Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was one of the ancient world’s centers of learning. Today, Egypt’s second city combines Mediterranean charm with a wealth of Greek and Roman ruins. With one day in Alexandria, you can take in the city’s essential ancient sights, savor delicious seafood, stroll royal gardens, and more. Here’s how.
Start the day off right by discovering Alexandria’s essential ancient attractions. Tour the Serapeum, a Greco-Egyptian temple dedicated to the god Serapis. On the same site, don’t miss Pompey’s Pillar, a 100-foot (30-meter) red-granite column that’s an icon of the city. Next, descend into the mysterious Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, home to three stories of underground tombs and chambers dating back to Roman times. Admire the beautifully preserved Roman amphitheater with its white-marble seats (don’t miss the mosaics at the villas on the site), then journey to the waterfront corniche for a Mediterranean seafood lunch.
In ancient times, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the wonders of the world, towering 328 feet (100 meters) above the Mediterranean. After it finally collapsed, during the 14th century AD, many of its stones were used to create the pretty sea fort that occupies its site: the Citadel of Qaitbay. Tour the fort (a guide can point out the pillars that once formed part of the lighthouse), then ride along the corniche and across the Stanley Bridge to the Montazah Palace Gardens. Follow in the footsteps of modern Egyptian kings as you stroll these lush waterfront grounds.
Just as the Nile corniche forms a centerpiece of Cairo, Alexandria’s corniche is a focal point of the city. As the sun sets, enjoy a traditional Egyptian experience—a horse-and-carriage ride along the waterfront. Next, travel back to the bohemian days of the 1940s and the world of novelist Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, with dinner at Abou el Sid, a stylish Egyptian restaurant kitted out with pieces from the iconic Pastroudis Café. Wrap up the night by returning to the waterfront, and raise a glass to the city of Alexander from a rooftop bar at a luxury hotel.