Seaside Bur Sa‘id is a charming and lively town with a decidedly European feel—and fading glamour from the era of the big ocean liners. Much of the architecture is French colonial in style, giving the city a slight resemblance to the New Orleans French Quarter. It is a pleasant town to roam around in and to enjoy the seafront and canal-side promenades—think of it as a less-crowded, more tranquil alternative to Alexandria—but it isn't the kind of place that screams for a stop if you're in Egypt to see antiquities.
The city was founded in 1859 by Khedive Sa‘id, in time for the start of excavation. Much of the area is built on sand fills from the digging of the canal. During the Arab-Israeli wars, most of the city was bombed, and parts of it still haven't been restored. At the north end of town, Bur Sa‘id's Mediterranean beach has limited appeal, in part because of its unswimmable, polluted waters.