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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Cairo

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Cairo each year.
The main ones are listed below.

January 1: New Year's Day (national holiday)

Twelfth day of the third month of the Islamic calendar (date changes each year): Moulid al-Nabi (Birth of the Prophet, national holiday)

This festival celebrated on the twelfth day of Rabi'al-Awwal commemorates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad and is one of the most important days on the Islamic (or Hegira) calendar. Egyptian Muslims use this opportunity to recall the values advocated by the Prophet. It is also a day when families gather to share a traditional meal in a festive atmosphere.

May 1: Labour Day (national holiday)

Ninth month of the Islamic calendar (dates change each year): Ramadan (celebrated nationwide)

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, is an especially pious time in Egypt, a country with a majority Muslim population. Fasting begins each day at sunrise and ends at sunset. For the entire month, Cairo, like the rest of Egypt, operates at a slower pace during the day and stirs into action at nightfall.

First three days of the tenth month of the Islamic calendar (dates change each year): Eid al-Fitr (national holiday)

This three-day festival marks the end of Ramadan and is a time for family celebrations across Cairo, with exchanges of gifts, especially new clothes, and great feasts bringing together all family members. Music, dancing and street processions are also a prominent feature.

July 23: Revolution Day (national holiday)

Commemorates the birth of the Egyptian republic on this day in 1952, when the Free Officers, led by the young Gamal Abd-al Nasser, toppled the Egyptian monarchy in a military coup. Highlights include official remembrance ceremonies, military parades, concerts and fireworks.

Tenth day of the last month of the Islamic calendar (date changes each year): Eid al-Adha (national holiday)

This festival celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu'l-Hijja honours Ibrahim's proof of his obedience to Allah. Allah asked him to sacrifice his son Ismael, but just as Ibrahim was about to make the sacrifice, Allah told him to offer a ram instead. Traditionally, to remember Ibrahim's offering, each family sacrifices a sheep in the morning and the remainder of the day is spent in prayer and celebration, feasting on the roast mutton and sharing the meat with others.

December 25: Christmas (celebrated nationwide)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Cairo

Cairo has a desert climate. Temperatures are quite high for most of the year. Nevertheless, the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea helps to lessen the impact of the heat somewhat. Skies tend to be clear and sunny year-round, and especially during the transitional periods between seasons. Cloudy or rainy days are very rare in the summer.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 9/48 19/66 6/0.24 Not the best period to go
February 10/50 20/68 4/0.16 Not the best period to go
March 12/54 23/73 3/0.12 Not the best period to go
April 15/59 28/82 1/0.04 Good period to go Good period to go
May 18/64 32/90 0/0.00 Good period to go Good period to go
June 20/68 34/93 0/0.00 Good period to go Good period to go
July 22/72 35/95 0/0.00 Good period to go Good period to go
August 22/72 35/95 0/0.00 Not the best period to go
September 20/68 34/93 0/0.00 Not the best period to go
October 14/57 29/84 1/0.04 Not the best period to go
November 14/57 25/77 4/0.16 Not the best period to go
December 10/50 20/68 6/0.24 Not the best period to go
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Cairo International Airport

Cairo International Airport is located about 22 kilometres (14 miles) north-east of the city centre.

  • Four terminals:
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2 (Air France)
    • Terminal 3
    • Terminal 4

Getting from the airport to Cairo and back
  • By car
    • Accessible via Salah Salem Road.
    • Ten short- and long-term parking areas are available adjacent to Terminal 1 (EGP 5 for each hour or fraction thereof).
    • Several car rental companies have counters in the arrivals halls of all terminals.
  • By bus
    • The airport operates its own air-conditioned shuttle bus service, with departures every half hour and a travel time of about 45 minutes to the city centre. The individual fare is EGP 35 and a group fare of EGP 70 is also available (valid for up to seven people).
    • Cairo Transport Authority (CTA) public buses also connect the airport with all points of interest in Cairo, but not all of them are air-conditioned. The fare is EGP 5 per person and the travel time to the city centre is about 75 minutes.
  • By taxi
    • There are three main types of taxis available at the ranks outside the terminal buildings: older black-and-white taxis (unmetered, price must be negotiated beforehand); newer white taxis (metered); and yellow Cairo Cabs (metered and air-conditioned). Expect to pay between EGP 80 and EGP 150 for the trip from the airport to the city centre.
  • Services: shops, bars and restaurants, Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.
  • Telephone: +20 (0)2 2265 5000
  • Website: http://www.cairo-airport.com

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GETTING AROUND Cairo

The Egyptian capital is notorious for its traffic congestion. Nevertheless, it is possible to get around the city easily, thanks to Cairo's good public transport system and the ubiquitous taxis.

By rail

Despite its high ridership, the Cairo Metro is a fast, efficient and inexpensive way to get around the city. There are two main lines: The 35-station main line stretches for 43 kilometres (27 miles) from the southern suburb of Helwan up to New Al-Marg. The second line, about 21 kilometres (13 miles) in length, connects Shubra with Giza. A third line entered into service in 2012 and is still under construction. It presently operates from Attaba to Ahram (Heliopolis), for a total length of 12 kilometres (7.5 miles). Trains run about every 5 minutes from 5:00 a.m. to 1 a.m. The middle two cars of each train, the fourth and the fifth, are reserved for women, although the latter are also permitted to travel in any other car. A single ticket costs EGP 1.00.

By bus

As a general rule, public buses and minibuses are not recommended for tourists, as regular passengers often include pick-pockets. In addition, this mode of transport is difficult to use for visitors not able to read Arabic, because very few signs are in English. Fares range from about EGP 0.25 (for local buses) and EGP 1.00 (for minibuses) to EGP 2.00 (for CTA buses).

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful in Cairo. When using the older black-and-white cabs, it is important to remember that they do not have meters. For these taxis, it is best to negotiate the price beforehand. The newer white cabs and the yellow Cairo Cabs do use meters, with the initial charge starting at EGP 3.50 and short trips usually running about EGP 10.00. Cairo Cabs must usually be booked in advance by telephone. Fares charged by taxis waiting outside hotels are usually about twice those charged by taxis hailed in the street. For metered taxis, it is good to have an idea of the route the taxi should be taking to your destination, as some drivers may try to take a longer way to get you to pay more.

By car

Renting a car to get around Cairo is not really recommended, due to traffic congestion and often inadequate signage. If you decide to rent a car in spite of these difficulties, an international driver's licence is required.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Cairo, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Tourist Information Offices in Cairo

Offer practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • • Cairo International Airport
    • Address: Cairo International Airport
    • Opening hours: 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
    • Telephone: <+20 (0)2 2265 3642
  • Cairo City Centre
    • Address: Adly St., Cairo
    • Opening hours: 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
    • Telephone: <+20 (0)2 3383 88234
  • Giza Pyramids
    • Address: Giza Pyramids, Giza
    • Opening hours: 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
    • Telephone: <+20 (0)2 2391 3454
  • El-Fostat
    • Address: El-Fostat, Cairo
    • Opening hours: 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
    • Telephone: <+20 (0)2 2532 5269
  • Ramses Station
    • Address: Ramses Station, Cairo
    • Opening hours: 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
    • Telephone: <+20 (0)2 2579 0767
  • Giza Station
    • Address: Giza Station, Giza
    • Opening hours: 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
    • Telephone: <+20 (0)2 3570 2233

Further information available online for visitors to Egypt

The official website maintained by Egypt's tourism authority provides a wealth of information on Cairo.

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Medical information

Vaccinations

Booster doses of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio vaccines are recommended. Depending on the length of your stay and hygiene conditions, the following additional vaccinations are also recommended: typhoid, hepatitis A and B.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

Water

Drinking tap water in Cairo is not recommended. It is advisable to drink only bottled water sold in sealed, tamper-proof containers.

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Administrative formalities

All foreign nationals must be in possession of a visa to enter Egypt, regardless of the length of their stay.

For further information, visit the website of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: http://www.mfa.gov.eg/english/ConsularServices/Pages/ConsularServiceDetails.aspx?ID=Visa%20Application

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Essential phrases

Here are a few basic Arabic phrases that will make your stay in Cairo a little easier:

Good morning: Sabah al-khair (response = sabah al-noor)

Good evening: Masaa al-khair (response = masaa al-noor)

Good-bye: Maasalama

Yes: Na'am

No: Laa

Thank you very much: Shukran jaziilan

No, thank you: Laa, shukran

Please: Min fadlik

I don't understand: Laa afham

Could you repeat that: Mumkin a'id hatha?

What time is it: Kamis saa'ah?

Excuse me: Afwan

Airport: Mataar

Train station: Mahattat al-qitaar

Taxi: Taxi

Hotel: Funduq

Hospital: Mustashfaa

Bank: Bank

Telephone: Telephone

I'm (…): Anya (…)

I'm looking for (…): Ab hass ane (…)

How much is (…): Bikam (…)?

Do you have (…): Hal 'indaka (…)?

Where can I find (…): Ayna ajed (…)?

Where can I buy (…): Ayna ashtarii (…)?

I'd like (…): Urid (…)

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Good to know

intl. access code + 20
+ phone number without the 0 (calls to Cairo)
4 : 00
of time difference with
Sao Paulo

Banks

Usually open Sunday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Government offices

Usually open Sunday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
220 V / 50 Hz

And what about tipping?
In Cairo, it is customary to leave a tip at the city's hotels and restaurants. If you are satisfied with the service, an appropriate amount is between 5 and 10 percent of the bill.