Saqqara#7 in Best Things To Do in Cairo
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 dates back to the Third Dynasty (2649 to 2575 B.C.) and was constructed for the pharaoh Djoser by the now infamous architect Imhotep. Originally built as a tomb, the Step Pyramid has drawn tourists for millennia, as evidenced by the graffiti adorning its walls.
While the Step Pyramid is a definite must-see, Saqqara is home to several other worthwhile sites, including a number of tombs and a few crumbling pyramids. Recent visitors recommended wearing sneakers since the area is sandy. And if you want to enjoy comfortable temperatures while exploring the site, avoid visiting during the summer.
To reach Saqqara, you can take a taxi from central Cairo or book a bus tour that includes a visit to Saqqara. (Bus tour prices to Saqqara average around $100.) The site welcomes visitors every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (or until 3 p.m. during Ramadan). Admission to Saqqara – which includes entry to the Step Pyramid of Djoser and the on-site Imhotep Museum – costs 80 Egyptian pounds ($9) for adults and 40 Egyptian pounds (less than $5) for students. Restrooms are available by the parking lot, and vendors sell water and souvenirs near the site's entrance.
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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.
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