Ismailia lies half way between the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Suez. Its location is on the Lake Timsah, which is part of the canal, allowing Isamilia everything needed to be a popular beach resort.
Parts of the original 19th century downtown Ismailia has several examples of colonial houses, and in one or two streets, careful restoration has brought back the look and almost the feel from the days of the 1930's.
But expect little, you soon run out of interesting streets and good phonograph angles. Ismailia is easily done in less than one hour!
The main attraction here is the house of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the mid-19th century director of the Suez Canal Company, who stayed here until the time of completion of the Suez Canal in 1869. The house is not open for casual visits, giving many visitors to Ismailia the feeling that it all was a waste of time.
Eat and Sleep
Reports on hotels vary much in Ismailia, but my personal experience from 2003 was horrible. I stayed in a cheap place, recommended by a travel guide, with a room that was disgusting and dirty. Up from that standard, it appears to be difficult to find something that fits the average independent budget.
Eating was much better, ending up in the Greek-run George's, where I ate Octopus Eggs. Friendly, brown, with a good kitchen and a decent bar, this is place definitely makes your hotel room easier to accept.
There are more restaurant options, too, making Ismailia a good place to eat.
Ismailia houses a peculiar annual festival, the Limbo Festival, one week after Easter. Dolls of whoever one hates or despises are burned in the streets after dark. It came about in reaction to the 19th century governor, Limbo Bey, who was deeply hated by locals.
Access to the beaches are regulated as private clubs. These are open for casual visitors, and the average entrance fee appears to be around EŁ30/person. This often include access to a lunch buffet.
Ismailia has very good connections to other urban centres of Egypt, both with buses and shared taxis. Examples of connections are 8 daily buses to El-Arish, between 10 and 20 departures to destinations like Sharm el-Sheikh or Cairo. Several smaller destinations also have direct connections, but with less departures depending on distance and the size of the destination.
Arranging for transportation is easy, all buses leaving from the same station, which you easily walk to from city centre, or take a taxi.
Trains are another option, but services here are less attractive than buses, fewer destinations, fewer departures and longer travel time.
Crossing the canal by your own vehicle, there is a car ferry 7 km to the north, and a new bridge 15 km north.
115 km south: Suez
115 km north: Port Said
115 km north: Port Fuad
180 km northeast: El-Arish
130 km southwest: Cairo
480 km south: Sharm el-Sheikh
480 km south: Hurghada