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Unless you plan to continue on to remote areas of the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria, there is little reason to come by car. Taxis within the city are inexpensive, and parking is so difficult that a car is more trouble than it's worth. On top of that, the two highways connecting Cairo and Alexandria—the Delta and Desert roads—are both plagued by fatal car crashes. If you still want to come by car, the Desert Road, which starts near the Pyramids in Giza, is the faster route, taking roughly three hours. If you do come by car, avoid driving at night.
If you are brave enough to elect to drive to Alex, you'll find traffic relatively orderly compared to that of Cairo. Streets are less crowded, and drivers are better about obeying traffic regulations. The governor has even instituted a no-horns policy, complete with wooden cutout policemen at intersections to remind drivers. Although it's not totally effective, you'll notice far less horn noise than in Cairo.
The main road in Alexandria is the Corniche—technically 26th of July Street, but no one calls it that—which runs along the waterfront from Fort Qayt Bay all the way to Montazah. East of Eastern Harbor, the Corniche is mostly called Tariq al-Geish. Unless you park on a hill, be sure to leave your car in neutral, because people will push it around a bit to maximize parking space.
You can rent a car (without a driver) from Avis, Alex Car, or Target Limousine; the latter can also provide you a car with a driver.
Avis. Cecil Hotel, Maydan Sa'd Zaghlul, Raml Station, Alexandria, 21311. 03/485–7400. www.avis.com.
Target Limousine. Helnan Palestine Hotel, Montazah Gardens, Alexandria, 21919. 03/547–4033.
San Stefano Company. 186 Shar'a Abdel Salem Arefz St., San Stefano, Alexandria, 21532. 03/585–6963.