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Founded in 330 BC by its namesake Alexander the Great, Alexandria is the largest and most important city on Egypt's Mediterranean coastline. Refreshingly under-touristed by Egyptian standards, it is a very pleasant place to settle into for a few days, offering the rewarding combination of superb historical sightseeing alongside a lively contemporary café culture that falls midway in mood between Arabia and Mediterranean Europe. Much of ancient Alexandria now lies underwater, including the ruins of the place where Cleopatra VII committed suicide in 30 BC, making for some superb diving opportunities in the historic harbor. Above ground, ...

Founded in 330 BC by its namesake Alexander the Great, Alexandria is the largest and most important city on Egypt's Mediterranean coastline. Refreshingly under-touristed by Egyptian standards, it is a very pleasant place to settle into for a few days, offering the rewarding combination of superb historical sightseeing alongside a lively contemporary café culture that falls midway in mood between Arabia and Mediterranean Europe. Much of ancient Alexandria now lies underwater, including the ruins of the place where Cleopatra VII committed suicide in 30 BC, making for some superb diving opportunities in the historic harbor. Above ground, highlights include the spectacular Corniche, which is lined with some fine examples of early 20th century colonial architecture, and the recently reconstructed Bibliotheca Alexandria. There's also a recently excavated Roman Amphitheater and nearby Villa of the Birds, while Fort Qaitbey lies on the site of the city's once renowned lighthouse, and the bustling alleys emanating from the Midan Tahrir are lined with busy little markets. Below ground, the eerie Kom es-Shofaqa is the most famous of several ancient Alexandrian catacombs. A lovely city to explore whimsically on foot, Alexandria is also the gateway to the small but architecturally fascinating port of Rosetta in the Nile Delta, the quirky coastal resort town of Mersa Matrouh, and the vast and historically renowned Siwa Oasis in the heart of the Sahara.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Alexandria is along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in north central Eygpt
  • Language: Arabic, English
  • Currency: Egyptian Pound
  • Research: Wikitravel | Alexandria
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Alexandria makes for a lovely escape to relative warmth during the northern winter, but is also pleasant in summer.