Experience the Heart of the Mediterranean: Your Guide to the Best Things to Do in Alexandria, Egypt
Egypt, the land of Pharaohs, Pyramids, and the famous Nile River, is home to many vibrant cities. Among these, Alexandria stands out as a unique blend of ancient history and modern charm. Situated on the Mediterranean Sea's coast, Alexandria, also known as "The Pearl of the Mediterranean," has a rich history that dates back to 331 BC. It was founded by Alexander the Great and served as the capital of Greco-Roman Egypt.
Walking through Alexandria is like turning the pages of a living history book. The city's streets are adorned with historic landmarks, grand architecture, and monuments that tell stories of different eras. But Alexandria isn't just about history. This bustling city offers a variety of experiences, from exploring its unique culture to indulging in delicious local cuisine.
Its strategic location on the Mediterranean coast gives it a pleasant climate, making it a year-round destination. Whether you're a history buff, a food lover, a culture enthusiast, or a nature lover, Alexandria has something for everyone. This guide will take you through the best things to do in Alexandria, Egypt.
Why Visit Alexandria, Egypt?
Why should Alexandria be on your travel bucket list? There are countless reasons. Alexandria is a city where history and modernity intersect. It's a place where you can explore ancient ruins, visit world-class museums, stroll along beautiful beaches, and enjoy a vibrant nightlife.
One of the main Alexandria attractions is its rich history. The city was once the intellectual and cultural center of the ancient world. It is home to the Great Library of Alexandria, one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world, and the Pharos Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Moreover, Alexandria's unique culture is a blend of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Mediterranean influences. This unique cultural fusion is evident in the city's architecture, art, cuisine, and traditions. And let's not forget the warm and welcoming locals who are always ready to share their city's stories and traditions.
The Historical Significance of Alexandria
Alexandria's historical significance is immeasurable. As the second-largest city in Egypt, it was an important hub of commerce, academia, and culture in ancient times. Its strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea made it a vital center for maritime trade and naval warfare.
The city was home to the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Great Library, a symbol of knowledge and learning. Alexandria was also the setting for the passionate love story of Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
From the Hellenistic era to the Roman period and onto the Islamic age, Alexandria has seen it all. Each period has left its indelible mark on the city, making it a living museum of history. Today, Alexandria continues to be a vibrant city, maintaining its historical importance while embracing modernity.
Top Things to Do in Alexandria, Egypt
There are countless things to do in Alexandria that cater to different interests. The list of things to do in Alexandria is as diverse as the city itself. From exploring historical landmarks and soaking in the sun on pristine beaches to dining at local restaurants and shopping in bustling markets, there's no shortage of activities to suit every traveler's taste. Whether you're a history buff, a food lover, an adventurer, or a beachgoer, follow this guide to explore the city's top attractions and hidden gems, immersing yourself in the wonder, beauty, and excitement that is Alexandria.
1. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Reincarnation of the Ancient Library of Alexandria
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a majestic structure that symbolizes Alexandria's commitment to knowledge and culture. This colossal library and cultural center is a modern reincarnation of the Ancient Library of Alexandria, once the largest and most significant library of the ancient world.
Walking into the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, you're immediately struck by its architectural grandeur. The main reading room, with its sunlit roof and tiers of bookshelves, is a sight to behold. The library houses millions of books in various languages, offering endless knowledge to thirsty minds.
Apart from the library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina also includes several museums, galleries, and a planetarium. Each of these spaces offers unique insights into different aspects of Egyptian history, culture, and science, making it one of the must-visit Alexandria attractions.
2. Taking a Stroll Down the Alexandria Corniche
The Alexandria Corniche is a picturesque waterfront promenade stretching along the city's eastern harbor. This scenic boulevard is the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll, watch the sunset, or enjoy a refreshing sea breeze.
Lined with palm trees and dotted with cafes and restaurants, the Corniche offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. The sight of colorful fishing boats bobbing on the water, contrasted against the azure backdrop, is truly enchanting.
The Corniche is also home to several iconic landmarks, including the grand Stanley Bridge and the majestic Ras El-Tin Palace. As you walk along the Corniche, you’re essentially walking through Alexandria's vibrant history and culture.
3. The Enigmatic Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqqafa
If you're intrigued by ancient history and archaeology, then a visit to the Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqqafa is a must. Considered one of the seven wonders of the Middle Ages, these underground tombs are a fascinating blend of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian art and architecture.
The catacombs were discovered by accident in the early 20th century when a donkey fell into a hidden access shaft. The catacombs consist of three levels of tombs and chambers, including a central rotunda, a banquet hall (where relatives of the deceased would feast), and several statues and carvings.
A visit to the Catacombs of Kom El-Shuqqafa is a journey into the underworld of ancient Alexandria. The eerie silence, the intricate carvings, and the labyrinthine tunnels create an atmosphere of mystery and intrigue, offering a glimpse into the city's ancient burial practices and beliefs about the afterlife.
4. Citadel of Qaitbay: A Window to the Past
The Citadel of Qaitbay is another must-visit attraction in Alexandria. Located on the eastern end of the Corniche, this 15th-century fortress is a stunning example of Islamic military architecture. It was built by Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay on the site where the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria once stood.
The Citadel of Qaitbay offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and the cityscape. Inside, one can explore a maritime museum that showcases various artifacts from the city's naval history. The citadel's walls and towers also bear inscriptions and decorations that reflect the artistic tastes of the Mamluk period.
A visit to the Citadel of Qaitbay is a step back in time, offering a window into Alexandria's military and maritime past. The fortress stands as a testament to the city's resilience and strategic importance throughout history.
5. Unearthing History at Kom El Dekka
Kom El Dekka, or the "Mound of Rubble," is an archaeological site in the heart of Alexandria. Once a prosperous Roman residential area, the site is now home to a collection of ruins that include a Roman amphitheater, a villa, and baths.
The Roman amphitheater, built in the 2nd century AD, is the star attraction at Kom El Dekka. With its semi-circular design and marble seats, the amphitheater is a remarkable example of Roman architecture. The site also features a well-preserved Roman villa, known as the Villa of the Birds, famed for its intricate mosaic floor depicting various bird species.
Kom El Dekka offers a fascinating insight into the city's Roman past. Each stone, each artifact, and each ruin tells a unique story, making a visit to Kom El Dekka a worthwhile experience for history buffs and archaeology enthusiasts.
6. Pompey's Pillar: A Standing Testimony of Roman Influence
Pompey's Pillar is another iconic landmark in Alexandria. Standing at a height of 26.85 meters, this red Aswan granite column is the tallest ancient monument in Alexandria. Despite its name, the pillar has nothing to do with the Roman general Pompey but was erected in honor of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
The pillar stands within the Serapeum, a temple dedicated to the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis. The site also includes the remnants of two sphinx statues and a subterranean network of tunnels and galleries, believed to have been part of the ancient Library of Alexandria.
Pompey's Pillar stands as a testimony to the city's Roman period, offering a tangible link to the past. Its striking height and imposing presence make it a must-visit attraction for any visitor to Alexandria.
7. Diving into Alexandria's Underwater Ruins
For adventure seekers and underwater archaeology enthusiasts, diving into Alexandria's underwater ruins is a thrilling experience. The city's bay is a treasure trove of sunken artifacts and ruins, including palaces, temples, and the remains of the legendary Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Diving expeditions offer a unique opportunity to explore this underwater world, featuring statues, sphinxes, columns, and amphorae scattered across the sea floor. These underwater relics tell a fascinating story of the city's ancient glory, offering an unconventional perspective on its history.
Diving into Alexandria's underwater ruins is not just about witnessing the remnants of the past. It's about experiencing the thrill of discovery, the joy of exploration, and the sense of wonder that comes with uncovering the secrets of the deep.
8. Delving into History: Alexandria National Museum
The Alexandria National Museum is a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts. Housed in a restored Italianate mansion, the museum showcases a wide range of artifacts from the city's ancient, medieval, and modern periods.
The museum's collection includes statues, pottery, jewelry, coins, and other artifacts excavated from various sites in and around Alexandria. Each artifact tells a unique story, offering insights into the city's rich history and cultural heritage.
A visit to the Alexandria National Museum is a journey through time, offering a comprehensive understanding of the city's past. From the Pharaohs to the Romans, from the Byzantines to the Ottomans, the museum captures the essence of Alexandria's diverse history.
9. Montazah Gardens: Alexandria's Green Haven
For nature lovers, a visit to the Montazah Gardens is a must. Spanning over 150 hectares, these beautifully landscaped gardens surround the royal Montazah Palace and offer a refreshing escape from the city's hustle and bustle.
The gardens feature a diverse range of flora, including palm trees, gazanias, and bougainvillea, creating a colorful tapestry of greenery. There are also several gazebos, bridges, and walkways where visitors can relax and enjoy the serene surroundings.
A visit to the Montazah Gardens is not just about appreciating nature's beauty. It's about experiencing tranquility, soaking in the stunning sea views, and discovering the royal elegance of the Montazah Palace.
10. Ras El-Tin Palace: Royal Elegance on the Mediterranean
The Ras El-Tin Palace is another must-visit attraction in Alexandria. Perched on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the palace is a symbol of royal elegance and architectural grandeur.
Built-in the 19th century, the palace served as the summer residence of Egypt's royal family. Its design is a fusion of various architectural styles, including Italian, Turkish, and French. The palace is also home to a royal museum that showcases various artifacts and memorabilia from Egypt's monarchy era.
A visit to the Ras El-Tin Palace is a journey into the world of royal opulence and elegance. From the ornate interiors to the stunning sea views, every aspect of the palace exudes a sense of luxury and grandeur.
11. Shopping at Alexandria's Souk: A True Egyptian Market Experience
No visit to Alexandria is complete without a shopping spree at the city's souk. Known as Souk El Attareen, this bustling market is a sensory extravaganza, filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of a typical Egyptian bazaar.
The souk is a treasure trove of goods, including spices, textiles, antiques, jewelry, and handicrafts. The market's narrow alleys and crowded stalls offer a unique shopping experience, providing a glimpse into the city's vibrant trading culture.
Shopping at Alexandria's souk is not just about buying souvenirs. It's about immersing oneself in the city's bustling market scene, haggling over prices, and discovering the rich diversity of Egyptian crafts and products.
12. Abu Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque: Spiritual Pinnacle of Alexandria
The Abu Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque is a must-visit attraction for those interested in Islamic architecture and spirituality. Named after a 13th-century Andalusian scholar, the mosque is a striking example of Islamic art and design.
The mosque's white marble façade, ornate minaret, and spacious courtyard are a sight to behold. Inside, the mosque features intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and a grand chandelier, creating a serene and spiritual ambiance.
A visit to the Abu Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque is a spiritual journey, offering a sense of peace and tranquility. Whether you're observing the prayer rituals, admiring the architectural details, or simply soaking in the spiritual atmosphere, the mosque offers a unique and enriching experience.
13. Paying Tribute at El Alamein War Memorials
The El Alamein War Memorials are a poignant reminder of the city's role in World War II. Located about 106 kilometers west of Alexandria, these memorials pay tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of El Alamein, one of the most significant battles of the war.
The memorials include a Commonwealth cemetery, an Italian memorial, and a German memorial, each unique in its design and symbolism. The sites also feature several plaques, inscriptions, and statues that provide insights into the battle and its aftermath.
A visit to the El Alamein War Memorials is a solemn experience, offering a moment of reflection and remembrance. It's a tribute to the courage, sacrifice, and resilience of the soldiers, and a reminder of the horrors of war.
14. Royal Jewelry Museum: A Glittering Display of Luxury
For fans of bling, a visit to the Royal Jewelry Museum is a must. Housed in a former royal palace, the museum showcases a dazzling collection of jewelry and precious artifacts from the era of Egypt's monarchy.
The museum's collection includes diamond tiaras, emerald necklaces, ruby brooches, and other exquisite pieces once owned by Egypt's royal family. The museum also features a variety of silverware, medals, and portraits, reflecting the opulence of the royal era.
A visit to the Royal Jewelry Museum is a journey into the world of royal luxury and glamour. The glittering display of jewels and artifacts offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of Egypt's royals, making it a must-visit attraction for jewelry enthusiasts.
15. Mahmoud Said Museum: Home to Modern Egyptian Art
Art lovers should not miss the Mahmoud Said Museum, dedicated to one of Egypt's pioneering modern artists. The museum, located in the artist's former residence, showcases a comprehensive collection of Said's works, spanning his entire artistic career.
Said's art is a vibrant blend of European techniques and Egyptian themes, featuring landscapes, portraits, and scenes from daily life. His use of color, light, and texture creates a unique visual language, reflecting his love for his country and its people.
A visit to the Mahmoud Said Museum is a journey into the world of modern Egyptian art. It's an opportunity to explore Said's artistic vision, appreciate his mastery of color and form, and understand his contribution to Egypt's art scene.
16. Cavafy Museum: Honoring the Greek Poet in Alexandria
The Cavafy Museum is another must-visit attraction for literature and art enthusiasts. Dedicated to the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, the museum is located in the apartment where the poet spent his final years.
The museum features a collection of Cavafy's manuscripts, correspondences, and personal items, offering insights into his life and work. The museum also hosts regular literary events, including readings, workshops, and lectures, making it a hub of literary activity.
A visit to the Cavafy Museum is a journey into the world of poetry and literature. It's about discovering Cavafy's poetic genius, understanding his influence on modern Greek literature, and appreciating his love for Alexandria.
17. Dine at Alexandria's Fish Restaurants: A Gastronomic Delight
Alexandria's fish restaurants are a culinary treasure trove where you can savor the freshest seafood while enjoying views of the Mediterranean. These eateries serve a variety of dishes, from classic fish and chips to exquisite platters of grilled seafood, offering a gastronomic journey that's sure to tantalize your taste buds.
Freshly caught fish, prawns, calamari, and clams are seasoned with local spices and herbs, grilled to perfection, and served with a side of warm, fluffy rice and tangy salad. Each bite is a celebration of flavors, reflecting the city's rich culinary heritage and its close relationship with the sea.
Don't miss the opportunity to try Sayadeya, a traditional Alexandrian fish dish. It's a flavorful mix of rice and fish cooked with onions, garlic, and a blend of spices, then baked to a golden perfection. After a satisfying meal, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the seafront, making dining at Alexandria's fish restaurants a memorable experience.
18. Discovering UNESCO World Heritage Site of Abu Mena
Abu Mena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is among the top things to do in Alexandria, Egypt. This ancient Christian pilgrimage center, located southwest of Alexandria, was once a thriving city named after Saint Menas, a revered Egyptian martyr.
Today, the ruins of Abu Mena offer a fascinating glimpse into the early Christian period in Egypt. The site includes the remains of a basilica, a baptistery, a pilgrimage complex, and several hostels and baths. These structures, surrounded by a lush palm grove, paint a vivid picture of a bygone era.
Despite the challenges posed by the site's unstable clay foundation, Abu Mena continues to draw archaeologists and history lovers from around the world. It serves as a poignant reminder of Egypt's rich, multifaceted heritage and the enduring power of faith.
19. Ride the Tram: Alexandria's Historic Mode of Transport
Exploring Alexandria wouldn't be complete without a ride on the tram, one of the oldest transportation systems in Africa. Introduced in the 1860s, the tram is an integral part of the city's history and culture. It offers a unique way to navigate the city and witness its daily rhythms up close.
The tram runs through several popular areas, including Raml Station, San Stefano, and Victoria, offering a panoramic view of the city's architecture, vibrant streets, and bustling markets. Riding the tram is not just a mode of transport, but a journey back in time, capturing the essence of Alexandria's enduring charm.
Whether you're a transportation enthusiast or a traveler keen on experiencing local life, a ride on Alexandria's historic tram is a must-do activity. It's a chance to slow down, soak in the city's atmosphere, and appreciate its blend of the old and the new.
20. Relax at Alexandria Beaches: A Coastal Paradise
Alexandria Beaches are a slice of coastal paradise, offering the perfect escape from the city's hustle and bustle. With their golden sands, clear turquoise waters, and stunning sunsets, these beaches are a haven for relaxation and recreation.
Among the city's numerous beaches, the Montaza Beach and the Mamoura Beach stand out for their pristine beauty. Montaza Beach, located within the Montaza Palace complex, is known for its royal gardens, while Mamoura Beach is famed for its crystal-clear waters and serene environment.
Whether you prefer sunbathing, swimming, or simply strolling along the shore, Alexandria's beaches offer a blissful retreat. As the gentle waves lap at your feet and the salty sea breeze caresses your face, you'll understand why these beaches are among the top things to do in Alexandria, Egypt.
21. Shopping at Fouad Street
Fouad Street, one of the oldest streets in Alexandria, is a shopping haven. Lined with a plethora of shops and boutiques, it offers everything from traditional crafts and antiques to designer wear and modern gadgets.
The street, with its European-style buildings and bustling crowd, exudes a vintage charm. As you meander through the street, you can witness the city's vibrant life, engage with local vendors, and haggle over prices – an integral part of the shopping experience in Egypt.
Don't forget to visit the gold market on this street, where you can find exquisite jewelry pieces crafted by skillful artisans. Whether you're a shopaholic or a casual browser, Fouad Street offers a delightful shopping experience that's hard to resist.
22. Indulge in Alexandria’s Famous Patisseries: A Sweet Treat
For those with a sweet tooth, indulging in Alexandria’s famous patisseries is a must. Known for their mouth-watering pastries, cakes, and traditional sweets, these patisseries offer a delectable array of treats that are sure to satisfy your sugar cravings.
Delices and Trianon, two of the city's most renowned patisseries, are a testament to Alexandria's European influence. From French-style croissants and macarons to Egyptian classics like basbousa and konafa, the variety is endless and the flavors, irresistible.
Indulging in these sweet delights, whether over a breakfast coffee or as a late-night dessert, is a joyous celebration of the city's culinary diversity. It's a sweet journey that leaves you longing for more, making Alexandria’s famous patisseries a must-visit attraction.
23. Uncovering History at Cleopatra's Palace
Delving into Alexandria's past isn't complete without a visit to Cleopatra's Palace. Submerged under the sea for centuries, this ancient palace is a testament to Alexandria's historical significance and the city's connection with the legendary Queen Cleopatra.
Exploring the palace requires a unique underwater adventure – a thrilling experience for diving enthusiasts. As you navigate the clear waters, you can witness the palace's grand columns, statues, and sphinxes, all adorned with intricate carvings.
Uncovering the mysteries of Cleopatra's Palace offers a unique perspective on Alexandria's rich history. It serves as a reminder of the city's grandeur during the Ptolemaic dynasty and provides a captivating narrative of one of history's most intriguing figures.
24. The Antiquities Museum: A Journey Through Time
The Antiquities Museum, located within the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is a treasure trove of Egyptian history. The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, spanning from the Pharaonic era to the Greco-Roman period, showcasing the city's historical evolution.
The exhibits include statues, jewelry, pottery, and coins, each telling a unique story about Alexandria's past. The museum's highlight is the Tanagra figurines – terracotta figures dating back to the Hellenistic period, known for their detailed craftsmanship.
A visit to the Antiquities Museum is a journey through time, offering insights into Egypt's rich cultural heritage. For history buffs and curious minds, it's an experience not to be missed when exploring things to do in Alexandria, Egypt.
25. Walk on Stanley Bridge: A Scenic Attraction
Stanley Bridge, one of Alexandria's modern landmarks, offers a scenic retreat from the city's bustling streets. Spanning the picturesque Stanley Bay, the bridge is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
Walking on the bridge offers panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea, the city's skyline, and the charming Stanley Beach. The bridge, with its unique design and ornate lampposts, also provides an excellent backdrop for photographs.
Whether you're catching the sunrise, enjoying a leisurely stroll, or capturing the city's beauty, a walk on Stanley Bridge is a tranquil experience. It's a chance to pause, breathe in the sea air, and appreciate the city's scenic charm.
Best Time to Visit Alexandria, Egypt
Alexandria can be visited year-round, thanks to its Mediterranean climate. However, the best time to visit is from October to May when the weather is cooler. The summer months, from June to September, can be hot and humid, but the beaches provide a respite from the heat.
Alexandria, with its rich history, unique culture, diverse attractions, and delicious cuisine, is truly the heart of the Mediterranean. It's a city that offers a unique blend of experiences, appealing to a wide range of interests. Whether you're exploring its historical sites, immersing yourself in its culture, or indulging in its culinary delights, Alexandria promises a memorable experience.
If you’re in Egypt and have some spare time, it’s always good to have a quick trip to Alexandria. Check out our Alexandria tours for an unforgettable journey into the heart of the Mediterranean.