3 Days in Cairo is 2 days Too Much

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*I spent 3 days in Cairo in Sept. 2015 and it felt like 3 weeks. This place rivals Mumbai for the craziest city I’ve ever been to in my life. It was both mentally and physically exhausting after my short time in the city. This blog post serves as a guide to travel in Cairo based off my personal experiences.  I’m going to be brutally honest with you here, so please, take it with a grain of salt.”

General Thoughts

Since I can remember as a young kid, I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt.  I remember learning about ancient Egypt in 1st grade and hoping that one day, I would have the chance to see the Pyramids with my own two eyes.  Now I had the chance, so I took it.

And I’m glad that I came here, because seeing the Pyramids of Giza was one of the best travel experiences of my life. I took a 2 hour camel ride around the desert and it was something I’ll never forget.

But what about the culture in Cairo?

My trip to Egypt’s capital city was as about as unplanned as any trip can get.  I booked my hotel the night before, I didn’t do any research and I had no friends in the city.  I had never met an Egyptian person in my life, so I had no clue how they were or what their culture was like. I only knew about Egyptian history, but did that relate to the people and society of today?  My only concern in Cairo was to visit the Pyramids of Giza, and the rest was ready to be discovered with an open mind and a willingness to learn.

But to say the least, Cairo was the toughest place I’ve ever traveled to.

Before I dive into this post, I’d like to mention that I screwed up by only visiting Cairo and not checking out other cities in Egypt like Luxor or Alexandria or Dahab. I’m certain that if I went outside of Cairo, that I would have had a much better experience. But I guess that’ll just have to wait for next time…

When I first told people that I was going to Cairo (friends and family included), everyone told me that I was crazy. Everyone told me to be really careful. Everyone told me not to go.

And honestly, I can understand why. The city has gotten a very bad reputation in the news and media since the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, and today, it is noted as a very dangerous destination for solo travelers due to the current tensions in the Middle East.

From the moment I arrived at my hotel in downtown Cairo and took a big whiff of the polluted air, I could already sense what I was getting myself into.  Walking around the city, I’ve never felt more unsafe in my life.  I’m frightened to tell you some of the things that I witnessed in just 3 days.

Exploring Cairo reminded me of being back in Mumbai earlier this year. It’s shocking similar in many ways. The prices are generally the same, the streets are just as hectic and dirty, and the chaos is unbearable in both places. Little kids will try to sell you things and beg you for money, pedestrians are seen weaving in and out of passing cars, and the hot sun will make you sweat through all layers of clothing.  The only major differences between Mumbai and Cairo are that Mumbai has a higher population, a higher level of poverty and the people are much friendlier.

At this point after visiting 67 Countries, I’d like to call myself an experienced traveler. But traveling Cairo was very difficult for me.

I will warn you right now that Cairo it’s NOT an easy place to visit for inexperienced travelers.  

Every time I left my hotel, I had a little paranoia in the back of my head. It’s nearly impossible to navigate the city unless you have GPS on your phone.  I was haggled on every corner of the street.  I was offered all sorts of things from hash to toilet paper to watches.  One time, a taxi driver followed me 2 blocks down the street because I didn’t want to take his freaking taxi, and he wouldn’t stop yelling in my ear.  Do you need directions to get somewhere?  Good luck asking locals for help because they will just stare at you like you’re an alien.

I had no idea what was happening on the streets, but I can tell you that I witnessed 2 car accidents, 3 all-out brawls (yes, first fights) and I heard about a thousand honking horns every minute. When I walked past the American embassy, I saw several army tanks with bullet proof glass which scared the crap out of me. And all the tourist attractions had dozens of policemen with massive guns strapped to their backs and a grin on their face.

Yeah — I’m not making any of this up.

Let’s dive into some facts.

Quick Facts

  • – Currency – Egyptian Pound (EGP)
  • Language – Arabic
  • Population – 22 million (Greater Cairo)
  • The Arabic name for Cairo is al-Qahirah, which means “the conqueror,” “the vanquisher” or “the victorious.” Most Egyptians call Cairo “Masr”, the Arabic for Egypt.
  • Cairo is the most populated city in the Middle East and second in Africa (behind Lagos)
  • Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest civilizations in the world
  • The ancient Pyramids of Giza, dating back to 2500 BC, are located just a few miles from the city center
  • The longest river in the world – the Nile River – runs through Cairo
  • Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab world, as well as the world’s second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University.
  • Cairo’s metro system, one of two metros on the African continent, ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world with over 1 billion annual passenger rides

What to Do?

Here is my list of the top 5 things to do in Cairo:

  1. Pyramids of Giza – You simply cannot come to Cairo without seeing one of the 7 wonders of the world (the best one in my opinion). Seeing these pyramids with your eyes is something that I just can’t explain.  You just need to do it. And take the 2 hour camel tour around the desert, it’s worth it!
  2. Citadel – This is a medieval Islamic fortress that’s located on a hill in the heart of the city. It’s famous for it’s landmarks (the Mohammad Ali Mosque) and it has really nice views of the city. It’s now a preserved historic site with museums and mosques.
  3. Hussein District – This was my favorite place to hang out in Cairo! It’s also the location of the Khan el-Khalili market – a great place to buy souvenirs and hand made goods. The streets here are lined up with shops, restaurants and shisha cafes!  This place has the best vibes in the city.
  4. Egypt Museum – Also known as the Museum of Cairo, this place is an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiques. I’m not a museum person, but this was one of the most fascinating ones that I’ve ever been to. Inside has over 120,000 items dating back to ancient times. It’s the big pink building located in the main square so you can’t miss it.
  5. Shisha Bars – Cairo is home to some of the world’s finest shisha (hookah)! It seems like people are doing it all day, everyday. And it’s very cheap ($1-3 depending on the place). Head over to Hussein district and sit down at a shisha place for the best experience.

Culture & People

The fascinating history of Cairo and the people of Cairo don’t seem to relate with each other.   I didn’t feel comfortable walking around this city. Not one bit.

You may have heard about the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, where Cairo was at the center of attention. Millions of protesters wanted to overthrow the Egyptian president and have freedom for themselves. People were rioting, the police were shooting people, and it was an all-out chaos for some time. Almost 1,000 people died and over 6,000 were injured. Since then, things have settled down a bit but there still have been some random acts of violence and terrorism in the city. Especially with all the political things that have been happening in the Middle East lately, Cairo is vulnerable to dangerous things happening.

Here’s a photo of what Cairo looked like in 2011 during the protests…

I found most Egyptian people to be extremely aggressive, loud and pushy. One time when I was riding in a taxi, I saw a car crash happen and then there was a massive brawl on the streets with punches being thrown and people forced in headlocks. Everyone was screaming and pushing.  I was scared for my life.

It almost seemed as if the people in Cairo are just looking for a fight. They are always arguing with each other, talking loudly, and getting in each others faces. I’m just telling you exactly what I witnessed and how I felt – I’m not making anything up.

Due to religion restrictions,  Egyptians were difficult to approach and many of them are narrow-minded. Around the city of Cairo there must be a different mosque every 100 meters. And about 5 times per day, you can hear the Muslims praying on the loud speakers. Most women wear a hijab on their head, and many men wear long, solid color baggy clothes.

The streets in Cairo are a mess. They rival that of Mumbai. Everyone is honking all the time, even for no reason. Pedestrians are maneuvering between cars in the middle of the street, coming just inches away from being run over. There are no street lanes – cars just weave in and out and slam on the brakes every few minutes to avoid a crash.

As I’m writing this post right now in my hotel room in downtown Cairo, I can hear about three honking horns per second.  

If you are going to take a taxi, then all I have to say is good luck. It was a nightmare for me and it’s a guarantee that they won’t speak any English.

On a positive note, the best thing about Cairo is that it is VERY cheap!  It’s about the same prices as India. I got a falafel sandwich and a coffee for less than $1USD. A shisha is only $1-2USD, and a 20 minute taxi ride was less than $2USD.

But all in all, I’m going to admit that I didn’t’ feel safe walking around Cairo by myself. I was lucky to be connected with a local guy named Ahmed who was showing me around the city. Without him, I would feel completely lost and scared.

The Food

Egyptian food was really good! It’s kind of like Mediterranean with a twist. The pita bread is some of the best I’ve ever had in my life. You have to try a falafel sandwich (shown in photo below)!

Egyptians also like to eat mashed beans in pita bread, which is about 20 cents at any street vendor. It’s really good and I ate this everyday for breakfast.

Turkish style coffee is normally served with your meal and with shisha – it’s thick and rich and tasty.

Lastly, the fruits in Cairo are yummy and you should try the mango juice from a street vendor! It was my favorite.

The Nightlife

As you might expect from any Muslim country, the nightlife is almost non-existent. There are some “bars” which are more like big coffee shop-style rooms with people sitting around drinking some beers. But that’s about it. Apparently there are some night clubs but I didn’t bother to check them out. I can’t imagine them being anything that great.

Most of the nightlife consists of chilling outside and smoke shisha — Which was fun! The quality of shisha in Cairo is second to none, and it’s dirt cheap.   Head over to the Hussein district near the outdoor markets and try one!

Final Words

I’m sorry if this post disappointed you if you had high expectations to go to Cairo, but I just had to be honest and share my experiences with you.  As I mentioned at the beginning, I screwed up by only visiting Cairo and not seeing other places. I’m sure my experience in Egypt would have been much better if I got out of Cairo.

But I will say that Cairo is absolutely worth it to visit the Pyramids (for one day), but after that, get out and see something else.

If you want some more insider information about what to expect in Egypt, then check out my friend Jeremy’s blog post called Is it Safe To Travel to Egypt?  His experience is well worth a read.

Lastly, don’t forget to book your hotels in Cairo on this link!

103 thoughts on “3 Days in Cairo is 2 days Too Much

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  2. Drew,
    Thanks for sharing your honest experience.

    I would say Cairo is not the perfect part of the country for a first timer in Egypt. Have you been to Hurghada, Luxor, or Aswan. I think you will experience a better vacation down there in the south.


  3. I understand how sometimes there are good and bad traveling experiences, but I would consider your’s as a very unprepared travel experience. Egypt is known for being loud, active and unexpected and that’s why people like it. Also if you have always wanted to visit Egypt ever since you were in the first grade, why haven’t you made reservations in a better area and planned it out so that you have had a better experience.
    There is another travel blogger similar to you that also teaches English and travels to different countries. Her blog website is (https://www.coffeewithasliceoflife.com). She has been traveling around the world for the past 6 years of her life and chose to live in Egypt because she is interested in it’s unique culture and tourism. She continuously makes videos to make travelers know of how happy she is living in Egypt and about how she is a woman living there solo and how amazing her life is.
    You will probably comment saying that “she has had different experiences than me”, but the thing is you haven’t experienced what a true Egyptian tourist should experience when they visit Egypt. I hope this message encourages you to give Egypt another chance and to come back. Please check out this persons blog, there are many things you guys have in common and also she might encourage you to give Egypt a second chance. Also if you are thinking revisiting Egypt, when do you think you will come?

  4. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layoujt of your
    site? Its very welpl written; I love whwt youve got tto say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect witth it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2
    images. Maybe you could sppace it out better?

    1. Hi there ! Glad to read your review. I see that you have recently been to Egypt. We are considering a trip in December but we are getting mixed reviews regarding safety there. Any advice??

  5. You’re killing me. I hope no one bases their trip off of this blog post, I just happened to stumble upon it on my first Google search. Horrible and misleading. There’s no way you can explore I’m even 5 days Missy of Cairo. I’m currently here from America on my first trip and solo as well.

    Pros: everything is cheap, safe (I can be carrying valuables out in the open late at night alone without the fear of being robbed), hospitality( I’ve had to fight for the tab just so I could pay for my own things all the time cause everyone has treated me like a guest, simply amazing) food (you can get a good meal for $0.50, literally the metro costs pennies $.05 (100x’s cheaper than a cab literally) and is super easy to navigate and clean, bars are amazing during soccer matches (everyone attends and you’ll never see anything else like it). You can just buy all your clothes while in the country and you can get a full wardrobe for the price of a couple items back home.

    Cons: The streets aren’t up to standards of the west (crap, dirty water, etc) in some areas.
    Stray animals in many places especially cats, it actually (might be a pro) since food is close to nothing and if you’re an animal lover you’ll see many safe animals.
    Some people only speak Egyptian Arabic
    Most things may only just have Arabic
    If you go into a place that caters to tourists you will probably pay more for something cheap if you aren’t a native.
    You literally have to walk through traffic, people will come close to you so it takes getting use to.

    Tips: buy a map, use your phone to get around, learn the basic number system, learn how to say how much in Arabic (then have then write it so you can pay). You can get amazing luxury apartments for 1/10 the cost of a nice hotel room. Book early (for a room) and check price drops on planes.

  6. Dear Drew,

    thanks for writing an ignorant’s guide to Egypt. I hope you write an ignorant’s guide to the US based on the rude taxi drivers in New York.


  7. I’m reading your article from my hotel room in Cairo (it’s my third day here) and I’m almost crying because you describe this city just perfectly. Is exactly what I’ve seen around here.

  8. I was overly joyed to go to Egypt back in 2012. The minute I arrived I marveled at the Arabic writings on the streets(all new to me). Then the journey began. Shortness of breath, horrific traffic, and everyone needs a tip even for saying hi to you – yes exaggerating but you get my drift. On my second day finally he pyramids. Pretty much empty to my delight but boy oh boy was being followed and harassed . The police came over and even insisted I tip 3 kids for claiming the showed me something I had no idea they were talking about. Needless to say aside from going inside the big pyramid I stormed out of there. The Nile River was nasty. A much as I wanted to explore the city I didn’t. Went to the museum and Alexandria. I remember getting on the plane leaving Cairo and go a sense of relieve. Whoa so exhausting ! Of course I tell people in America that it was an amazing experience . Which it is to some extent. Let’s just say I got to see the pyramids.

  9. Dear Drew,

    Whilst I appreciate that you are describing your own personal experiences, I can’t help but notice the typical white-man rhetoric being used in your writing. I’m Italian but have grown up and lived in Sudan (just south of Egypt) all my life. As you can imagine, I’ve done plenty of traveling in Africa and the Middle East. One thing I’ve learnt from my experiences is that these people are still culturally connected and some of the most friendly individuals you can meet. I’m ashamed of my European heritage because of the way that ‘Westerners’ perceive these people as being ‘narrow minded’ as you pointed out about Egyptians. Let me tell you this, there is nobody closer to being narrow minded than your typical white Westerner that has hardly studied the country, region or continent that they are visiting. Egyptians are not ‘angry’ or ‘aggressive’ people, they are proud people. Considering the amount of meddling that we have done over the centuries in these regions, it is not hard to imagine that a minority will initially judge you immediately before you’ve said anything. Living in Sudan, I was and still am, always stared upon. All you must do is smile and engage with them. For example, in their local language or attempt at mixing English with Arabic – they would appreciate the effort! The nightlife in Cairo is actually quite amazing, and to suggest that it is conservative is a stretch. Egypt was one of the few Arab countries that imposed Shari’a law, whilst maintaining a sense of secularism for tourists. I apologize if I may sound offensive, however having lived in a similar culture (my family for three generations now) to Egypt’s, I cannot help but disagree with you on every aspect apart from the busy streets and the honking of horns. Reading this prior to knowing who you were or how many places you’ve visited, really gave me an image of a narrow-minded (particularly with security concerns) white westerner. As I said, I understand that you are only reporting on what you experienced, however try to understand their perspective before degrading Egyptians as being narrow-minded and aggressive. It could have worked without all the pointing and labeling, particularly as it gave me a reflection of yourself and not Egyptians. This is, of course, probably one of many criticisms you’ve come across, but please do learn from them and take them into consideration! As you are trying to help us understand new places and cultures, we are here to help you as well!

    1. Dear Drew,

      I’m sorry for your experience in Cairo but I just want to mention few points that were extremely wrong!
      Whenever visiting any country you’d never find the capital’s residants are friendly, people do understand English and speak little but probably they do not understand your accent! About the nightlife I might send you photos of you contact me through my email for the bars and clubs of Cairo.. Actually from the best I went to in the world!!! You just didn’t bother having a good search before your departure! I would name 100 for you now and each have a very different and unique taste from the ones in the old city with a very old bars and bartenders to the most modern! When going through Cairo you shouldn’t take a normal taxi from the streets you just need to ask your hotel to get you a private car (it would be cheaper and more trustworthy) or you can have uber or careem (it’s easier for me because I just put the address when ordering). For me, my experience in Moscow or Istanbul was worse than what you’re talking about and people were more aggressive!!! You should have went to Dahab, Alexandria, sharm el sheikh or GOUNA, Elgouna from my opinion is the most beautiful spot in Egypt!
      Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any info about Cairo or anywhere in egypt 🙂

      1. Thank you for your comment, however, my opinions will not change. This blog post that I wrote is based off my own experiences, and I do hope to go back another time with a more open mind

      2. Hi
        I’m thinking of visiting Egypt soon (Aug 2016) not sure if I should
        Can someone be kind enough to give insider information
        What is it really like, is it safe for women??

    2. Thank you for the comment and sharing your stories related on the matter. Hopefully I can go back to Egypt and give it another chance

    3. Thank you for this honest retort to this post. I haven’t seen such negative and narrow minded account of trip.

      Probably this is what you call first world problem.

      Also please do not visit third world countries they are not worth your presence.

      Just talking about my experience not everyone else (to quote you)

  10. Hi Drew just got back from Cairo last week. Everything you have said is spot on what I went through theret. It was my first travel experience out of the USA, besides Mexico, I live near it. I was only there 4 days and saw most of the ancient sites and saw the culture. I’m sure if I been there longer I can build a tolerance to live there. It IS a different country completely. I’m pretty much tolerant of things and Cairo will be Cairo, what I didn’t like what being tricked and scammed. But that can happen anywhere and can’t judge a country due to a few people. Some people who really did help me, I offered a tip and they totally said no. That’s very honest of them. Drew is just saying what he saw and felt in his few days, not writing an encyclopedia of Cairo. I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Have some common sense and you should be fine. But when some stranger jumps in your taxi to harass you to buy something,a stranger pretends to be police to have you follow him through amother entrance to a site, or taxi driver demands your passport and walks off with it at a checkpoint, then yah i would be scared.

  11. Hi Drew,

    I absolutely have to agree with Graham on his post. I’m not sure if you wrote this post just to have an ‘African’ country on your list of places but three days is hardly the tip of an iceberg to give you a true reflection on a place. You keep saying this is my own personal reflection – of course it is – but it’s unfair to share it on a public platform when you admit you hadn’t done your research, you only spent three days there and you only went to Cairo… I mean what’s the point? Why not write a proper post when you’ve done it properly? This is poor writing and poor work and I think you know it. BTW, I say all this as someone who went to Cairo and hated it – full and noisy as you say – but I’m well aware my two weeks there was too short and I probably didn’t understand half the things going on and I cannot be making judgments about a people who have been through a political revolution. Please take my advice and write better pieces with more time and research and nuance – your readers will appreciate it. This is the only piece I’ve read of yours on your site because I wanted to see what you had to say about a place like this – and I’m afraid to say all you’ve come across is as a white entitled American man. Which is a pity.

  12. I remembered reading this post before i went to Cairo but now that I’ve spent a couple of weeks there I have to assume that you must have been giving off some seriously bad vibes. I think your comment about paranoia says it all, if that’s the attitude you walk around with you’ll get negative feelings back. I had a great time meeting people in the street. Did you bother learning any Arabic greetings? I barely bought a cup of tea in my time there as so many people insisted that I sit with them and drink. If you only hung out in touristy places then, sure you are going to get some hassle but show me a touristy place that doesn’t have some of that. To be perfectly honest your equating the religion with their negative behaviour is just disgraceful. Having traveled throughout the Muslim world I can assure you that they know a damn sight more about hospitality than western countries. Now having spent 5 months in Egypt i can also assure you that your impressions are in no way representative of the country. I appreciate that you were careful to point out the limited time you spent there but I think you really need to rethink the value you can place on such a short time anywhere.
    If there is one thing I’ve learnt from years of travel is that you never judge a place by its taxi drivers, in much of the world they don’t treat foreigners as anything but a source of extra income.
    Although I don’t doubt you experienced some tension a bit more understanding as to why this might be would not have gone amiss. With hundreds having been gunned down in the streets and thousands tortured and imprisoned by a government with the complete blessing of our own governments we are in no position to make assumptions about the character of Cairo’s inhabitants. By all means report on bad experiences you’ve had anywhere but I ask you tread carefully and make an effort to learn before you make assumptions about what you have seen.

    1. This post was written entirely off my experiences, and they are 100% true. I have never experiences such things in other countries. Maybe it was my luck, but I felt that I needed to share my experiences with everyone and not make up some “fake” blog post that is all positive. Maybe I’ll get another chance to visit Cairo and spend more time there. Thanks for your comment

      1. You have missed my point. What I am suggesting is that part of your negative experience was down to your own behaviour. I too have seen what you think of as scowling faces but I always smile and greet them in arabic and most of the time their face lights up and they return the greeting and might even stop for a chat. I do this with machine gun toting soldiers as well and in five months I’ve never had a negative experience, sometimes they invite me to join them for tea. It’s easy to misread facial expressions in different cultures, maybe they are just curious but I do this all over the world and the worst I’ve ever had is a blank look. If you act positive and happy you’ll get the same back most of the time but if you are in a state of paranoia people will pick up on it. We all get fed up with tourist hassle but if all you are going to do is rush around the big tourist sights, what do you expect?

          1. I guess what Drew was saying is that if you Cairo without studying the place, those are the things you\ll gonna experience. The problem with people here is they want Drew to write good things about the place even if he didn’t experience those. I suggest you write your own blogs and not ask the blogger to write something that he didn’t experienced.

  13. I stayed in cairo 2 month with local turkish female friend working in cairo, you find only negative to say of egypt, yes egyptians talk loud but its how most eastern people speak, its a large city ofcourse its crowded there can be fights, car crash as any crowded city. Egyptians in most are respectable followers of Islam, its not best city for loose europes tourist. I visited most beautiful mosques in cairo, the food is amazing, people friendlier then europe. PS HIJAB is not worn on head, HIJAB is the general modesty behavior and dress (all covered exept hands and face) of a lady. Yeh you look like a tourist the poorer ppl haggle to sell because they need to feed their family. I walk alone with my female friend, nobody sexual harassed us.

  14. I’m an American living in Egypt for a little over a year now. Everything you said about Cairo is spot on accurate. It’s loud, crazy, filthy, and dangerous. I have been sexually harassed numerous times even though I conformed to the culture and wore a hijab and modest clothing. The only thing that makes Cairo bearable are the friends I’ve met who spend hours talking at cafes. Egypt is not a kind place for women and I would never recommend any woman attempt to travel around Egypt alone. Even traveling with other women (but no men) is dangerous. The culture of Egypt is becoming increasingly hostile to Americans so be careful to anyone traveling there!

    Riding horses in the pyramids and those delicious cheap bean pita sandwiches are certainly the highlights! Oh and the Turkish coffee is amazing as well! Good luck next time and I hope your experience is better!

    1. Thanks so much for this comment, Amanda! I appreciate you sharing personal experiences with me and everyone reading this. Hope you are safe out there, and cheers to 2016!

  15. Last year I travelled to Cairo and Luxor with my husband and pregnant friend. We decided to book Memphis Tours to take us around. They took care of everything and we always felt safe. We don’t typically book tours but under the circumstances we felt it was the best thing to do. After reading your post I think we made a good call. Although what an experience you had! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Hi Drew, I went to Cairo last year for a day trip while on a resort trip in Sharm El Sheikh with 3 other girl friends, and I can say I do not want to go back to Egypt again. Even the pyramids were a let down to me, besides being able to say I got it ticked off my bucket list. (If you want a more grandeur experience, I highly suggest the Forbidden City in Beijing). Even with all the unpleasantness you experienced, I doubt that you experienced the same level of harassment we did as a group of girls… Besides avoiding the hoards of people trying to scam us, we were groped on the streets, and even harassed by EMPLOYEES in our resort. Of course people would say those are only actions of a few men and I shouldn’t judge a whole country by it, but that was what happened to us EVERYDAY while we were there. I had never been to another country that made me feel so unsafe as a woman just walking through the streets. I definitely warn against any girls trying to travel alone in Egypt, even in pairs or small groups, if there’s no men with you the locals act so inappropriately and aggressively. We didn’t even know where to look for help if anything more serious had happened, we were just glad to leave by the end of our trip. Maybe I am too much of a “princess” to be touring a tough country like Egypt, but I think that is a poor excuse to leave their tourists feeling unsafe.

    1. Very interesting to hear about this, Karen. Thanks for sharing your personal stories. It’s definitely a different country to visit, and I think that we must keep that in mind before visiting.

  17. Actually, you should’ve visited the nightclubs in Zamalek. You said “I can’t imagine them being anything that great.” They are actually amazing, not like nightclubs in the West but still good.

  18. When I went to Cairo it was not too bad. The people were very friendly except for some army guys with rifles. You eventually get into the flow of the city and just accept the touts as a part of it. Just do not initiate eye contact or say hello and they will leave you alone. If you say no they will simply think you are haggling and be more aggressive. You do sometimes get conned out of your money so be sure to enquire about the places you want to visit first or just go with a big group of people. I found Luxor so much nicer though and it certainly deserves a visit as most of the ancient Egyptian stuff like the Valley of the Kings etc is there.

  19. you visit one of the most aggressive and crowded cities in the world we the Egyptians never like to been there 😀 waiting for you again to show you the real Egypt and the kind real Egyptians anytime you like to come back just send me an Email 😀

  20. Most of your talking is right but Cairo is extremely crowded
    Maybe next time you should visit alexandria i think it’ll be a better experience , alexandria also have a nice weather.

  21. At least in Cairo, unlike USA for example and many other countries, there are no “gangs” no gang fueds or any gang related mess goiing on in its streets. There is no guns or drug dealers or hookers standing at each corner of your street. That is a place I want to raise my kids at honestly.

  22. its plain to see from your homework on traveling to Egypt u expected the best of your minds world . i have lived in Egypt now for 2 years and true i do not like Cairo but not because of what u have said , i have seen worst in the USA,as a USA born citizen and would rather live in Egypt. Why so shocked if u saw a brawl(fight) here the fights don’t get so drastic as the elder people stop them so quick and there are no knives or guns involved as the fighs USA . Statistics show the overall auto accidents in the USA as so so bad that people die from these car accidents in the highways or in side cities . Car body shops are so packed it takes long to get your car fixed yet you are scared for your life over 2 car accidents u witnessed, give me a break . as for people going in and out of traffic its a great way of life and is very well handled as i am sure that from all those people maneuvering themselves between the cars no one was hit or trampled by any car or even left to die by a hit and run car like in the USA . As for the horns, really dude did you not witness the traffic and crossing of pedestrians ( ofc they need to honk) and they communicate in that manor . as for Egyptians being unfriendly u are so so wrong . you were prejudice and didn’t get the chance to meet any of them as u assumed they were all bad because of the circumstances of the city and how it looked . Had u visited the seas and beaches you would have found them so clean compared to our oceans beaches rivers lakes in the USA .In less than 3days you became such a hypocrite . yet u ate there food ( what not afraid it was dirty ) ? as for the other cities u mentioned , they are all the same as Cairo, busy busy busy and for the pollution “please” give me a break our USA is killing us with cancer from left and right not just with the industries pollution but with the foods they grow and feed us with. And what of the tanks you say you saw in front of the embassy ? yes its true they have them and the security at the tourist sites as USA citizens are protected here . that is for your protection more than for the Egyptians buddy but lets ask why you were so scared for your life just because of these tanks and military people with rifles and guns , what about your own back yard where Walmart’s were closed down to accommodate it for the Fema camps. And we have the National guards in all our cities. So its somewhat more unseen than here but we still have them . And what about the drug abuse of our kids not to mention the adults and all the alcohol consumed , and adultery committed as well as rape of women and children .Our USA county has prisons filled with criminals that have committed child molestation in the family involvement yet you felt for your life over 2 car accidents and 3 fist fights . So let me say to you that before you go talking your thoughts out loud about other countries just take a good look at yours be fore u feel like God and point your finger out to condemn any situation.

    1. Hi Gavina, I appreciate your comments about Egypt, but I was in NO way comparing Egypt to my country, so I’d appreciate if you didn’t either. I was just sharing the experiences that happened to me, and warning other travels for what to expect. Take care

  23. Well, I am not writing this post to defend Cairo in any way. I am an experienced traveller myself and I can see what you mean.

    However, I have to say that you screwed up badly for an experienced traveller, as Cairo has a lot more stuff to enjoy. You did not do your homework before you come and that is a HUGE problem when visiting a third world country.

    First of all about the nightlife, you missed plenty of clubs and bars: After Eight, Hard Rock Cafe, Aperitivo, Amici, Red Onion, The Garden, LIV…..The list is so long. This is Cairo mate, not Mecca.

    About the sightseeings, you seem like a good photographer, how can you miss the view from above the Cairo tower? You should have ascended before sunset and descended after sunset to capture the view at day and night.

    About activities, people normally can’t miss a cruise in the nile with dinner, belly dancing, and music.

    About the people, normally you have to choose “Youth” in the streets who are dressed adequately so that they qualify as middle class. These are the ones educated enough to understand your English.

    People in Cairo are not that rude by the way. Yeah they shout all the time, but they do it when joking, when talking, when cheering, when driving. That is their nature, they are simply loud. Fights are also common in Cairo but make sure no one would ever attack you in a fight that you don’t belong to.

    Finally, about the security issue. I think that you were pre-biased before coming to Cairo that your sensors raised alarms with every dark or empty street. Cairo has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world.

      1. I will be waiting and you can contact me whenever you like. I am not a tour guide so this is not a try to get any money from you 🙂

        I just like to help because when I travel I like being helped 🙂

        If you ever come back do NOT miss scuba diving in Hurghada or Sharm 🙂

        Take care

    1. You summed up everything I wanted to say.
      Alot of this could’ve been avoided by some planning & researching about the best things to do/visit.

  24. Egypt has absolutely great nightlife and it’s not even that hard to find. If you search for nightlife in Cairo, many places will show up. It’s even better in Dahab and places that are ashore. It’s also better when you have people accompany you on your trip there, I imagine exploring it alone would be tough and time-consuming.

  25. Hi drew , i’m Egyptian living in craazy cairo , and i feel sorry you didn’t enjoy your time there,
    Of course it would have been much easier and funn if you have egyptian friends to guide you around the city 😉
    If you are planning to enjoy more about egypt i advice you to visit luxur and aswan
    Also sharm el sheikh and hurghada ,
    And for transportation in cairo you can use Uber application it is safer and better experience than stopping a taxi in the street ,
    If you have future plans to visit egypt hope you enjoy it and have better experience
    You can drop me an e-mail if you need an advice or a plan to what to do there
    Wish you loads of fun in your comming trips around the world 🙂

  26. Drew- Thanks for sharing your honest opinion-I have been in Cairo in 1989- your experience in Cairo brought back some memories- But i went to Alexandria and Sharm Al sheikh and i remember it was funnn

  27. Hello! I am headed to South Africa in less than 2 weeks and my boyfriend and I have a 12 hour layover in Cairo. We are dying to see the pyramids and do the camel rides… but we are having similar reactions to what your friends and family were having. Everyone is telling us to stay in the airport, don’t bother, etc. Personally i think it would be a total waste to not go see the pyramids while we are there. Do you have the name of the local guy who took you around? Or the names of anyone who could pick us up and take us around for the day before dropping us back off at airport? Should we even bother leaving the airport? Thanks for all the great tips!

    1. Hey Kristina – if you have a 12 hour layover, then DEF go see the pyramids! I don’t have the name of company of what I used.. But I would contact a tourist agency (or Camel pyramid company) to set up a private driver to pick you up from the airport and take you to the pyramids and back.. It’ll be cheap and MUCH safer than finding a random taxi driver..

      Let me know if you need additional help!

    2. Hi kristina,
      Seems like your friends and family make it sound like it’s a war zone in Egypt. I can assure you that we’re living a pretty normal life right now. I’m not sure if you were going to make that transit on your way to South Africa or back home, So if it’s not too late you can e-mail me and I could show you and your BF around if you’d like.

  28. I grew up in Egypt (btw not an egyptian, was born in the US). I understand what you are saying. I moved back to the states before the revolution and the difference is there was no army in the US embassy, alot of people spoke English but the sense of discomfort was still there. They are not very openminded and i agree if you don’t know someone you will be totally lost. Also, if you go there again I would recommend to visit Alexandria, it is beautiful there.

      1. I wouldn’t advise visiting Alexandria nowadays as it is a smaller scale of Cairo sadly. Maybe if you know someone there that could show you around and take you to the good places, other than that I really recommend against visiting Alexandria on your own. I would recommend however Dahab, Sharm Elsheikh or Luxor and Aswan as a much better alternative

  29. Sucks that you had a crappy time in Cairo. I’ve lived in Dahab, Egypt for the past 3 years and make the occasional trip up to Cairo. It definitely seems like one of those hit or miss places. I think you really need to give it another chance (next time when its not hot AF, nor in the middle of a duststorm!) Hopefully you’ll have a better time on your next visit and definitely make a trip down to Dahab to do some diving with me and Justin, if he’s around!

    1. Hey Jeanette! Yeah I need to give it another chance, and I’m kicking myself for not visiting you and Justin in Dahab! AHh I need to come next time and dive with you!

  30. Hey, I am an Egyptian and I am disappointed to say that the blog is actually true… I don’t live at Egypt but I go there at summer vacations to see my relatives and trust me..you won’t have the best experience UNLESS you chose the right place to go. Cairo is crowded and full of grumpy people but there are some places you can go to like The district and Downtown, it’s a bit crowded though. Pushing Cairo aside, Alexandria, Luxor ,and the part of Cairo that is beside the Nile River is amazing and you should try it! Pollution at Egypt is awful and can make the place unattractive but hopefully by time everything will be fixed..long time ago, Egypt was at its best.

    1. Hey Donia – thanks for your comment! I agree with everything you said. I will definitely go back and visit Luxor and Alexandria sometime soon 🙂 Shu Krun !

      1. My advise to you is to visit Cairo and Alexandria in winter. People in Egypt are so friendly but they love to talk and argue in a very loud voice . You should stay for longer time in your next visit

  31. I lived most of my life in Cairo, and I can understand what you have been through. I have met so many tourists however that enjoyed it so much that they keep coming back, I guess that you either love it or hate it, nothing in the middle. I agree that Cairo is not for an inexperienced tourist who wants to arrange everything by himself. It’s best to have a local showing you around, and if you don’t know anyone ask a travel agency to do it. About the nightlife, I disagree, as there are many great bars/clubs, but again you must know where you’re going.
    Other touristic cities are much different, and are easy to enjoy for anyone.
    Sorry for your bad experience, and I hope that Egypt will be a safer and better place in 10 or 20 years.

  32. I couldn’t agree more with you. I was there in 2010 and never want to go back it was really a bad experience… What I recommend go to Sharm el Sheik it is really beautiful!!! Nothing to do with El Cairo

  33. Hi Drew, I’m kind of confused now. My parents went to Cairo for 3 days too, but they were across the Nile unlike you and they were simply amazed! They even said they would love to go back and visit other cities -like you mentioned. I really wonder why you had such a bad experience. And just like another guy said on commemts, across the Nile is full of qualified shops, bars -even discos! Also love your snaps, my parents used horses instead of camels because it was cheaper and horses were faster! I heard you’re coming to my city, İstanbul, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed about it!

  34. Agree (mostly). Just spent over two weeks in Egypt and downtown Cairo was definitely the lowlight for us in this otherwise fascinating country. Such a chaotic cluster. I had only spent a day there and was happy that I stayed closer to the Pyramids instead. Was pleasantly surprised to actually find some local markets in the area and not being hassled just a kilometer or two from the major tourist site. But Cairo, uhhh, it was maddening for us too. The only thing I find a little unfair about this post is in regards to the people. The touts are absolutely awful, as you describe, but we found Egyptians who are not preying on tourists to be delightful and funny. I hope you can see the rest of Egypt one day but with Cairo as your first impression I wouldn’t blame you for not coming back.

  35. I’m sorry you had such an experience in Cairo. I guess you should have better planned your visit.
    I’m Egyptian & must tell you that your choice of staying downtown wasn’t the right one. you could have just crossed the Nile & you would have seen the other ‘beautiful ‘ side of Cairo ( Zamalek) . all 5 star hotels have casinos, bars & discos, if you had just crossed ‘kasr el nil’ bridge you would have found yourself in the middle of Egypt’s charming life! Not to mention that Cairo is not just about ‘downtown’ area!
    Your review about Cairo is exactly as if me as an Egyptian go to Manhattan & negatively judge New York for its crowded streets & aggressive people! I encourage you to visit us one more time but with better planning.

    1. I don’t mind if you give a bad review of New York City! That’s your opinion. I didn’t get the best experience in Cairo, but maybe next time it will be better

  36. Dude. Egypt relies on tourism and you paint a pretty bad picture. They have turned things around immensely since 2012 and need tourists to return. This does not help.
    I was unsure about visiting from what the media has portrayed but can say it is misunderstanding more than anything. I had a blue sky day (2 weeks ago) and no traffic jams but I know they exist. The city is as old as they come and is overpopulated so this shouldn’t be a shock. For those not scarred off visit on a Friday as it is a holly day and the streets are quiet.

    I’m not saying it’s not without its problems but if you are cautious (like any crowded city), take tours through reputable companies, and stick to the safe areas you are fine.

    I only spent one day in Cairo and agree that is all you need. I will happily return to visit the Red Sea and cruise the Nile.


    1. Why am I not allowed to share my own personal experiences? It doesn’t matter how “hard” Egypt is trying to get more tourists.. I am not giong to lie to people and tell them that I had an amazing experience. People want to hear the truth, so I gave it to them

  37. Dude. Egypt relies on tourism and you paint a pretty bad picture. They have turned things around immensely since 2012 and need tourists to return. This does not help.
    I was unsure about visiting from what the media has portrayed but can say it is misunderstanding more than anything. I had a blue sky day and no traffic jams but I know they exist. The city is as old as they come and is overpopulated so this shouldn’t be a shock. For those ninterested visit on a Friday as it is a holly day.

    I’m not saying it’s not without its problems but if you are cautious (like and crowded city), take tours through reputable companies, and stick to the

    I only spent one day in Cairo and agree that is all you need. I will return to visit the Red Sea and cruise the Nile.

  38. Couldn’t agree more, Cairo was straight up terrifying to visit. I was there one month b4 the crisis happened in 2011, luckily I got out in time!

  39. Ahhhh I’m sorry you had this experience Drew! I was there in July (I’m the one who snapped you 🙂 ) and it was great! I felt totally safe and I was never harassed to buy things to the extent that you were and I didn’t witness anything like the fist fights or other events you talked about in your post. Maybe it’s different for females? I was only there for a day though so maybe if I stayed longer I would have seen some of what you were talking about. My pyramid tour was also the highlight of my time there, in addition to the food! Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts on Cairo. I also need to make it down to Luxor and Aswan–I’m sure it’s a much different experience.

    P.S. The new blog design looks great! Keep up the good work and awesome snaps!

  40. Don’t tell me you didn’t eat anything else authentically Egyptian besides what you posted! The cuisine there is great. Stuffed pigeon, Mulukhiya (that green sauce stuff), and so on! I also believe I saw you eating Kushari in one of your snapchats (it’s like rice, chickpeas, pasta and all these carbs mixed into one dish). Next time you’re in Egypt, go to the other places you mentioned, but also be sure to check out Sharm el-Sheikh! It’s located at the bottom of the Sinai Peninsula.

  41. Your description about cairo’s people is almost the same as my experience when I went to Jordan! I guess that’s a common trait of the ME people.

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