"If you scratch under the surface, Alexandria Egypt will take you into a different dimension!"
For most cruise guest visiting Egypt for the first time, Alexandria will be just a gateway for Cairo tours.
But it you are one of those lucky ones who have been to see the ancient pyramids already, and concluded that "the pyramids are nice, but seeing them once is just enough", which we would wholeheartedly support, you can enjoy your stay in Alexandria, one of our absolute favorite cruise ports in the Mediterranean.
With 4 million people, spreading 32 km (20 miles) along the Mediterranean coast, Alexandria Egypt is the second largest city in Egypt, after Cairo. It's also the largest commercial and passenger port of Egypt, positioned "just round the corner" from where the lighthouse of Alexandria once stood, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Before you get off the ship in Alexandria, whether you are staying in the city or departing for Cairo, make sure you read our article Alexandria Port for the passport procedures and check our customized Alexandria Egypt map.
If you scratch under the surface of the dirty streets, sticky air that seems easier to drink than breath, chaotic traffic with no street lights, the cultural shock of seeing people kneeling on their prayer rugs right there on the sidewalks, dilapidated facades and sometimes the annoying super-slow motion with wich your coffee gets served...Alexandria will take you into a different dimension!
Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria became the biggest Hellenistic centre in Egypt.
Under the Ptolemies Alexandria in Egypt flourished into one of the biggest, most beautiful and most famous cities in the ancient world, home to the legendary Alexandria Library, symbol of enlightment, learning and the place in which many important scientific ideas were born.
Hardly anything is left from the glory days of this city and that is why most people don't realize that visiting Alexandria Egypt they will be visiting a city that once surpassed Rome or Athens in its beauty. It is this city where some of the greatest minds ever lived, the city that was one of the hotspots in the birth of Christianity.
You can read more about what made Alexandria one of the most famous cities in antiquity in our article Ancient Alexandria, and get a good overview of its history timeline in our article Alexandria Egypt history.
The big influence of Greek, Roman and Jewish culture on Alexandria, always made it more part of Europe than Egypt really. That's why it has always been called "Alexandria ad Aegyptum". Alexandria by Egypt, not in Egypt.
This became obvious at the beginning of the 20th century again, when Alexandria was a real cosmopolitan melting pot, a multi-ethnic, poliglot city with cultural life worthy of Paris or any other European metropolis.
British diplomats, Jewish bankers, Armenian cotton traders, Italian architects and engineers, Greek restaurant and cafe owners...all added to the atmosphere in which famous writers like Lawrence Durrell, E.M. Forster and Cavafy lived and worked.
Today, the best way to inhale the air of their world can be done by haunting the old cafes, patisseries and restaurants of Alexandria, that have existed since.
Although Alexandria Egypt isn't very pedestrian friendly, that should not stop you from getting off the ship...make sure you take one of the cruise organized tours, book one of the private Alexandria tours online, or simply take one of the Alexandria taxis.
Before you venture out, keep two things in mind...first of all, you should dress appropriately, both for the hot Alexandria weather and considering you are visiting a Moslem country. Read more about dress code in Egypt in our article Alexandria Weather - What to Wear.
Second, if you will be taking one of the Alexandria taxis, know which Alexandria atractions you wish to see. There's enough to keep you busy for more than a day, so make a list of preferences to show your taxi driver.
Maybe he will think you should really see the Montaza palace (which is half an hour drive out of Alexandria and will make him more money) while all you really wanted to see is Alexandria museums or the famous Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa.
In Alexandria Egypt it's also possible to do some relatively good shopping in malls outside the city but don't make that your day's priority if this is your first time visit to this fascinating city.
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