Pearl of the Mediterranean; Alexandria is a Mediterranean port city in Egypt. Alexandria was the home to one of the old seven wonders - The Lighthouse - as well as its Great Library which was reincarnated in the disc-shaped Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Part of the ancient city of Alexandria disappeared under the sea and other parts disappeared under the modern city, but you can still find some visible remains of the glorious past as well as recovered items from the sea.
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How to Get to Alexandria
If you are coming from Cairo, then it is easy to get to Alexandria by train, bus, or even plane. Train is the best option to get there from Cairo, you will find several trains on a daily basis between the two cities between 06:00 and 22:30, there is also two different classes - First & second class - to choose from. Make sure to pick a train that doesn't stop anywhere else to save time on your journey. It takes around 2.5 hours to get there when there is no stops, and 3.5 hours when there is stops in between.
Note: It is best to buy your ticket the day before to avoid any chaos and stress! When arriving in Alexandria, be aware that there are two different main train stations, If you want to go east of the city then get off at Sidi Gaber Station, and if you want to go to central city then get off at Misr Station.
If you are looking to go to Alexandria from Cairo as a day tour, then it is best to book with a private tour. This is the no-stress way to visit Alexandria. If you want to get there by bus, you will find a lot of variety of bus companies that offer services between the two cities. Services are usually between 05:00 and 23:00, but be aware that the stations in Alexandria aren't centrally located. You can choose companies like Blue Bus, Go Bus, West Delta, and Super Jet.
You can also take a plane as you will find daily domestic flights between the two cities, but Borg El Arab International Airport is located about 40 Km from the city centre, and flights take about 45 minutes. You can also opt for a private taxi/car for more flexibility, or you can rent a car but be aware that driving in Egypt is hard.
If you are not arriving from Cairo, you can still find a lot of trains and buses depending on where you are, and if you are not in Egypt, check which international flights arrive at Borg El Arab International Airport, but if you are planning on visiting Egypt, then it is best to go to Cairo first and then visit Alexandria.
How to Move Around Alexandria
Moving around Alexandria is easy since services like Uber and Careem are accessible and cheap as well so it will be easy to hop from one place to another. You can also use a taxi but you will need to pay in cash as they do not accept credit/debit cards. You can also hop on the Sightseeing Red Bus!
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Best Time to Visit Alexandria
The best time to visit Egypt in general is between October and April, but when it comes to Alexandria, the best time to visit is in spring and autumn - September to November & March to April - it gets hot during the summer and humid, and during the winter it rains a lot, but if you don't mind both then you can visit any time. Be aware that high season is in mid-summer so it will be crowded during that time and also prices such as hotel prices will be high.
Accommodation in Alexandria
There is a vast variety of accommodation options in Alexandria depending on your budget. Even though most people opt for a day tour, but if you plan to stay longer then you will need to look for an accommodation that suits you. When it comes to hotels, if you are looking for a luxury hotel then your bets options are along the Corniche such as the Four Season Hotel, Hilton Alexandria Corniche, and for something more central opt for Steigenberger Cecil Hotel. If you are looking for mid-range hotels, then you options would be Paradise Inn Windsor Palace Hotel, and Romance Alexandria Hotel. For budget friendly hotels, you can go with Alexander the Great Hotel, as it is one of the cleanest ones.
If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb then you will be able to find a lot options that suits your budget, you will find a lot of hostels if you prefer to stay there. Your options are endless in Alexandria, and it doesn't matter where you stay since you will enjoy it regardless.
Best Cafes & Restaurants in Alexandria
Trianon (Patisserie near El Raml Station)
Délices (Patisserie owned by the same Greek family since 1922)
Greek Club: White & Blue Restaurant (Greek cuisine & seafood)
Mohamed Ahmed (Authentic Egyptian food, best option for breakfast)
Chez Gaby (Italian cuisine)
Teatro Eskendria (Egyptian cuisine)
Sky Roof (Nighttime spot, on the rooftop of Windsor Palace)
10 Top Things to do in Alexandria
1. Roman Amphitheatre - Ancient Roman Theatre
This archeological site features the remains of an ancient Roman theatre, baths, and a villa with a mosaic. It was built in the 4th century AD and it was a common feature of the Greco-Roman period. Opening hours are from 08:00 until 17:00, and tickets can be bought at the entrance. It takes less than 30 minutes to see.
2. Temple of Serapeum and Pompey’s Pillar
Pompey's Pillar is a massive 30 meters column which located in the debris of the ancient settlement of Rhakotis which is the original township form each Alexandria grew. The Pillar rises on the ruins of the Temple of Serapeum which was a magnificent structure that stood there in ancient times. Opening hours are 09:00 and 16:30, and tickets can be bought at the entrance. It takes less than 30 minutes to see.
3. Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
These are a Roman underground burial chambers that were built in the 2nd century AD, entry is through a spiral staircase and the bodies of the dead were lowered on a rope through the circular shaft. Opening hours are between 09:00 and 16:00, and tickets can be bought at the entrance. It takes about an hour to see.
4. Citadel of Qaitbay
This is a defensive fortress located on the Mediterranean sea and was built back in 1480 by the Mamluk Sultan Qaitbay on the remains of Alexandria's lighthouse. The Citadel is open from 08:00 until 17:00, and you can buy tickets at the entrance. It takes about an hour to see.
5. Abu Al Abbas Al Mursi mosque
This beautiful mosque was built over the tomb of a revered Sufi saint, Abu Al Abbas Al Mursi from Murcia in Spain, the current structure is modern and the interior is eye catching and beautiful. Al Mursi is one of the four master saints in Egypt so his tomb is a pilgrimage place. It is open 24/7 so visit whenever you want but avoid prayer times. The mosque is on-route to Citadel of Qaitbay.
Good to Know: It is appropriate for women to dress modestly and maybe even wear a scarf loosely around the head.
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6. Cavafy Museum
Cavafy was an Alexandrian-Greek poet who spent his last 25 years in an apartment on the former Rue Lepsius, and this apartment is now preserved as a museum with two of the six rooms arranged like Cavafy kept them. You will find portraits and paintings of the Cavafy and also editions of his publications and photocopies of his manuscript. Opening hours are from 10:00 until 17:00, and it is closed on Mondays. You can buy tickets once you make it to the apartment and they cost EGP 25. It takes less than 30 minutes to see.
7. Alexandria National Museum
This museum offers a summary of Alexandria's history, it is housed in a beautiful restored Italian villa, and even though it is small, but it is well organised and well-labeled. Opening hours are from 09:00 until 16:30, and tickets can be bought at the entrance and they cost EGP 100 for adults and EGP 50 for students (For Egyptian tickets cost EGP 20 for adults and EGP 5 for students). It takes an hour to see.
8. Montaza Palace
This is a royal palace that was built back in 1932 as a summer palace for the Khedive, even though the palace itself is off-limits, but you can still visit it's surrounding gardens. There is also a beach there, and you will find a lot of cafes and restaurants. You can opt to go on a picnic there if you want as well, this is the best place to relax and enjoy the beautiful lush gardens and the sea. The Montaza Palace is open from 08:00 until 00:00, and entry tickets cost EGP 25. It can take you from 15 minute to 1.5 hours to visit, depending on what you do there.
9. Royal Jewellery Museum
This Royal Museum is an art and history museum, this was the former palace of princes Fatma Al-Zahraa and it was built in 1919. The museum contains a huge collection of jewellery and jewels from Muhammad Ali dynasty. Opening hours are from 09:00 until 17:00, and tickets can be bought at the entrance. It takes 1 to 1.5 hours to see.
10. Bibliotheca Alexandrina
One of the largest and most important libraries in the world was the Great Library of Alexandria, which is why Alexandria was known as a capital of knowledge and learning. The library was reincarnated and is now a modern library and museum. Within the library you can find museums such as: Antiques Museum, Manuscript Museum, and Planetarium. Opening hours are from 10:00 until 19:00, on Fridays from 14:00 until 19:00, and on Saturdays from 12:00 until 16:00. Tickets can be bough at the entrance. Aim to spend between 1 to 3 hours there.