One of the more intriguing elements of the Cairo experience is the 70,000-strong Zabaleen community of rubbish recyclers, who have been sorting the city’s trash for over 80 years. For more insider info on Cairo, read on.
Australians travelling to Egypt on holiday will need to obtain a single entry tourist visa before entering the country. Initial entry is granted for a maximum of one month. Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local Embassy or Consulate of Egypt.
The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian Pound. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and Egyptian Pound fluctuates constantly so it’s a good idea to monitor the rate before purchasing cash. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Cairo has a plethora of dining establishments all over the city serving everything from traditional Egyptian fare to international offerings with Western fast food and local chains in-between. Egyptian faves include the ubiquitous shawarma, fuul (fava bean stew) and tamaya (falafel), bamya (spiced meat and okra stew) and kushari (a macaroni and rice dish). Head to Downtown Cairo for inexpensive street food, or dine around the world at hotels and upscale areas like Zamalek and Mohandiseen. Traditional coffee houses or ahwa are the place to go to experience strong Arabic-style coffee, hibiscus tea and smoke sheesha (water pipe) – either pure or fruit-flavoured. Once a male-only domain, ahwa are now popular with young Cairenes of both sexes.
Despite a mostly Muslim population, the baladi (traditional) bar has survived from its heydays of the 1940s and ‘50s as a Cairo icon. Downtown Cairo is the place to go to experience the city’s unpretentious after-hours scene with over 50 baladi bars where you can enjoy a beer, smoke a sheesha and perhaps see a belly dancer in action at spots like Stella and After Eight. In-the-know Cairenes head to the upmarket nightspots on the affluent island of Zamalek, known as Cairo’s version of Manhattan. Visit one of the clubs such as Mojo and Opium located on boats by the river offering cheap cocktails and views of the Nile, or popular bars like La Bodega and Pub 28.