Sometimes known as the second pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre (Pyramid of Chephren) towers 446 feet (136 meters) above the desert, its tip still encased in the white limestone that once decorated all three Giza Pyramids. It looks taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza, built by Khafre’s father Khufu, because it stands on higher ground.
While the Pyramid of Khafre can be seen rearing up above the skyline of Cairo’s Giza suburb, a close-up visit reveals more. Khafre’s mortuary temple, often called the Valley Temple, is a highlight, while you can also see a smaller ruined pyramid and stroll an ancient causeway. The dark, narrow tunnels within the main pyramid are sometimes open to visitors, although you’ll need an extra ticket.
While it’s possible to visit on your own, tour guides can help fend off aggressive vendors, arrange camel rides, identify prime photo locations, and explain the history of the ruins. Half-day tours typically focus on the Giza Pyramids site: the Sphinx, the Valley Temple, the three large pyramids, and smaller ruins. Full-day tours usually include other ancient wonders such as the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid at Dahshur, the Pyramid of Djoser (Step Pyramid) at Saqqara, and the ruins of Memphis. All-terrain vehicle (ATV) tours explore the desert some distance from the pyramids rather than entering the site.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The desert site is very exposed. Wear a hat and sunscreen.
- The tunnels inside the Pyramid of Khafre are cramped, steep, and often smelly. If you suffer claustrophobia, think twice before entering.
- As elsewhere in Cairo, women will feel more comfortable dressed modestly, covering shoulders, upper arms, legs above the knee, and cleavage.
- It’s not possible to enter the pyramids or excavations in a wheelchair. You can get a good view of the outside of the pyramids and the Sphinx from a wheelchair, although you’ll need an adapted vehicle with a driver to get you around the site.
The Pyramid of Khafre sits among the other Giza Pyramids in Cairo’s Giza suburb, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) southwest of downtown. The pyramids are hard to reach by public transport, as Giza subway station is some miles from the pyramid complex. You can catch the 355 or 357 bus from the airport or the bus station by the Egyptian Museum, but many visitors prefer the ease of a tour with comfortable air-conditioned transfers from your door.When to Get There
The Giza Pyramids open from morning to afternoon seven days a week, with a spectacular sound and light show in the evening. It’s really worth getting up early (or even staying in Giza) to beat the big buses. Try to avoid the Islamic weekend (Friday to Saturday) and major religious holidays such as Eid, particularly if you’re aiming to enter the pyramid.
Who Was Khafre?
Son of Khufu (Cheops), who built the Great Pyramid of Giza, Khafre (also written Khafra, Khefren, and Chephren) ruled during the Old Kingdom, some time around 2500 BC. While little is known about the pharaoh, most experts believe that he designed and commissioned the building complex that includes not only his pyramid but the Sphinx—and that the Sphinx’s face represents his own.