all year long; however, it’s best to visit in Spring or Summer when it’s warm and sunny.
Al Ain Al Sokhna
In a similar sense to the North Coast, Al Ain Al Sokhna also consists of beach resorts, except that it’s much closer to Cairo. This one is by the Red Sea and has a more laid-back vibe; people usually go to Sokhna, as Egyptians call it, to chill.
How to get to Al Ain Al Sokhna from Cairo: You can go by car or SWVL.
When is the best time to visit Al Ain Al Sokhna: Unlike to North Coast, Al Ain Al Sokhna is an all-year-long destination, so you can easily plan your day trip from Cairo here any time of the year. However, it’s warmer in Spring and Summer.
As the name suggests, this lesser-known destination is a port city on the Mediterranean that locals often overlook. The historic town was founded in 1859 to aid the construction of the Suez Canal and was named after Khedive Mohamed Said, who approved digging the canal.
Aside from the delicious seafood and the distinct culture, the old architecture around the small city is truly impeccable. Going for a walk around town to marvel at its old buildings and historic streets and landmarks is highly recommended. The Simon Arzt building, the remains of the De Lesseps statue, the Port Said Lighthouse, and Casa d’Italia are among the landmarks you’ll pass by. You also don’t want to miss going on a walk on the city’s boardwalk, where you can view the Suez Canal entrance. One more thing you can do is take the ferry for free and pay a visit to Port Said’s sister town, Port Fouad.
BONUS: If you’re a Friends fan, you might want to grab a coffee at Central Perk. Yes, Port Said has its own Friends-themed café.
How to get to Port Said from Cairo: Take the train to Port Said or rent a car. SWVL also offers minivans that can take you from Cairo.
When is the best time to visit Port Said: Northern Egypt is known for very humid Summers and super rainy winters. So, you’d better visit in Spring or Fall when the weather is milder.
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