Pyramids and sunset in Cairo, Egypt (PhotoDisc)

Minarets of Hassan mosque at sunset, Cairo, Egypt (Sylvester Adams,Photodisc/Getty)

Cityscape and skyline of Cairo, Egypt (Corbis)

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What to do in Cairo

Cairo is a notoriously challenging place for the independent traveler, a kind of coordinated chaos. The iconic city on the Nile has 15 million-plus inhabitants that run the gamut from lepers to the mega-rich. Its convoluted webs of car- and smog-choked streets are daunting to navigate, and no matter where you go, persistent touts pester from every direction. But what keeps drawing vacationers is Cairo’s buzz of eclectic energy. Built upon thousands of years of civilization, even Cairo’s most touristy attractions can astonish and overwhelm. The Egyptian Museum, with its mazelike stacks of mummies and King Tut artifacts, is one of the best in the world. Similarly, the city’s souks (local marketplaces)—like the 700-year-old Khan al-Khalili—are worthy of the trip alone for their frenetic atmospheres and incredible range of local goods.

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  • Cairo Travel Q&A

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