If you have chosen the month of January to visit all the attractions of Cairo you are in luck. Being able to contemplate the pyramids without suffocating in the heat, attend an extraordinary book fair or learn how the Copts celebrate Christmas in the country are just some of the activities you can do in Cairo if you travel during this month. I can assure you that this is an experience that will leave a mark on any traveler.
1. Visit the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx without having to endure the more than 40 degrees of summer.
The biggest advantage of making this visit in the month of January is, obviously, not having to do it completely bathed in sweat and unable to breathe well because of the heat. Although you will find many tourists, the walk on the esplanade where these magnificent monuments are located will be much more pleasant.
Few monuments in the world need less introduction than the pyramids of Giza. They are the only example still standing of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a designation you will undoubtedly understand when you see them.
Although you can visit them on your own, I recommend you hire an excursion to Giza from Cairo that includes an expert guide who will explain the history of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos.
- Where: about 30 minutes from downtown Cairo.
- Hours: 07:00 am to 19:30 pm. The entrance to the interior of the pyramid is from 08:30 to 16:00.
- Price: the organized tour can be purchased from 14 €. Entering the enclosure costs 11 €; the entrance to the Great Pyramid, about 22 €. Entering the pyramid of Chephren costs about 5,5 €.
2. Go browsing at the Cairo International Book Fair
If, like me, you are a book lover and you are in Cairo at the end of January you should not miss the Heliopolis neighborhood to attend the International Book Fair of the city, held at the fairgrounds of Nasr City
This book fair is the most important in the Arab world and has a space dedicated to antique books in which, for sure, you can find some interesting copies. Most of the lectures during this event, as well as a large part of the books, are in Arabic, but there are always many titles in other languages. In addition, the atmosphere of this cultural event is certainly very interesting and it is worth spending some time wandering around the grounds.
And if you are a fan of culture, you can't miss a guided visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, you will be amazed by all the art it hides!
3. Spend a few hours in Ain El Sokhna
Despite what you might think, January weather in Cairo can get chilly at times. One of the best places to avoid those temperatures is to go to Ain El Sokhna, a place whose name can be translated as "hot springs" or "thermal springs".
Actually, it is a town located on the shore of the Red Sea to which Cairoites usually escape on weekends. Only an hour and a half from the capital, these beaches are never short of sunshine, since even in January temperatures easily exceed 20ºC, as is the water temperature.
Moreover, its beaches are really excellent, with soft sand and very well preserved. If you wish, you can also do activities such as scuba diving to see the fabulous marine life in the area, from coral gardens to colorful reef fish.
4. Go to the Winter Festival at Zed Park
We all know that visiting Cairo involves a full immersion in history and art. However, there can also be time for fun. In January, few places are better for a good time than the Zed Park Winter Festival, located in Sheikh Zayed, in the 10th district of the capital.
In the large Zed Park grounds you will find all kinds of attractions, from a huge Ferris wheel to a merry-go-round reminiscent of the ones they put in Paris during the Christmas season, to an ice rink. In addition, every weekend there are different musical performances, plays, parades and even carnival activities.
Of course, you could not miss an area dedicated to Egyptian food where you will find the best dishes of its cuisine.
5. Discover how the Copts celebrate Christmas.
The Egyptian population is almost entirely Muslim and therefore does not celebrate Christmas. However, if you have traveled to Cairo in January you will be able to know how the Christian minority of the country, the so-called Copts, live this holiday.
The Coptic quarter, the area of Cairo where most of this community lives, is a must for all those who go to the Egyptian capital and, in fact, is one of the guided tours that most people usually hire.
If you can visit the neighborhood on those dates you will see all the churches decorated. A striking aspect is that each temple chooses its own style of decoration and that the decorations are made by the community itself.
What all these churches do agree on is to put up a Christmas tree. The Copts affirm that the tradition of placing this type of tree was born, precisely, in Egypt, when a palm tree with twelve leaves symbolizing the year was used.
Information of interest:
- Where: in the Coptic quarter of Cairo.
- When: the birth of Jesus is celebrated on January 7.
6. Imitate the Cairoites and escape the January crowds at the Aquarium Grotto Garden.
In the middle of the asphalt of Cairo it is possible to find some charming green area in which to relax and escape for a few hours from the crowds that fill the streets of the city, especially in high tourist season as is the case in the month of January. One of the best places to go is the Aquarium Grotto Garden, where many local families come to have a good time.
This garden is located in Zamalek and was created as a place of recreation for the nobility in 1867. Much later, an aquarium was added to the facilities. It can be visited daily between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Feel like relaxing even more? Top off an afternoon at the aquarium by booking a Nile cruise that includes a buffet dinner and a live Tanoura and belly dance performance. More than appetizing!
7. Take an excursion to Alexandria at one of the best times of the year
There are several places around Cairo that are worth a visit. Unfortunately, some of them are very uncomfortable to visit in summer, as the high temperatures in the desert area do not make it too comfortable. January, with its mild or somewhat cool weather, is the best time to make an excursion to Alexandria from Cairo.
Founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, in this ancient city you can visit landmarks such as the ancient Roman amphitheater, the Alexandrian library, the Fort Qaitbey or the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa.
The cultural and archaeological heritage of this city will leave you amazed, as it passed through it Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks and British. A truly unmissable excursion.
8. Stop to buy some of Cairo's traditional winter food.
It is true that winter in Cairo cannot be compared in terms of low temperatures with other destinations further north. This, however, does not preclude the existence of some foods typical of these dates intended to keep the body warm. When you stroll through the streets of the city stop to buy some of them to try.
One of the most typical dishes of the month of January are roasted sweet potatoes. Actually, you will be able to discover the stalls where they are sold from afar, as the aroma spreads throughout the street. The same goes for the delicious corn on the cob, very traditional at this time of year.
The Egyptians also have two drinks that are meant to be consumed during these months. The first is sahlab, a hot milk-based drink. The other has a slightly more complicated name, hummus el sham, with a slightly spicy flavor and made with tomatoes and chickpeas.
9. Cairo Opera House concert season
January is a particularly good time to attend one of the concerts or performances taking place at the city's excellent Opera House. Not only will you get away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets for a while, but you can also take shelter from the breeze at night.
The site actually houses seven different theaters of varying sizes. Although opera is the theater's main attraction, you can also see plays, musicals, concerts and ballet performances.
On the other hand, it is worth taking a walk through the beautiful gardens that surround the building and contemplate some of the statues dedicated to the great artists of the country that are there.
Information of interest
- Where: at the Opera House in the Zamalek neighborhood on Gezirah Island.
- When: throughout several months.
- Price: depends on the show.
10. Dinner at the revolving restaurant of the Cairo Tower
If you want to have the best views of Cairo at night from the heights but you think it might be a bit cold to be outside for a while, you just have to approach the Zamalek neighborhood to find the right place: the Cairo Tower.
This old telecommunications tower beautifully covered by a kind of lattice offers the possibility to dine in its great revolving restaurant located at the top. Not only will you enjoy a good dinner, but you will have the best possible view of the city without the risk of getting cold.
Weather in Cairo in January
One of the factors that make winter (including the month of January) the high season for tourism are the mild temperatures they enjoy. Thus, the average maximum is about 19 ° C, while the average minimum is 10 ° C.
This does not prevent that, sometimes, the nights can be somewhat colder and it is advisable to carry in your suitcase some warm clothes, but, even so, these are temperatures that will not prevent you from walking at ease through the streets of the city. In any case, it is always advisable to check the weather forecast shortly before traveling.