A raised desert area on the fringes of Cairo, the Giza Plateau is most famous for its necropolis (city of the dead), which includes the Giza pyramids, the Sphinx, the Solar Boat Museum, and the Valley Temple. The largest and most famous of the Giza pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, is the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World.
The Giza Plateau is almost always visited from Cairo, although some travelers choose to stay around the pyramids in Giza itself. Most travelers come here for the complex that includes the pyramids, the Great Sphinx, the Solar Boat Museum, and the Valley Temple. Gain access for a significant fee, with additional charges to enter a pyramid and to visit the Solar Boat Museum. It’s also possible to experience the Giza Plateau as a desert adventure with the pyramids in the background, on an ATV tour, a camel safari, or some combination of the two.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Giza Plateau is a must for any visitor to Cairo.
- There’s very little shade on the Giza Plateau. Wear a hat and sunscreen even at cooler times of year.
- Walkways make the outside of the pyramids and views of the Sphinx reasonably wheelchair-accessible, although travelers who use wheelchairs will likely want an accessible vehicle to take them around the site.
The Giza Plateau is only about 9 miles (14 kilometers) southwest of Tahrir Square, but fiddly to reach by public transport: Note that Giza subway station is some miles from the plateau itself. The 355 and 357 bus routes stop at the airport and the bus station by the Egyptian Museum, but many travelers prefer the ease of a tour that includes door-to-door round-trip transfers.
When to Get There
The Giza pyramids are open from morning to afternoon seven days a week, with a Sound-and-Light Show every evening. It’s worth getting up early to beat the worst of the crowds and avoiding the site over the Islamic weekend (Friday to Saturday) and major holiday periods such as Eid.
Why Are the Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings So Far Apart?
The distance between ancient Egypt’s star attractions is a source of frustration for any visiting history buff: The Valley of the Kings is around 400 miles (644 kilometers) from Giza. During different eras of Egyptian history, the nation had different capitals. The Old Kingdom ruled from Memphis, near Cairo, and buried its royal dead in Giza; New and Middle Kingdom pharaohs centered on Thebes, modern-day Luxor; Cleopatra’s dynasty, the Ptolemies, had their capital at Alexandria.