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CAIRO: THE CITY OF A THOUSAND MINARETS



01

Cairo: the city of a thousand minarets

The hypnotising charm of this pulsating 24-hour metropolis lies in its chaotic rhythm—the snarl of traffic wakes you up every morning, decrepit cars still drive around Coptic churches and donkey carts and stray camels wander around cobble-stoned bazaars telling tales straight out of the Arabian Nights.
02

Experience the dizzying Khan al-Khalili

A frantic and dizzying mix of hawkers, perfume incenses, age-old buildings, Egyptians and tourists—Khan al-Khalili is Cairo’s biggest open-air market, where you can buy everything from jeans and gold to hookahs and magical oils. As you wander the backstreets of the souk, you’ll realise that the gentle spice scents and the gleaming copper coffee pots have changed little with time.
03

Wander through Old Cairo

Wander down Old Cairo and you’ll be transported to a bygone medieval era. Old Cairo encompasses Coptic Cairo—a stronghold of Egypt’s Christian past—as well as Islamic Cairo—which is dotted with mosques and other Islamic monuments. Stand still in Islamic Cairo at sunset and listen to the muezzins calling from hundreds of minarets in the district.
Marvel at the many mosquesPhoto by:  Manogamos, Algunas veces, Creative Commons Attribution Licence
04

Marvel at the many mosques

Cairo’s stunning Islamic architecture has earned it the nickname ‘the city of a thousand minarets’ and the interspersing of the evening call to prayer is a reminder that there are certainly more than a thousand. These range from the stunningly opulent to the elegantly severe, and from the oldest mosque in Africa to a mosque that contains a severed head.
The wonder of the worldCredit: ThinkStock Photos
05

The wonder of the world

Head out west to Giza’s famed pyramids and the time warp sets you back a full 4000 years. You can stand at the viewing platform on the Great Pyramid’s plateau and gaze out over the only remaining wonder of the ancient world—the stillness is both eerie and sublime.
The great Sphinx of GizaCredit: ThinkStock Photos
06

The great Sphinx of Giza

Guarding the front of Khafra’s pyramid in Giza, the Sphinx has represented the essence of Egypt for over a thousand years. For the true tourist experience, stay for the sound and light show that takes place here every night.
A camel ride over the dunesCredit: ThinkStock Photos
07

A camel ride over the dunes

It may top the list of tourist clichés, but a camel ride through Giza is a must-do for every first-time visitor to Egypt. These bumpy rides are a part of the charm of any desert excursion.
A sip of sweet minty teaCredit: ThinkStock Photos
08

A sip of sweet minty tea

“Shurub shai?” is an invitation to share a cup of tea in Cairo. Egyptians love to drink minty tea and to chat and you’ll often be offered tea while browsing through the souk’s many shops. Take in the scents of captivating peppermint and let your mind wander through the many alleys of Cairo.
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Fine Egyptian fare

When it comes to food, Cairo is all about generosity. Be prepared for unexpected extras on the house and satisfying portions. From falafel and koshari to ful medames and fatta—there are few places in the world where you can taste so many cultures in one plate.
A felucca ride on the NileCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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A felucca ride on the Nile

After experiencing the exhilarating nature of the Egyptian capital, cool off with a felucca ride on the Nile. Feluccas are simple, traditional Egyptian sailboats that have piled the mighty Nile since ancient times.
Cairo: the city of a thousand minaretsCredit: ThinkStock Photos
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Cairo: the city of a thousand minarets

Cairo is full of little districts and communities that feel much smaller and more intimate than the city of which they are a part. So take your time, sip on a sugary shai (tea) or wander the quiet back alleys and let Cairo reveal itself to you.
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