Alexandria Destination Guide
People who come to Alexandria for a peek into history will not be disappointed as it is full of ancient monuments and landmarks. Vestiges of Alexandria’s illustrious past, of a golden age of fame and wealth and legendary heroes, of seafarers and maritime exploits and of Cleopatra, the famous queen of Egypt, are still visible all over the city and even in the sea. Must see attractions in Alexandria include the Roman Amphitheatre, Pompey’s Pillar and the Catacombs.
The Mediterranean Sea lines much of Alexandria offering tourists miles of stunning coastline and soft sandy beaches to enjoy.
Among the more modern landmarks, the beautiful Abbas al-Mursi Mosque, the Corniche and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina are not to be missed. The city’s harbours and the sea bed all around are awash with ancient submerged treasures which make it ideal for diving expeditions. The numerous beaches along the coastline provide ample opportunities for swimming, sailing and water sports like jet skiing and wake boarding.
This Alexandria Destination Guide gives information about some of the best things to see and do in Alexandria during your vacation. While many of these sites can be seen independently, you may find it more convenient, and often more educational, to take a tour with a local company - for bookable tours throughout Alexandria take a look at our Alexandria tours page. We also offer Alexandria hotels to complement your Alexandria, Egypt vacation. General country information can be found by visiting our Egypt Country Guide.
Things To See & Do in Alexandria
Follow the links below or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting Alexandria tourist attractions:
Built in 1775 over the tomb of the saint Ahmed Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi, the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque is a beautiful structure. The many major renovations it has undergone over the years have made it even more ornate. It now has walls covered with artificial stones, huge granite pillars, a 73 m tall minaret, beautiful carved wooden doors and windows, coloured glass skylights and marble floors.
Women are not allowed inside the mosque but can view the mausoleum.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a modern library and research centre constructed in 2002 on the site of the famous ancient library of Alexandria. It has 8000 ancient manuscripts and rare books in its collection. Built with UNESCO cooperation, the beautiful library complex faces the sea and has a big conference centre and a planetarium. It is open on all days except Tuesdays.
Built in 1892 as a summer residence for the king of Egypt, the Al-Montazah Palace is beautiful and is surrounded by wonderful gardens. Located along the coastline, the palace is built in Moorish style architecture, has a beautiful tower and a small bridge that leads to the sea. Now used by the president of Egypt, the palace itself is off-limits to the public but the gardens are available for public use. One of the few green spaces in Alexandria, the palace gardens are beautifully maintained, has lots of exotic flowers, palms and other plants, and a gazebo right in the centre. It is a great picnic spot and offers a great view of the sea.
A temple originally constructed by Cleopatra in honour of Mark Anthony, it is also thought to be the place where Cleopatra committed suicide. Once a grand temple complex with libraries, parks and porticoes, it was destroyed in 912 AD. Only a few parts and foundations of the original temple remains today but the site is still an important tourist centre.
Damanhur near Alexandria is a quintessential Egyptian town. Attractions include war memorials and the cemetery at El Alamein.
Fort Qaitbey was built in 1480 AD by the Marmeluke Sultan Qaitbey to protect the city against crusaders from the sea. Located at the far end of the Corniche on what was once the site of the famous ancient lighthouse of Alexandria, the fort overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and offers and excellent view of the sea and the city. It is an imposing structure that has stood the test of time and the constant battering from the sea for so long. It now houses a naval museum and there are plans to build an underwater museum to showcase the many archaeological discoveries made in recent times.
The fort is open to visitors from 9 am to 6 pm, except in winter when it closes earlier.
The Graeco-Roman Museum dates back to the period in history (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD) when Greeks and Romans played a huge role in Alexandrian fortunes. The place is full of mosaics, pottery and other fascinating artefacts and there is also a charming garden full of statues from the Hellenistic and Roman era.
The museum opens at 9 am and closes at 4 pm.
Kom el-Dikka, which translates to a ‘mound of rubble,' is a well preserved Roman amphitheatre. The amphitheatre itself is not a big structure but excavations nearby are starting to reveal the ruins of the Roman city. Located on the Raml Station Square, the place is open to visitors from 9 am to 4 pm.
Kom el-Shuqafa Catacombs is a vast Roman burial site which dates back to the 1st century AD and houses more than 300 tombs. A remarkable feat of rock cut architecture, the tombs laid out along an underground network display great technological knowhow and artistic excellence. The intricate decorative artwork seen here is unique and is a fusion of ancient Egyptian artistry with that of Greek and Roman styles. Situated near Pompey's Pillar, the Catacombs are open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm.
Housed in a restored palace, the National Museum is a history museum and contains more than 1800 historical artefacts from prehistoric, Pharonic, Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic times. Opened in 2003, the museum is centrally located close to the train station and is open to visitors from 9 am to 4 pm.
Pompey’s Pillar, a great red granite column that stands 30 m high with a diameter of 2.7 m, is the tallest ancient monument still intact in Alexandria. The pillar thought to have been erected in 297 AD stands amidst the ruins of the Serapeum, which was an acropolis built to honour the Egyptian god Serapis. Nothing much of the Serapeum remains now except a few sphinxes but the single shaft pillar is really impressive.
A traditional market place, Attarine Souk is a labyrinth of narrow streets with hundreds of small shops on either side. First time visitors will find shopping here a novel experience with all the haggling around and the assortment of stuff on offer. It is an ideal place to look for souvenirs, antiques and gifts, and with a bit of bargaining you can get some good deals here.
A wonderful 15 km long road and walkway along the beachfront, the Corniche is dotted with restaurants, casinos, historical sites and markets. Some of the attractions along the Corniche include Cavafy Museum, the Roman amphitheatre, Ramla Square, Tahrir Square and the Attarine shopping district. A great place for a stroll and to enjoy the soft breeze from the Mediterranean, its many restaurants also serves fresh and delicious seafood and traditional cuisine. The place is a top favourite with tourists, city dwellers from Cairo and the young.
Fine beaches stretch from one end of Alexandria to the other, about 140 km in all, right up to Mersa Matrouh. The beaches in Alexandria are very popular with tourists and the ones in the city can get a bit crowded in summer especially with city folk from Cairo also making a bee line to the beaches to get away from the stifling heat. But there are plenty of beaches, including some secluded ones in outlaying areas and most have calm clear waters ideal for swimming and other water sports. Some of the popular beaches are Maamura, Shatby, Mersa Matrouh, Montaza Assafra, Al-Abyad Miamy, Sidi Bishr, Ageebah cove, San Stefano and Ibrahimia.
A wealth of ancient artefacts, ruins and treasures lie under the water along Alexandria’s bays and harbours, probably unmatched in any other city in the world. This makes diving a popular past time in Alexandria and there are many diving clubs in Alexandria catering to the demands of tourists and local enthusiasts alike. Exploring under water among the ruins, which include parts of the ancient lighthouse of Alexandria near Qaitbey Fort, can be an exhilarating experience.