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On a cruise to Egypt, explore the incredible history of Alexandria and its surroundings. Only a few hours away from bustling Cairo, this coastal city has a relaxed Mediterranean feel. Founded by Alexander the Great, its famed former residents include Cleopatra, Caesar, and Mark Antony, who lived storied lives here.
Stroll the Corniche, Alexandria’s 10-mile long waterfront promenade, taking in the sea air, the local sights, street vendors, and music. Explore the National Museum to learn about Alexandria’s illustrious history and see amazing artifacts. Visit ancient temples, an amphitheater, and catacombs, or take a tour out of the city to see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. The charming seaside walkway and fascinating architecture make Alexandria an exotic, romantic destination.
The Library of Alexandria was the largest library of the ancient world and the place where ancient philosophers and scientists came to increase their knowledge. The modern-day version has three floors that provide a complete history of the city, from the ancient Pharaohs to the Greek-Roman period to now. There’s even a planetarium and science museum for kids.
This 15th-century medieval fort was built on the island of Pharos—where the famed Lighthouse of Alexandria once stood—to defend against attacks from the Ottoman Empire. Explore the castle-like structure and enjoy incredible views of the bay from its ramparts. Look for the stones on the outer walls that have a slightly reddish hue. These are the stones from the destroyed Lighthouse of Alexandria that were repurposed.
Located in a restored Italian-style palace dating to 1926, this museum contains thousands of artifacts that tell the remarkable story of Alexandria and Egypt. You’ll see mummies, pottery, mosaic portraits, jewelry, fabrics, weapons, and more. Stroll through the surrounding garden after your visit to the three-level museum.
No cruise to Egypt would be complete without a visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza. With an overnight stay in Alexandria, you have plenty of time to see the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still intact. Just outside of Cairo, you’ll find the three main pyramids along with several smaller structures and the Great Sphinx of Giza. All were built between 2600 and 2500 BC.
Venture a few blocks inland from the Corniche to find souks, antique stores, bookstores, clothing stores, and food markets. Bring back souvenirs like loose hibiscus tea, local dates, scarab beetle jewelry, oud incense, or a cozy pashmina. You can even visit a souk to find a craftsman who will paint your name in hieroglyphics on a piece of parchment paper.
Stroll the Montazah Palace Gardens, a serene oasis of nature on the city's eastern edge. Montazah is a lavish garden with majestic palms, manicured lawns, and breathtaking flowers that were all once off-limits to all but royals and their entourage.
On a cruise to Egypt, sample some of the country’s national dishes. Some you may be familiar with, like tahini sesame paste and grilled lamb kebabs. Go on a culinary adventure by trying kushari lentils, macaroni, rice, and chickpeas, the pita-like aish baladi, or a spicy minced lamb called kofta.
Sayadiyah fish is a dish made mainly in coastal cities such as Alexandria. It’s a baked casserole with white fish, yellow rice, onions, spices, and tomato sauce. Dessert can be something as simple as mint tea and baklava, or try Om Ali, which is layers of milk-soaked puff pastry mixed with nuts, raisins, coconut, and sugar, and then baked.
Founded in 331 BCE by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was the most vital cultural center of its time. Pharos, the legendary lighthouse and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was built here. So was the Library of Alexandria, where scholars, mathematicians, astronomers, scientists, and philosophers gathered to seek knowledge.
Today, visiting Alexandria is a relaxed, friendly and laid-back experience. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country. The dress code in Egypt is considered conservative by Western standards, and it is respectful to obey this code. That means no exposed shoulders or knees, and no tank tops or shorts. If you’re visiting a mosque, don’t forget to remove your shoes.
The Port of Alexandria is located on the western side of the Nile River between the Med and Lake Mariout. The recently renovated passenger terminal takes inspiration from Alexandria’s history with the design incorporating Pharaonic architecture and features from the Roman era. It has a variety of cafes and service areas inside and taxis outside that will take you on the short trip to the heart of the city.
Within Alexandria, there are a number of transportation options including the tram network, the commuter rail, and public buses. Having the names of places you want to go written down in Arabic as well as English can make it easier for locals to point you in the right direction. Taxis are also abundant, although it’s best to ask a restaurant host or hostess about usual fares as you may have to negotiate with drivers.
Alexandria’s two main streets—Al Aksander Al Akbar and Ebadah Ibn Al Somet—are lined with shops selling jewelry, clothing, textiles, and home decor. Prices are written in Arabic, so it is a good idea to have a conversion chart app on your smartphone.
The official currency of Alexandria is the Egyptian pound (EGP). You’ll find ATMs scattered throughout the city, and many establishments accept credit cards. Tipping is commonplace here, and leaving a small tip (10% to 15%) at a restaurant or with someone who provided a service is considered extremely polite.