Families planning a trip to Egypt often wonder if Alexandria is worth visiting. Well, Alexandria is a city so dramatically steeped in history and cultural importance that it would be a shame to not see it for yourself. And even better, you can visit Alexandria as a day trip from Cairo.
Located on the northern coast of Egypt, Alexandria is known as the “Pearl of the Mediterranean.” It was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and served as the capital of Egypt for about a thousand years until the Muslim conquest in 641 AD.
Alexandria was a significant centre of philosophy, learning, and commerce in the ancient Mediterranean world. The Great Library of Alexandria was considered to be the keeper of all the world’s knowledge – no ship could dock here without giving up its books to be copied. And its sunken lighthouse is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
As Egypt’s second-largest city, it offers a less frenzied pace than Cairo with its waterfront location on the glittering Mediterranean coast and laid-back sandy beaches.
- Where Is Alexandria & How To Get There
- Best Time To Visit Alexandria
- 9 of the Best Things To Do In Alexandria With Kids
- 1. Checkout the Modern-Day Alexandria Library: “Bibliotheca Alexandrina”
- 2. Explore the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
- 3. Marvel at the Ancient Roman Amphitheatre and the Villa of Birds
- 4. Visit the Serapeum and Pompey’s Pillar
- 5. Climb the Fort of Quaitbay
- 6. Gawk at Gemstones at the Royal Jewelry Museum
- 7. Relive history at the Alexandria National Museum
- 8. Make a Pilgrimage to Abu Al-Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque
- 9. Visit Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral
- Where To Stay In Alexandria With Kids
Where Is Alexandria & How To Get There
Alexandria is located on the north coast of Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea. It is about 200 km (124 miles) northwest of Cairo.
You can spend one day in Alexandria and see many of the highlights. To make a day trip from Cairo to Alexandria – while you can fly – most tourists prefer to hire a private car and driver. However, the bus and train are also great options; they are economical and comfortable, and you can set your own pace.
Driving takes three to four hours depending on traffic and it is best to leave early around 6 AM or after 9 AM to avoid the traffic.
For bus schedules and fares from Cairo Tahrir station to Alexandria Moharam Bek station, check out the Go Bus website here.
According to the current schedule, the earliest bus from Cairo is at 5:30 AM and the last bus back from Alexandria is at 10:30 PM. The trip takes about three to four hours and a return ticket will cost you around $12USD.
The train is a great alternative and you can take a look at the latest schedules and fares here on the Egyptian National Railway website.
According to the current schedule, the earliest train from Cairo is at 6 AM and the last train back from Alexandria is at 9:10 PM. The trip takes about 2-3 hours and a return ticket will cost you around $8USD.
Once you are in Alexandria, taxis are easy to use or you can also use Uber or Careem (the local version of Uber).
If you want a hassle-free day trip and to pack in as much sightseeing as possible, then we recommend booking an organized Alexandria day tour from Cairo which can be done for under $100USD.
Best Time To Visit Alexandria
Due to its location on the Mediterranean coast, Alexandria has cooler weather than the rest of Egypt and is a great destination to visit almost all year round.
The best time to visit Alexandria is March through November. Although the summer months of July and August can get very busy when tourists from all over Eqypt flock to the coast to get away from the searing heat and enjoy cooler weather.
During the summer, the days are often humid, with temperatures averaging 31°C (88°F), but evenings are usually cooler and breezy, especially by the corniche.
December to February are best to be avoided unless you don’t mind thunderstorms, heavy wind, and rain that are a common occurrence at this time of year. Daytime highs during the winters can get as low as 12°C (53°F).
Also, you may want to avoid visiting during the Holy Month of Ramadan (which starts at a different time every year), when Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset. Tourist attractions and shops close early, many eateries are closed during the day, and eating and drinking in public during the day is discouraged (but not illegal like in some other Muslim countries).
9 of the Best Things To Do In Alexandria With Kids
We think it goes without saying that the earlier you arrive in Alexandria, the more sights you can fit in.
Start with a few attractions before lunch, then refuel yourself with a leisurely lunch break, preferably along the corniche to take in the sea air and watch the boats float by. Then, tackle a few more sights before calling it quits for the day.
Be sure to bring lots of bribes in the form of your kids’ favourite treats to keep them going when their energy starts to wane.
And also build in snack breaks at interesting cafes and restaurants that cross your path. As a reminder, just like Cairo, Alexandria is not stroller friendly, so best to bring a child carrier if you’re travelling with infants and toddlers.
Below, we’ve highlighted nine of the best things to do in Alexandria with kids.
1. Checkout the Modern-Day Alexandria Library: “Bibliotheca Alexandrina”
The Great Library of Alexandria, probably created after the founding of Alexandria around 331 BC, flourished for six centuries and was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world.
While the ancient library is no more, a new library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, was completed in 2002 and functions as a modern library and cultural centre.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina complex consists of the main reading room, six specialized libraries including a Children’s Library (for ages 6-11), a Young People’s Library (for ages 12 to 16), four museums, art galleries and exhibitions, a conference centre, and even a Planetarium Science Center.
The main reading room is an architectural marvel, designed to sit under a glass roof tilted out toward the sea like a sundial.
Children aged 4–16 years are not permitted entry into the Main Reading Area, unless as part of these guided tours.
There are often lots of interesting events and exhibits at the library so check the Bibliotheca Alexandrina website for opening times and a schedule of events and activities.
2. Explore the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
The catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa are a fascinating place to explore as you follow your guide in and out of the various chambers.
It was cut through solid rock and contains three levels. The architecture and the hieroglyphs carved on the walls are a unique blend of Hellenistic (Greek), Roman and Egyptian styles.
The catacombs were used as a burial chamber from the 2nd to 4th century AD. They were only discovered in 1900 when reportedly a donkey fell into the access shaft. Undisturbed for about 1500 years, many of the statues, carvings and architecture are well-preserved.
The catacombs were named Kom El Shoqafa, meaning Mound of Shards, because the area used to contain a mound of broken clay pots left by those visiting the tombs.
3. Marvel at the Ancient Roman Amphitheatre and the Villa of Birds
In the Kom el Dikka (which means Mound of Rubble) neighbourhood of Alexandria, you will find an amazingly well-preserved Roman amphitheatre.
This is the only known Roman amphitheatre in Egypt. Also excavated around the amphitheatre are structures like villas, baths, and classrooms.
The structure dates back to the 4th century AD and was discovered by archaeologists in the 1960s. The amphitheatre was destroyed by an earthquake around the 6th century.
On the stage, a special spot is marked by a stone where sound supposedly echoes perfectly. Have your kids stand there and sing a tune to see if you can hear the acoustics.
Next, see how many birds your children can identify at the nearby Villa of Birds which was only discovered in 1998. This was a Roman villa possibly dating back to the 4th century AD and is named because of the stunning colourful mosaics of different birds including a parrot, purple gallinule, teal duck, peacock, pigeon, and a quail.
4. Visit the Serapeum and Pompey’s Pillar
The Serapeum was once a magnificent temple in honour of Serapis, the hybrid Greco-Egyptian sun god. All that remains today is Pompey’s Pillar, a massive 30-metre tall Roman-style column flanked by two well-preserved sphinx statues.
The column is believed to be named in remembrance of the murder of the Roman general Pompey by Cleopatra’s brother. However, an inscription on the base (possibly once covered by rubble) reveals that it was erected around 300 AD to support a statue of the emperor Diocletian.
You can go underneath the column to explore the temple’s ruins and see a replica of the sacred bull deity, Apis. The original bull has been moved to a museum. The Serapeum is also believed to be the overflow location of the Great Library of Alexandria, so be on the lookout for shelving carved into the walls.
5. Climb the Fort of Quaitbay
The Fort of Quaitbay was one of the most important military strongholds of Egypt on the Mediterranean sea. The original fort was built around 1470 by Mamluke Sultan Qaitbey.
The current fort was built in the early 19th century by Muhammad Ali and then restored in the 1900s. You can explore the different chambers and climb up to the roof for breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
The fort is also famous for being built on the site of the ancient Alexandria Lighthouse, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The lighthouse was believed to be destroyed by earthquakes in the 14th century AD, but parts of the building material were repurposed to build the fort.
6. Gawk at Gemstones at the Royal Jewelry Museum
If you want to see a dazzling collection of diamonds and other royal jewels up close and personal, then head over to the Royal Jewelry Museum. The museum is located in the former palace of Princess Fatma al-Zahra and was built in 1919.
After the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, the royal jewellery was kept hidden until a presidential degree in 1986 mandated the use of Princess Fatima Al-Zahra’s Palace as a museum to house all those pieces.
In addition to the priceless collection of jewellery, the museum also exhibits a collection of 19th-century paintings and statues and many rooms have impressive frescos and stained glass.
The museum is open 9 AM to 3 PM. You can verify opening hours on the museum website.
7. Relive history at the Alexandria National Museum
Housed in a beautifully restored Italian villa, the National Museum of Alexandria is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about Alexandria’s history and see over 1800 artefacts.
The museum consists of three floors: the basement houses prehistoric and Pharaonic artefacts, the ground level displays Graeco-Roman treasures, and the upper floor contains relics from Egypt’s Coptic Christian and Islamic heritage.
The museum opens at 9 AM and closes at 4:30 PM.
8. Make a Pilgrimage to Abu Al-Abbas Al-Mursi Mosque
This is Alexandria’s largest mosque and was built to commemorate the life of a 13th-century Sufi saint, Abul Abbas al-Mursi, from Spain. The mosque is actually built around his tomb and has been rebuilt and renovated many times over the last few centuries.
It’s worth visiting to see the impressive size and architecture: inside the octagonal-shaped building are white marble floors, beautiful Islamic mosaics, intricate column and wall carvings, and detailed woodwork.
When you are visiting the mosque, be sure to remove and carry your shoes and women need to wear a headscarf. We have more tips on what to wear when you visit Egypt here.
9. Visit Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral
This cathedral was the former seat of the Pope of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church before it was moved to Cairo in 1968. It is named after Saint Mark the Evangelist, author of the second Gospel.
The cathedral is believed to have been built on the original site of the church that was founded by St. Mark the Evangelist in 60 AD.
You can enter the church and your guide may even be able to take you down to the locked underground crypt where you can see a shrine and relics of the saint.
As you can see there is a lot of sightseeing to fit into just one day.
If you’d like to extend your stay in Alexandria, then here are some suggested family-friendly hotels, including a few beachfront properties, if you’d like to actually dip your toes into the Mediterranean!
- Sunrise Alex Avenue Hotel – 5-star beachfront property
- Hilton Alexandria Corniche – walking distance to the beach with family rooms
- Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza – a pool and plenty of entertainment options
- Steigenberger Cecil Hotel Alexandria – overlooking the bay and yacht club, one of Alexandria’s grand period hotels
- Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano – beachfront luxury with pool, full-service spa and plenty of kids’ amenities
Check out all your accommodation options in Alexandria, including the latest online deals, here:
More on Visiting Egypt With Kids
We have a great selection of articles on our website to help you plan your dream trip to Egypt with your family.
We’d recommend starting with our guide “Planning a Family Trip to Egypt“, then for diving into more of the detail, things to do, and how to plan your days we also recommend you check out:
- The ideal 7-day itinerary for Egypt with kids
- Is it “safe” to travel to Egypt with kids?
- Top things to do in Cairo with kids
- The best hotels to stay with views of the Pyramids
- Red Sea resort towns to try for a relaxing Egyptian vacation
- Baksheesh! Dealing with the tipping culture in Egypt
- An Egypt family packing list for all seasons
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