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Coptic Cairo (Old City) picture in Cairo
JakezC / Getty Images

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Details

  • Sightseeing, Neighborhood/Area Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.5
Overall
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  • Value
    5.0
  • Food Scene
    4.5
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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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.

The easiest way to get to Coptic Cairo is to take the Cairo Metro to Mar Girgis station, which sits across the street from the Coptic Museum. Select bus tour operators, such as Egypt Tailor Made Tours and Love Egypt Tours, include a stop at Coptic Cairo, and limited street parking is available. The area is free to visit, but bring money if you plan on buying items from the street vendors or entering the Coptic Museum. The Coptic Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., while most religious sites are open in the mornings for mass and during select afternoons for tours.

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#1 Islamic Cairo 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 ... Read more » Luis Davilla / Getty Images

#2 Coptic Cairo (Old City) 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 ... Read more » JakezC / Getty Images

#3 Pyramids of Giza 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 ... Read more » WitR / Getty Images

mfron / Getty Images

#5 Egyptian Museum The best way to follow up your trip to the pyramids is by visiting the Egyptian Museum. This massive facility contains more than 100,000 artifacts from ancient Egypt, including ... Read more » LUke1138 / Getty Images

#6 Salah El-Din Citadel You'll need to devote a whole day to the Salah El-Din Citadel, which is quite possibly the most popular non-pyramid attraction in Cairo. This massive fortress located in Islamic ... Read more » Michelle McMahon / Getty Images

#7 Saqqara Sandwiched between Giza and Dahshur in southern Cairo and surrounded by palm trees, this archaeological site houses the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt's oldest stone pyramid. The Step Pyramid ... Read more » Ferenc Wagner/EyeEM / Getty Images

#8 Khan el-Khalili For the best taste of Cairo's vibrant, chaotic personality, make a beeline to Khan el-Khalili. Overflowing into the narrow streets of Islamic Cairo, this bustling market serves as the ... Read more » bah69 / Getty Images

#9 Al Azhar Park Flanking the eastern edge of Islamic Cairo is Al Azhar Park, one of Cairo's largest parks. Formerly a garbage dump, Al Azhar Park now features an array of fountains ... Read more » efesenko / Getty Images

#10 Dahshur While the Pyramids of Giza steal most of the limelight, travelers looking to experience ancient Egypt without competing with crowds head to Dahshur. Located about 23 miles south of central ... Read more » Medioimages/Photodisc / Getty Images

#11 Memphis First founded in A.D. 969, Cairo is considered a very young capital by Egyptian standards. Before the founding of Cairo, the ancient city of Memphis reigned supreme. Neighboring Saqqara ... Read more » Dimos_istock / Getty Images

Islamic Cairo picture in Cairo
Coptic Cairo (Old City) picture in Cairo
Pyramids of Giza picture in Cairo
Great Sphinx picture in Cairo
Egyptian Museum picture in Cairo
Salah El-Din Citadel picture in Cairo
Saqqara picture in Cairo
Khan el-Khalili picture in Cairo
Al Azhar Park picture in Cairo
Dahshur picture in Cairo
Memphis picture in Cairo
Islamic Cairo picture in Cairo
Coptic Cairo (Old City) picture in Cairo
Pyramids of Giza picture in Cairo
Great Sphinx picture in Cairo
Egyptian Museum picture in Cairo
Salah El-Din Citadel picture in Cairo
Saqqara picture in Cairo
Khan el-Khalili picture in Cairo
Al Azhar Park picture in Cairo
Dahshur picture in Cairo
Memphis picture in Cairo

Islamic Cairo is home to numerous religious sites, including the Mohamed Ali Mosque Mosque and the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, both of which are located within the Salah El-Din Citadel. Luis Davilla / Getty Images

Elaborate tilework and stunning architecture await you in Coptic Cairo, where historic sites like the Hanging Church and the Babylon Fortress reside. JakezC / Getty Images

No Cairo attraction is more synonymous with Egypt than the Pyramids of Giza. WitR / Getty Images

Nestled within the Giza Plateau next to the Pyramids of Giza is the Great Sphinx, a part man, part lion statue made of limestone. mfron / Getty Images

Mummies, royal treasures and ancient Egyptian pottery are some of the items you'll find in the Egyptian Museum. LUke1138 / Getty Images

The Salah El-Din Citadel is home to several notable sites, including the Mohamed Ali Mosque and Gawhara Palace. Michelle McMahon / Getty Images

Saqqara's Step Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest stone pyramid in Egypt. Ferenc Wagner/EyeEM / Getty Images

Islamic Cairo's lively Khan el-Khalili bazaar is the place to go for souvenirs and spices. Just be prepared to haggle! bah69 / Getty Images

To escape the hustle and bustle of Cairo, head 3 miles east of the city center to Al Azhar Park. efesenko / Getty Images

One of the most recognizable pyramids in Dahshur is the Bent Pyramid, named for its curved shape. Medioimages/Photodisc / Getty Images

One of Memphis' most recognizable sights is its sphinx, which is made of alabaster and once stood outside the Temple of Ptah. Dimos_istock / Getty Images

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