Best Things To Do in Cairo
Some visitors are satisfied with a tour of the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, but there is so much more to this city. If it's ancient ruins that draw you to Egypt's capital, carve out some time for the archeological sites of Dahshur, Memphis and Saqqara. For a dose of Egypt's religious past, explore Salah El-Din Citadel and the historic Islamic Cairo and Coptic Cairo neighborhoods. Further insight into Egypt's past can be gained at the Egyptian Museum. When you're in need of a break from Cairo's historic locales, relax in Al Azhar Park or barter for goods at a Khan El-Khalili bazaar. And as dusk sets in over Cairo's sandy terrain, witness the monuments glow in the orange light of the setting sun as you enjoy a felucca ride on the Nile.
Updated June 10, 2019
- #1View all PhotosRead More
This neighborhood in southern Cairo is the oldest part of the city, with twisting alleyways and ancient churches that are several centuries older than the ornate mosques of Islamic Cairo. According to legend, it was St. Mark who introduced Christianity to Egypt, and it was here that Africa's first Christian church – the Coptic Church of Egypt – thrived. To learn more about Coptic Cairo's rich history, check out neighborhood attractions like the Coptic Museum and the ninth-century Hanging Church, which are housed within an ancient Babylonian fortress. You'll also find significant Jewish and Islamic locales here, including the Mosque of Amr Ibn al-Aas – the oldest mosque in Africa – and Ben Ezra Synagogue – the alleged site where the pharaoh's daugher found Moses floating in his basket.
Past visitors said visiting Coptic Cairo is a must, even if you're not religious. History lovers will appreciate the area's abundance of historic sights, while architecture buffs will enjoy gazing at the neighborhood's beautiful mosaics and woodwork. Plus, Coptic Cairo's narrow alleys are lined with street vendors selling a variety of goods.
- #2View all PhotosRead More
This sprawling neighborhood in eastern Cairo encompasses a labyrinth of twisting alleyways and a spattering of awe-inspiring architecture. The atmosphere here will take some getting used to: The streets are crowded, noisy and littered with animal droppings. But if you take the time to adjust to Islamic Cairo's chaotic environment, you won't regret making the trek.
You'll find a number of top attractions here, including Khan El-Khalili's bazaar and the Salah El-Din Citadel. According to past visitors, no matter where you wander in the area, you'll stumble upon archeological treasures and architectural gems. To see Islamic Cairo's sights, get out and walk or tag along on an organized bus tour. Bus tours – like those offered by Memphis Tours and Egypt Tailor Made Tours – include local guides, so if you want to learn more about the neighborhood's history, this is the best way to get around.
- #3View all PhotosRead More
Cairo's most popular attraction, the Pyramids of Giza, draw thousands of visitors every year. As one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, these pyramids have stood the test of time, remaining intact for roughly 4,500 years. You'll find three primary pyramids, the best known being the Great Pyramid of Khufu – named after the Fourth Dynasty pharaoh buried there. Khafre, Khufu's son, lies entombed in the nearby Pyramid of Khafre. The third structure, the Pyramid of Menkaure, stands as the smallest of the Pyramids of Giza and was constructed by Khafre's successor to the throne, Menkaure.
You are welcome to explore the pyramids and the adjacent Great Sphinx after purchasing a Giza Plateau ticket. However, keep in mind that only 300 tickets are sold per day and additional fees apply for entering the pyramids. If you plan on visiting in the winter or want to beat Cairo's notorious heat, consider arriving early in the morning when plenty of tickets are still available and temperatures are a bit more comfortable.
- #4View all Photos#4 in CairoMonuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMonuments and Memorials, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
One of Cairo's must-see attractions is the Great Sphinx, the world's oldest monumental sculpture. Situated by the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx impresses with its size – it measures 66 feet high and 234 feet long – and unique appearance. The monument depicts a part pharaoh, part lion being, but archeologists are not sure who the figure is modeled after or when it was built. Two temples, one from the Old Kingdom and another from the New Kingdom, sit next to the sphinx.
Past travelers said the best way to see the Great Sphinx is to sign up for a bus tour. Some prearranged tours – including those offered by Memphis Tours and Love Egypt Tours – will give you special access to select areas of the site, plus admissions fees are included in tour rates. You'll also gain more insight about the monument than you would without a guide. If you'd rather have a quintessential Egyptian experience, pay extra to explore the area by camel.
- #5View all Photos