AlexandriaAlexandria (Al-Iskendariyya, or just plain Alex) is a large cosmopolitan port city on the Mediterranean Sea, named after Alexander the Great. Alexandria was once the center of learning in the Ancient World and even under Cleopatra's rule it rivaled the great cities of Athens and Rome. However, a long period of decline followed and Alexandria became nothing more than a fishing village with a glorious past. In the 19th Century fortunes changed once again and Alexandria grew in stature as an important port and commercial center. It attracted many Greeks, Italians, Lebanese and other nationalities to its shores. The cosmopolitan influence remains to this day. Up until 1940 in fact, over 40% of Alexandria's population had non-Egyptian roots.
Today, Alexandria is a bustling city of over 4 million (mostly Egyptian) residents. Alexandria has always been popular as a vacation destination for local Egyptians looking to escape the summer heat and enjoy the Mediterranean beaches. Foreign tourists are also discovering how easy it is to visit Alexandria for even just a day or two.
Best Time to Go to AlexandriaWinter (December to February) is fairly warm and sunny in Alexandria although the sea will be too chilly to swim in comfortably. A warm, dusty wind (Khamsin) can be bothersome during March - June. Summer is humid, but with a breeze it stays a lot cooler than in Cairo and so many Egyptians will flock to Alexandria in the summer. Book your hotel well in advance if you're coming during the summer months. September - October is a very nice time to visit. Click here for today's weather in Alexandria.
Tours to AlexandriaYou can easily see most of Alexandria's sights independently, but if you'd prefer a tour here are some examples of what to expect:
- Day Tour of Alexandria from Min Travel
- Variety of full day and half-day trips from Egypt Hotel Reservation Center
Getting to Alexandria and AwayBy Plane
There are direct flights from several European and Arab cities to Alexandria including Manchester, Dubai, Athens and Frankfurt. They land at Alexandria's international airport Borg El-Arab.
A busier regional airport -- El Nhouza is used by EgyptAir for flights from Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Beirut, Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Dubai, and Kuwait City. Click here for more airlines flying in to El Nhouza.
El Nhouza is much closer to the city center (7 km's) than Borg al-Arab (25 km's)
There are many train options from Cairo (Ramses Station) to Alexandria and it's usually not necessary to book in advance. The best is the Express train which takes about 2-3 hours (depending on the stops). For schedules click here. The TurboTrain is no longer operating since December 2007 because it was too expensive. A first class ticket costs around US$7 one way.
And there are several trains a day from Alexandria to Port Said, click here for schedules.
Alexandria has two train stations, and the first one you may stop at (if traveling from Cairo) is Mahattat Sidi Gaber which serves the eastern suburbs of the city. As a tourist you'll probably want to get off at the second train station in Alexandria called Mahattat Misr (Misr Station) which is about a mile south of the city center. A quick taxi ride away from most of the centrally located hotels or a tram ride away from most of the sights.
The long-distance bus station is just behind the Sidi Gaber train station (the one in the eastern suburbs of Alexandria - not the main train station). There are regular long-distance bus services to many parts of Egypt. Superjet and West Delta are the main companies. For bus schedules to some of the more popular tourist destinations, click here.
Getting Around AlexandriaBy Foot
Alexandria is a wonderful city to walk around in. If you want to check out the souqs and the Corniche it's best to walk and enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Many of Alexandria's sights are within walking distance (45 minutes or so).
Mahattat Ramla is the main tram station in the center of the city. Trams are cheap and easy to figure out and a great way to get around Alexandria (if you're not in a hurry). You can get to the main train station by tram as well as the Fort and Abu Abbas al-Mursi Mosque and several museums. There is usually a car reserved for just women so check before you get on! Yellow trams travel west and blue trams travel east.
Taxis are everywhere in Alexandria, they are painted black and yellow. Ask a local person how much your fare should be approximately and then agree on a fare with your taxi driver before you get in.