Fishermen boats in Alexandria
Egypt

Family Travel Guide to Alexandria in Egypt

Most Egyptians visit Alexandria for the public beaches, outdoor cafés and local cuisine. For them, Alexandria is cosy compared to Cairo, but hip compared to surrounding cities and towns. It is not usually top of mind for international travellers although it is one of the largest cities in Egypt. Whether you or your children love history, art or culture, I can guarantee that there is a lot to see in Alexandria in Egypt.

History of Alexandria

Before Alexandria was built, this area was a modest fishing village called Rhakotis

As you can tell by the name, Alexandria in Egypt was founded in 331 BC by none other than Alexander the Great to be the new capital of Egypt. His architects mimicked Greek cities in planning the roads, squares and harbours. It quickly became the major centre of the Hellenistic world attracting historians, philosophers, scholars and scientists.

When Julius Caesar defeated Pompey in 48 BC, Alexandria joined the Roman Empire. In the centuries to follow, Byzantine, Persian and Muslim civilisations ruled Alexandria. They would all leave their impact on the ancient city’s history. In the 18th century, Alexandria became more of a cosmopolitan and modern city. It had thriving communities of Greeks, Italians, Lebanese and Armenians, living alongside their Egyptian neighbours. Unfortunately, while this is no longer the case, you can still see remnants of these cultures in the local architecture, cuisine and traditions.

Getting to Alexandria in Egypt

Cafe on Alexandria beach
Seaview from Crave restaurant

If you are arriving to Alexandria in Egypt from abroad, you should be able to find direct or connecting flights to Borg El Arab international airport. It is 45 minutes away from the city of Alexandria.

However, if you are stopping in Cairo first anyway, then you can go to Alexandria by train from the Ramses train station in Cairo. The journey is anywhere between 2.5 and 3.5 hours depending on the type of train you book. So, make sure you go for one of the fast and air-conditioned “French” trains that stop only a couple of times rather than the “Spanish” trains that stop in almost every town.

There are two train stations in Alexandria governorate – Sidi Gaber train station and Masr train station. Trains pass through both of them in any case, so just get off at the station closest to your accommodation. The scenery is beautiful as you travel through the Nile Delta farmland. It almost seems as though you are back in ancient Egypt watching all those farmers plough their fields using water buffaloes.

On the other hand, a less scenic route would be a 3-hour trip by car on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road. If you take a bus such as Super Jet or Go Bus it could be as long as 4 hours though.

Moving Around Alexandria in Egypt

Tram in Alexandria
Alexandria is fondly called “the bride of the Mediterranean” by locals

Your best option to get around Alexandria in Egypt as a family would be the iconic yellow and black taxi. Also, you can use apps such as Uber and Careem to get around. Alexandria is famous for its double-decker tram, but it is not very reliable and comfortable as a mode of transportation. Also, please avoid public buses of any size since they tend to be overcrowded and inaccessible.

The main coastal road on the Mediterranean Sea is called El Gaish Road aka El Corniche Road. This has most of the city’s hotels and restaurants as well as famous attractions such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and Royal Jewellery Museum. El Horeya Road is where you can visit the Roman Amphitheatre and Alexandria National Museum. There are more options for dining out as well as cafés and shops in that area.

Alexandria Hotels

Lobby at a boutique hotel called Metropole
This is the lobby of Le Metropole Hotel built in 1902

There are literally hundreds of hotels in Alexandria. You have high-end options such as the Four Seasons San Stefano and Helnan Palestine. Alternatively you can choose more budget-friendly chains such as Sheraton Montazah and Hilton Green Plaza. Moreover, there are some charming boutique hotels such as San Giovanni, Metropole and Steigenberger Cecil. We stayed at the Sunrise Alex Avenue Hotel, a local chain with hotels and resorts in Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh too.

When to Visit Alexandria in Egypt

My honest advice is to avoid the summer months of June, July and August completely. Not only does it get humid and sticky, but most Egyptians flock to Alexandria from neighbouring cities to spend their summer holiday. Alexandrians themselves do their best to get out of the city during summer!

Alexandria Weather

Since we don’t get a lot of rain in Cairo, I personally love visiting Alexandria in the winter during the rainy season. However, if you are in town for a brief family holiday, then try to aim for the months between February and May. That way, the weather in Alexandria would be pleasant enough to spend your days outdoors.

Places to Visit in Alexandria in Egypt

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Entrance of the Library of Alexandria
The circular design pays homage to the infinite circle of knowledge

You can’t be in Alexandria in Egypt and not plan a visit to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina! Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the library was built in 2002 after a Norwegian architectural company called Snøhetta was awarded first prize in an international competition.

In addition to the main library which can house up to eight million books and manuscripts, the complex has six specialised libraries, four museums, three art galleries, 12 academic research centres and 15 permanent exhibitions. It also has a planetarium science centre for children, an arts centre and a conference centre. Make sure you go before 9:30 am in order to queue for tickets because there is currently a cap of 300 visitors per day.

  • Address: Al Azaritah Wa Ash Shatebi, Qism Bab Sharqi
  • Opening hours: Sundays – Thursdays 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 70 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 10 for non-Egyptian students and senior citizens – EGP 5 for Egyptian adults – EGP 3 for Egyptian university students – EGP 1 for Egyptian school students

Library Tour

Inside the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The tilted skylights protect the books and manuscripts from direct sunlight and the blue and green coloured glass makes for a better reading experience

There are free guided tours offered every day in Arabic, English and French. Our tour guide gave us some history of the ancient Library of Alexandria. She showed us the physical and digitised copies of Description de l’Égypte – a masterpiece commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is a result of the collaboration of 160 scientists and scholars who joined the French expedition in Egypt between 1798 and 1801.

Antiquities Museum

Statues at the Antiquities Museum
The library is located in what used to be the Royal Quarter during Hellenistic times

The collection at the Antiquities Museum includes artefacts from the ancient Egyptian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Coptic and Islamic civilisations. What makes this museum quite unique is that a lot of the artefacts were actually excavated during the construction of the library.

  • Opening hours: Sundays – Thursdays 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 50 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 25 for non-Egyptian students – EGP 5 for Egyptians

Manuscript Museum

Antique Bible at the Library of Alexandria
The Coptic Orthodox Church was founded in Alexandria by Saint Mark in the 1st century AD

This museum hosts rare manuscripts and books from Egypt and around the world. The staff members offer guided tours in Arabic, English, French and Italian.

  • Opening hours: Sundays – Thursdays 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 30 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 10 for non-Egyptian students – EGP 5 for Egyptians

Sadat Museum

Sadat army uniform
The blood-stained uniform that Sadat was wearing when he was assassinated is also on display

Dedicated to late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, this museum gives a glimpse of the leader’s personal life by displaying a collection of his clothes, books and stationery. There are lots of photos and newspaper clippings too and even gifts from world leaders.

  • Opening hours: Sundays – Thursdays 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
  • Tickets: free

Planetarium

We attended a show in Arabic at the Planetarium about an enchanted reef which my daughter enjoyed very much. There are other shows about ancient Egypt and space available in both Arabic and English.           

  • Opening hours: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with 3 shows each day (10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm)
  • Tickets: EGP 50 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 30 for non-Egyptian students – EGP 10 for Egyptians

History of Science Museum

This children’s museum shows the evolution of science in Egypt throughout different historical eras.

  • Opening hours: Sundays to Thursdays from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
  • Tickets: free if you bought a ticket for the planetarium. Otherwise, it is EGP 2

ALEXploratorium 

This facility is a hands-on experience for children covering five different themes for example “inside the human body” and the “science revolution”.

  • Opening hours: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with 3 guided tours each day (10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm) and Tuesday with 1 guided tour (10:30 am)
  • Tickets: EGP 10 for adults – EGP 5 for students

Exhibitions

Egyptian handicrafts at the Library
My favourite exhibition has to be the Arab Folklore Art one which showed traditional clothes, jewellery and handicrafts from every region in Egypt

There are a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina showcasing the work of Egyptian painters, sculpturers and artisans.

Roman Amphitheatre

Going down the steps at the Roman theatre
You can still see Roman numerals on the 13 rows of seats

If you want to get a glimpse of ancient Alexandria, then drop by the Roman Amphitheatre in Kom El Dikka. Archaeologists searching for the tomb of Alexander the Great discovered it by coincidence in the 1960s. The complex was built in the 4th century and included a Roman bath, theatre and villa and is the only one in the whole of Egypt. The theatre was used for over 300 years for cultural events like musical concerts and poetry readings throughout the Roman and Byzantine eras. 22 lecture halls known collectively as the auditoria would host 20-30 students each.

The Bath had buildings made of red brick for hot and warm baths as well as steam rooms. There was another area with cold water pools and even a large central hall where bathers could socialise! We walked down some stairs to see the underground heating system which used furnaces to burn straw and reeds for fuel. Tucked away in the corner of the complex is the Villa of the Birds. It is an excellent example of a Roman villa and has exquisite mosaics depicting geometric designs and – you guessed it – birds!

Mosaic floor at the Roman villa
It is easy to see why they called it the Villa of the Birds

Unfortunately, most of the area is not accessible so bear this mind if you or someone in your group has mobility needs. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes when visiting this site since the ancient stone floors are uneven and there are lots of stairs.

  • Address: Ismail Mahana Road, Kom Ad Dakah Gharb, Al Attarin
  • Opening hours: Every day from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 100 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 50 for non-Egyptian students – EGP 20 for Egyptian adults – EGP 5 for Egyptian students

Al Montazah Palaces and Gardens

Al Montazah Bridge
After abdicating his throne, King Farouk left Alexandria on the royal yacht spending the rest of his life in exile

This complex once belonged to the Egyptian royal family. Khedive Abbas Helmi II built Al Salamlek Palace in 1892 to serve as a hunting lodge. It became a presidential summer residence in later years and is currently a luxurious hotel. King Fouad built Al Haramlek Palace in 1927, and his son, King Farouk, built a Roman-inspired tea pavilion on an island and a bridge to connect it to the palaces. The tea pavilion was recently renovated and is now open to the public after being closed for over 80 years. Local Alexandrians go there to read and enjoy a cup of tea and some cake.

Palm trees and lush gardens at the Montazah Palace complex
Al Montazah in Arabic means “place for a stroll”

However, locals and tourists alike can enjoy the vast palace gardens which are now a public park with picnic areas and playgrounds. President Nasser ordered the building of a hotel now known as Helnan Palestine to accommodate the leaders and delegations for the 2nd Arab Summit in 1964. More attractions and amenities are being developed as part of a huge redevelopment project.

  • Address: Al Mandarah Bahri, Montaza
  • Opening hours: Every day from 10 am to 10 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 25 per person plus an additional EGP 25 per car to enter the complex. EGP 75 per person to visit the tea pavilion and this price includes a beverage

Royal Jewellery Museum

Pearl and coral jewellery set
My phone camera does not do justice to the jewellery on display in this museum

This museum houses the breath-taking collection of jewellery – or whatever remains of it – that belonged to the Mohammed Ali dynasty that ruled Egypt and Sudan from 1805 to 1952. As you walk from one hall to the next, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed by the beauty of the displayed items, painted ceilings and stained-glass windows. In addition to the mesmerizing jewellery sets that once adorned the queens and princesses of Egypt, there are diamond encrusted stationery, pocket watches with miniature paintings, and even a bejewelled chess set.

Gold tea set at the Royal Jewellery Museum
Some household items like this tea set are made of solid gold fit for royalty

The museum building used to be a palace that belonged to Egyptian royalty. Princess Fatma Haidar completed its construction in 1923 and lived in it until 1964. Each hall was decorated to resemble a different architectural style such as Byzantine or Baroque. It was converted into the Royal Jewellery Museum in 1997 and reopened in 2020 after undergoing renovations.

  • Address: 27 Ahmed Yehia, San Stefano, First Al Raml
  • Opening hours: Every day from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 100 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 50 for non-Egyptian students – EGP 20 for Egyptian adults – EGP 5 for Egyptian students

Alexandria National Museum

Graeco-Roman artefacts at the Alexandria National Museum
We felt like time travellers as we moved from one floor to the next!

Inaugurated in 2003, the Alexandria National Museum showcases the history of the city of Alexandria in Egypt throughout the ages. It has more than 1,800 artefacts from the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras, as well as Coptic and Islamic ones. There is also an exhibit dedicated to contemporary Alexandrian history in the 19th and 20th centuries. The basement has been transferred into a replica of an ancient Egyptian tomb complete with coffins, mummies and canopic jars. My favourite exhibit has to be the one displaying the sunken Graeco-Roman artefacts that were retrieved during underwater excavations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Islamic wooden door at the Alexandria National Museum
Arabesque like this exquisite piece is a struggling art form in Egypt

The mansion where the museum is located was built by Egyptian businessman Asaad Bassily Pacha in 1926. He sold it to the US Embassy in 1954 and for decades the mansion was the headquarters of the US Consulate in Alexandria. In 1996, the Ministry of Culture bought the mansion and renovated it before turning it into the museum it is today.

  • Address: 131 El-Shaheed Galal El-Desouky, Bab Sharqi Wa Wabour Al Meyah, Qism Bab Sharqi
  • Opening hours: Every day from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 100 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 50 for non-Egyptian students – EGP 20 for Egyptian adults – EGP 5 for Egyptian students

Citadel of Qaitbay

Situated on Pharos Island, this massive stone fortress was built in the 15th century by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qaitbay to defend the city against a possible attack by Ottomans. There is some evidence that this is the same location as the infamous Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, that was destroyed by several earthquakes. Wear comfortable shoes since there is a lot of stairs to climb. There is a local market in front of it where you can get some souvenirs and refreshments.

  • Address: As Sayalah Sharq, Qesm Al Gomrok
  • Opening hours: Every day from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 100 for non-Egyptian adults – EGP 50 for non-Egyptian students – EGP 20 for Egyptian adults – EGP 5 for Egyptian students

Alexandria Aquarium

Tiger fish at the Alexandria Aquarium
Most of the fish are from the Mediterranean and Red Seas with some species from the Amazon River

Right next to the Qaitbay Fortress is the Alexandria Aquarium. It was built in 1930 and is part of the National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries. My daughter loves aquariums, so we could not miss out on it. Since it is a smallish aquarium, we managed to tour it in less than an hour. After that, we headed out to lunch at the Greek Club next door.

  • Address: As Sayalah Sharq, Qesm Al Gomrok
  • Opening hours: Every day from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Tickets: EGP 25 for non-Egyptians – EGP 7 for Egyptians aged 6+ – EGP 4 for Egyptians aged 4-6

More Things to do in Alexandria in Egypt

  • Stroll in downtown Alexandria
  • Get on the hop-on hop-off bus along the Corniche
  • Enjoy a “mistika” ice cream from Gelaty Azza
  • Attend an oriental music concert at the Alexandria Opera House
  • Drink some Turkish coffee in a local coffeeshop
  • Explore the catacombs of Alexandria in Kom El Shoqafa

Where to Eat in Alexandria

Shrimps and crabs plate
Fresh seafood platter at the Greek Club

Like most seaside towns in Egypt and around the world, seafood is a major part of Alexandrian cuisine. Indeed there are lots of local seafood restaurants. But in my opinion, they might not be the most child-friendly. Here are some of our favourite family restaurants and cafés in Alexandria:

Delices:

This is a charming patisserie and café in downtown Alexandria that has evidently been in business since 1922. It is owned by a Greek-Egyptian family. They have mouth-watering cakes, biscuits, baked goods and ice creams so there is bound to find something for everyone to indulge in.

Minouche:

This is an Italian family restaurant that is famous for its thin crust pizza. It also has other Italian favourites such as cannelloni, lasagne and calzone. It has two branches, one in Maamoura and one in Stanley, and not to mention they have takeout and delivery.

Two pizzas with different toppings
Minouche has been feeding Alexandria for over 30 years

Greek Club:

We love going to the Greek Club for their delicious seafood and gorgeous view of the fishing port. By all means, call and book in advance especially if your party is 3+. They serve local and imported alcohol. You pick your freshly caught fish and shellfish from the display fridge and pay by weight. The chef can cook your fish to your liking – either grilled, deep-fried, baked in salt, baked in cumin or baked in vegetables (aka sengary). You can also order starters, side and main dishes from their menu.

Crave:

This restaurant has eight branches in Cairo but none of them can compare with their branch in Alexandria with its spectacular beachfront location. Their menu is a nod to comfort food from around the world which is great if your kids have different tastes and preferences in cuisines.

There are some new establishments that have opened in recent years too such as Tivoli Dome and Gleem Bay with modern cafés and restaurants overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

What else can you do in Egypt?

Not only does Egypt have amazing beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, it also boasts some wonderful beach resorts on the Red Sea. So, after you are done visiting Alexandria, perhaps you can head to Dahab or Nuweiba.

Pin this post about Alexandria

Sharing is caring!
mirofromcairo

My name is Miriam and I live in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, daughter and Labrador! I am passionate about reading and enjoy travelling and writing so much that I started my own family travel blog. My nickname at university was Miro hence the name for my blog - Miro from Cairo

4 thoughts on “Family Travel Guide to Alexandria in Egypt

  1. Alexandria looks so beautiful. I have only been to Cairo but noting this down as I would love to visit Egypt again when my kids are a bit older.

  2. Alexandria looks beautiful and so much things to do. Egypt is still on our bucket list. With 11 years old, I think our son is old enough to visit Egypt.

  3. As a person who loves history, Alexandria has been on my list for so long! Not enough people write about this amazing city so I was really glad to read your post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Instagram
Follow by Email