Alexandria combines a long history with beautiful beaches. Situated on the shores of the Mediterranean, Alexandria is Egypt’s second largest city and a historically significant destination. The city is reminiscent of Turkey or Greece. It is also known as the “Pearl of the Mediterranean”.
History and beaches
Alexandria is located in northern Egypt on the shores of the Mediterranean. The city has about five million inhabitants and is the second largest city in Egypt . Alexandria has a long and colorful history and its importance is growing all the time, as it is home to the most important port in Egypt.
The city was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. The city is also named after him. Already in ancient times Alexandria was a major city. The Library of Alexandria was the largest of ancient times, from which all philosophers and scientists of that time sought information.
Throughout history, the city has also been conquered by the Romans and Persians. Also Napoleon had to city controls the years 1798-1801. Since Napoleon, the city has been bombed by both the British and the Israelis. Traces of the conquerors of each era can still be seen in the city.
Today, Alexandria is not only a major freight hub, but also a popular holiday destination. Alexandria attracts both those interested in history and those on the beach. Its sandy beaches are traditionally enjoyed by both local and foreign tourists, but recently the security situation in Egypt has reduced interest in this destination as well.
Alexandria has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by dry and hot summers and rainy mild winters. January and February are the coolest months. The temperature is then only known at 12-18 degrees. July and August, on the other hand, are the hottest months, with average temperatures remaining around 30 degrees. The best time to visit is in the spring and fall, when the temperature stays around 22 degrees.
Good to know about Alexandria
A Finn needs a visa when traveling to Egypt. You can apply for a visa at the Egyptian Embassy in Helsinki.
In Alexandria, as elsewhere in Egypt, it is worth dressing conservatively. Women should cover their knees and shoulders and it is also good for men to prefer long pants instead of shorts. It is good for women to avoid moving alone, especially in the dark.
There have been bombings in Alexandria since the 2011 uprising. It is a good idea to monitor the security situation from the local media and from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ up-to-date travel bulletin .
When moving around the city, it is recommended to be vigilant. For smaller crimes, pickpocketing occurs, but tourists are rarely subjected to violence.
FLIGHTS, ACCOMMODATION AND MOVEMENT IN ALEXANDRIA
Flying to your destination
There are two airports in Alexandria, of which El Nouzha Airport mainly serves domestic air traffic as well as passenger traffic in the Middle East. International flights depart from Borg El Arab Airport, about an hour’s drive from the city center.
There are no direct flights from Finland to Alexandria. The machine must be changed at least once. The machine is most typically replaced in Istanbul, Turkey . Round-trip flights from Helsinki to Alexandria cost about 300-600 euros. Travel time is a minimum of about seven hours.
Alexandria is about a three-hour drive from the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Indeed , many fly to Cairo and continue their journey to Alexandria from there.
Diverse accommodation offer
Alexandria has accommodation for many tastes. The city offers both more modest accommodation and five-star hotels. Some of the more expensive hotels are full-service resorts that may be located more than 20 kilometers from downtown. When booking accommodation, it’s a good idea to think about what you want from your holiday.
Getting around Alexandria
In Alexandria, the most convenient way to get around is by taxi. There are plenty of black and yellow taxis in the city, some of which are in poor condition. You can grab a car from the street. The price must be negotiated in advance as taxis do not use meters. The city also has taxis that can be ordered over the phone, which are more expensive than black-and-yellow taxis. They are also in better condition.
The city also has a tram network. The network is old and slow, but affordable.
ATTRACTIONS OF ALEXANDRIA
Library of Alexandria
Alexandria housed the most magnificent library of ancient times. From there, all the most significant scientists and philosophers of their time seek information. There are many theories about the destruction of the original library. Some invest it in 47-48 BC and some in 640. The library and its destruction are considered a symbol of knowledge.
In 2002, a new library was built in Alexandria on almost the same site as the original one. Like its predecessor, the library respects information and research. Indeed, the current library is much more than a collection of millions of books. There are also exhibitions, research institutes, a museum and a planetarium. Up to 1.5 million visitors visit the library every year.
Alexandria National Museum
The three-story Alexandria Museum is an excellent overview of the eras of the history of Egypt and the city of Alexandria to this day. The collections contain objects from all over Egypt. Getting to know the museum and the different eras is easy, as there are comprehensive information boards next to the collections.
Pillar of Pompeii and the catacombs of Kom El Shoquafa
The pillar of Pompeii is a nearly 30-meter pillar guarded by sphinxes. The column is made of granite. It was built in memory of the Roman emperor Diocletian, and is the only thing left of the Temple of Serapis.
The catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa are within walking distance of the Pompeii Pillar. Ancient Roman tombs were discovered by chance in 1900 when a donkey suddenly disappeared into the ground. The tombs form a multi-level labyrinth that extends all the way to a depth of 35 meters. The tombs are decorated with pillars, statues and religious symbols that combine the time of the pharaohs and the Greek style.
Versatile shopping opportunities
There are a few large malls in Alexandria that sell everything from groceries to Western brands. The newest of the malls is the San Stefano Mall, which has a cinema in addition to shopping.
For those looking for more traditional shopping, head to one of the numerous bazaar areas. For example, you can buy clothes, fabrics, sewing supplies and jewelry from the Sharia Faransa area. There is also a good selection of traditional eateries in the vicinity.
Relax on the beaches
Alexandria has numerous beaches, both public and privately owned by the hotel. Mediterranean waves can be enjoyed on Mamoura’s public beach, for example. The beach is one of the most pleasant in Alexandria, as it is located further from the busy promenade.
There is a small entrance fee to several public beaches. In addition, sun loungers and parasols are available for rent on the beaches. On the shores, it is worth remembering that the Egyptians are conservative. The use of bikinis is allowed on many beaches, but it is not worth sunbathing on the topless.
THE BEST OF ALEXANDRIA
Experience these in Alexandria
- Visit the Library of Alexandria
- Sense the havin of history in museums and ruins
- Shop at the bazaars
- Enjoy the beaches of the Mediterranean
The disadvantages of Alexandria
- No direct flights
- Pocket thefts occur
- The safety situation must be closely monitored