10 Things to Do in Cairo in January

Cairo is one of those destinations that every travel enthusiast should visit at least once in their lifetime. In January, you'll be spared the sweltering summer heat, but you'll find plenty of tourists.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

8 min read

10 Things to Do in Cairo in January

Cairo | ©Simon Berger

If you've chosen January to visit all of Cairo's attractions, you're in luck. Seeing the pyramids without sweltering in the heat, attending an extraordinary book fair or seeing how the country' s Copts celebrate Christmas are just some of the things you can do in Cairo if you travel during this month. I can assure you that it's an experience that will leave a lasting impression on any traveller.

1. Visit the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx without having to endure the summer heat of over 40 degrees Celsius.

The Sphinx| ©Jorge Láscar
The Sphinx| ©Jorge Láscar

The biggest advantage of doing this visit in January is, obviously, not having to do it completely drenched in sweat and unable to breathe properly because of the heat. Although you will find many tourists, the walk along the esplanade where these magnificent monuments are located will be much more pleasant.

Few monuments in the world need less introduction than the pyramids of Giza. They are the only surviving example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a designation you'll no doubt understand when you see them.

Although you can visit them on your own, I recommend booking a tour to Giza from Cairo that includes an expert guide who will explain the history of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos.

Practical information

  • Where: about 30 minutes from the centre of Cairo.
  • Hours: 07:00 am to 7:30 pm. Entrance to the interior of the pyramid is from 8.30am to 4pm.
  • Price: The organised tour can be purchased for €14. Entrance to the enclosure costs €11; entrance to the Great Pyramid costs €22. Entry to the Pyramid of Chephren costs about €5.5.

Book your tour of the pyramids of Giza

2. Go browsing at Cairo International Book Fair

Cairo International Book Fair| ©Faris knight
Cairo International Book Fair| ©Faris knight

If, like me, you are a book lover and you are in Cairo at the end of January, you must visit the Heliopolis neighbourhood to attend the city's International Book Fair, which is held at the Nasr City exhibition centre

. This book fair is the most important in the Arab world and has a space dedicated to antique books where you are sure to find some interesting copies. Most of the lectures during this event, as well as many of the books, are in Arabic, but there are always plenty of titles in other languages. In addition, the atmosphere of this cultural event is certainly very interesting and it is worth spending some time wandering around.

And if you're a fan of culture, you can't miss a guided tour of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo- you'll be amazed by all the art it has to offer!

Book a guided tour of the Egyptian Museum of Cairo

3. Spend a few hours in Ain El Sokhna

Ain El Sokhna| ©Ahmadpontymageed
Ain El Sokhna| ©Ahmadpontymageed

Despite popular belief, January weather in Cairo can be cool at times. One of the best places to avoid these temperatures is to head to Ain El Sokhna, a place whose name can be translated as 'hot springs' or 'thermal springs'.

It's actually a town on the shores of the Red Sea to which Cairoites often escape on weekends. Just an hour and a half from the capital, these beaches are never short of sunshine, and even in January temperatures are easily above 20 degrees Celsius, as is the water temperature.

The beaches are truly excellent, with soft, well-maintained sand. If you wish, you can also go snorkelling to see the fabulous marine life in the area, from coral gardens to colourful reef fish.

Book a Cairo falucca tour

4. Attend the Winter Festival in Zed Park

Winter Festival at Zed Park| ©Joaquim
Winter Festival at Zed Park| ©Joaquim

We all know that a visit to Cairo is a full immersion in history and art. However, there can also be time for fun. In January, few places are better for a good time than the Winter Festival at Zed Park, located in Sheikh Zayed in the capital's 10th district.

The large Zed Park site features everything from a huge Ferris wheel to a merry-go-round reminiscent of the ones they put on in Paris at Christmas to an ice rink. In addition, every weekend there are different musical performances, plays, parades and even carnival activities.

Of course, there is also an area dedicated to Egyptian food where you will find the best dishes of its gastronomy.

5. Discover how Copts celebrate Christmas

Streets of the Coptic Quarter| ©rsaezn
Streets of the Coptic Quarter| ©rsaezn

The Egyptian population is almost entirely Muslim and therefore does not celebrate Christmas. However, if you've travelled to Cairo in January, you'll be able to find out how the country's Christian minority, the so-called Copts, experience the holiday.

The Coptic Quarter, the area of Cairo where most of this community lives, is a must-see for anyone visiting the Egyptian capital, and in fact, it is one of the most popular guided tours.

If you can visit the neighbourhood at this time of year, you will see all the churches decorated. One striking aspect is that each church chooses its own style of decoration and that the decorations are made by the community itself.

What all these churches do have in common is a Christmas tree. The Copts claim that the tradition of putting up such trees originated in Egypt, when a palm tree with twelve leaves was used to symbolise the year.

Useful information:

  • Where: in the Coptic quarter of Cairo.
  • When: The birth of Jesus is celebrated on 7 January.

6. Imitate the Cairoites and escape the January crowds at the Aquarium Grotto Garden.

Grotto Garden Aquarium| ©AGGA3
Grotto Garden Aquarium| ©AGGA3

Amidst the asphalt of Cairo, it's possible to find a charming green space where you can relax and escape for a few hours from the crowds that fill the city's streets, especially during the peak tourist season such as January. One of the best places to go is the Aquarium Grotto Garden, where many local families flock to have a good time.

This garden is located in Zamalek and was established as a place of recreation for the nobility in 1867. Much later, an aquarium was added to the premises. It can be visited daily between 9:00 and 17:00.

Feel like relaxing even more? Top off an afternoon at the aquarium with a Nile cruise that includes a buffet dinner and a live Tanoura and belly dance performance. More than appetising!

Book a Nile cruise with dinner

7. Take a trip to Alexandria at one of the best times of the year!

Alexandria| ©jesus valencia
Alexandria| ©jesus valencia

There are several places around Cairo that are worth a visit. Unfortunately, some of them are very uncomfortable to visit in summer, as the high temperatures in the desert area don't make it too comfortable. January, with its mild or somewhat cool weather, is the best time to take a trip to Alexandria from Cairo.

Founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, in this ancient city you can visit landmarks such as the ancient Roman amphitheatre, the Alexandrian library, Fort Qaitbey and the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa.

The cultural and archaeological heritage of this city will leave you amazed, as Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks and British have all passed through it. A truly unmissable excursion.

Book a tour to Alexandria from Cairo

8. Stop to buy some of Cairo's traditional winter food.

Drink sahlab| ©Andres Noguera
Drink sahlab| ©Andres Noguera

It's true that winter in Cairo doesn't compare in terms of cold temperatures with other destinations further north. However, this doesn't mean that there aren't some winter foods to keep the body warm. When you stroll through the streets of the city, stop and buy some to try.

One of the most typical dishes in January is roasted sweet potatoes. You will actually be able to spot the stalls where they are sold from afar, as the aroma wafts through the street. The same goes for the delicious corn on the cob, which is very traditional at this time of year.

The Egyptians also have two drinks that are meant to be consumed during these months. The first is sahlab, a hot milk-based drink. The other has a slightly more complicated name, hummus el sham, which has a slightly spicy taste and is made with tomatoes and chickpeas.

9. The Cairo Opera House concert season

Cairo Opera House| ©Jessica Splain
Cairo Opera House| ©Jessica Splain

January is a particularly good time to attend one of the concerts or performances at the city's excellent Opera House. Not only will you get away from the **hustle and bustle of the city'**s streets for a while, but you can also take shelter from the breeze that can blow in at night.

The site actually houses seven different theatres of varying sizes. Although opera is the theatre's main attraction, you can also see plays, musicals, concerts and ballet performances.

It is also worth taking a stroll through the beautiful gardens surrounding the building and contemplating some of the statues dedicated to the country's great artists.

Useful information

  • Where: at the Opera House in the Zamalek quarter on Gezirah Island.
  • When: over the course of several months.
  • Price: depends on the show.

10. Dinner at the revolving restaurant in the Cairo Tower

Cairo Tower| ©Ahmedsantos
Cairo Tower| ©Ahmedsantos

If you want to have the best views of Cairo by night from above but think it might be a little too cold to stay outside for a long time, just head to the Zamalek district to find the right place: the Cairo Tower.

This beautifully latticed former telecommunications tower offers the possibility of dining in its superb revolving restaurant at the top. Not only will you enjoy a good dinner, but you'll also have the best possible view of the city without the risk of getting cold.

Weather in Cairo in January

Cairo's streets| ©ASaber91
Cairo's streets| ©ASaber91

One of the factors that make winter (including January) the high season for tourism is the mild temperatures. The average highs are around 19°C, while the average lows are around 10°C. This doesn't stop the weather from occasionally dropping to a mild, but pleasantly warm, temperature.

This does not prevent the nights from being a little colder and it is advisable to pack some warm clothes in your suitcase, but even so, these temperatures will not prevent you from strolling through the streets of the city at ease. In any case, it is always advisable to check the weather forecast shortly before travelling.