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Cairo has long been a favourite destination for culture lovers. The ancient world is ever-present in the Egyptian capital today, and plans to modernise the largest city in the Arab world are set to make future visits even better.
It’s hard to comprehend the size of Cairo. Home to more than 20m residents, the city has been constructed in a haphazard way that doesn’t make much sense. Neighbourhoods each have a distinct feel, making for an interesting experience wherever you end up staying. The size, diversity and somewhat crumbling infrastructure can make it challenging to get around, but these factors make it one of life’s most exhilarating experiences, too.
Cairo residents know how to get around, and if you find the right guide, it’ll make everything a lot easier. Moreover, the government is fully aware of the unsustainable expansion encroaching beyond the city limits and is now constructing a series of exciting projects that are bringing a holistic approach to living in the city.
A number of these projects – such as a new government district, rapid metro routes and redevelopment of the Giza Plateau – will take a few years to complete, but there is one new addition to Cairo that will thrust it back into the limelight in 2021. Part of the Giza Plateau redevelopment, the Grand Egyptian Museum (Gem) is a vibrant showcase for a new vision for the city. It brings together all the ancient treasures of the country under one roof for the first time, including some valuable pieces from around the world.
The biggest attraction will be the tomb of Tutankhamun and its artefacts, moved for the first time from Luxor. There are internal conversations about how this relocation will impact tourism in other parts of Egypt, but Cairo does boast the expertise that will prolong and maintain the fragile relics.
The wider Giza project will focus on the Great Pyramid complex, the only ancient wonders of the world still standing. The area at the base of the pyramids lacks the majesty of the towering structures around it, and work is underway to make the whole experience of entering the stone tombs a more attractive prospect. Gem will have views of the pyramids, while new hotels are being planned to give guests a sustainable way of seeing into the past.
There is also a modern side of the city to explore. Huge shopping districts cater to every taste, as do a wealth of restaurants. A stroll through Downtown Cairo at night is not for the faint-hearted, but it isn’t the perilous journey into the unknown it once was. The next decade is set to change Cairo forever, but you’ve still got a chance to experience the old-world charm the city is famous for in 2021.
To highlight the many facets of Cairo, we’ve picked out some hotels that offer enriching environments in different settings.
No visit to Cairo is complete without seeing the pyramids – arguably its biggest attraction. So, why not stay in a room with a view? That’s what you get with this unironically named property that is perfect if you’re short on time and only have one thing on your mind. A bonus is that you can watch the spectacular light show that illuminates the pyramids in the evening from your private balcony.
If you still want views of the pyramids but have a bigger budget, this famous hotel in Giza is the place to stay. This five-star hotel offers modern luxury augmented by incredible panoramas and has easy accessibility to landmarks such as the Sphinx and Egyptian Museum. It’s a favourite of dignitaries, celebrities and other high-profile guests, but the real star is the view.
The Culture Trip list features places with a feel-good factor that we can’t wait to visit in 2021 and beyond (once we can travel again). It celebrates travel that’s good and makes you feel good. The destinations are dedicated to sustainability; they offer something new and exciting, or an unforgettable moment that will make us fall in love all over again with the world we’ve missed in 2020.
Culture Trip compiled the list based on insights and recommendations from its global community of travel experts and local insiders, combined with search data from millions of users from around the world to understand interest in those destinations.