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A remarkable day trip to Alexandria

Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great, was a power base for Cleopatra VII (the famous Cleopatra — yes, there was more than one). To this day, it is one of Egypt’s most popular destinations.

I regularly see people confused when considering how to add Alexandria to their travel itinerary. How many days? Where to stay? What to see?

Most tourists dedicate only one day to Alexandria. They do not sleep there. The idea is to go to Alexandria from Cairo and return on the same day.

The same day, Damas? Wouldn’t that be too much for one day?

I refuse to be in a rush during a trip. But I have an exception for Alexandria. The city is worth a visit, but not enough for staying and sacrificing visits to other key places in Egypt.

With this in mind, we discard two of those doubts: where to stay and how many days to stay in the city. Let us now check a list of must-see places.

Ready to plan your day in Alexandria? Get your Cleopatra or Alexander the Great costumes and come with me.

Day trip to Alexandria

Travelling from Cairo

It is vital to leave early. At the end of the day, you head back to Cairo.

The simplest way is by land, ready for two and a half hours on the road, 220 km (136 miles) ahead. Have everything arranged with your travel agency or tour guide.

Map, from Cairo to Alexandria
The route from Cairo to Alexandria.

Damas, should I worry about the quality of the roads in Egypt?

No. Roads in tourist areas are in pretty good condition.

Must-see sites for your day trip

The list below is minimal for evident reasons. Keep in mind the time spent to go to Alexandria and the time to return to Cairo.

A qualified tour guide manages your day so that you can see all suggestions below. And, even better, it is possible to have lunch in a renowned restaurant that I will show at the end of this post.

Kom El-Shuqafa

Kom El-Shuqafa’s catacombs appeared accidentally in 1900 when a mule fell into a hole, and local workers rescued it.

The site is still considered the largest Roman-style burial area in Egypt. In addition, it is one of the last construction works dedicated to the religion of Ancient Egypt.

The catacombs spread over three levels of chambers and tombs, open in 35 meters deep rocks.

Kom El-Shuqafa
Photos inside the catacombs are forbidden.
Kom El-Shuqafa
Access to the catacombs is through the stairs inside. People in poor health conditions should not come down.
  • Ticket: 40 Egyptian pounds

Amud El-Sawari 

Here we find the remains of the Pillar of Pompeii and the Temple of Serapeu.

The Pillar is a column of red granite from Aswan. It rises 30 meters high above the ruins of Rhacotis, the former settlement where Alexander the Great founded Alexandria. The triumphal column was built in 295 AD in honor of Emperor Diocletian. Researchers believe there was a statue of the emperor mounted on a horse on the top.

The remains of the Temple of Serapeu spread around. The temple was one of the most important centers of knowledge.

Amud El-Sawari
Amud El-Sawari
  • 30 Egyptian pounds

Library of Alexandria 

This is the most popular site for a day trip to Alexandria. Curiously, it is a modern construction.

Modern? Damas, all my life I’ve learned about the old Library of Alexandria.

Unfortunately, the original Library of Alexandria does not exist anymore. The new version, built less than 200 meters away from the place of the old one, was inaugurated in 2002. It is a brilliant piece of modern architecture. There is room for up to eight million books, and the reading room is the largest in the world.

A comprehensive visit is impossible on a day trip, but you can buy a ticket for an express visit. With a local guide, you walk through some of the most significant sections of the giant building.

Library of Alexandria
Library ofAlexandria
Bust of Alexander the Great in the Library of Alexandria.
Reading room in the Library of Alexandria
Part of the reading room.
  • Basic ticket, with local tour guide: 70 Egyptian pounds

Fort Qaitbey

This great defensive fortification was built in 1480 AD on the orders of Sultan Qaitbey. It sits on the place where existed the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Fort Qaitbey

There may not be time to explore the interior. Talk to your tour guide.

  • 25 Egyptian pounds

And when you are hungry…

You are going to spend a whole day in Alexandria. Before heading back to Cairo, you will need to eat.

One of Alexandria’s most famed restaurants is Fish Market. It is in a privileged place. Glass walls overlook the stunning blue sea in the background.

The name says it all: house specialties are fish and seafood. But there are other typical delights, like the tasty pita.

Fish Market is also a place that attracts celebrities. At the entrance, we see pictures of those who have been there. An example is Roger Moore, the eternal James Bond.

Fish Market Restaurant
Fish Market Restaurant

Have fun in Alexandria! 🙂 


GLAUCO DAMAS
» I live in the Algarve (South of Portugal). My first fiction book, for young adults, was published in 2001 in the Portuguese language — a time travel adventure with thousands of readers. I also wrote books and guides about travel and technology. Screenplays are my greatest passion.

» This is the English version of my blog G. DAMAS (Portuguese language, online since 2010). English is not my native language.

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