Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt, located 225 kilometres north-west of the capital city, Cairo. Dubbed ‘The Pearl of the Mediterranean’, this cultural hotspot was once the learning capital of the ancient world, with influences from many surrounding areas.
Historic Alexandria was founded in 331BC by Alexander the Great, and since then it has seen a sharp decline and a rise back to glory. From being the backdrop for one of the Seven Wonders of the World, to deteriorating into a small fishing village, Alexandria has seen its share of ups and downs.
Take in the sights of one of the oldest ports in the world at this majestic destination. The earliest port facilities were built in 1900BC to service coastal shipping. These days it handles over three quarters of Egypt’s foreign trade through its two harbours. Alexandria is a popular destination for cruises, with lines such as Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line including this port in their itineraries.
Alexandria Port is located on the West Verge of the Nile Delta, where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. There are two harbours – East and West – and cruise ships will dock at the passenger marine terminal.
The port in Alexandria is quite modern, and you will require your visa and passport to disembark. Once out of the port, it is only a short taxi ride away from the city centre, where you will find a number of facilities.
Facilities near the port of Alexandria include:
Tourist information centres
Restaurants and cafés
How To Get Around
To get to Alexandria from the port is fairly easy – it is about a 4 kilometre journey, and taxis are readily available (costing around £10). Alexandria itself is quite easy to get around, once you are there. You can stroll easily around Corniche, which is the city’s waterfront boulevard, and many local attractions are accessible on foot from here.
Currency – The currency in Alexandria is the Egyptian Pound (EGP, £). Notes come in £1, £5, £10, £20, £50, £100, £200, Pt5, Pt10, Pt25 and Pt50 denominations. Coins come in £1, Pt1, Pt5, Pt20, Pt25 and Pt50 denominations.
Time Zone – Alexandria follows Eastern European Time (EET), which is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Weather – Alexandria has a hot desert climate, but its proximity to the Mediterranean means it is slightly less severe than you would expect to find further inland. The city receives more rainfall than other areas in Egypt due to its location. August is the hottest month in Alexandria, with temperatures reaching an average high of 30.4 degrees Celsius. January is the coldest month, with an average high of a balmy 18.4 degrees Celsius.
Citadel of Qaitbay – Also known as the Fort of Qaitbay, this defensive structure is considered to be one of the most important strongholds along the Mediterranean Sea coast. It was one of the key fortifications in the 15th century. That’s not the only significance of this monumental structure though – it was erected on the exact site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The lighthouse was gradually destroyed over the course of time by several earthquakes. The fort as it stands today houses a Maritime Museum, and is open daily until 4pm (a small entry fee applies).
Montazah Palace Gardens – If you’re looking for a spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cruise ship and the city, the Montazah Palace Gardens is the destination for you. The combination of incredible architecture and extensive gardens create a peaceful retreat, and the gardens are open to the public as a landscape park and forest reserve. The palace is a 30-minute drive from central Alexandria, so it is worth catching a taxi for this trip.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina – If you’re looking for something a little different from your typical port of call, Alexandria can deliver. Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major library which is trilingual, featuring texts in Arabic, English and French. This centre for cultural and scientific excellence has been described as an inspiring destination, which can be enjoyed by scholars as well as people interested in history. There is shelf space for 8 million books, with a main reading area that spans 11 floors. Specialised libraries for maps, multimedia, vision impaired people and children can be found in the complex, making it a point of interest for any cruiser.