For those looking for a great adventure in Egypt, Cairo should be on your bucket list! So here is my selection of the best places to visit in Cairo – good news, it can all be done in two days! Then, you can continue your trip by going to visit Upper Egypt temples in Luxor and Aswan. Don’t forget to download the best travel apps on your mobile, you will need them during your journey to Egypt!
Be ready for the cultural shock especially while arriving in the capital – some people will feel overwhelmed by the noisy crowd and the hectic traffic – but that’s definitely part of the travel adventure!
Indeed, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was saying: “Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting.”
The Great Pyramids of Giza
Indeed, everyone has heard of Cairo for The Great Pyramids – these iconic monuments being part of the ancient wonders of the World! However, the Pyramids are not exactly in Cairo, but in Giza, the next city nearby.
If you are based in Cairo, it will take you around 45 minutes by Uber to reach the site. Ask your driver to bring you to the main gate, you will be able to buy your ticket and directly face the Sphinx!
The site is quite big, so you will meet some locals trying to rent you a horse or a camel for a tour.(choose wisely as some do not treat well the animals) Both animal transportations will enable you to go through the desert and have access to a very special view with all the pyramids aligned as seen on your entrance ticket. However, by walking you will access all the areas, from the Sphinx (where you will have to take a mandatory kiss picture!) to The Great Pyramids itself where you will be invited to even enter inside! (a small fee will allow you access to a narrow and dark tunnel leading to the empty Chamber of the Pharaon)
Until 1310, the Pyramid de Keops was the highest human-built monument on Earth!
While on the site, do not miss the authentic and massive wooden boat that was used to transport stones in the ancient time! It was discovered during an excavation next to the Pyramids and is now exposed and preserved inside the museum built next to the Pyramids.
The Egyptian Museum
This museum is the home of Ancient Egypt gems – making it a Must-See during your visit to Cairo! The stately building has an orange facade, making it easily noticeable by the tourists. However, its “big brother” is expected to open in Giza by the end of 2020 so hurry up if you still want to visit the Egyptian Museum located in the famous Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.
- The entrance ticket for foreigners costs 160 LE.
- Be aware that you will have to buy an additional ticket 50 LE to take pictures with a professional camera inside the museum – excluding the Tutankhamen exhibition room and the mummies exhibition room.
- Honestly, I would recommend taking a guided tour, as it will give you Ancient Egypt history knowledge and a deeper understanding of all the artefacts you will see during the visit.
Located at the foot of the Pyramids of Giza, the magnificent Grand Egyptian Museum is expected to open its doors to the public by Q4 2020. The giant architecture covered with Alabaster and large windows will unveil more than 50,000 artefacts – making it the biggest museum in the world! (watch the video of the construction)
After your visit to the Egyptian Museum, you can immerse in the Egyptian culture by simply walking in the streets around and discover Downtown. Starting from Tahrir Square, walk in direction of the famous Talaat Harb Square, and look-up to discover the old charming yellow buildings that have been recently renovated, offering a real travel in time! The new pedestrian Sherifeen street offers a peaceful stroll in the middle of the hectic downtown! For the most adventurous, go and try the metro, which reveals beautiful artefacts and wall mosaics!
For a beautiful Nile view in Downtown, I suggest you walk in direction of the Opera House by crossing the Qasr El Nile Bridge with its massive lion statues overlooking the Cairo Tower in its background.
The Souq – Khan Al Khalili
For those looking for a souvenir, the souq is a compulsory passage! Khan Al Khalili is the most famous and touristy in town – open your eyes and choose from a wide variety of souvenirs – from papyrus paintings, Egyptian designed jewellery, alabaster pyramids, copper lanterns to even unique camel dolls!
The Citadel of Mohamed Ali
Also known as the Citadel of Saladin, this impressive monument stands on the top of the hill in busy Cairo. The most popular monument remains the grand mosque, where Mohamed Ali was buried inside.
You will be invited to remove your shoes to enter this religious monument built in the 19th century. The paintings are still in very good shape and the arcades offer an impressive perspective of the building. However, the most surprising part remains the interior of the mosque, as soon as you step inside, dum lights attract your eyes to look-up and discover majestuous ceilings, especially with the perspective of the domes.
The Mosque of Mohamed Ali was inspired by the famous Sainte Sophie Basilica in Instanbul, Turkey. The monument is famous for being entirely covered with Alabaster, a semi-precious stone used in Egypt. Beautiful by day, but honestly it deserves to be seen by night, the scenery is simply spectacular with its purple and pink lighting on the facade!
The Hanging Church
Located in the Coptic neighbourhood, the Hanging Church is known for being the most ancient church in Cairo (built in the 3rd century). Indeed, the main entrance unveils beautiful and colourful mosaics, leading to stairs that make you enter the religious building and discover a surprising decor made of inlay dark wood.
St George Church
Located just nearby, discover the St George Church which was built in the 10th century. This impressive religious building welcome visitors with beautiful wall mosaics but not only, as the surprising part remains its main dome supported by pink marble pillars – a beautiful piece of art!
For those staying a bit longer, explore some unusual places in Cairo
Blue Nile Boat – Anapos Deck
If you are looking for a cool afternoon by the pool with festive vibes or simply a good spot to watch the sunset – the Anapos Deck will be your address! Located in Maadi, the Blue Nile Boat offers the only infinity pool with Nile (and even Pyramids) view on its rooftop! It is also the best place to watch the sunset!
- The place is very selective and you will have to book in advance via their Instagram account.
- Entrance ticket is 400 LE for a day-use (9 am to 6 pm) redeemable in food and drinks.
Yes, believe it or not, you can ski in Egypt and even meet Sultan – a royalty of its kind! Indeed it seems a bit crazy, but the Mall of Egypt welcomes visitors in a cold atmosphere (-2°C) to Ski Egypt – a massive indoor amusement park where kids and grown-up can enjoy the winter vibes through ski slopes, snow rides and penguins’ shows! All the equipment is provided to keep you warm, I can promise you it is gonna be an experience you will remember!
Best travel tips
Best guided tour
I would highly recommend the services of Mina Samir – he is such a great guide, very knowledgeable about Egyptian History but also a great photographer that will make sure to click your best memories in Egypt!
If you are on a budget, you can look at the services of Get Your Guide as they propose professional guided-tours for a very competitive price.
Best cruising restaurant on the Nile
Nile Maxim – for a delicious dinner on the Nile accompanied with live music and local performances (belly dancer) – a Nile cruise is a must-do to enjoy the city by night!
Best luxury hotels to stay in Cairo
Kempinski Palace Royal Maxim – for the Palace feeling and its proximity to the Airport
Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah – for the Nile View and its central location in Downtown
Marriott Mena House – for the romantic view of The Great Pyramids of Giza
Hidden gem – a romantic Airbnb
Wishing you a happy adventure in Egypt!
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