Alexandria (الإسكندرية al-Iskanderiyya) is Egypt's second largest city (3.5 million people), its largest seaport and the country's window onto the Mediterranean Sea. It's a faded shade of its former glorious cosmopolitan self, but still worth a visit for its many cultural attractions and still-palpable glimpses of its past.
Lighthouse of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria
Few cities of the world have a history as rich as that of Alexandria; few cities have witnessed so many historic events and legends. Founded by Alexander the Great (Iskander al-Akbar) in 331 BC, Alexandria became the capital of Greco-Roman Egypt; its status as a beacon of culture is symbolized by Pharos, the legendry lighthouse that was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos) was built in the third century BC by Ptolemy I on the island of Pharos. The height of the lighthouse was between 115 and 150 meters, so it was among the highest structures in the world, second only to the Great Pyramids. The lighthouse was built on 3 floors: a square bottom with a central heart, a section octagonal average and above an upper section. And on the top there was a mirror that reflected sunlight during the day and used fire for the night. But it was damaged by 2 earthquakes in 1303 and 1323.
The Library of Alexandria was the largest library of the ancient world and the place where great philosophers and scientists of that age came to seek knowledge. Alexandria also hosted, at the time, the largest Jewish community in the world, and the Septuagint, the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, was written in the city.
In all, Alexandria was one of the greatest cities in the Hellenic world, second only to Rome in size and wealth, and while it changed hands from Rome to Byzantine and finally Persia, the city stayed the capital of Egypt for a millennium.
Alas, the city's reign came to an end when the Arabs conquered Egypt in 641 and decided to found a new capital to the south in Cairo. (Scholars still debate if this was when the Library was finally destroyed; it is known that the Library was, at the very least, sacked and badly damaged by the Romans themselves in 48 BC, c. 270, and once more in 391.)
Alexandria survived as a trading port; Marco Polo described it around 1300 as one of the world's two busiest ports, along with Quanzhou. However, its strategic location meant that every army on its way to Egypt passed through: Napoleon's troops stormed the city in 1798, but the British conquered it in the Siege of Alexandria in 1801. The Egyptians under Mohammed Ali took control of the city and rebuilt it, but the Orabi Rebellion in 1881 and massacres of Europeans in the city led the British to strike back and hammer the rebels with the three-day Bombardment of Alexandria, reducing much of the city center to rubble.
Once again, Alexandria rose from the ashes. Its cosmopolitan and decadent lifestyle before and during World War II gave birth to its greatest poet, Constantine P. Cavafy, and was chronicled in Laurence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet and a series of works by E. M. Forster including Alexandria: A History and Guide (1922), described by some as the best travel guide ever written.
Yet this world, too, took a shattering blow in the 1950s when Egypt's new fiercely nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized vast swathes of the economy and forbade foreigners from owning or running companies, effectively forcing tens of thousands of foreigners out of the country, including virtually all of Alexandria's once 150,000-strong Greek community.
Today's Alexandria is a dusty seaside Egyptian town with an over-inflated population of 5 million, yet its status as Egypt's leading port keeps business humming, and tourists still flock to the beaches in the summertime. And while much of the city is badly in need of a lick of paint, history both ancient and modern is everywhere if you peer closely enough: the French-style parks and the occasional French street sign survive as a legacy of Napoleon, one of Alexandria's many conquerors, and the few remaining Greek restaurants and cafés still dominate the cultural scene.
Alexandria has a Mediterranean climate, with warm humid summers and mild rainy winters. The daytime can be humid in summer, with summer temperatures averaging 31°C (88°F), but evenings are usually cooler and breezy, especially by the Corniche. Winters can get cold, with daytime highs down sometimes to 12°C (53°F), with ocassional rain and sometimes hail. Humidity is high throughout the year. The best time to visit Alexandria is in spring (March-June) and autumn (September-November), since it's at its busiest in summer, when Egyptians flock down to escape the searing heat of Cairo.
Alexandria's primary promenade is the seaside Corniche. At the western tip lies the fort of Qait Bey, built near the presumed site of the former Lighthouse (Pharos in Greek), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, while the eastern shore sprawls for miles on end with the slums and tenements of modern Alex.
Map of central Alexandria
Alexandria is easily reached by plane, train or bus.
Alexandria's main airport is El Nouzha Airport (IATA: ALY), which has a limited selection of domestic flights and fairly extensive services to cities around the Middle East. The only connection to Europe, though, is from Athens. The airport lies 8 km (5 mi) to the south-east of the city. A taxi will take you about 20 minutes and should cost no more than 15 LE.
The city's second airport is Borg el Arab Airport (IATA: HBE), served by Emirates from Dubai and (soon) Turkish Airlines from Istanbul. It's rather less conveniently located some 45 km (23 mi) to the south-west of Alexandria, which means a one-hour journey by taxi (50 LE or less).
Super-Jet and Western Delta operate direct buses from the airport to the New bus terminal on the outskirts of the city every 30-60 minutes between 4 AM and 7:30 PM (25-31 LE).
However, Cairo offers a far better range of international destinations and is not too far away.
Several bus companies offer a bus service into Alexandria at a very low price range: 20-35 LE. Buses are air conditioned and come complete with a hostess trolley service. Companies include Golden Arrow, West Delta, Super Jet, Pullman and El Gouna. Operating times vary from one company to another, but there are trips between Cairo and Alexandria virtually every hour from early morning untill midnight.
Note that while the buses themselves are perfectly comfortable, the duration of your journey from Cairo to Alexandria (and vice versa) will depend on your pick-up/drop-off point. Most buses start out from the Almaza Bus Station in Heliopolis and stop by Midan Tahrir and Giza before finally setting out to Alexandria; if you join from Heliopolis expect a 4-5 hour trip rather than the average 2-3.
There are a number of bus pick-up/drop-off points inside Alexandria. These are usually either at Maw'if Gadid Station (except El Gouna, which uses Sidi Gaber station) which is a bit far from the city of Alexandria so it shouldn't cost more than a 10 LE cab ride, 15 LE max. Don't take a taxi with anyone that approaches you right outside of the bus. Walk outside the station and catch a taxi there if you must. There is also a bus from Maw'if Gadid to Sidi Gabr, and from Sidi Gabr most parts of the city are accessible by minibus or tram if you are looking to save money. The bus fare will run you 50 piasters.
From Cairo, frequent trains from Ramses Station are probably the best way to get to Alexandria. Trains run at least once every hour from 6 AM to 10 PM, but try to choose either an express or the pride of Egyptian Railways, the French-built Turbo, which takes only 2 hours 10 minutes for the journey. 1st/2nd class tickets LE 50/35 one-way. Reservation is obligatory in express trains.
For the return journey, trains depart from Misr Station, a 10-minute stroll south of the Corniche along Nabi Daniel St, as well as the Sidi Gaber Station.
There are two daily trains from Mersa Matruh to Alexandria, providing 2nd and 3class only.
There are two options when traveling from Cairo to Alexandria by car. Using either route, the journey usually takes around 3 hours, depending on speed and surrounding traffic.
The Agriculture road has a speed limit of 90 km/hr for private cars and has 4 lanes in each direction. This is the main road, so it can get a little crowded. Also offers access to Damnhour and Tanta.
The Desert road has a speed limit of 100 km/hr for private cars and has 4 lanes in each direction. True to the name, this crosses the desert and is less crowded and faster. There are cafeterias every few kilometers.
The usual cautions for driving in Egypt apply; see Egypt for details.
Visemar Lines  operates a weekly passanger ferry from Venice to Alexandrias, via Tartus in Syria. Depature time is every Wednesday at 4PM, arriving the following Sunday at 2PM, this is the only way of reaching Egypt direct from Europe. However, due to the political situation in Syria the ferry have been canceled until atleast October 2011.
Alexandria is quite a long city; you can get pretty much anywhere by using the local transportation available along the Corniche.
Alexandria's yellow and black taxis are a good way to travel in the city, and a cheap one as well. Be careful though: taxis will uniformly refuse to use meters (the rates haven't been adjusted in years) and drivers love to take advantage of non-Alexandrians, so it's best to agree on the fare before you get in. No taxi ride between any two points in the city should cost more than 25LE. Alternately, if you are on a day trip to Alexandria, hire a taxi outside the railway station for the day and pay LE 10-15 per place. E.g., if you plan to see 5 places in 3-4 hours, pay around LE 50-60 to the driver or LE 80-100 if you plan to see 8-10 places in 5-6 hours.
To get into a taxi, wave at the driver and yell the name of your destination. If the driver agrees they would park at the side of the road as soon as possible. Some taxis will stop to pick you up even if they already have a passenger, but such offers are best refused. Futhermore, always check back once you get out of the taxi, there is no number to call if you lose anything of value, and nearly no chances of having it returned.
Fast Call taxis can be booked by phone at 19559 or 0800-999-9999 (toll free). These are pricier but generally much better than ordinary black and and bright yellow cabs.
City Line (yellow) tram and a Taxi
Alexandria has a creaky, slow but very cheap tram system that dates back to 1860 and looks the part — it's the oldest one still running in Africa. The route map is remarkably confusing and changes on a regular basis, but one factor stays constant: the network is split into the interurban Ramleh Lines (Tram el-Raml), which use blue-and-cream trams and run across the city a few blocks back from the sea towards the eastern suburbs, and the City Lines (Tram el-Madina), which use bright yellow trams and run west and south of central Alex. The two meet at Raml Station (محطة الرمل Mahattat el-Raml), right at the heart of Alex. For both lines, the flat fare is a whopping 25 piasters (~US$0.05), and tickets can be bought on board. Note that the first car (out of three) in the blue trams is reserved for women only.
Probably the most useful service for tourists is yellow tram #25, which runs from Raml Station to Ras el-Tin and Fort Qait Bey. You can also hop on any blue tram west from Sidr Gabr bus/railway station to get to Raml, but not all eastbound trams stop there.
There are a variety of local bus services which have improved significantly in the past few years, but they are rather confusing for those who haven't lived in Alexandria for a while. Apart from city buses, you will also find "mini-buses", which work on hop-and-go basis. They are easily recognizable 14-person buses, which will stop when you wave and stop where you need to get off. The drivers rarely speak English, so make sure you know the Arabic name of your destination or that you already know where to stop. The routes are usually along the main streets and cost between LE 0.50-1.50.
El Montazah Palace
Citadel of Qaitbay, Ras el-Tin (yellow tram #25), ☎ +20-3-4809144. 9AM-4PM. One of the icons of the city at a beautiful location, the fortress overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and the city itself. Built by Mameluke Sultan Abdul-Nasser Qa'it Bay in 1477 AD but razed and reconstructed twice since.This citadel was built in 1480 by Sultan Qaitbay on the site of the Pharos Lighthouse, to protect the city from the crusaders who used to attack the city by sea. The Citadel is situated at the entrance of the eastern harbor on the eastern point of the Pharos Island. It was erected on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria. The lighthouse continued to function until the time of the Arab conquest, then several disasters occurred and the shape of lighthouse was changed to some extent, but it still continued to function. During the 11thcentury an earthquake destroyed the top of the lighthouse and the bottom was used as a watchtower. A small Mosque was built on the top. About 1480 A.D the place was fortified as part of the coastal defensive edifices. Later castle looking citadel was built as a prison for princes and state-man. Now it’s a Maritime Museum.LE 25, LE 15 (student).
Cemetery of Mostafa Kamel. The cemetery includes four tombs dating from the second century BC, all of which are in excellent condition and beautifully decorated. The cemetery bears the name of Mostafa Kamel, one of Egypt's largest political twentieth century legends. It was he who pronounced the famous phrase: "If I was not born as an Egyptian, I would like to be an Egyptian."
Kom el-Shouqafa, Karmouz. Kom el-Shouqafa is the Arab translation of the ancient Greek name, Lofus Kiramaikos, meaning "mound of shards" or "potsherds." Its actual ancient Egyptian name was Ra-Qedillies, and it lies on the site where the village and fishing port of Rhakotis, the oldest part of Alexandria that predates Alexander the Great, was located. The underground tunnels of the catacombs lie in the densely populated district of Karmouz to the east of Alexandria. The catacombs were most probably used as a private tomb, for a single wealthy family, and later converted to a public cemetery. They are composed of a ground level construction that probably served as a funerary chapel, a deep spiral stairway and three underground levels for the funerary ritual and entombment. The catacombs are unique both for their plan and for their decoration, which represents an integration of the cultures and traditions of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans."Catacombs- LE 35, LE 20 (student)..
Pompey's Pillar, Karmouz. An ancient monument, this 25-meter-high granite column was constructed in honor of the Emperor Diocletian in AD 297. The confined area where the column stands also has other ruins and sculptures such as the Serapium oracle. Also beside this area is a very big shopping center for cloth and furniture called "El-Saa3a," where you can find many types of cloth or clothes.LE 20, LE 15 (student).
Roman Theatre, Kom El-Dikka, ☎ +20-3-3902904. Built in the 2nd century AD, this Roman amphitheater has 13 semicircular tiers made of white and gray marble, with marble seats for up to 800 spectators, galleries and sections of mosaic-flooring. In Ptolemaic times this area was the Park of Pan, a pleasure garden surrounded by Roman villas and baths.LE 15 foreigner/2 Egyptian.
Montazah Palace, El Montazah, ☎ +20-3-5477153 or +20-3- 5473056. Built in 1892 by Abbas II of Egypt Abbas Hilmi Pasha, the last khedive of Egypt. One of the palace buildings, the Haramlek, now contains a casino on the ground floor and a museum of royal relics on the upper levels, while the Salamlek has been converted into a luxury hotel (see Sleep). Parts of the extensive gardens (over 200 acres) are open to the public. There is a entrance fee for the park.LE 5.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mansheya. Egypt has a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honoring it's military.
Ras el-Tin Palace, Ras el-Tin. Not open to visitors, alas.
Presidential Palace, Montazah.
Alexandria National Museum, Latin quarter, ☎ +20-3-4835519 or +20-3- 4838035. .History Museum with more than 1800 archaeological pieces exhibited chronologically: the basement is devoted to Prehistoric and Pharonic times; first floor to the Graeco-Roman period; second floor to the Coptic and Islamic era that highlights artifacts raised during recent underwater excavations.
Graeco-Roman Museum, Latin quarter, ☎ +20-3-4865820 or +20-3-4876434. Closed. A history museum with a vast collection mostly dating from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, spanning the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Closed for renovation since 2008
Museum of Fine Arts, Moharram Bey, ☎ +20-3-3936616. It contains a lot of royal and precious jewels.
National Institute For Oceanography & Fisheries, Anfoushi (beside Qait Bey), ☎ +20-3-4801499. Aquarium and museum displays.
Royal Jewelry Museum, zezenia, ☎ +20-3-5828348. It contains a lot of royal and precious jewels. It has been reopened to the public recently after renovation.
Ramadan in Alexandria
Qaed Ibrahim Mosque, near Ramleh station
El-Mursi Abul-Abbas Mosque, Anfoushi. Built in 1775 by Algerians, the mosque was built over the tomb of the famous thirteenth century sufi saint, Ahmed Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi . The walls of the mosque are dressed in artificial stone, while the minaret, located on the south side, stands at 73 metres.
Attarine Mosque, Attarine. Originally a church dedicated to the Saint Athanasius in 370 and was converted into a mosque following the Muslim conquest of Egypt.
Aerial view of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Shatby, ☎ +20-3-4839999, . Open daily except Tuesday 11 AM to 7:00 PM, but opens only at 3 PM on Friday and Saturday. A huge modern library and research center constructed on the site of the former Library of Alexandria (see History). It has also a big conference center and a planetarium, as well as displays of ancient texts from the collection (LE 40) and other special exhibitions (free).LE 10 (non-Egyptians), LE 5 (student).
Corniche. The Corniche is a glorious 15km walkway (wharf/pier/boardwalk) along the harbour dotted with restaurants, markets and historic sights.
Beach off the western end of the Corniche
Sunbathe at the Maa'moura Beach or Montazah Beach. During summer the beaches are packed with Egyptian tourists, parasols and plastic chairs and it will cost LE 5 (2008) to get in. At this time the sand and water may have some throwaway plastic floating around. Some areas charge LE 20 and it will get you more space.
Montazah Royal Gardens Though the gardens are a part of the more than three hundred and fifty acre grounds of the large royal home known as the Muntazah Palace, the Montazah Royal Gardens take up more than half of the property. Montazah Royal Gardens are situated along the shore as well, which means access to the lovely beaches and warm Mediterranean Sea waters nearby. The Montazah Royal Gardens are a bit unique where city parks and public spaces are concerned as they are rigorously landscaped, and well-stocked with benches and wading or swimming pools that are open for the public to enjoy.
Also in Montazah, Montazah Water Sports, provide various water sports, from waterskiing to wake-boarding, even Banana Boat and Donuts.
Hire a boat and go cruising at Ras el-Tin.
Have a long walk by the beautiful Corniche by the Mediterranean Sea.
Alexandria Stadium or Harras El-Hedoud Stadium, Lumumba Street or Max (Tell any taxi driver Al-Istad and he will know where to take you. If it is a Harras El-Hedoud match then tell the taxi driver Istad El Max). Attend an Egyptian League soccer game. Alexandria teams are: El-Ittihad, El-Olympi, Harras El-Hedoud, and Smouha. Seat can vary from 25 LE - 500 LE depending on the section of seating. There are 4 sections of seating: VIP, 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree. If you are a foreigner I recommend to sit in the VIP section to avoid harassment from hardcore fans.25-500 LE.
Casino Austria of Egypt -B CP W, The Casino Austria of Egypt is open to Foreigners only. It is also known as the El-Salamlek Palace Casino. Games include Blackjack, Roulette, Punto Banco, Slot Machines and Caribbean Stud Poker. The Casino Austria of Egypt is located at the El-Salamlek Palace Hotel in Alexandria.
Al-Amirate Cinema -B W (Address: Montazah Palace, P. O. Box 258, Alexandria; +20-35-477999), Enjoy with us the best of movies with dinner in a splendid atmosphere of elegance and luxury in Al-Amirate Cinema. The Cinema is located at the El-Salamlek Palace Hotel in Alexandria.
Royal Alexandria (Address: Fouad Street, Downtown, Alexandria; 012 2275493/4), This movie theater in Alexandria is owned by the same people who run the Renaissance theaters in Cairo. There are three screens, with surround sound and all options. Midnight shows are daily.
Cineplex ... green plaza semouha .. 10 screens .. tickets price 25 LE ... 3D movies avaliable
Alexandria's old town has the largest density of bookshops and booksellers in the Arab world possibly with the exception of Beirut. A particular treat is a long line of pavement booksellers on Nabi Danyal Street, opposite the French Cultural Centre. See also below in "Buy".
Al Ahram, 10 Horreya St. Telephone: 483-4000.
Book Center of Alexandria,General Egyptian Book Organization, 49 Saad Zaghloul St. Telephone: 482-2925. Books in English, Arabic, French and German and low priced school books.
Ramada Bazaar Bookshop, Ramada Renaissance Hotel. Telephone: 549-0935. Open daily 9 am to midnight.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina Bookshop, El Shatby. Open daily 9am to 7pm. The bookshop attached to the library. Good for general and tourist literature in different languages.
Diwan, El Shatby. Recently opened branch of popular Egyptian chain. Comprehensive English and Arabic, fiction and non-fiction. Cafe.
Alef, Alex-Cairo desert road, Le Marche Mall. A recently opened 2 levels bookshop, contains all genres of Arabic/Foreign books.
Alexandria Sporting Club, (right in the heart of Alexandria), . Built in 1898 and used during the British occupation, the Alexandria Sporting Club is one of the oldest sporting clubs in Egypt. Today, the golf course stands on 97 feddans, 97 percent of which constitutes the total club area. It is a flat course with tricky bunkers and can be played by beginners as well as experts. The club also features four restaurants, the Club House Restaurant being the most luxurious, and the Happy Land restaurant serving the children's playground. It also offers party catering.
Smouha Sporting Club, Smouha, . International Hockey Stadium, many swimming pools, a number of soccer fields, two running tracks and many more. Members and guests only.
Rent scuba gear from Alexandra Dive  and dive through the East Harbour's ancient remains. Be prepared for poor visibility, nonexistent safety procedures and total disregard for historical artifacts though.
Go swimming in the Country Club or Lagoon Resort, in front of Carrefour.
Go dancing at the Centre Rezodanse - Egypte (downtown Alexandria, 15 Sezostris Street, in front of Banque du Caire). This cultural centre offers regular classes in Ballet, Flamenco, Contemporary dance and Egyptian Folkloric Dance. Special workshops with guest teachers are also available, as well as punctual cultural happenings (exhibitions, book signing, ...). Tamarin Centre (Kafr Abdou Street, next to Concrete Shop) offers regular dance and fitness sessions (Salsa, Tango, Aerobics, Fitness, Yoga, etc.). Both centres offer a wide range of activities suitable for adults and children.
Alexandria has a tiny industrial section, mainly centered around the natural gas industry. A few expatriates work in this section. This section is increasing now as many new factories are built in Borg el Arab.
Other than that, there are some but not many international schools that employ expatriate teachers. Generally they pay less than the much more lucrative educational section in Cairo.
Alexandria has got quite a large number of language schools. You can find girls-only, boys-only and mixed schools. Also international certificates -like the IGCSE or the American SAT I and SAT II- could be completed in most of these schools. Moreover, study is available in English, French and also German.
Many places seem to follow set shopping hours. Winter: Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat 9AM-10PM, Mon and Thurs 9AM-11AM. During Ramadan, hours vary, with shops often closing on Sunday. Summer: Tues, Wed, Fri-Sun 9AM-12:30PM and 4-12:30 PM.
International Language Bookstore, 18 Abd el-Hamid el-Dib Street, Tharwat tram station (Ramleh Tram). A small and pleasant little bookstore, if maddeningly difficult to find. It has a pretty decent selection of English-language books if you are into classics, and a lot of good reference books. Decent enough for children's books and beach reads.
El Maaref Establishment, Saad Zaghloul St. Raml station (Yellow tram or Taxi), ☎ +20-3-4853055.
Alex Book Centre, Semouha, ☎ +20-3-4294362. A big publisher and distributor of English language teaching and school curriculum materials.
Nabi Daniel booksellers, An Nabi Daniel (street). Along An Nabi Daniel street, booksellers are lined up selling books in Arabic, English, French, and German among others. Prices are negotiable. Price negotiable.
Carrefour City Center. Shopping mall with huge hypermarket, coffee shops and cinemas. Take a taxi to get here.
Mirage Mall. A small high-end mall in front of Carrefour. Clothes shops including Adidas and Timberland factory outlets, plus some popular cafes and restaurants including Chili's and Pasadena Roof.
Deeb Mall, Roushdy. Midrange shopping mall with cinemas and a food court.
Family Mall. Midrange shopping mall in Gianaclis Station.
Green Plaza, (next to Hilton Hotel). Big shopping mall with many shops, restaurants, cinemas and a court for videos games and bowling.
Kirosez Mall, Mostafa Kamel. A midrange shopping mall.
Mina Mall, Ibrahimia. Another midrange shopping mall.
Maamoura Plaza Mall, Maamoura. Some restaurants.
San Stefano Grand Plaza Mall, San Stefano (eastern Alexandria, next to Four Seasons Hotel). Perhaps the largest shopping mall in Alexandria. Luxury shopping, 10 cinemas, large food court.
Wataniyya Mall, Sharawy St (Louran). Small shopping mall.
Zahran Mall, Smouha. Cinemas and coffee shops.
Grilled corn on the cob
Alexandria is famous for having the best seafood restaurants in the country. A few other Alexandrian specialties worth looking out for:
If you want to eat cheaply in Alexandria, try the places where the locals eat.
Gad, (Raml Station), ☎ +20-3-4820135. Specializes in fuul (fava bean paste) and falafel." Can be found all over the city.
Kushari Bondok, Smouha (beside Fathalla supermarket). Alexandria's best-known kushari joint, serving up this classically Egyptian dish of layered macaroni, rice, lentils and tomato sauce.
Meto, 273 Gamal Abdel Nasser St, ☎ 20-3-5506667. Pizza and its Arabic equivalent fateer.
Mohamed Ahmed, Ramleh station (Opposite the Metropole hotel). Another well-known fuul/flafel joint.
Alexandrian ice cream is similar to the typical soft-serve ice cream, but it is described as being a little bit 'stretchy'. It is available in numerous flavors, and according to the locals, this type of ice cream is only made in Alexandria and Greece. Try it at Bahary near Qait Bey, where popular shops include Makram, El-Sheikh Wafik, Azza, and "El Se'eedy". The ice cream can cost froom 1-5 LE.
Corn on the cob (dorra mashwey), available at street vendors lining the Corniche.
Mid-priced by Egyptian standards, Western fast-food chains like Pizza Hut, McDonalds and KFC can all be found in the city's larger malls, but there are more interesting options as well.
Abo Fares, (in front of Carrefour). Delicious Syrian food.
Abou Shakra, Smouha Green Plaza (and other branches), ☎ +20-3-4261777, . Popular Egyptian chain specialing in local grills like shwarma (10 LE) and set meals of kebab/kofta, fries and salad (25 LE).
Elite, 43 Sofia Zaghoul, ☎ +20-3-4863592. Once the favorite hangout of Alexandria's intelligentsia including D.H. Lawrence, Laurence Durrell, and Edith Piaf, but now bears a distinct resemblance to an American road diner complete with vinyl seating and chipped white plastic tables. The staff are still French-speaking and appropriately snotty. Try the plat du jour.
Hosny, Gamal Abd El-Nasser St (El Mandara), ☎ +20-3-5506655. Middle Eastern food.
Pastroudis, 39, Al Horriya Road (Raml Station), ☎ +20-3-3929609. 8 AM-1 AM. Bakery with a sideline in desserts and ice cream.
Tekka Grill, (Eastern Port, beside Diving Club). Delicious Egyptian food, with views of the harbor and Fort Qait Bey. Try the shish kebab and the wara' el enab (stuffed vine leaves).
Balba', (Sidi Bishr, or downtown in front of City Center Carrefour). There are only two Balba's in Alexandria and in the whole country. The first one is in Sidi bishr and the second one is in downtown. People tend to like the one in downtown more. It has been known for its delicious meat and especially kofta. It has also a seafood section and the seafood soup is just amazing. About 100 L.E per person. ===Splurge===
The entrance of Athineos
Many of Alexandria's high-end restaurants are located in its hotels. * Al-Farida Restaurant, El-Salamlek Palace Hotel, ☎ +20-35-477999. Open 24 hours a day, with dinner served until 5 AM.. Italian and international food, served in the palace garden with sea views.
Al-Farouk Restaurant, El-Salamlek Palace Hotel, ☎ +20-35-477999. Lunch noon-4 PM, dinner 8 PM-1 AM. French food served in what used to be King Farouk's office at the palace.
Athineos, 21 Saad Zaghloul Sq (on the Corniche, near the Italian Consulate), ☎ 03-4860421, . The "Mermaid of Alexandria" is a local legend frequented by both Durrell and Cavafy, but alas, it has fallen far since its glory days. The views are still amazing, and the Greek motifs in the gilded friezes and stenciled frescoes give some character, but the food is, despite the Greek names on the menu, almost entirely Arabized: order souvlaki and you'll get kebab.
Byblos, 399 El Geish Road (In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ 20 (3) 581-8000, . 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM. Excellent food and faultless service. Worth splashing out for a quality Lebanse dining experience with delicious mezze dishes. Caters well for vegetarians. Good wine list with limited choice of wine by the glass. Good location on the 3rd floor over-looking the Corniche; will be even better when the beach is finished. Allow a minimum of 250 EGP per person. The highlight: an expansive view of the Mediterranean.250 LE per person.
Chez Gaby au Ritrovo, 22 El Horreya St. (Raml Station), ☎ +20-3-4874404. 9 PM-1 AM. Possibly the best Italian restaurant in town, serving up pizza and pasta since 1979.
Dynasty Restaurant, 544 El Geish Avenue (Renaissance Alexandria Hotel), ☎ +20-35-483977. Open 24 hours a day, with dinner served until 5 AM.. Alexandria's top Chinese restaurant.
Fish Market, El Gomrok Scout Club, ☎ +2 03 4805114. Excellent food, with great views. The sea-bass is top notch.150 LE per person.
Ibn al-Balad, Mustafa Kamel (Located right behind El-Salam Theatre). Two story restaurant. First floor has grilled meats featuring their famous Ibn al-Balad fattah. The second floor serves seafood. Definitely a meat lovers paradise.50-150 L.E. per person.
Koi, 3 Kafr Abdo St. (close to Ole Cafe and Restaurant), ☎ +20-3-5226676. Expensive Sushi and other Asian dishes. Pretty crowded on weekends.couple hundred LEs.
La Veranda, 46 Saad Zaghloul. (Inside Patisserie Delices), ☎ +20-3-4861432, . Conveniently located in "Old" Alexandria - Downtown Alexandria near hotel Metropole & hotel Sofitel. La Veranda is the first authentic Greek & French Cuisine in Alexandria. The portions are large and have a homemade feeling to them. The restaurant has a large parking lot available in front of the restaurant. La Veranda replaced Jardin Delices - a landmark location in Alexandria, which was frequented by the French, English, Italians and the Greeks of the 1940s and 1950s. There are a lot of posters on the walls of the historic Alexandria.100 LE per person.
Ole Cafe and Restaurant, Kafr Abdou Street, Roushdy. A reasonably priced restaurant that serves Spanish cuisine, and pastries for dessert. Try the Beef Madrid. Free Wi-fi.L.E. 50.- per person.
Pool Bar & Grill, 399 El Geish Road (In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ 20 (3) 581-8000, . 11:30 AM – 1:00 AM. This seasonal outdoor restaurant is surrounded by lush landscaping and overlooks a stunning infinity-edge pool. After a refreshing dip, savour a light meal while relaxing at umbrella-shaded tables. Choose from healthy snacks, sushi and sashimi, as well as creative beverages. The restaurant is open in summer only. Seats 76, with 6 at the bar.100 LE per person.
Stefano's, 399 El Geish Road (In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ 20 (3) 581-8000, . 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM. This stylish restaurant serves a selection of authentic Southern Italian cuisine, including seafood specialties. The open kitchen, chic décor and warm Italian hospitality create an intimate ambience. Seats 60. Specialties: Risotto and fresh pasta. Formal or Smart Casual. Possibly the best restaurant in Alexandria.300 LE per person.
San Giovanni Restaurant, 205 El Gueish Ave (San Giovanni Hotel), ☎ +20-3-5467775. Open 24 hours a day, with dinner served until 5 AM.. West-East fusion. Views of Stanley beach, classical music performed live nightly.
Fresca Café and Gelateria, 399 El Geish Road (In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ 20 (3) 581-8000, . 11:30AM – 3:00AM. With its bright, colourful décor, Fresca is a casual place to unwind, relax and enjoy a simple snack. Overlooking a bustling city street and the calm Mediterranean, this café caters to all moods. Take-out cakes and ice cream are available. Seats 92 indoors, 124 outdoors. Try the ice cream here as well as the lasagna.150 LE per person.
Sushi etc., 399 El Geish Road (In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ 20 (3) 581-8000, . 7:00 PM - 1:00 AM. Enjoy the fresh flavours of Sushi etc.’s Southeast Asian cuisine. Perfect for a light lunch, dinner or snack, Sushi etc. offers soothing views of the pool and the Mediterranean Sea. Seats 66200 LE per person.
Ottimo, Kafr Abdou 3 (next to Ole restaurant). Nice restaurant with veranda
La Veranda, 46 Saad Zaghloul Street (Inside Delices Patisserie), ☎ (203)-486-1432, . La Veranda is famous for its Greek and French dishes, but more importantly, it is the only place in town serving Ouzo! So if you are craving the famous Greek liquor, go ahead and visit La Veranda. It also serves a wide selection of Egyptian Wine at the best prices in Alexandria.
50 years ago a maze of bars and nightclubs filled the city, but visitors to today's Alexandria often complain that it can be hard to find a decent watering hole. Frequent travellers recommend a number of reliable establishments:
Spitfire Bar, Sa'ad Zaghloul St. - easy to overlook despite its obvious location on the corner of a square on this busy street. The building looks slightly derelict but is clearly marked above the doors. Walk west along Sa'ad Zaghloul St. from the square. for a few blocks until the road opens up in front of you into the beginning of a square. Turn right and the bar is a few doors down on the right. LE 11 for a Stella.
Mermaid Bar - Little and nice bar with good-view to the sea.
Sheikh Ali, Adib Bek Ishak Street off Sa'ad Zaghloul. Better known among travelers as the Cap d'Or and one of Alexandria's oldest bars.
El Qobesi, 51 Corniche, juice-bar. It is nit signposted in English but it is easy to recognize it by fruites hanging around. Marvelous juices fron ashta, guava, strawberry and more others for 5-8 pounds for a big glass.
Hotels and most tourist restaurants throughout Alexandria and most of Egypt are home to bars and discos; and to buy your own booze drop by Drinkie's, a famous liquor store ideally located on the Corniche strip and home to every local drink and Heineken.
Le Bar, 399 El Geish Road (In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ 20 (3) 581-8000, . 5:00PM – 3:00AM. Lounge in one of the comfortable love seats, sofas or chairs while enjoying a specialty martini or an exotic juice. Seats 34.
Bleu, 399 El Geish Road (In the San Stefano Four Seasons Hotel), ☎ 20 (3) 581-8000, . 4:00PM – 2:00AM. Fresh sea breezes and a cascade of water on the terrace add to the summer feel of this seasonal outdoor lounge. The terrace commands stunning views over the blue waters of the Mediterranean, making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Bleu serves cocktails, snacks and tapas-style food, and shisha (flavoured tobacco) until late. The lounge is open in summer only. Seats 37.100 LE per person.
In addition to local options, there's a Starbucks in San Stefano Grand Plaza and a Costa Coffee near Stanley Bridge.
24 Seven Cafe, International Garden (in front of Carrefour). Popular with young locals showing off their latest fashions. Good food and shisha.
Brazilian Coffee Shop, Raml station. An Egyptian spin on Starbucks, with fancy, relatively expensive but tasty coffee. Medium latte LE 7.5.
Cafe Trianon, Saad Zaghlul square (''by the seashore'') (Raml Station), ☎ +20-3-4868539 , +20-3-4835881 , +20-3-4860986 or +20-3-4860973. The poshest cafe in Alexandria, famed for the best om ali in Egypt — although LE 14 for what is essentially a bowl of sweet cornflour pudding is little steep. The food is also good and slightly more reasonably priced, try the moussaka for LE 13.
Cafe De La Paix (Sayed Drweesh Resturant), Mohatet El Raml (Raml Station).
Club21, Mo'askar Elroumany Street, Roushdy, ☎ 002-03-5232929 or 002-012-7330196 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Open from 9AM to 4AM. A nice place to visit, friendly staff, tasty food and drinks with an average price of LE 15 for an average meal and LE 8 for beverages. Shisha is available at the garden of the place. Free WIFI.
Omar El Khaiam Cafe, Mohatet El Raml (Raml Station).
New Paris Cafe, Mohatet El Raml (Raml Station).
Patisserie Delices, 46 Saad Zaghlul Street (Raml Station), ☎ (203)-486-1432, . Built in 1922, Delices' flagship store in Ramleh Station in Alexandria, Egypt has become a well-known landmark for all tourists and local residents wanting to experience the beauty of the Cosmopolitan era. The store is still managed by the same Family since 1922! Famous for its Cassata (ice cream) and Greek Baklava (similar to Egyptian Baklawa but dripped with cinnamon and honey)
The humble ahwa, serving up coffee, tea and shisha (water pipe) is an Egyptian tradition and there are plenty to be found in Alexandria as well. Try a puff, play a little backgammon or dominoes, and watch the world pass by. These are largely a male domain though, and women will rarely been seen in them.
Alegria, ☎ 03-3822797. Alegria is the newest hip Restaurant/ Lounge in Alexandria. Pre-reservation is a must and can only be done by their customers on their SELECTED GUEST LIST. On a regular around 400 people show up. Alegria can be booked for private parties, birthdays, cocktails, receptions and small occasions. Many of Alexandria's wealthy and famous show up to this lounge.min charge 120LE.
San Giovanni Club, 205 El Gueish Ave., ☎ 20-3-5467775, . 10:30 PM - 4:00 AM. Live Music, Famous Singers, Oriental Dancers, and World Famous show stars
Montreal - Club & Bar. Hotel Azur - Downstairs. Named after the Canadian city, Montreal is a nightclub which offers food and drinks. Drinks go from 25 LE to 50 LE. Watch your bill as they may add a few extra items. If not, they will ask for "additional" tips.
Alexandria has a good selection of hotels in all price brackets.
For longer stays of a month or more, why not try renting in Alex? Apartments are are easy to come by, in a range of prices (180 - 1000+ LE per week) and states of repair! Landlords/ladies tend to live in the same blocks and will be willing to haggle the rates. Needless to say, it's definitely worth visiting an apartment before placing any money down, preferably in late afternoon so you see how well the lighting works and the worst of any insect problems. (Keep in mind, though, that it's highly unlikely to find any accommodation near the coast that's completely 'roach-free'!)
Acropole Hotel, phone:03-4805980,Gamal elDin Yassin, behind Cecil-Sofitel, 3rd floor, Excellent and cheap hotel to stay, 40/50 LE for single room
Nile Excelsior Hotel, 16 Borsa Kadema Street, Manshyia, ☎ +2 0123821023, . Cheap but a little dirty hotel located in downtown. The single room including bathroom, A/C and breakfast costs €12/$20 per night. Rooms could be cleaner, but are adequate given the budget price. Breakfast is simple but enough. Friendly and helpful staff.100 LE.
Hotel Union, 164 26th July Street (on the Corniche and near Raml Station), ☎ +20-3-4807312. Suitable for the budget traveler. The rooms could be cleaner, but are adequate given the budget price. The bathrooms are shared. Breakfast (croissant, rolls/jam, boiled egg, and coffee) is included. There is a sitting area with tables and a view of the water and Qaitbay. It is not possible to book the hotel online. You need to either reserve by phone or in person.67 LE.
New Wellcome House, near the Metropole Hotel/Raml Station. Extremely run-down for the seasoned backpackers! Same building as Normandy Hotel.
Normandy Hotel, 8 Gamal el-Din Yassen (near Raml Station), ☎ +20-3-4806830 (email@example.com), . The Normandy hotel is an excellent place to stay. It is a one floor hotel located on the Corniche, with unbeatable views of the city's Eastern Harbor. It is the building behind the famous Cecil Hotel, on the fourth floor. Rooms range from 15LE to 30LE per night, depending on availability, view, and season. The rooms are well-appointed, large and clean, but spare. The bathrooms are down the hall, and also clean. Staff are very friendly, helpful, and honest. The staff speak both English and Arabic, with limited knowledge of a few other random languages.
Holiday Hotel, 6 Orabi Sq, ☎ +20-3-4801559. A no-frills two-star hotel with private bathrooms and hot water, popular with overland trucks setting off down into the heart of Africa. Not far from the shore and within walking distance from the center of town. Watch out for bedbugs.
Hotel Delta, 14 Champollion Street, Mazarita (Just at the Tram stop), ☎ +20-3-4865188 (fax: +20-3-4865630), . Modern concrete block with 63 rooms, some overlooking the sea. Aircon, cable TV. Not far from the Alexandria Library.US$90.
Most of Alexandria's top-end hotels are located along the shore to the east, a fair distance away from the old city core.
San Stefano Grand Plaza
El-Salamlek Palace, Montazah Palace, ☎ +20-3-5477999. Housed in the vast grounds of the Montazah Palace, this hotel was built as a lodge for the guests of Khedive Abbas Helmi II in 1892. Now a five-star hotel and casino, the setting certainly is opulent but, for the price tag, service seems to be terrible. The location in the vast, gated grounds at the far eastern end of the city, 10 km from the center, is also quite inconvenient for sightseeing, but if you're looking for peace and quiet (always a rare commodity in Egypt), this is the place.US$400.
Four Seasons San Stefano, 399 El Geish Road, ☎ +20-3-5818000 (fax: +20-3-5818080), . Edging the Mediterranean in a setting of legendary glamour, discover an intimate enclave within the stately Grand Plaza shopping and residential complex. Indulge in classically elegant accommodations, European spa treatments and terraced restaurants with fresh sea breezes. Four Seasons care outshines all else in Alexandria. Alexandria's top hotel and priced to match.US$500.
Helnan Palestine, Monteza, . The hotel, most recently refurbished in 2002, is set on the Mediterranean Sea and is surrounded by 350 acres of gardens and beaches. It faces the Montaza Royal Palace, once home to the royal family.US$100.
Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza, 14th of May Bridge Road, ☎ +20 3 4209120 (fax: +20 3 4209140), . Officially only a three-star hotel, but much better than you'd expect in this class.US$200.
Le Metropole, 52, Saad Zaghloul St. (near el-Raml station), ☎ +203-486-1465 (fax: +203-486-2040), . Opened in 1902, this is one of Alexandria's two grand old hotels. Recently given a half-hearted renovation, still keeping the turn-of-the-century style. Centrally located on Alexandria's main street, which is handy for sightseeing, but lower floor rooms (esp. those facing the back) can be very noisy. Internet is available but can be spotty.
Renaissance Alexandria, 544 El Geish Avenue, Sidi Bishr, ☎ +20 3 549 0935 (fax: +20 3 5497690), . The new hotel will provide 158 stylish renovated guest rooms and suites , excellent dining, 1000 square meters of meeting facilities and a selection of new restaurants and lounges. Additional amenities include an open air pool, 24 hours full service fitness center, private beach, business center, gift shop and laundry.US$150.
Sheraton Montazah, Corniche Road, ☎ +20 3 5480550, . Located on the far (eastern) end of the Corniche. Small, shabby and in need of renovation.
Sofitel Cecil Alexandria, 16 Saad Zagloul Square, ☎ +20 3 4877173 (fax: +20 3 4855655), . Alexandria's other grand old hotel, many of whose rooms are named after famous guests like Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill. If you're looking for historical character and a central location, the Cecil is not a bad pick, and the soundproofing is somewhat better than at the Metropole. Downsides: No Internet, hard beds, and ludicrously slow service in the restaurants.
Radisson Blu hotel, Alex West, ☎ +20 (3) 5896000 (fax: +2 03 5896020), . Located up against the water in the trendy Alex West district.
Although crime is rarely violent, beware of pickpockets and don't flash your valuables or wear a bum bag/fanny pack. Street kids, taxi drivers, and others may harass tourists. They will usually desist after a stern "La!" or two. Or you can say "la shukran!" (no thanks) or "emshi" (go!).
Alexandria is a conservative city, so women should cover their shoulders, midriffs, cleavage and legs. Even still, women can expect to be heckled or harassed in the street, especially if walking alone. The best response is to ignore the offender and pretend you don't hear anything. Cover your head when entering places of worship.
Fire HQ number:180
Central Ambulance, Kom El Dekka (opposite Alexandria Station), ☎ +20-3-4922257.
El Moassa Hospital, El Horreya Rd., El Hadara, ☎ +20-3-4212885/6/7/8.
El Shatby Hospital, Dr. Hassan Sobhy St., El Shatby, ☎ +20-3- 4871586.
Medical Research Institute, El Horreya Rd. (beside Gamal Abdel Nasser Hospital), ☎ +20-3-4215455 - 4212373.
Bacos Ambulance, Mehatet El Souk St., Bacos, ☎ +20-3- 5703454.
Poison Center Main University Hospital, ☎ +20 3 4862244.
Egyptian Tourist Authority has offices at Raml Station, Saad Zaghlui Squ, ☎ +20 3 485 1556, Nuza Airport, ☎ +20 3 4250 526, +20 3 4250 527, Borg El Arab Airport, ☎ +20 3 4485119, Marine Passenger Station, ☎ +20 3 4803494, Misr Railway Station, ☎ +20 3 3925985 and Sidi Gaber Railway Station, ☎ +20 3 4263953.
Greece, 63, Alexander the Great Street, Chatby, Alexandria, ☎ +203 4802088, Emergencies: +201 23811921 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +203 4865896). 09:00 - 16:00.
El Alamein — 120 km west of Alexandria is the site of several important battles from history and currently home to a number of war memorials, cemeteries and museums. Also built on the Mediterranean coast, El Alamein was once famously described by Churchill as having the 'best climate in the world'.
Marina — upmarket beachside resort about 100 km from Alexandria
Jordan is accessible via inexpensive (for the region) flights via discount carrier Air Arabia. They don't fly from Cairo, so this seemingly would be the only discount route flying between the two nations.
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