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Things to do in Cairo

Things to do in  Cairo

Welcome to Cairo

For many travelers, the Pyramids of Giza, along with the Sphinx, are the sole purpose of a visit to Cairo—and understandably so. Of the three pyramids (Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure), the largest, oldest, and most impressive is undoubtedly Khufu, or the Great Pyramid of Piza, which dates to 2600 BC. Standing 480 feet (147 meters) tall, it’s rightfully deserving of its title as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ride a camel around the pyramids for a look at their exteriors. For an additional cost, you can even enter these tombs of ancient Egyptian kings, though tickets are limited. Beyond the pyramids, Cairo is a wonder in and of itself. Situated on the banks of the Nile River in a location that’s been continually inhabited for thousands of years, it remains Egypt’s largest city, with a metropolitan area that’s home to 20 million people. Take some time to get to know the attractions in and around the city, which include the historic capital of Memphis, the Egyptian Museum, Alabaster Mosque, Citadel of Saladin, Khan el-Khalili bazaar, Old Cairo, and more. A guided tour will ensure a complete understanding of Cairo’s history and culture (and will prevent you from getting lost among the city’s winding streets). With easy access to the international Cairo Airport, Cairo also functions as a great hub for trips around Egypt, such as Nile River dinner cruises, multi-day tours of ruins, and day trips to Aswan, Alexandria, Sakkara, Fayoum Oasis, and Luxor.

Top 10 attractions in Cairo

#1

Egyptian Museum (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities)

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Without doubt, the exhibit that outshines everything else is the treasure of the young New Kingdom Pharaoh Tutankhamun - don't miss the astonishing solid-gold death mask. Other highlights include the Royal Mummy Room; the Amarna Room, devoted to Akhenaten, the Greco-Roman Mummies; the glittering galleries that display an astounding array of finery extracted from New Kingdom tomb; and the larger-than-life-size statue of Khafre (Chephren)More
#2

Khan Al-Khalili

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Jaundiced travelers often dismiss the Khan al-Khalili as a tourist trap; there's no ignoring the fact that it's a favored stop of tour buses and has all the associated annoyances (touts and tat) that come with them. But it's worth remembering that Cairenes have plied their trades here since the founding of the Khan in the 14th century - the buying and selling didn't begin with the arrival of the first tour group. Today the market still plays an important role in the day-to-day commercial life of thousands of locals. In its narrow streets you can buy anything from shoes to souvenirs to clothes, chess sets, cushions, ceramics, brass, gold, silver, rugs, fabrics and on it goes.More
#3

Nile River

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Measuring 4,150 miles (6,680 kilometers) from end to end, the Nile River is the world’s longest and arguably the most important in the region. Egypt’s some 83 million residents, living along the edge of the pitiless Sahara Desert, have always relied on the waters of the Nile for basic sustenance. More than 240 riverboats sail up and down the waters of the Nile River between Luxor and Aswan, and cruising on one of them tops many an Egyptian travel itinerary. Along the way, you’ll make stops at a few of the countless temples dotting the shore, including the Temple of Edfu, built in honor of the god Horus and better maintained than any other Pharaonic structure along the river, and the Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek. At Aswan, marvel at the controversial Aswan High Dam, a feat of engineering responsible for harnessing the Nile and creating the world’s largest artificial lake.More
#4

Saqqara (Sakkara)

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Saqqara (or Sakkara) lies about 18 miles (30 km) south of Cairo and was the burial site for the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis, now in ruins. In the site of 4.4 by 0.9 miles (7 by 1.5 km) there is a sphinx, smaller than that at Giza at only 26ft by 13ft (8m by 4m), and several pyramids, the most famous of which is the stepped pyramid of Djoser dating from around 2,650 BC. This pyramid represented a major advance in building techniques being the first complete stone-hewn building in history. Previous to this, mudbrick and wood were used for tombs. Another 16 Kings also built their tombs at Saqqara and the area was used as a burial site until well into Roman times. In 1979, UNESCO named the area as a World Heritage Site.More
#5

Memphis

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The city of Memphis was the capital of ancient Egypt. It was the King's residence and the political and administrative centre until around 2,200 BC. It had impressive fortifications and temples, largely to Ptah, the god of creation and artworks. Estimates of population vary from 6,000 to 30,000 but either way, it was one of the larger, if not the largest, cities of its era. Archaeological digging in the area has uncovered a Temple of Ptah and sculptures, including a sphinx (smaller than the one at Giza but still impressive), and the Colossus of Ramses II. These are now housed in the outdoor Memphis Museum in Mit Rihina, the modern town in this area. In 1979, UNESCO designated the area a World Heritage Site.More
#6

Old Cairo (Misr Al-Qadima)

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Old Cairo is a relatively small area but it is rich with history. Also known as Coptic Cairo, Fustat (in reference to the first Muslim city established there), and Masr al-Qadima to the locals, it has been inhabited since the 6th century BC. It has been a Roman fort protecting trade routes, a Christian city from around the 5th century AD, a Muslim army camp from 641 AD, then Egypt's capital city until yet another conquest in the 10th century. The main interest these days is in its role as Coptic Cairo. The narrow cobbled streets contain the Religious Compound, full of churches including the Hanging Church (dedicated to the Virgin Mary and still in use), the oldest synagogue in Egypt, the remains of the Roman fortress, and the Coptic Museum. Just northeast is the site of ancient Fustat which contains the oldest mosque, Amr Ibn al-Aas.More
#7

Cairo Citadel (Citadel of Saladin)

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Sprawling over a limestone spur on the eastern edge of the city, the Citadel of Saladin (or Al-Qalaa) was home to Egypt's rulers for some 700 years. Their legacy is a collection of three very different mosques, including the Mosque of Mohamed Ali, several palaces (housing some underwhelming museums such as the police and military museums) and a couple of terraces with city views. The area was fortified around 1180 to protect it from the Crusaders. In the 1860s, ruler Khedive Ismail moved to newly built Abdin Palace, ending the citadel's role as the seat of government.More
#8

Dahshur

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Think of Dahshur as pyramid-proving grounds: Although not nearly as famous at the pyramids of Giza, the structures here pre-date the Great Pyramids and highlight the engineering progress and understanding that took place on the way from a stepped structure to a true pyramid. The royal necropolis at Dahshur comprises a two-mile (3.5-kilometer) field of pyramids that date back between the fourth and 12th dynasties, and although 11 structures once dotted the landscape, only two remain: the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid. Nearly identical in size, these two pyramids are the third-largest in the country after the two biggest at Giza. The Red Pyramid is the older of the two and the only one that visitors can actually enter.More
#9

Hanging Church (Al-Muallaqa)

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Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Hanging Church, which is still in use, is called the Hanging or Suspended Church as it is built on top of the Water Gate of Roman Babylon. Steep stairs lead from the forecourt to a 19th -century façade topped by twin bell towers. Beyond is a small inner courtyard, usually filled with sellers of taped liturgies and videos of the Coptic pope, Shenouda III. The interior of this 9th-century (some say 7th-century) church, renovated many times throughout the centuries, has three barrel-vaulted, wooden-roofed aisles. Ivory-inlaid screens hide the three haikal s (altar areas), but in front of them, raised on 13 slender pillars that represent Christ and his disciples, is a fine pulpit used only on Palm Sunday. One of the pillars, darker than the rest, is said to symbolize Judas. In the baptistry, off to the right, a panel has been cut out of the floor revealing the Water Gate below. From here there is a good view of one of the gate's twin towers.More
#10

Alabaster Mosque (Mosque of Muhammad Ali)

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The citadel of Saladin - and indeed, the Cairo skyline - is dominated by the Alabaster Mosque, or Mosque of Mohammed Ali. Modelled along classic Turkish lines, it took 18 years to build (1830 - 1848) although later the domes had to be rebuilt. It was commissioned by Mohammad Ali, ruler of Egypt from 1805 - 1849, who lies in the marble tomb on the right as you enter. Perhaps the most evocative description of it is in Olivia Manning's The Levant Trilogy: "Above them Mohammed Ali's alabaster mosque, uniquely white in this sand-coloured city, sat with minarets pricked, like a fat, white, watchful cat." It has never found much favor with writers, who have criticized it for being unimaginative, lacking in grace and resembling a great toad. Note the chintzy clock in the central courtyard, a gift from King Louis-Philippe of France in thanks for the Pharaonic obelisk that adorns the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It was damaged on delivery and has yet to be repaired.More

Trip ideas

How to Choose a Giza Pyramids Tour

How to Choose a Giza Pyramids Tour

How to Spend 3 Days in Cairo

How to Spend 3 Days in Cairo

Alexandria Day Trips from Cairo

Alexandria Day Trips from Cairo

Top activities in Cairo

Full-Day Luxor private Tour from Cairo by Plane

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Full-Day Luxor private Tour from Cairo by Plane

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Private Guided Day Tour to Luxor from Cairo by Plane

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Private Guided Day Tour to Luxor from Cairo by Plane

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6-Days Nile Cruise Aswan to Luxor & Sleeper Train Round-trip

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6-Days Nile Cruise Aswan to Luxor & Sleeper Train Round-trip

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Recent reviews from experiences in Cairo

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Wonderful tour!
John_S, Nov 2020
Full-Day Tour from Cairo: Giza Pyramids, Sphinx, Memphis, and Saqqara
Very impressed with our guide’s knowledge and his fluency with English.
star-5
If you have no many time for sightseeing
Dmitry_M, Dec 2020
Full-Day Guided Private Tour to Pyramids of Giza Dahshur Sakkara and Memphis
I would recommend this tour when you have no time, like me and want to see many different places in one day.
star-5
Great experience
Bulat, Nov 2020
Day Trip To Fayoum From Cairo with lunch
We visited desert miracle Qaraun lake, Fayoum with it's countrystyle life and ancient castle as well as natural pearl of Egypt Wadi El Rayan waterfall near lake boats marina.
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Perfect Day with Amir
Randi, Nov 2020
Best Giza pyramids Sphinx Tour,Camel Ride, Lunch,Bazzar,Quad bike
I know with COVID people have their reservations about traveling, but if you choose to visit, PLEASEEE book this tour with Amir.
star-5
Day visit to Alexandria from Cairo
Andrew_B, Oct 2020
Private Guided Full-Day Tour to Alexandria from Cairo
Mohammed was very knowledgeable at all attractions and made our day pass very smoothly and without a hitch.
star-5
Wonderful Tour Guide and Amazing Tour
Morgan_D, Sep 2020
8-Hour Private Tour of the Pyramids, Egyptian Museum and Bazaar from Cairo
We got to see the good spots of Cairo like the Egyptian museum and the bazaar.
star-5
Wonderful Day Trip
Dan, Mar 2020
Private 8-hours Egyptian museum , Coptic Cairo and Islamic Cairo
Our guide was great, incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, humorous and his English was excellent.
star-4
Great religious tour of Cairo
Carlos, Mar 2020
4-hours private Tour to Islamic Mosque and Coptic Cairo
Just a bit overpriced compared to other tours that include food and a full day of activities.
star-5
Perfect Transfer
David_S, Mar 2020
Private Departure Transfer from Hotels in Cairo or Giza to Cairo International Airport
I would use them again if I were to visit Cairo.
star-5
Prompt
Edwin_C, Feb 2020
Round-Trip Airport Transfer in Cairo or Giza
Driver gave us some history about Cairo and his English was pretty good.
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Alexandria Day Tour
aljohngalura, Feb 2020
Alexandria Day Tours From Cairo Daily Trip To Alexandria From Cairo Giza hotels
3 hour drive from Cairo and there's plenty to see and do
star-5
Amazing experience
ahmedimam1977, Feb 2020
Sound and Light Show at Giza Pyramids
Show was amazing, professional driver showed up on time and spoke English, car was clean.
star-5
Very busy, but interesting
NathanDickinson484, Jan 2020
Private Cairo Half Day Tour Visit Egyptian Museum
Was good to visit the museum, and learn about cairo and egypt.
star-5
Amazing tour to see the highlights on Cairo
dominicjpd, Jan 2020
2-Day Ancient Egypt and Old Cairo Highlights Tour
Day 1 was the pyramids/desert activities and day 2 was inside Cairo (mosques, museums, and bazaar).
star-5
Great tour of pyramids made excellent by guide
VancityMichelle, Jan 2020
8-Hour Private Tour of the Pyramids, Egyptian Museum and Bazaar from Cairo
The whole point of our trip was to see the pyramids.
star-5
Great Tour
Kim L, Dec 2019
Day-Tour of Cairo Highlights and Giza Pyramids from Cairo
We only had one day to see the sights of Cairo.
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Welcome sight
Linda W, Oct 2019
Pickup from cairo airport to anywhere in Cairo
We were so happy to see Eslam holding a sign with our name on it outside the Cairo airport!
star-5
Best tour ever
iloveyou2019, Oct 2019
4-hours half day Giza pyramids ,sphinx , lunch and camel ride
I would recommend this tour to every friend that goes to visit cairo.
star-5
Excellent experience
bernardoc641, Jul 2019
Top Rated Private Customizable Day Tour to Alexandria from Cairo
I highly recommend to work with this company if you want to visit Alexandria from Cairo.
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Nile Boat Cruise
josephjames5, Jul 2019
Evening Dinner Nile Cruise in Cairo with Private Transport
Ali is very good in English,well spoken, very Hospitable and took real good care of my kids.

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