The Best Sights from Cairo to Giza Pyramids
Traveling from Cairo to Giza is at the top of every traveler’s Egyptian bucket list. The Pyramids and other extraordinary monuments present a remarkable concentration of sites to visit in what for many will be the trip of a lifetime. Egypt is one of the most fascinating countries in the world and Cairo is definitely having a moment in the world of travel.
If you have ever wanted to take a trip back in time and experience the ancient wonders of the world, Cairo delivers as promised. This bustling capital has a history that spans over 5,000 years. Cairo transports with a journey from the era of pharaohs to the Islamic golden age to the modern day. You’ll also find a thriving metropolis, home to over 10 million people.
Frequently asked questions about Cairo
How many days to spend in Cairo?
To make the most of your trip, I recommend spending at least 2 to 3 days in Cairo. This duration allows you to visit the iconic attractions such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the Egyptian Museum, while also exploring the vibrant local culture and cuisine. If you have more time for your vacation, of course there is plenty more to see and add to an itinerary, including day trips, if you choose to stay longer than two days in Cairo.
What is the weather like in Cairo?
The Egyptian capital of Cairo has a hot desert climate. However, instead of experiencing dry heat, its proximity to the Nile Delta and the coast can make the city exceptionally humid. In June, July and August, heat wimps such as myself, would find the temperatures and humidity unbearable. You’ll have to be a hearty traveler to want to visit the inside of tombs in 100+ degree weather!
The best time to visit is between October and April to get pleasantly sunny weather without the extreme summer heat.
Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Cairo?
Egypt is a relatively safe place to visit, but it still requires some caution. Petty crimes, like pickpocketing, are common. Yes! It’s much safer than the media may lead you to believe. I long ago learned to use the State Department Guide only as a benchmark. I find first-hand experience from other travelers a much more dependable guide for my type of eco-luxe travel.
Tourism is big business in Egypt and Egyptian authorities have many safeguards in place to protect tourists during their time in the country. These include having large numbers of “Tourism Police” in place, you will see them all over in Cairo and particularly at landmarks in smaller destinations and touristy spots. While seeing guards armed with machine guns might seem alarming, I found these guards to be friendly and welcoming, proud to see visitors returning to their country.
Should I hire a guide in Cairo?
While I know many women who have traveled solo to Egypt, I usually feel more comfortable working with a guide, at least for the more complicated pieces of the itinerary. When I was planning to travel in Egypt with my girlfriend, I wanted to find a guide that would be flexible, knowledgeable about culture and local crafts and well versed in the rich history. I wanted to feel safe and thought I would get a lot more out of traveling in a place with such a rich history with an expert.
For more extensive tips when traveling to Egypt-check out my extensive The Best Guide of Egypt Travel Tips. ***link*** including Tips for Packing.
How to travel from Cairo to Giza
Often they are called the Cairo Pyramids. They are actually the Pyramids of Giza. Transportation from Cairo to Giza is quite easy. In fact, they are only a short distance from each other, approximately 10 miles (almost the same as the distance from Cairo airport). Traffic can often make that distance seem a lot farther, and of course it depends on where you are staying in the city.
Choose from a variety of transport options, including taxis, and the Cairo metro to public buses. Travel in comfort on a group tour, smoothly arranged transportation by your hotel concierge, or independently on a private tour for an unforgettable adventure. Whatever choice you make, my best suggestion is to get there as soon as the pyramids open.
Don’t miss these Expert Tips When Traveling to Egypt
Top Things to do in Giza
Travel with me on a brief tour of the city’s top historical sites, including the iconic Pyramids of Giza, the magnificent Egyptian Museum, the medieval Citadel of Saladin, the Al Azhar Mosque, and the vibrant Khan El Khalili Bazaar. Immerse yourself in a world of enchanting myths, legendary figures, and fascinating cultures. Come, as we discover the fascinating history of Cairo. The city of a thousand minarets is rightfully designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you’ll see, the Pyramids are just the beginning highlights of Cairo and Giza.
The Pyramids of Giza
One of the most iconic and mysterious structures in the world, the Pyramids of Giza are a must-see historical site when visiting this ancient country. Built over 4,500 years ago as tombs for the pharaohs, these massive structures still stand tall today, attracting tourists from all over the world. The Great Pyramid, the largest of the three, is the only remaining ancient wonder of the world.
As you explore the pyramids, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe at the immense size and complexity of these structures. The sheer effort and manpower that went into their construction is staggering. Their precise alignment with the stars and constellations only adds to their mystique.
In addition to the pyramids themselves, the surrounding area is also full of historical significance. Tourists will find plenty of opportunity to take instagram worthy photos in Giza.
The Spinx, standing guard as a massive statue with the head of a pharaoh and the body of a lion, guards over the pyramids. This mythical creature is breathtaking in person and you won’t want to miss an up close visit.
Solar Boat Museum
TAKE NOTE: The Solar Boar Museum was previously in the area of Giza, not far from the pyramids. The boat, a 4,600-year-old ship once owned by the pharaoh Khufu, has been moved to its fancy new digs in the GEM. It sits waiting to greet visitors and for the museum to open just like the rest of us. It is my understanding that the Solar Museum was dismantled after the boat was moved, but I still saw the tour listed on many sites.
9 Pyramids Lounge Restaurant
After an early morning start at the Pyramids of Giza, stop for a relaxing cup of tea and breakfast at the 9 Pyramids Lounge. As the first and to date only restaurant on the site of the Giza Pyramids, this is definitely a meal with a view! I can’t think of a better way to take a short break and try to process the magnificence of finally getting to see this Wonder of the World.
Don’t let the #9 confuse you. It refers to a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology who were worshipped at Heliopolis.
The restaurant serves breakfast from 9am and lunch from noon with the last order at 3.30pm. After breakfast, the food includes classic mezze, such as baba ghanoush and stuffed vine leaves; grills, such as shish taouk and kofta. Make sure to save room for traditional Egyptian sweets such as the pastry feteer meshaltet and Umm Ali (similar to bread pudding) for dessert. You couldn’t ask for a better experience in this iconic setting.
- Don’t miss the lovely woman baking bread in a traditional oven seated outside the back of the restaurant. The restaurant is booked for months in advance, so reservations are a must!
- Visit the pyramids as it first opens. You’ll get in ahead of the masses of buses and will find a few areas to take in the magnificence with out anyone else around. After, make a reservation at 9 restaurant for a delightful breakfast while viewing the Wonder of the world. Make sure to check current opening hours when making your plans.
Overall, the Pyramids of Giza and surrounding sites are an incredible testament to the ingenuity and expertise of ancient Egyptian builders. Visiting them is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that everyone should have on their bucket list trip to Cairo.
What to do in the city of Cairo
The Grand Egyptian Museum aka The GEM
Unfortunately, the GEM had yet to open during my visit. Rumors swirl around the internet, but best guess these days is late 2023. From all accounts, it will be magnificent. And now a good reason to return for those of us lucky enough to have had two days in Cairo.
Housing over 50,000 artifacts, the Grand Egyptian Museum will be the largest archaeological museum in the world. King Tutankhamun’s full tomb collection will be on display for the first time and is sure to be a showstopper.
The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
One of the must-visit historical sites in Cairo is the Museum of Egyptian Civilization. The modern structure houses an impressive collection of artifacts and treasures that tell the story of Egypt’s rich history. With beginnings as a small exhibition space, it has since grown into a sprawling complex with over 100,000 items on display.
Visitors can see an array of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including mummies, statues, jewelry, and everyday objects. Perhaps the most famous exhibit is the Tutankhamun collection, which features the golden mask of the boy king, as well as many other treasures found in his tomb. The recently renovated mummies room is a respectful exhibition of the still unexplained mumification process.
The museum also houses a library with over 200,000 books and documents, including rare historical texts. It’s a great place to dive deeper into Egypt’s fascinating history and culture. I would have loved to spend all day at the museum. Everything was well labeled with information, but having an Egyptologist guide can really help make the experience more enlightening.
Don’t miss the outdoor garden space which aligns with the Nile. It’s a gorgeous spot for a stroll in one of Cairo’s green spaces.
After exploring the Egyptian Museum, head over to the Citadel of Saladin, a fortified medieval complex that offers stunning views of the city.
The Citadel of Saladin
Once you have delved into Egypt’s vast history at the Egyptian Museum, it’s time to visit the Citadel of Saladin. This complex, built in the 12th century, was named after Saladin, the Muslim military leader who defeated the Crusaders and established the Ayyubid dynasty.
The Citadel is not just one building, but rather a collection of structures, including mosques, palaces, and museums. One of the most famous structures is the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, which was built in the 19th century and is also known as the Alabaster Mosque due to its stunning white marble exterior.
Along with its impressive architecture, the Citadel offers panoramic views of Cairo, making it a great spot to take in the city’s sprawling skyline. If you have the opportunity, don’t miss it’s sparkle in the night light.
After exploring the Citadel, make your way to the next stop on your historical journey: the Al Azhar Mosque.,
The Al Azhar Mosque
The Al Azhar Mosque, located in the heart of Cairo’s bustling Islamic district, is a must-see historical site. The mosque was the city’s first, built in AD 970 as the center of Islamic learning. Today it is one of the oldest universities in the world.
Walking through the mosque’s intricate archways and domes adorned with stunning calligraphy, you can feel the pulse of the bustling city outside fade away. The calm and peaceful surroundings make it easy to appreciate the mosque’s significance as a hub of Islamic culture and scholarship.
Adjacent to the mosque is the Al Azhar Park, a lush green oasis in the midst of the city. After taking in the mosque’s beauty, head to the park to rest and enjoy a cup of tea while admiring the stunning views of Cairo’s skyline.
From Al Azhar Mosque, take a short walk to the bustling Khan El Khalili Bazaar. Here, you can shop for beautiful textiles, jewelry, and souvenirs while immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of Cairo.
Khan El Khalili Bazaar
Located a short distance from the Al Azhar Mosque, the Khan El Khalili Bazaar is one of the most famous markets in Cairo. It dates back to the 14th century when it served as a hub for trade and commerce. Today, visitors can enjoy the lively atmosphere and immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of the city.
The bazaar is a maze of narrow alleyways and bustling streets, with vendors selling everything from spices and perfumes to textiles and jewelry. It’s a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts to take back home. Haggling is expected, so don’t be afraid to negotiate for the best price.
Aside from shopping, the bazaar also offers a glimpse into Cairo’s rich history. Many of the buildings and structures date back hundreds of years, with intricate architecture and design. Visitors can explore the many mosques, shrines, and other religious sites in the area, getting a sense of the city’s diverse cultural and religious heritage.
In the evenings, the bazaar comes alive with street performers, musicians, and other entertainers. It’s a great place to experience the energy and excitement of Cairo’s nightlife.
Overall, the Khan El Khalili Bazaar is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and shopping. After a day of exploring, be sure to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the area. The bazaar is alive at night with a real cross section of life in Cairo.
Baron Empain Palace
In the Heliopolis suburb of Cairo, you’ll find the 19th century palace of Belgian businessman Edouard Empain. Inspired by Hindu architecture from previous visits to India, he built the sandstone structure with a nod to the temples of southern India. Many credit his vision for the build out of this garden city in the desert.
Heliopolis attracted people from all over the world and visitors will find excellent shops, restaurants and nighlife.
Sail on the Nile River:
If you’re short on time and won’t get the chance to experience a cruise along the Nile (link) rent a traditional wooden boat (felucca). You can find them docked along the Nile in Zamalek, and Maadi. Pack a picnic lunch or take in a romantic sunset.
For a taste of Coptic Cairo, the Hanging Church, also known as the Suspended Church or St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, is an architectural marvel and a significant religious site for Christians in Egypt. Constructed in the 7th century, the church is built atop the southern tower gate of the old Babylon Fortress, appearing to be ‘hanging’ above it.
It houses over 110 religious icons, with some of the most prominent ones depicting the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist, and St. George. The Hanging Church is known for its unique wooden ceiling, intricate geometric designs, and beautiful stained glass windows, attracting tourists and worshippers from around the world.
Egyptian Crafts Buy Local in Cairo and Giza
Unveil the secrets of the city’s vibrant crafts scene and bring home one-of-a-kind, authentic Egyptian treasures that tells a story of tradition, passion, and artistic mastery. Supporting local arts and crafts is one of the tenants of responsible travel and I follow it OFTEN! Visitors will quickly see that a visit from Cairo to Giza makes that support easy! In addition to all the luxurious cotton and linen that will no doubt tempt you, ceramics, handmade paper (papyrus), alabaster and wonderful pottery are just some of the handiwork awaiting your discovery.
By exploring Cairo’s local crafts, you’ll not only be enriching your life with authentic Egyptian art, but also supporting the livelihoods of local artisans, preserving timeless traditions, and empowering local communities in the process!
Visit the Fustat Neighborhood
In this traditional old Cairo neighborhood, you’ll find an abundance of workshops producing traditional crafts. Look for plates, pots and cups as well as an additional suitcase for all your new finds and feel good about supporting LOCAL.
Al Moez Street
Many consider Cairo to be like NYC–a 24hr destination. Venture to Al Moez street and experience one of the very best open-air museums in Egypt. Many craftsmen have workshops here and the ancient buildings will give you a true sense of time travel.
Begin your walk from Bab Al-Futuh in the north to Bab Zuweila in the south. Its northern part extends from Al-Hakim mosque to the spice market in Al-Azhar Street whereas its southern part extends from the Ghuriya complex to the Bab Zuweila. Discover over 28 distinct Islamic monuments along the way including Bayt Al-Suhaymi, an interesting historic home, in addition to mosques and palaces.
I’m always a fan of a reclaimed space and Al-Azhar Park is no exception. If you’re looking for some additional green space, take a walk thru this pleasing space and tell me you’re not surprised to learn it was the previous home of a humongous garbage dump!
Called the Green Heart and The Lung of Cairo, this hidden gem of 72 acres is filled with fountains, a small lake, architectural treasures and several performance venues. Select one of several restaurants in the award winning gardens and take in what has been labeled one of the world’s greatest public spaces.
Street Food in Cairo and Giza
Plenty of opportunities abound for eating street food in Cairo and when you’re visiting, you have to try something at least once! A Street Food Tour is a good place to start if you’re a bit nervous about striking out on your own. Many dishes are vegetarian and the flavors will guarantee an authentic taste of the city. Safely eating street food is important for your travel health.
A few of my favorite street foods are:
Foul Medames–made with cooked fava beans and delicous Egyptian spices, this breakfast favorite is full of protein. Add an egg on top for extra goodness.
Taameya–often eaten with foul medames, this is the local version of falafel. Made with fava beans instead of chickpeas, you can tell the difference by the lovely green color.
Kushari–this dish can be found on every street corner and I’d say is the national dish of Egypt. Made with a mixture of rice, lentils, noodles and macaroni, each spot seems to have it’s own variation. Covered with a spicy tomato sauce, it’s filled with stick to your ribs goodness and will keep you going on a day of sightseeing.
Pomegranate juice fans will have no trouble satisfying their craving in Cairo. This beautiful symbol of fertility is found throughout Cairo in both food and the arts where ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. Based on ancient papyrus writings, it was used in the country for the treatment of infections and tapeworm. The fruit has a rich history has always been a part of the north African diet. (link to 411) The Egyptian Pomegranate is very juicy and has a citrus taste. There are many types of drinks and foods that are prepared with the pomegranate fruit.
Stop by a street vendor and refresh yourself with some of this delightful drink.
If you’re visiting nearby Jordan, you’ll want to read about my visit and street food in Aman.
Street Art in Downtown Cairo
I mention street art because I am always on the lookout when I visit a destination. Sadly, it appears that most of the grafitti walls are quickly covered and erased. I was able to find one wall in the El Dawadin area. I would love to hear from you if your luck was better than mine in Cairo.
One of the most famous Egyptian artists, Alaa Awad, paints traditional iconic themes with a modern twist. His work is found in other areas of the country, but I could not find any murals in Egypt.
Please send me an email if you have any intel about street art in Egypt so I can add to the post.
Where to Stay during your Cairo to Giza Visit
Book a stay at the Marriott Mena House. The 5 star luxury hotel has an incredible view of the pyramids (especially at night). Situated at the edge of the Giza plateau, the lovely pool area is a restful, quiet spot to recover and process the days activities. On site is an excellent Indian restaurant. Waking up in the morning with a view of the pyramids is truly a once in a lifetime experience!
Conclusion of Giza to Cairo’s Must Visit Sites
In summary, Cairo is a city overflowing with a bounty of historical riches. With the Pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian Museum, the Citadel of Saladin, the Al Azhar Mosque, and Khan El Khalili Bazaar, visitors can explore some of the world’s most spectacular ancient sites. These sites offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Cairo, spanning centuries of history. As you plan your next trip, consider making Cairo your destination so that you can witness these unique wonders for yourself.
Here, you’ll encounter a journey of a lifetime, filled with unforgettable experiences, and endless opportunities to learn and grow. In the words of the great Winston Churchill,
The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Like myself, I’m sure this ancient city will leave you in a state of awe.
The journey will broaden your horizons, expand your knowledge, and leave you marveling at the incredible history of Cairo.