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Touring Egypt Like a Local: 6 Hidden Gems

September 27, 2021
Salt mountains in Port Fouad Photo via KAWA News
Salt mountains in Port Fouad
Photo via KAWA News

If you Google “tourist attractions in Egypt”, you will most likely end up with lists featuring the Giza pyramids, Luxor temples, Red Sea corals, and several museums in different cities. But Egypt is even more than that.

Like any other country, traveling around Egypt with a local can give you a richer and more enjoyable experience than traveling as a tourist on your own. Locals often know sites that would give tourists an authentic experience into the country, its people, and its diverse cities and culture.

To celebrate World Tourism Day, which is on September 27, Egyptian Streets compiled a list of some of the most unique experiences and best hidden gems in a few of Egypt’s greatest cities. This is a list of places that one may not necessarily find listed as tourist attractions when searching online, but are well worth visiting and experiencing.

Port Fouad’s salt mountains

Salt mountains in Port Fouad
Photo via KAWA News

Although snow is not the weather one would think of when traveling to or in Egypt, Port Fouad has spectacular snowy-looking salt mountains where one can experience the mesmerizing view of snow without the unbearable cold.

Located in Port Fouad, an industrial area in Port Said, these salty hills are a must-visit, especially in winter to give a real chilly feeling. It’s a wonderful place to visit, take pictures, and even attempt to ski. You can easily get there by taking a ferry ride through the Suez Canal.

Pottery paradise in Fayoum

Photo via Facebook

Most people know Fayoum because of the famed Tunis Village. However, Nazla Pottery Village is a place where potters use their own distinctive method to make terracotta pottery using ancient Egyptian techniques, where no mechanical processes are involved, and the pots are made at a low temperature.

The best part about this place is that the potters are friendly and will tell you all about their craft and spend time teaching it to you to let you gain the full experience.

Street food in Alexandria

Kebda (liver) sandwiches from Kebda El Falah
Photo via Restaurant Guru

If you’re into street food, then you cannot miss Kebda El Falah in Mahatet El Raml. As soon as you get there, you’ll notice a long queue, as well as people having more than ten sandwiches each. This is because they have small sandwiches with some of the best kebda (liver) in Egypt.

You can also head to the popular Alban Swesra in Camp Shizar if you like food that is drenched in cheese, but fair warning, it’s not for the lactose intolerant! To end the day, there’s nothing like El Selsela cafe, right next to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. This is a spot you do not want to miss; it’s both affordable and spacious, so you can go there on any day and still find a place to sit. Because of how close the water is to the seats, you will enjoy both the sound and the touch of the waves.

Wadi El-Natrun’s monasteries

Inside Anba Bishoy Monastery
Photo via khoroga

Egypt is home to some of the oldest monasteries in the world. Wadi El-Natrun, an area located 100 km from Cairo, on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert road, boasts four monasteries that date back to the fourth and the sixth century.

With relics of saints, as well as ancient churches and murals, Wadi El-Natrun counts as a special site for coptic monasticism. Due to repeated attacks on the monks and monasteries in Wadi El-Natrun in the past, only four out of 700 monasteries survived. These are the Monastery of Anba Bishoy, Monastery of El-Baramus, Monastery of El-Suryan, and Monastery of Abu Makar.

Seafood in Ismailia

Shrimps from Alfanar Restaurant
Photo via Facebook

Ismailia is the city where you can taste the best seafood in Egypt. Some Egyptians travel every other weekend to Ismailia to have a meal and head back, especially since it’s a two hour drive from Cairo. Located at El Belagat street, Alfanar Restaurant is one of the top-rated seafood restaurants across Egypt, not only Ismailia. It has reasonable prices, delicious seafood meals, and a breathtaking view of Egypt’s Suez Canal. Its price range is EGP 160 – EGP 390 per person.

Within the same price range, you can also visit another popular seafood restaurant called Hassan Abo Ali, located at Al Ahram street. This restaurant is widely known for its unmatched grilled prawns, fried fish, shrimp soup, among other tasty dishes.

Locals’ hospitality in Nag’ el-Balida

Photo via Journey to Egypt

The south of Egypt is home to the Nubian people, an indigenous group with its own language, as well as unique customs and traditions.

Nag’ el-Balida is a Nubian village with unrivaled hospitality. Residents of this village are always happy to welcome tourists and invite them to their homes for tea. Hop onto a ferry in Aswan and it will take you right there.

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