While there is a good amount to see in Cairo, the city can get pretty hectic. After a few days in Cairo, you might want to escape to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt. And yes, it’s the same Alexandria founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. While much of the city is modernized, it maintains hints of its ancient charm. Here’s what you’ll see on a day trip to Alexandria from Cairo.
Getting to Alexandria from Cairo
It’s possible to get to Alexandria from Cairo by bus, train, or plane. However, we found booking a private tour to be the easiest option. This is the tour we booked from Emo Tours. With our tour, we received a private ride to and from Alexandria and our tour guide and driver escorted us to the various stops. Keep in mind, it takes about three hours to drive from Cairo to Alexandria. Regardless of how you get there, a day trip to Alexandria from Cairo makes for a long day.
Catacomb of Kom El-Shoqafa
The first stop of the day was the Catacomb of Kom El-Shoqafa. The necropolis dates back to the 2nd century AD and includes three levels of underground catacombs. When touring the catacombs, you’ll notice a mix of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian influence.
Pompey’s Pillar & the Temple of Serapeum
The next stop was Pompey’s Pillar and the Temple of Serapeum. The 30-meter high column known as Pompey’s Pillar sits over the ruins of the Rhakotis, the original settlement of Alexandria. The column is constructed from red granite from Aswan and stands above the ruins of the Temple of Serapeum. Despite its name, the column was created in 291 AD to support a statue of the Roman emperor Diocletian.
Citadel of Qaitbay
Next, we visited the Citadel of Qaitbay, a 15th-century fortress located on the Mediterranean Sea. The citadel was built as a defense against the Turks. It was erected in the former location of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
The last stop of the day was the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. This modern library was built in 2002 as a commemoration of the ancient Great Library of Alexandria. We took a tour of the library and had some free time to explore. The unique architecture and museum exhibits are worth checking out.
Taking a day trip to Alexandria offers a nice break from the chaos that is Cairo. While Alexandria is a large city as well, walking along the Mediterranean is a welcome breath of fresh air. At about three hours away by car, a day trip to Alexandria from Cairo is totally doable and worth a visit if you have time in your itinerary. However, if you are more interested in Ancient Egypt and don’t have time for a Nile Cruise, I’d recommend visiting Luxor instead.