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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 Giza, 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 15 attractions in Cairo

Egyptian Museum (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities)

A centerpiece of Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities) has been a mecca for Egyptologists since it opened and houses some of the world’s greatest ancient relics. While some collections are moving to the new Grand Egyptian Museum, it remains a must-see for anyone interested in ancient Egypt.More

Nile River

Measuring a mighty 4,150 miles (6,680 kilometers) from end to end, the Nile is the world’s longest river. It’s also the lifeblood of Egypt, flowing through the heart of the Sahara desert, and passing through cities, including Khartoum, Aswan, Luxor, and Cairo, before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria.More

Khan El-Khalili

With a history dating back to the 14th century, the Khan El-Khalili bazaar is Cairo’s signature shopping destination. It’s an intoxicating warren of streets, houses, and merchants selling everything from gold and spices to shisha pipes and toy camels, not to mention the inevitable scarabs, pyramids, and belly-dancer costumes.More

Giza Pyramids

One of the most mysterious Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (and the only one still standing), the Pyramids of Giza—the Great Pyramid of Khufu, Pyramid of Khafre, and Pyramid of Menkaure—still live up to more than 4,000 years of hype. Seeing these 4th-dynasty pyramids and their guardian Great Sphinx rising from the Giza Plateau is a must on any trip to Cairo (and the reason many travelers find themselves in Egypt).More

Saqqara (Sakkara)

Set about 18 miles (30 kilometers) south of Cairo, Saqqara (Sakkara) was the burial place for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, now in ruins. The site features a small sphinx and several pyramids—the most famous of which is the Step Pyramid of Djoser, which represented a major advance in building techniques.More


During Egypt’s Old Kingdom period, Memphis, located near Cairo, was home to the pharaohs who built the pyramids. But domestic architecture didn’t last like the pyramids did, so most all that remains of Memphis today is the Mit Rahina open-air sculpture museum.More

Old Cairo (Misr Al-Qadima)

Located in south Cairo on the Nile’s east bank, Old Cairo, also known as Misr Al-Qadima, dates to the sixth century BC and occupies the sites of several early Egyptian capitals, including Fustat. Merging into Islamic Cairo to the east, its heart is Coptic Cairo—home to a crumbled Roman fortress and numerous early medieval Coptic churches.More

Cairo Citadel (Citadel of Saladin)

Standing proud above the hubbub of the modern city, the Cairo Citadel (Citadel of Saladin)) is one of Old Cairo’s most striking sights. First built by Saladin in the 12th century, during the Crusader conflicts, the fortress complex houses palaces, museums, and mosques, including Muhammad Ali’s 19th-century Alabaster Mosque.More

Alabaster Mosque (Mosque of Muhammad Ali)

The citadel of Saladin—and the Cairo skyline—is dominated by the Alabaster Mosque (also known as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Modeled on classic Turkish architecture, it took 18 years to build the structure (1830-1848, with a complete restoration taking place in the 1930s. It was commissioned by Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt from 1805-1849, who lies in the marble tomb inside.More

Islamic Cairo

Cairo is known as the "city of a thousand minarets," and that's reflected in its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A journey into Islamic Cairo is a journey into the city’s past, from Fustat, Egypt’s first Muslim capital, to the 1,000-year-old walled city, the Cairo Citadel, founded by 12th-century leader Saladin, and beyond.More

Sphinx (Great Sphinx of Giza)

The 66-foot-tall (20-meter-tall) Sphinx of Giza is an icon of ancient Egypt, and the subject of continued debate regarding its meaning, age, and original builder. With the head of a human and the body of a lion, the Sphinx—one of the world’s largest and oldest statues—is said to symbolize strength, power, and wisdom.More


Blissfully serene compared to the Giza Pyramids chaos, Dahshur’s desert sands were once home to an impressive 11 large pyramids. Today, two survive, the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, both built by Pharaoh Snefru around 4,500 years ago. Unusually, travelers can explore inside both of them, as well as a smaller side pyramid.More

Great Pyramid of Giza (Khufu Pyramid)

The last surviving wonder of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid of Giza is also known as the Khufu Pyramid or Pyramid of Cheops, in honor of the pharaoh who built it around 2570 BC. The oldest, largest, and tallest of the three Giza pyramids, it is full of narrow tunnels and eerie chambers that are open to visitors.More

Hanging Church (Al-Muallaqa)

Tucked among Coptic Cairo’s winding streets, the Hanging Church is more than 1,000 years old. Enter the 19th-century façade to find icons, elegant screens, a marble pulpit, and a window onto Roman ruins beneath the church. The Hanging Church is an important site for Egyptian Christians, as well as one of Coptic Cairo’s top attractions.More

Cairo Tower (Burj al-Qahira)

Standing 614 feet (187 meters) tall on Gezira Island, the Cairo Tower (Burj al-Qahira) is one of Cairo’s most recognizable landmarks. Completed in 1961, with a striking lattice exterior designed to resemble a lotus flower, the tower is topped with a café, an observation deck, and a revolving restaurant.More
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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

8-Hour Private Tour of the Pyramids, Egyptian Museum and Bazaar from Cairo
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
4-Days 3-Nights Cruise From Aswan To Luxor including Abu Simbel Hot Air Balloon
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All about Cairo

When to visit

Spring is a sweet spot for visiting Cairo, when the peak winter crowds have gone home, but before the sweltering heat of summer arrives. Lines are shorter at the Pyramids of Giza and other ancient attractions, plus modern Egyptian culture is on display at seasonal events such as Ismailia International Film Festival and Cairo Fashion Week, both in April.

People Also Ask

What is Cairo famous for?

Cairo is most famous for the Giza Pyramids, a complex of pharaonic tombs built about 4,500 years ago. Most visitors admire these monumental UNESCO-listed structures—alongside the mysterious Sphinx—before discovering the city’s other attractions, including Tutankhamun’s treasures at the Egyptian Museum and Old Cairo’s mosques, churches, and Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

How many days should I spend in Cairo?

Two or three days is enough to cover Cairo. Devote day one to the Giza Pyramids and Egyptian Museum to see its mummies and Tutankhamun’s gold burial mask. Next, discover Old Cairo’s mosques, citadel, and Khan el-Khalili bazaar; visit Coptic Cairo's churches; and take trips to nearby ancient Memphis or Saqqara.

What do tourists typically do when visiting Cairo?

Most Cairo visitors prioritize Giza’s Pyramids before checking out the city’s wider offerings. History buffs head for the Egyptian Museum’s antiquities and then dive into Old Cairo’s many sights. Those wanting a slower pace, meanwhile, are happy browsing the colorful souks and malls and taking scenic cruises on the Nile.

What can you do in Cairo at night?

Cairo buzzes at night, with shops, bazaars, and restaurants packed till late. Watch a spectacular Pyramids Sound and Light Show or admire Cairo’s sunset and skyline on a Nile felucca (sailboat) or dinner cruise, complete with belly-dancing shows. Alternatively, roam Old Cairo’s lit-up souks, pausing for coffee at a cafe.

What activities are popular in Egypt?

The popular activities largely depend on location. In the Nile Valley, touring pharaonic-age treasures is tops, with most visitors focusing on ancient pyramids, temples, and museums. Along the Red Sea, other pursuits dominate: relaxing at the beach or pool, scuba diving, snorkeling, and shopping and dining out at night.

Is Cairo safe to walk around?

Yes. Cairo is safe to stroll around, although women should be cautious about walking alone at night in some areas, and be ready for occasional unwanted attention. Statistically, crime and terrorism risks are low, but it’s wise to stay vigilant, follow local security measures, and keep your valuables safe while exploring.


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