Crossing the Canal

Keen to travel across the waters of the Suez Canal but don’t have your own yacht? Not best buddies with the captain of a supertanker? Stroll down to the ferry terminal at the south-western end of Sharia Palestine in Port Said and hop aboard the free ferry to Port Fuad. Ferries leave about every 10 minutes throughout the day and the quick journey offers panoramic views of all the canal action.

Once deposited in Port Fuad (founded in 1925) head south from the quayside mosque to explore boulevards lined with sprawling French-inspired residences. Although the streets are now mired in litter and many of the villas teeter on the brink of decay, their sloping tiled roofs, lush gardens and wooden balconies hung with colourful washing still invoke the genteel splendour of a bygone era.

Waterfront Quarter

The historic heart of Port Said is located along the edge of the canal, on and around Sharia Palestine. Here, the waterfront seems infused with a ‘back in the good old days’ atmosphere; the streets are lined with late-19th-century and early-20th-century buildings replete with rickety wooden balconies, louvred doors and high verandahs. The raised boardwalk running all the way along Sharia Palestine affords sweeping views over the canal.

Take a stroll down Sharia Memphis past its decrepit Woolworth’s building down Sharia Al Gomhuriyya, to spot the archway entrances still announcing the Bible Society building and the Old Canal Shipping Agency building, and around the streets just north of the Commercial Basin. Along Sharia Palestine there are wonderfully odd colonial remnants, including the once highly fashionable Simon Arzt department store. At the very northern end of Sharia Palestine is an empty stone plinth. Originally this was to have been the site of what's now known as the Statue of Liberty. When funds were denied, the much smaller scale plinth was made and a statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps erected. It stood here until it was torn down in 1956 with the nationalisation of the Suez Canal.

East of here, on Sharia 23rd of July, is the Italian consulate building, erected in the 1930s and adorned with engraved propaganda from fascist dictator Benito Mussolini: ‘Rome – once again at the heart of an empire’.

Several blocks inland, on and around Sharia Salah Salem, there is an impressive collection of churches, including the Coptic Orthodox Church of St Bishoi of the Virgin and the Franciscan compound.

Port Fuad

Across the canal from Port Said is the genteel suburb of Port Fuad, founded in 1925. The streets near its quay invite a stroll, with sprawling residences, lush gardens and sloping tiled roofs that recall the one-time European presence in the area.