Alexandria On a Budget
SightsEvery vacation needs a good beach. Before you venture out to get a healthy dose of history, spend the morning soaking up some sun on the beautiful Maa'moura or Montazah beaches.
Most historians have still not accepted the burning of the Alexandria Library. The world lost irreplaceable historical information as it burned to the ground. With the opening of the Bibliotecha Alexandrina in 2002, the city is attempting to rekindle the brilliance of the original. This spectacular collection of museums also plays host to international performers.
One of the most iconic spots in the city is the Citadel of Qaitbay. This fortress overlooking the Mediterranean Sea was built in 1480 to protect the city from crusaders. Before it fell, the Alexandria Lighthouse stood here. Today visitors can come to explore the maritime museum.
For the adventure seekers in the group, you'll want to take a trip to the Catacombs of Kom ash-Suqqafa. Accidentally discovered in 1990 by a runaway donkey, these catacombs are the largest known Roman burial sites in Egypt. The three tiers of tombs and chambers are carved thirty-five meters deep into the bedrock.
If you're dying to see a true, unharmed ancient monument in Alexandria, you're going to have to go see Pompey's Pillar. Built in 297 AD, this 30 meters column presides over the remnants of the ancient settlement of Rhakotis. Rising straight from the ruins of the Temple Serepeum, this impressive column has stood the test of time making it through centuries to be the only remaining ancient monument in the city.
ActivitiesIf you simply can't look at any more hieroglyphics, an afternoon at the Montazah Royal Gardens might be just the ticket. The 350 acres of gardens running along the shore are some of the best maintained in the city. There's no shortage of benches or swimming pools open for everyone to enjoy. They also offer a variety of water sports from waterskiing and wake boarding to inner tubing and banana boating.
And if you simply need to shop until you drop, Alexandria has you covered. The Souq District is home to rows and rows of market stalls full of produce, fish, meat, baked goods, and more. There are also cafes for a quick shopping break. The Sharia Faransa section of this district is like the Macy's of Alexandria. Here you'll find jewelry, clothes and everything in between.
Food and DiningAlexandria is still a tourist-centered town, which means you can find a meal at just about any price to suite any craving. Don't miss out on the traditional Egyptian dishes offered like falafels and fava beans but especially be sure to try the seafood. It's the best in all of Egypt.
TransportationAlexandria is a large city, but most places are accessible by public transit.
The yellow and black taxis are a convenient and simple way to get around. Be aware, though, that due to constantly changing rates, cab drivers don't use meter. This also means they will gladly take advantage of foreigners who don't know the rates. So make sure you agree on a rate before getting in the car. To flag them down, wave at the driver and call out your destination. Some cars will try to pick you up while they still have other passengers. Don't take that risk, get your own cab.
Their tram system is an option, but it's very slow. The cars have been around since about 1860 and the routs can be confusing as they're constantly changing with little notice. The bus system has seen vast improvements, though. Unfortunately, like with the trams, the routes can be very confusing for those who don't live in Alexandria.