Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

a picture of the skyline of alexandria and its harbour

Updated On: May 09, 2024 by   Dina EssawyDina Essawy

Alexandria is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Egypt. It is the second-largest city in the country and the largest one on the Mediterranean Sea. Alexandria is well-known by the locals as “The Pearl of the Mediterranean.” It is a famous tourist destination in the country, visited by many who want to enjoy the sea air while exploring the city’s rich history and attractions.

Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great, the King of Macedon, in 331 BC when Alexander came to Egypt. It is said that if you dig anywhere in Alexandria, you will uncover artefacts from the ancient world. it was also the home of the Great Library of Alexandria, which burned down during the Roman era and has now been rebuilt, and the colossal Pharos Lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Over the centuries, the city became an essential hub of the Hellenistic civilization and was the capital of Egypt before Cairo for about 1000 years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641 when they founded the new capital of Egypt, which was called Fustat before it was named Cairo later. Since the 18th century, Alexandria has become a significant centre of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centres in the world, and this is due to the overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Alexandria has a Mediterranean climate with a warm summer and rainy winter, where the average temperature in the summer is 31 °C, and in winter, it sometimes decreases to 12°C. The best time to visit Alexandria is in the summer, from March to June, and autumn, from September to November. The city has the main airport, Borg el Arab Airport, which is located 25 km from the city centre and mainly serves destinations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Alexandria is full of many historical places that history lovers will admire. Let’s look at those famous attractions in the city and what activities you can enjoy there.

Things You Can Do in Alexandria:

1. Qaitbay Citadel:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

While walking along the Corniche road heading west, you will find the Citadel of Qaitbay, built in 1477 by the sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf El-Din Qaitbay. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea coast and was built in the same place as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and was destroyed by an earthquake.

It was built to protect the essential Egyptian port city from attack and was damaged during the British bombardment of Alexandria. You can explore the citadel from the inside, see the stone-walled chambers, and climb up to the roof to enjoy a wonderful view of the Mediterranean. Don’t forget to visit the naval museum located in the citadel.

2. Bibliotheca Alexandrina (The New Library of Alexandria):

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

Bibliotheca Alexandria was the most extensive and renowned library of the ancient world and a leading cultural centre on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. After burning down during the  Roman era, it was rebuilt in 2002 as a nod to the ancient library and to recapture the spirit of knowledge and learning. The new design resembles a giant sun disk presiding over the waterfront. Inside the Library’s colossal reading area, you will find eight million volumes.

Enter the Bibliotheca and explore its many exhibitions, such as the Manuscript Museum, which contains beautiful collections of ancient texts and scrolls, and the Antiquities Museum, which includes Greco-Roman antiquities and statues found during underwater exploration in the harbour. The Bibliotheca also houses many art exhibitions annually, as well as a Science Museum and Planetarium.

3. Montazah Park:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

Montaza Park is located on the Mediterranean Sea in the eastern region of Alexandria. It is a complex royal garden that contains tall palm trees, trimmed lawns, and blossoming flowers imported by the royal court. Khedive Abbas Hilmi II constructed Montaza Park as a hunting lodge in 1892. Then came King Fouad, who extended it by building the Haramlik Palace in 1932.

Unfortunately, the Montazah Palace, designed with Florentine towers, is not open to the public, but the park is. It is a wonderful place to relax, walk, or picnic after a long day visiting Alexandria’s attractions. You can enjoy the sea views and eat at the restaurants and cafes in the park.

4. Pompey’s Pillar:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

Pompey’s Pillar is located on a hill with the remains of ancient walls and architectural fragments, including the only ancient monument left in the city’s southwest region. The column was built in 300 AD, and it consists of red Aswan granite with a Corinthian capital with a height of 27 meters. It was built in honour of the Roman emperor Diocletian, who supplied food for the starving city when Alexandria was under siege. The column rises from the ruins of the ancient and famous Serapeion, a temple once used to store the overflow of manuscripts from the Great Library of Alexandria.

5. Alexandria National Museum:

If you want to know more about the history of Alexandria, then the Alexandria National Museum is an excellent place to start. When you enter the museum, you will see many collections from the Pharaonic period to the Hellenistic heyday and from the Ptolemy dynasty begun by Alexander the Great till the Byzantine and Islamic periods. Besides all that, some antiquities were discovered in and around the city, including artefacts discovered underwater in the area and some monuments still exist today in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Alexandria.

6. Roman Amphitheatre (Kom el Dikka):

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

The Roman Amphitheatre was discovered by coincidence when workers removed scrapes to build a governmental building. The Roman Amphitheatre was built in the 4th century and was used since the Roman era through the Byzantine and early Islamic eras for public assemblies and summits.

It is a significant step in theatre. To the north of it, you’ll find the ruins of Roman baths from the 2nd century. To the east are the remains of a Roman villa known as the Villa of the Birds due to its mosaic floor depicting birds. It is a place worth visiting; you can also take some great photos.

7. Royal Jewelry Museum:

This extraordinary palace was the former residence of Princess Fatma El Zahraa in the Zizenia neighbourhood, and it was built from 1919 to 1923. It now houses the Royal Jewellery Museum, which contains more than 11,000 pieces, some of which date back to the rule of Mohammed Ali Pasha, who was Khedive of Egypt in 1805. The museum contains not only jewellery but also old coins, golden clocks, watches, portraits of the royal family in golden frames, dazzling crowns, and King Farouk’s walking stick in gold, as well as numerous jewellery pieces belonging to the former royal family of Egypt.

8. Abu Al-Abbas Al Mursi Mosque:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

Algerian sheikh Abu Hassan el Maghreby built the Abu Al-Abbas Al Mursi Mosque over the tomb of the Andalusian Islamic scholar Abu El Abbas Al Mursi, and it is one of the biggest mosques in Alexandria. He was from Murcia, a place in Spain’s Andalusia region at that time, and he moved from there in 1242 to Tunisia until he settled down in Alexandria, where he spent 43 years until his death.

In 1307, the ruler El Sheikh Zein El-Deen built a mausoleum dome and a small mosque over the tomb, which became a well-known pilgrimage spot for Muslims passing through Alexandria on their way to and from Mecca. The mosque is beautifully designed and has an exquisite facade of swirling Islamic calligraphy designs and motifs.

9. Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa:

The Kom El Shoqafa Catacombs are located in the Carmous district. They contain a mix of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architecture and monuments. The Catacombs date back to the 2nd century and consist of three rock levels. The deepest part is full of water. The catacombs were discovered when a donkey accidentally fell through the ground-level access shaft in 1900.

When you visit the catacombs, there is a spiral staircase that leads down the underground to the central dome; when you reach there, you will find the main burial chamber to your right and the Sepulchral Chapel with 91 outlets that are big enough for three or four mummies and on your left. This Triclinium Funebre room was used for banquets in honour of the dead.

10. Ras El Tin Palace:

Mohammad Ali built the Ras El Tin Palace in Alexandria on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Most of Egypt’s sultans escaped the summer heat at this palace, and it became more famous when King Farouk, the last king of Egypt, officially abdicated in 1952 and sailed on his yacht out of Alexandria’s harbour heading towards Italy, where he spent the rest of his life in exile.

This magnificent palace, opened in 1847, took 11 years to build. It is the oldest royal palace in Egypt. The palace was built in the Italian style, with architectural elements and ornamentation inspired by that era. It is over 17,000 square feet and 12 acres, surrounded by Fig Tree Gardens. You can take great pictures from the harbour with the white façade behind you.

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

11. Cavafy Museum:

Cavafy Museum is a well-known museum in the centre of Alexandria city, dedicated to Constantine Cavafy, a Greek Alexandrian poet who found fame and recognition for his writing after his death. His home was transformed into a museum dedicated to his life, containing many of his manuscripts and correspondence. Cavafy used to work as a journalist and civil servant. He devoted his work, especially his poetry, to the history of Alexandria, and at that time, he became one of the famous literary figures of Alexandria.

12. Alexandria Opera House:

Alexandria Opera House, or Sayed Darwish Theatre, as locals call it, was built in 1921 by the French architect Georges Park, and it is located on Fouad Street, one of the famous streets in Alexandria. The Vienna Opera and the Odeon Theater in Paris inspired its design. For years the opera house has been neglected but in the year 2000, Sayed Darwish Theater was included under the list of Egyptian heritage, intensive operations began to renovate it and after years, the opera returned to its previous glory and splendour.

After the restoration, it became qualified to compete with other famous opera houses in the world. In 2004, a grand opening was held, and now the opera holds many concerts throughout the year, which makes it a great place to visit for a unique night out in Alexandria.

13. El Alamein War Memorials:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

It is where the Allies’ first decisive victory in World War II’s North Africa campaign took place, and now a memorial stands to honour the forces that died there. The war memorial is located 112 kilometres west of Alexandria. It is a day trip from the city, and people worldwide come to Egypt, especially to visit El Alamein War Memorial. For those who don’t know about the El Alamein war place, it took place in 1942 between the Allied forces and the Axis and resulted in many casualties on both sides.

When you are there, you will have the chance to visit the El Alamein War Museum, which provides an overview of the El Alamein campaign with many photos, clothes, weapons, and memorabilia from the era. The interesting thing about El Alamein is that each country that took part in the war has its war memorial, such as the German Memorial and the Italian Memorial, in addition to the Commonwealth Memorial.

14. A Walk on the Corniche:

The Corniche of Alexandria is one of the main symbols of the city. You will love walking along the seaside and admiring the coast of this Mediterranean city. The corniche was designed by the Italian-Egyptian architect Pietro Avoscani in 1870, and it starts from the Citadel of Qaitbay till you reach Montazah Park. You can relax at any of the restaurants and cafes along the corniche, beside the beautiful hotels with incredible views of the Mediterranean.

15. Fouad Street:

One of the top attractions in this beautiful city, Fouad Street, was named after King Fouad, who ruled Egypt until 1936. It is located in the downtown area of Alexandria. The street was founded in the 3rd century, specifically in the Ptolemaic era, and it was called the Canopic Way at first. What distinguishes this street is the Greek and Italian architectural style of its buildings, and of these examples are the Alexandria Opera House and the National Museum, which was built in the Italian style.

A long time ago, many foreign communities lived on Fouad Street, including Italians, Greeks, French, and Armenians. Famous people who lived there included the English novelist Lawrence Darrell and the Greek poet Cavafy. Today, the street is filled with modern restaurants that serve a variety of food, from Chinese to Mexican to American and more.

16. Alexandria Tram:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

It is one of the oldest tram systems in the world and was established in 1860. It was not only the first transportation system in Egypt but in all of Africa. You ride the tram and start to explore the city. It is one of the few trams in the world that uses double-deck cars. The tram consists of 20 lines operating on 32 kilometres. It is not expensive, and it can take you all around Alexandria in a short time.

17. The Site of Abu Mena:

Abu Mena is a monastery complex and Christian pilgrimage centre located 50 km south of Alexandria. It was built over the tomb of the martyr Menas of Alexandria. A rise in the water level made most of the remaining structures’ foundations unstable or likely to collapse, putting Abu Mena on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list. If you have time, visit Abu Mena and see a World Heritage Site before it disappears forever.

18. Spend a Day at Abu Qir:

Located 24 kilometres northeast of Alexandria, Abu Qir has a rich history. In 1798, a battle took place in Abu Qir, where Nelson (a British General) defeated the French fleet. There is a small island in Abu Qir named after Nelson, which is, by the way, a nice place to spend time and swim in the sea. Abu Qir also witnessed the victory of Sir Ralph Abercromby against the French army, which forced them to evacuate Egypt.

This could be interesting for naval history lovers, but you can also visit Abu Qir to try the delicious seafood. Abu Qir has many lovely fish restaurants that many people from Alexandria and even from other cities visit throughout the year. You can have this wonderful meal while watching the sunset on the Mediterranean and taking pictures, too. It is a beautiful way to end your day in Alexandria.

19. Cleopatra’s Palace:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

Diving is one of the lovely and unique activities in Alexandria. In other diving centres in the rest of Egypt, you can see the colourful coral reefs, but here, you get to explore ancient underwater ruins. One of the best places for diving in Alexandria is the eastern harbour area, where you’ll find Cleopatra’s Palace, and you will be able to see the toppled statues and columns strewn underwater. It is where you will find many excavated treasures and are now on display in many of Alexandria’s museums.

20. Stanley Bridge:

Top Places to Visit on a Day Trip to Alexandria

It is another beautiful attraction that you can visit in Alexandria. It is the first bridge in Egypt to be constructed over the sea, and it was built in the late 1990s. The bridge preserves the architectural style of the famous and cosmopolitan city, and it became a famous landmark on the city’s coast after it was opened in 2001.

Stanley Bridge is 400 meters long and 30 meters wide, and it has four towers designed in the Islamic style. It was built to expand the road, as the narrow two-way street was suffering from too much traffic. Walk through the bridge, look down to the water beneath you, and take some pictures with a lovely view.

Restaurants in Alexandria

While exploring the beautiful city of Alexandria, you will probably want time to relax and have a good meal. So, here is a list of some of the many restaurants and cafes spread around Alexandria, offering delicious meals and different cuisines.

1. Windsor Palace Rooftop Café:

This lovely café is located on the rooftop of the Windsor Palace Hotel, which was built in 1906. The view there is fantastic: you can see the eastern port, Qaitbay Castle, and most of the coast of Alexandria. It serves different kinds of drinks and food from different international cuisines.

2. Mohamed Ahmed Traditional Food Restaurant:

One of the best places in Alexandria has been serving the famous local food Falafel and fuul for more than 60 years. It is located in El Raml District, one of the famous districts in Alexandria. The restaurant not only serves falafel and fuul but also egg dishes and cheese. It might be a small restaurant, but it is worth trying. Many famous people, such as the Queen Sophia of Spain, visited Mohamed Ahmed.

3. El Lol:

An excellent place for seafood lovers, it is like a little cottage on the beach where you can watch the fishermen bring in their haul of the day, which will then be cooked and prepared for you while you sit at the beautiful sunset. The wonderful thing is the sea view with a lighthouse in the background; this restaurant is located in the El Max area.

4. Greek Club (White and Blue Restaurant):

Another one of the famous restaurants in the city is located at the Greek Club just near Qaitbey Citadel. It serves Greek food and seafood with a fantastic view of the sea. You make sure when you go there at sunset to take some fantastic pictures and at night to see the bright lights of the Corniche.

5. Teatro Restaurant and Café:

The café is more like a cultural café that hosts many activities, like artistic performances, parties, dialogues, and open discussions with young people. The decorations there are lovely and made of arabesques in the Fatimid era style. The restaurant consists of two floors: the first floor is the restaurant and the café, and the second floor has a gallery where hand-made accessories are displayed. The restaurant serves many drinks and oriental dishes that you should try.

 6. Chez Gaby:

Chez Gaby au Ritrovo is an Old Italian restaurant that has been located on Fouad Street since 1979. It serves pizza, pasta, and other classic Italian dishes. The restaurant names the dishes after the family members of the owners and close family friends. It is a place that is worth a try.

7. Délices:

A city is well-known for its cafes and patisseries; Délices is one of these places, founded in 1922, and located at Raml Station. It is owned by a Greek family and serves some delicious desserts. You can go there and enjoy your time there and sample the lovely desserts on the menu. It is a short walk to the aquarium from here as well.

8. Farag Abou Khaled:

The best place in Alexandria to serve Alexandrian specialities that you may not find elsewhere is the restaurant in front of the famous mosque in the city, Abu Al-Abbas Al Mursi. The restaurant serves all kinds of meat dishes, served in many ways, whether in a sandwich, grilled, or on a platter.

9. Zephere Restaurant:

It is one of the famous seafood restaurants in Alexandria in El Max. It was founded in 1918 by its Greek owner, Dimitri. The restaurant contains 4 halls that directly overlook the sea, including the Royal Hall, which can accommodate 220 people and there is also the Shark Hall, which overlooks the sea directly through all its windows; and the Max Heritage Hall, which is a summer hall located in the middle of the water in addition to the Main Heritage Hall, which can accommodate about 200 people.

The restaurant serves many kinds of seafood, such as sobet casserole, roe, shrimp cooked in seashells, grilled mousses with butter and sangria in a distinctive way, and shrimp grilled on charcoal. You can have a lovely meal there and enjoy the fantastic sea view.

10. Trianon:

One of the historical cafes in Alexandria was founded in 1905 by two Greeks in Raml Station. You can try its patisserie selection with juice or coffee. The lovely decorated ceilings and incredible wall panels are also visible. A restaurant serves delicious food like pizza and pasta. This café was a favourite place for the Greek poet Cavafy, who worked in an office on the floor above.

11. Sea Gull:

The seafood restaurant is located in the El Max area. It contains many antiques, as the owner is an avid antique collector. You can have your meal in the open area of the restaurant, which has a magnificent sea view. There is also a kids’ area for kids to play and have fun.

12. Alban Swisera (Switzerland dairy):

It might be a slightly more unique restaurant than the others. It serves sausage, chicken panna, and pastrami mixed with a group of cheeses, whether in dishes or sandwiches. The restaurant is located on Port Said Street in Camp Chezar, a hub for locals and visitors alike.

Places to Stay in Alexandria:

After a long day exploring the beautiful city of Alexandria, rest is a must on this long day to continue your trip in the city. Here are some of the hotels that you can stay in.

Helnan Palestine:

The lovely hotel is located inside the Montaza Gardens and overlooks a Mediterranean cove. It was built very quickly, in only six months, in 1964, and it is only 12 km away from the city centre. It was named Helnan Palestine after a summit was held there to approve the establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The hotel welcomed many presidents, royalty, and celebrities, like Jacques Chirac, Queen Sofia of Spain, and Queen Rania of Jordan.

Helnan Palestine offers luxurious furnishings and oriental carpeting. Some of its rooms have a fascinating view of the historic Montaza Palace. There is also a swimming pool, and the hotel is only a few steps from the beach.

Paradise Inn Le Metropole:

Le Metropole, built in 1902 by Greek and Italian architects, offers a stunning view of the Mediterranean. The hotel is near many of Alexandria’s attractions, such as the library, Cavafy Museum, Qaitbay Citadel, and the Opera. It contains two French restaurants and elegantly furnished rooms with balconies.

The Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant serves a lovely breakfast, which offers French and seasonal cuisine. The Versailles restaurant also serves French cuisine. It still has a lot of its old magic, with its original paintings and antiques. Also, visit the rooftop restaurant, where you can enjoy a wonderful meal while watching the sunset and enjoying the sea view.

Paradise Inn Windsor Palace:

Another beautiful hotel on the Mediterranean Sea is Windsor Palace, built in 1906. During your stay at the hotel, you can enjoy having breakfast in the morning on the rooftop terrace with a fantastic sea view. Many things can be done in the hotel. In Queen Elizabeth Hall, you can have a lovely dinner and wine or spend a great time with DJ nights at Skyroof Club Lounge. You will enjoy having a lovely time in the cafes and malls as they are located near many attractions you will love to visit.

Steigenberger Cecil:

It is a 4-star hotel built in 1929 and owned by a Jewish French-Egyptian family called the Metzgers. This lovely hotel hosted celebrities like Umm Kalthoum, Josephine Baker, and Al Capone. The rooms there were crusted in red and cream and were managed by the international chain Steinberger. In World War II, the hotel was the headquarters for British Intelligence. It is near the National Museum of Alexandria and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

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