Cairo Life and Visitor Travel Tips
When visiting Cairo, a useful phrase to practice before arriving is 'la sukhran' - a fairly polite way to say 'no thanks!'
Locals are always attracted to tourists, whether they are touting for hotels, tour operators or simply trying to entice you into their bazaar. However, this is all part of the fun and the rather colourful day-to-day life in Cairo.
An excellent way to travel around the city is by the subway, which avoids having to endure the busy streets and roads around the city centre.
Built in the late 1980s, the Cairo subway connects most points of interest around the city.
Another top travel tip is to avoid taking photos with locals in or asking them to take your photograph. Many will ask to be paid for the privilege.
Useful Contact Details
Internet cafes are widespread in Cairo and dotted all over the city.
4U Internet Cafe
Address: First Floor, 8 Midan Talaat Harb, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Address: Sharia Ismail Mohammed, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Address: Basement, Nile Hilton Mall, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Here are some other useful contact details:
Tourist Police Office
Address: Next to main Tourist Office, Sharia Adly, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 395 9116 (for emergencies, simply dial 126)
Open hours: daily
Main Post Office
Address: Midan Ataba, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Open hours: Saturday to Thursday - 07:00 to 19:00, Friday - 07:00 to 12:00
Cairo International Airport Tourist Office
Address: Oruba Road, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 265 3308
Cairo Main Tourist Office
Address: 5 Sharia Adly, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 391 3454
Open hours: daily - 08:30 to 19:00
Pyramids Tourist Office
Address: Pyramids Road (opposite Oberoi Mena House), Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 385 0259
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
American Cultural Centre
Address: 5 Sharia Latin America, Garden City, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 794 9601
Open hours: Sunday to Thursday - 08:30 to 16:30
British Council and Library
Address: 192 Sharia el-Nil, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 452 3395
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 21:00
Egyptian Centre for International Cultural Cooperation
Address: 11 Sharia Shagaret ad-Durr, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 736 5410
Open hours: Saturday to Thursday - 10:00 to 15:00, 16:00 to 21:00
Address: 5 Sharia al-Bustan, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 575 9877
Open hours: Monday to Thursday - 13:00 to 19:00, Friday - 08:00 to 12:00
Great Cairo Library
Address: 15 Sharia Mohammed Mazhar, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 736 2280
Open hours: Saturday to Thursday - 09:00 to 16:00
Visitors arriving in Cairo will need to bring a valid visa, unless they are citizens travelling from Guinea, Hong Kong or Macau. The relevant visa must be acquired from your home country's consulate or alternatively from an overseas Egyptian embassy. Visas may also be purchased at Cairo Airport for some nationalities, including travellers from the UK, America, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe, amongst other locations. This process lasts around 15 to 20 minutes and is relatively inexpensive. It may be possible to extend your visa in Cairo by paying a visit to the Passport Office on the first floor of the Mogamma, along the Midan Tahrir. Most visa extensions are relatively straightforward and are processed overnight, ready for you to collect the next morning from 09:00.
Passport Office and Visa Extensions
Address: Mogamma, Midan Tahrir, Cairo, Egypt, RG
Open hours: Saturday to Wednesday - 08:00 to 13:30
Language and Dialect
Arabic is the native language of Egyptians and your holiday experience will certainly be enriched if you can learn just a few basic words and phrases. If you decide that you would like to study Arabic, Cairo offers two main options, which can be contacted as follows:
Arabic Language Institute
Address: 113 Sharia Qasr al-Ainy, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 797 5055
Arabic Language Institute
Address: 4 Sharia Mahmoud Azmy, Sahafayeen, Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +20 02 346 3087
Drinking Tap Water
When in Cairo and Egypt as a whole, avoid drinking any tap water unless it has be completely sterilised by either boiling, filtering or chemical treatments. Travellers from outside of Egypt will not be used to the high levels of bacteria found in Cairo's tap water and will be sure to suffer from diarrhoea when drinking local water. Therefore, it is essential to stick to bottled water when in Cairo, which is readily available at most grocery stores - although do make sure that the cap is sealed. Also worth noting, avoid any uncooked fruit or vegetables, including salads, in case they have been washed with tap water. Food from restaurants is safest when piping hot.
Tourist Traps and Scams
Beware of tourist traps and scams when visiting Cairo - they are extremely varied and practiced all over the city. When arriving here, you will find many touts telling you stories about your hotel in an attempt to make you switch to their choice, so that they will benefit from a hefty commission, something that you will end up paying. Be sure to stick to your guns and simply say 'Thanks, but no thanks!', with a smile to keep things amicable.
Other notable scams in Cairo include taxi drivers pretending that they know where they're going when they clearly don't, taking the long way round, stopping outside of their friend's shop, or even charging you waiting time when you arrange a return. When you arrive at your accommodation in Cairo, never book a tour through the actual hotel, since you will be severely overcharged. Instead, if you make your own arrangements you end up saving a significant amount of money, which you can put towards something else.