Things to do in Alexandria

Things to do in Alexandria

Alexandria has a very impressive and storied past, beginning with its founding by Alexander the Great around 331 B.C. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Mediterranean, Alexandria is a Mediterranean port city and the second-largest city in Egypt. 

During the Hellenistic period, it was home to the legendary Great Library of Alexandria and the Pharos, a lighthouse ranking among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Alexandria was the setting for the stormy love story between Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Marc Anthony as well as a cosmopolitan gathering spot for intellectuals in the early twentieth century. 

The city has lost some of the grandeur of its past and today’s Alexandria is filled with apartment buildings, office buildings, and traffic-filled streets. However, with a bit of searching, travelers can still find bits of its glorious past. 

In this post, you will find our favorite things to do and plenty of tips for your trip to Alexandria. We stayed for 2 days in Alexandria. 

How to get there 

We got there by bus from Cairo which took around 4 hours. 
 
You can also get there by bus or taxi from other major cities in Egypt. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, you can also travel by hiring a private car and driver for the day. This is the most comfortable and quickest way to travel.  

Where to stay 

We stayed at the Steigenberger Cecil Hotel which we recommend. The Historic Cecil Hotel is a true Alexandria legend!  Throughout history, it has welcomed famous guests such as Winston Churchill and Omar Sharif a famous Egyptian movie star.  

The rooms are massive with traditional high ceilings, and some of them have a balcony with beautiful views of the sea, Corniche, Fort Qaitbey, and beyond. 

How to get around 

As there are 32 kilometers of coastline in Alexandria, you will need to have transport to get around. Some places are central and accessible by walking. But some attractions are further away. 
 
You can take local taxis but we recommend you to take a Careem (Uber) which will be less expensive than taxis. Another option is to hire a private car and driver to take you around for the day. 

Pompey’s Pillar 

A massive 30m column stands on Alexandria’s glorious ancient acropolis. Known as Pompey’s Pillar, the column hewn from red Aswan granite has been one of the city’s prime sights for centuries. The column rises out of the ruins of the Temple of Serapeum, a magnificent structure that stood here in ancient times. The column was named by travelers who remembered the murder of the Roman general Pompey by Cleopatra’s brother, but an inscription on the base announces that it was erected in CE 291 to support a statue of the emperor Diocletian. 

Underneath the column, steps lead down to the ruins of the great temple of Serapis, the hybrid Greek and Egyptian god of Alexandria. Also here was the daughter library of the Great Library of Alexandria. The temple was attacked during the Jewish Revolt in CE 115-117, but it was the Christians who destroyed the Serapeum and its library, leaving just the lonely pillar standing. 

Pompey’s Pillar is open daily from 9 am – 4.30 pm and the entrance fee is 60 LE per person. You can get there by Careem or on foot depending on where you are staying in the city.

Catacombs of Kom Ash Shuqqafa

Discovered accidentally in 1900 when a donkey disappeared through the ground, these catacombs make up the largest known Roman burial site in Egypt and one of the last major works of construction dedicated to the religion of ancient Egypt. The catacombs were created as a family tomb, but over the 300 years of their use, were expanded to accommodate 300 bodies. Demonstrating Alexandria’s hallmark fusion of Pharaonic and Greek styles, the architects used a Graeco-Roman approach. The catacombs consist of three tiers of tombs and chambers cut into bedrock to a depth of 35m.

Entry is through a spiral staircase. The bodies of the dead would have been lowered on ropes down the center of this circular shaft. 

The ornate decorations inside the catacombs are an eclectic blend of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian styles. 

The Catacombs of Kom Ash Shuqqafa are open daily from 9 am – 4.30 pm and the entrance fee is 60 LE per person. You can get there by Careem or on foot depending on where you are staying in the city. 

Kom Al Dikka

Kom Al Dikka was a residential area in Graeco-Roman times with lovely villas, bathhouses, and a theatre. The area was known at the time as the Park of Pan, a pleasure garden where citizens of Alexandria could indulge in various lazy pursuits. Although the ruins aren’t impressive in scale, they remain a superbly preserved ode to the days of the centurion and include the 13 white-marble terraces of the only Roman amphitheater found in Egypt. 

This site was discovered in 1967 when foundations were being laid for an apartment building on a site known as Kom Al Dikka. 

Kom Al Dikka is open daily from 9 am  – 4.30 pm and the entrance fee is 40 LE per person. You can get there by Careem or on foot depending on where you are staying in the city. 

Walk along the Corniche

The Corniche is extremely popular with locals, especially in the evening. You will find couples cuddling, people serving coffee or roasting sweet potatoes, fishermen looking to catch some dinner, friends meeting up for a chat. We loved walking along the sea and mingling with the locals. 

Bibliotheca Alexandrina 

Alexandria used to be home to the largest library in the ancient world until the great fire consumed the Library of Alexandria. It was where most of the world’s knowledge then was kept. The old library of Alexandria was not just a library, it was a cultural learning center for the arts and philosophy. A landmark that paved the way forward for worldly education, not just in scripture, but in thought, mind, and human existence too. That’s why Alexandria decided to build a new library; the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Opened in 2002, it’s now the largest library in the Middle East and has the same aim; to be a learning center with a spirit of openness.

 The building takes the form of a gigantic angled discus embedded in the ground, evoking a second sun rising out of the Mediterranean. The granite exterior walls are carved with letters, pictograms, and hieroglyphs from more than 120 different human scripts. 

Inside the jaw-dropping main reading room can accommodate eight million books and 2500 readers under its sloping roof, with windows specially designed to let sunlight flood in but keep out rays that might harm the collection. 

Besides the impressive library collections, you can also find 4 permanent museums, a planetarium, a conference center, and a range of temporary and permanent exhibitions here. 

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is open from 10 am – 7 am from Sunday – Thursday, from 2 pm – 7 pm on Fridays, and noon – 4 pm on Saturdays. The entrance fee is 70 LE per person. You can get there by Careem or on foot depending on where you are staying in the city.

Stanley Bridge 

The Stanley Bridge is the first bridge in Egypt to be constructed over the sea, It was built in the late 1900s over Stanley bay. While walking along the Stanley Bridge, you will see fishermen line up on the bridge waiting for their catch of the day and see people playing backgammon. 

Montazah Palace Gardens 

The beautiful Montazah Palace is off-limits for visitors, but the surrounding gardens are worth walking through. These perfectly kept gardens cover 150 acres full of swaying palm trees, royal palaces, and lighthouses. In all, it’s a pleasant escape from the busy city. 

The Montazah Palace Gardens are open daily from 8 am-midnight and the entrance fee is 15 LE per person. You can get there by Careem from Alexandria’s city center. 

Abu Abbas Al Mursi Mosque

One of the most beautiful mosques in Egypt. It’s a monument for and contains the tomb of Abu Abbas Al Mursi. 

You can get there by careem or on foot depending on where you are staying in the city. 

Fort Qaitbey

The Eastern Harbor is dominated by the bulky walls of Fort Qaitbey, built on a narrow peninsula over the remains of the legendary Pharos lighthouse by Mamluk sultan Qaitbey in 1480.
 
The Pharos lighthouse, which had been in use for some 17 centuries, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1303 and lay in ruins for more than 100 years before Qaitbey ordered the fortification of the city’s harbor. Material from the fallen Pharos was reused, 

You can climb up four floors to the top, each floor has a magnificent view. You can see the waves crashing on the rocks and the fisherman out to claim their catch. 

Fort Qaitbey  is open daily from 9 am-4 pm and the entrance fee is 40 LE per person. You can get there by Careem or on foot depending on where you are staying in the city. We recommend you to get there on foot, the harbor views along the way are spectacular. 

Eat seafood

One of the great dining pleasures in Alexandria is eating the day’s fresh catch in one of the seafood restaurants.  We had delicious seafood at Kadoura restaurant. 

You can get to Kadoura restaurant by Careem or on foot depending on where you are staying.

Café Trianon

Alexandria is well known for its café culture. We loved café Trianon. Once you enter, you are thrown back in time and get a glimpse of what Alexandria used to be circa the 1930s. We had a delicious coffee and Umm Ali (a typical Egyptian dessert) there. 
 
You can get to Café Trianon by Careem or on foot depending on where you are staying.
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1 Comment

  1. Martine
    April 6, 2022 / 4:50 pm

    Jullie hebben weeral een mooie reis gemaakt.
    Prachtige foto’s 😍

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