Listen up, Cairenes. We Alexandrians have been the brunt of your jokes for generations; because compared to your sophisticated and massive city, we’re still considered a small town. A town of five million people.
Fine, so we don’t have Tamarai, CityStars or the Cairo Jazz Club (which is 30% Alexandrian on weekends, by the way). What we do have is daily access to the Mediterranean Sea, delicious fresh fish, a fun-loving attitude and a song by Dalida that selects us as the best people in Egypt.
If you’re ever in town, here’s a list of fun things to do, compiled by Alexandrians who know how to have a good time.
Play Golf: The 100-year-old Alexandria Sporting Club has an excellent jogging track (which, unlike Gezira Club, actually goes all the way around) and a pleasant18-hole golf course that’s nearly always empty. Admittance costs 60LE, while renting out the green will cost 50LE for non-members. It’s always cheaper and better if a member takes you along.
Take a Double Decker Bus: If you have an hour to waste and want a front-row view of Alexandria, take a double-decker bus on the Corniche. The buses are air-conditioned, clean and run all the way from Anfoushi to Montazah for just 5LE; providing a fun, easy way to get you to Montazah Park.
Skip Fish, Have Mezza: for a spectacular view of the Alexandrian harbour and a quality fish meal, try the Greek Club. You can always bypass the fish and fill up on their fresh white bread and mezzas like the taramah, a creamy pink caviar dip for 15LE; and the bissaria, breaded and fried baby fish, also 15LE.
View from the Lighthouse: Next door to the Greek Club is the fort of Qayet Bay, which was allegedly built on the site of the Alexandria lighthouse. It’s a perfect spot for a sunset walk or a cup of hot black tea from a street vendor while watching the waves.
Try Milk Ice Cream: A few steps away is Ice Cream Azza, which goes head to head with Makram Ice Cream as the best ice cream in Alexandria . Leave the debate to the locals and sample their Laban ice cream in fresh biscuit cones. Then walk to Makram (turn right after Azza and follow the tram tracks till you see Makram on the left). This ice cream shop has hands down the best lemon and Laban ice cream this reviewer has ever tasted.
Dive with Cleopatra: scuba-divers and history fans rejoice; the Montazah Diving Club (next to Tikka Grill on the Anfoushi Corniche) offers scuba-diving trips to the sunken city of Cleopatra; where huge columns, sphinxes and supposed pieces of the Alexandria Lighthouse lie.
Downtown Dining: To recapture the magic of old Alexandria, have dinner at Santa Lucia ( Safeya Zaghloul St , across from Metro Cinema). Chez Gabi (off Fouad Street next to Sayed Darwish Theatre) has made generations of Alexandrians happy with its greasy and delicious oven pizzas.
Bargain Shop: take a taxi to Faransa Street , and be prepared to lose yourself in the tiny passageways of the famous Zan’et El Sitat market. Local DYI fans flock here for gold, fabric, fake jewellery and beads. Be sure to haggle the prices down and definitely don’t let on that you’re not a local; or they’ll go after you like piranhas. Alternatively, take a stroll around Atareen area; famous for its antique shops full of grandfather clocks, rocking chairs and pocket watches.
Late Night Scrambled Eggs: Head down to Alban Sewesra (Swiss Dairy) a hole-in-the-wall on Port Said Street in the Sporting area. The grocery offers sandwiches made of basterma, basterma and cheese, cheese and egg, egg and basterma; cheese, egg and basterma…The sandwiches come hot and in finger-sized fino bread for just 3LE a piece. Hamdy ( Khaled Ibn El Waleed St, Sidi Bishr) has arguably the best kabab and kofta sandwiches in Alexandria. Be warned, though: this is street food and not meant for the faint-hearted. Pack some Antinal with you.
Have a Pub Drink: the infamous watering hole Sheikh Aly (officially Cap D’Or) is the Alexandrian version of Pub 28, with its low lighting, cheap beers and nostalgic atmosphere. (Saad Zaghloul St, take a right down Adeeb Beh St). The Spit Fire Pub dates back to WWII and offers a quiet place for a drink and a plate of bessaria. Take a cab to the Corniche towards Qayet Bay; get out at Nasser Oriental Restaurants, then take a left onto Saad Zaghloul St.
If you’ve noticed that this guide falls short on directions, it’s because Alexandria has three main roads and everyone knows where everything is.
Your best bet is to take a cab and pray the driver is from Alex, or just make friends with a local and ask them for a fun night out on the town. You can thank us later.