One of the most iconic and mysterious Seven Wonders of the World, the Pyramids of Giza still live up to more than 4,000 years of hype. Seeing them is a must on any trip to Cairo, and there are a number of options available to make the most of your visit. Full-day tours often combine the pyramids with a trip to the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, while others include a cruise on the River Nile.
Great Pyramid of Giza (Khufu)
The largest of the three pyramids at Giza, this mammoth structure is said to have taken more than 20 years to build. Inside, the Great Pyramid features three chambers: a lower one cut out from the bedrock, plus the Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber, which are higher up within the structure.
Pyramid of Khafre
Khafre is set on higher ground than Khufu, giving the illusion that it is taller, although it is, in fact, smaller and younger. The structure retains some of its original limestone casing at its apex, making it possible to imagine how the pyramid might have looked in ancient times (We mainly see only the underlying core of the pyramids today).
Pyramid of Menkaure
The smallest and youngest of the Giza Pyramids, Menkaure is less than half the height of Khufu. This structure's lower layers consist of red granite, while its upper layers were originally made of white limestone.
The Great Sphinx
This huge monument was carved from the bedrock of the Giza Pyramid site. With the head of a human and the body of a lion, the Sphinx measures in at 239 feet long (73 meters), 62 feet wide (19 meters), and more than 65 feet tall (20 meters).
The easiest way to visit the pyramids is by guided tour from Cairo or Giza. It is also possible to arrive by bus from Heliopolis via Tahrir Square or by taxi from Cairo's center. There are two entrances: the main entrance is at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza (Khufu), and the secondary entrance is via the village of Nazlet as-Samaan, below the Sphinx. Once there, you can choose to walk or take a camel ride around the complex. Some guided options include the separate tickets necessary to enter the pyramids, but if arriving independently, note that these tickets are limited to 300 per day. Climbing on the pyramids is strictly banned.
Did You Know? Each pyramid is dedicated to a different pharaoh from the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom. Most theories about how the pyramids were built agree that they were constructed by thousands of workers quarrying huge stone blocks from the Nile, then dragging and lifting them into place.