Three days in Alexandria gives you time to experience the essence of the city—and look beyond it. Besides taking in classical sights, royal gardens, contemporary architecture, and delicious food, you can enjoy a day trip, perhaps to the El Alamein War Cemetery or the ancient Coptic monasteries of Wadi Natrun. See below for how to do it.
Start the day by checking off the ancient signature sights of Alexander the Great’s city: the Serapeum and the dramatic column known as Pompey’s Pillar, the underground tombs of the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, and the Roman amphitheater. After a Mediterranean seafood feast at a waterfront restaurant, explore the Citadel of Qaitbay, which stands where the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria once towered. Go deeper into Alexandria’s history—including the remains submerged below the harbor—at the National Museum of Alexandria. Spend the evening on a street-food tour, sampling Middle Eastern favorites, such as kebabs, meze, and sticky pastries, as well as distinctively Egyptian fare such as koshary, with lentils, noodles, rice, and tangy tomato sauce. Finish with ice cream and Egyptian coffee.
In ancient times, the Great Library of Alexandria was as famous as the lighthouse—a beacon of knowledge that shone across the classical world. Today, the gleaming modern New Library of Alexandria stands in its place. Tour the groundbreaking structure, then discover some of the city’s mosques, perhaps the Nabi Daniel Mosque and the Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi. Discover the true scale of the corniche as you follow the waterfront, crossing the Stanley Bridge, to the Montazah Palace Gardens, where Egypt’s kings once played. When night falls, trade up to high-end Egyptian fare, with a dinner at Abou el Sid. Don’t miss classics such as molokhia, a green leafy vegetable with a unique texture, and grilled pigeon.
Spend your third day a little farther afield, with a day trip to one of several historical sights in the region. Second World War enthusiasts won’t want to miss El Alamein, where British and Commonwealth forces fought two great battles against troops led by Erwin Rommel, the Nazi general known as the Desert Fox; the war graves are a sobering sight. Ancient-history fans might opt for Rosetta, a city also known as Rashid, which gave the world the stone that finally cracked the hieroglyphic code. Alternatively, visit the extraordinary fortified monasteries of Wadi Natrun, first built by Coptic Christians fleeing Roman persecution. Back in the city, experience the corniche in true historical style, with a private horse-and-carriage ride. Wrap up your stay with a visit to one of the city’s elite hotels for dinner and drinks overlooking the Mediterranean.