There are more ways than one to enjoy Cairo, and cities in close proximity, during the Eid Al-Adha holiday. Many vacationers may have already planned their getaway to any of the country’s alluring destinations. The lucky few who haven’t will have the chance to explore the hidden gems of the capital and the attractions on their places-to-go list.
These destinations are a refreshing respite:
File Photo: Egyptians celebrate Sham El-Nessim at Azhar Park in Cairo (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
This year the major Islamic holiday falls between two weekends, allowing many holiday-makers to take as many as nine days off work to travel. The good news for those staying in Cairo: You can enjoy the empty streets. This is a blessing inhabitants of non-bustling cities will not appreciate.
Such opportunity presents itself in being able to arrive at Al-Azhar Park, on Salah Salem St, in under 20 minutes from just about anywhere in Cairo. There, you can stop and smell the roses -- literally.
Listed among the 60 of the World’s Great Places by the Project for Public Spaces, Al-Azhar Park is a welcome greenspace in Cairo. Its dazzling landscape has earned it repeat visitors who like to connect with nature.
The park is clean, well-maintained and offers excellent service at its coffee shops and restaurants. Those are thoughtfully positioned for visitors to enjoy the park’s fountains and lake and to have a dramatic view of the capital.
A fun day at Maryanne's farm is guaranteed for kids and adults alike. (Photo: Lina El Wardani)
El-Sorat Farm, aka Maryanne’s Farm, is a haven for nature admirers. Perfect for a one-day trip, this place is ideal for families with children and animal lovers. From playing with dogs on the farm to horseback riding, children and adults are promised a fun-packed day out in the open.
On hot days, pools are set up on the lawn for children.
Visitors are also encouraged to feed the animals on the farm, including donkeys, sheep, goats, cows, water buffaloes, hens, roosters, ducks, geese and turkeys.
The farm doubles as a dog shelter, but please do not bring your own or any new ones at this time.
The soul of this farm is its very friendly host, the charming Maryanne Gabbani, who makes her visitors feel at home the moment they walk in.
For reservations, call 0122 211 8386 at least one day before the visit.
The farm is located 1.5km south of Sakkara Country Club, off Mansouriya Road, near the pyramids of Abu Sir, Esbat El-Khawagat.
Facebook and website: https://www.facebook.com/AlSoratFarm/ -- http://www.alsorat.com
Sakkara Palm Club
Sakkara Palm Club is good for a day-use or a night stay. Beside taking a plunge in the pool, you can practise table tennis, tennis, squash, volleyball, football, basketball and horseback riding at the club.
For reservations call 02 3819 1555.
The Blue Lotus guesthouse is basic but charming. (Photo:Courtesy of the Blue Lotus website)
A simple yet charming family business, the Blue Lotus is an environmentally friendly guesthouse with nine rooms. The restaurant serves authentic Egyptian foods cooked from the fresh, home-grown produce.
For more information on the farm visit http://www.bluelotusofsakkara.com/
The greek club beach in Alexandria is a hidden gym. Photo by Lina El Wardani.
The Mediterranean city is a two-hour train ride from Cairo. It is one of the closest destinations fit for a beach escape, but this may be also why it is very crowded, particularly in the summer.
To make the most out of a one-day trip to Alexandria, upon arrival at the city avoid heading east at all cost. The traffic will waste a good portion of your day. Instead, enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at Délices, a coffee and pastry shop in central Alexandria, before heading to the beach at the Greek Club, nearby the Qaitbey Citadel. The positive vibes and the leisurely swim are worth the EGP 200.
A boat trip in Alexandria is a fun way to see the city without being stuck in the traffic. Photo by Lina El Wardani
The present writer visited the Greek Club restaurant and paid EGP 300 for a salad, an appetiser and a couple of drinks, before taking a boat trip for EGP 150.
After watching sunset from the citadel, head to Abu Nora for dinner. The seafood restaurant is located a short distance from the citadel and is relatively cheap.
Don’t forget to stop by Azza, a well-known ice cream shop, for dessert.
Kite Surfing lessons in Ras Sudr. Photo by Lina El Wardani
This is a small town located on the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea coast. It is the nearest Sinai resort to Cairo, situated right after crossing the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel into the peninsula.
The place is a haven for water sports aficionados. From kitesurfing to canoeing and windsurfing, Ras Sedr has it all. Given that, it’s best to choose where to stay based on which sport you’re interested in.
If you’re into kitesurfing, stay at the Creative Green Hotel, the Paradise Hotel, the Hacienda Beach Hotel, or the Kiteloop Hotel.
Prices of rooms range from EGP 700 to EGP 1,500 a night depending on room type, size and meal options.
There are also beginner courses provided by many water sports centres like the Kitesurfing Village, the Kite Buzz, 360 Kite Surfing Centre, and Fly Kite Surfing Centre.
These phone numbers may help:
Creative Green Hotel, Suez Road 79: 02 2268 4514.
Kitesurfing Village: 02 393 558 8777.
The Kite Buzz at Paradise Resort: 0112 554 5616.
If you are into windsurfing, however, the place to be is Ras Matarma.
The beach in Ras Sudr is always peaceful and serene. Photo by Lina El Wardani
The Moon Beach Hotel has its own windsurfing centre with a range of courses catering to children and adults.
For reservations call 002 0100 514 6219.
Prices of rooms at the hotel range from EGP 850 to EGP 1,200 a night on a half-board basis. The hotel is children- and dog-friendly. There are swings and slides for the little ones right on the beach, in addition to speedboats, paddle boats and canoes.
If you’re not much of a sports fanatic, you can enjoy a drink at the beach instead, swim in the warm sun, or take advantage of Sinai’s incredibly clear night skies and do some stargazing. If you’re lucky, shooting stars can be spotted.
There is also Matarma Bay Hotel, a luxurious lodge by the beach in Ras Matarma. Room prices range from EGP 900 to EGP 1,200 on a bed-and-breakfast basis. Accommodation is quite basic. Rooms are air-conditioned, but they come without fridges or dressers. The beds are huge and extremely comfortable.
The Matarma restaurant serves traditional Egyptian breakfast at the Bedouin-style area right by the sea.
Matarma Bay Hotel: El-Tor Road, Qesm Abu Znimah. For reservations call 002 0102 507 5888.