The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Sights & Travel -

Cairo to Ismailia: A Guide to A Day in The City

Cairo to Ismailia: A Guide to A Day in The City
    written by
    Hannah Cooper

    When it comes to organising weekend trips or summer stays out of Cairo,
    most people tend to fixate on El Gouna,
    El Sheikh
    or Ein Sokhna.

    For an alternative weekend destination just a short distance from Cairo, why not visit Ismailia?
    Located on the West Bank of the Suez Canal, Ismailia is a fun destination that’s only an
    hour away!

    Did You Know: Named after
    Khedive Ismail the Magnificent, the city and governorate of Ismailia
    were founded in 1863, it was also the original location for New York City’s Statue of Liberty. Almost one
    million people live in Ismailia
    alone and the governor has a drop box outside his office for residents to file
    their comments and concerns in to.

    Getting There: There’s no reason why you can’t visit Ismailia just for a day!
    By car, Ismailia
    is only an hour away and if you can manage to get lost on the one road that
    takes you there (the Cairo-Suez road), you probably shouldn’t be driving
    anyway. Expect the 10LE trip to take an hour and a half if you’re travelling by
    bus; you can catch
    a bus from the Almaza bus station in
    Heliopolis. It’s best to get an
    early start; so start your day off right with an early morning breakfast in Heliopolis before hitting
    the road.

    Take a Look Around: As you enter,
    find some humour in the odd mélange of statues around. In the town’s centre, the
    well-groomed Colonial streets are lined with bougainvillea flowers, and
    sprawling lawns accompany the charming British and French-styled cottages;
    serving as a reminder to Ismailia’s
    past. Don’t miss the local art: proudly displaying the city’s culture, tiled
    mosaics are dispersed around Ismailia
    and the street graffiti is equally exciting.

    Head to the Corniche: When you think of Ismailia, the Suez Canal is often the first thing that
    comes to mind. The water’s edge is the perfect place to take in a little sunshine;
    a new awareness finds you breathing regularly and the Cairo noise pollution is nonexistent here. Kiosks
    and cafés line the street where summer chalets are dispersed intermittingly. For
    a tea and shisha, head to Cute Café, where delicious pear shisha costs a mere 5LE. FYI: If you’ve got a
    bicycle, bring it along! The canal’s corniche makes for a great place to take a

    Hail a Rowboat: A picturesque
    scene of fisherman out on their daily trip might have you aching for a boat of
    your own. You can head out onto the canal only until 11AM, but otherwise, the
    lakes are open for use all day long. Rent a rowboat (20LE for 30 minutes) and
    relax for a while; it’s quiet, serene and a beautiful way to take in the
    town’s atmosphere and have you daydreaming.

    Did Someone Say Fish? Going to Ismailia and not eating
    fish is nothing less than a travesty. There are several seafood restaurants
    along the corniche serving fish fresh out of the canal. Fish Land
    (Abdel Moneim Emara St.)
    had us in food hysteria when it was all over. They serve heaping piles of
    deliciously fresh fish. And don’t underestimate their dessert, either; we
    forced our gluttonous selves to make room for some crème caramel.

    For The History Buffs: On Mohammed Ali
    Quay Street, the Ismailia Museum contains
    over 4000 objects from the Pharaonic to Greco-Roman times, including statues
    and canal records. Don’t miss the 4th century AD mosaic featuring intriguing
    mythological characters. The museum is small and usually empty, making it a
    convenient stop. Doors open at 8AM and admission costs around 6LE.

    Take it Downtown: After catching the
    sunset, head downtown and enjoy the quaint shop fronts and small-town
    atmosphere. Don’t miss George’s (Thawra Street), the
    only bar in town. The British pub ambience is true to style and feels as cosy
    as your favourite pair of slippers. Expect to pay no more than 60LE for a
    cocktail with imported liquors. We hear that their food is pretty outstanding
    as well. This just might be one of the coolest bars in Egypt!

    In Case You’re Too
    If you take a little too much liking to George’s
    or are just too tired to head back to Cairo, the Mercure Forsan Island provides serenity and a beautiful view. Located just down the street from George’s,
    the Crocodile Inn (approximately
    75LE per room) is a no-frills hotel and an ideal location for exploring the old
    European quarters of Ismailia.