The Top 5 Places to Visit in Cairo
I spend a lot of time in Cairo these days. It’s my hop-off spot for the tours that I run to Socotra, Yemen so I know the city pretty well these days. If you want to know how to spend 1, 2 or 3 days in Cairo, check my blog post out. But if you want a punchy ‘The Top 5 Places to Visit in Cairo’ list, then I’ve got you covered too.
So, as touristy as Cairo is, it’s popular for a reason. The Egyptian capital is a sprawling city along the bank of River Nile offering historical sights of the Pharaoh Era during the Roman civilization. Surprisingly, Cairo (and Egypt generally) is cheap, cheap, cheap. If you avoid the Western enclaves of Sharm El-Sheik, Hurghada and Dahab with their cheese-burgers, Starbucks and tour buses you can easily budget for $30 USD per day and get to experience the real Egypt as you wander around this awesome country. Equally, it’s home to some amazing hotels and private experiences, so regardless of your budget, Cairo can be great.
One thing is for sure though, there are 5 things you cannot miss whilst you’re here. So, let’s have a look at the top 5 Places to Visit in Cairo during your stay:
1) Pyramids of Giza
Predictably at number one of The Top 5 Places to Visit in Cairo are the Pyramids. Located within the city, on the border of the Sahara desert and the Nile valley you’ll find one of the wonders of the world. You’ve seen it on TV countless times but these things will still blow your mind when you see them for real. 4500 years old and still as impressive as the day they were complete.
At the entrance to the Pyramids is the stone-carved Sphynx – a pyramid of half-man/half-lion which acts as the guardian of the ‘Sun Temple’. Horse and camel rides are the order of the day, over-priced? Yes. Cliched? Yes. Will you succumb to exactly the same thing? Very probably (I certainly did and I don’t regret it). You can also enjoy a light and sound show in the pyramid area in the evenings which is basically a narration of ancient history. It takes about 30 minutes by car to reach this spot from Cairo – a taxi normally costs around $10.
P.S I had this great idea to take a photo where I pretend to pick-up the pyramid with my fingers from a distance. Check it out, it looks awesome. I’m sure this is gonna catch on.
2) The Egyptian Museum
Museums are not my thing, not by a long shot. In fact, I’ve taken to the past-time of taking photographs of myself OUTSIDE museums and pretending to my family that I went in but the Egyptian Museum is one that is truly worth the visit, honestly.
As an added bonus you can check out Tahrir Square, home of the Arab Spring and Egyptian revolution, right in the city centre of Cairo, the Egyptian museum is right there. This museum has a treasure of ancient architecture, artefacts and Egyptian relics. There is a huge collection in the museum to keep you occupied for days (read: a couple of hours for people with short attention spans); the gold mask belonging to ‘King Tutankhamen’, Pharaoh’s coffin, with a 110 kg heavy lid made of solid gold, mummies and many more valuables lie on display. The museum exhibits over 100, 000 valuables and has 107 galleries and rooms. If you want to rewind yourself to the olden days, visit the Egyptian Museum or at the very least you can finally enjoy a museum without feeling like you had to pretend to enjoy it!
The new Egyptian Museum is due to open near the Pyramids of Giza later in 2020, so bear that in mind too.
Citadel and Mosque of Ali Pasha
About a 45-minute walk (or 10 minute Uber) from the Egyptian museum, the Citadel is an Islamic-era fortress. It was built in the ‘Ottoman-style’ with the Mohamed Ali Pasha mosque built entirely from marble. From the top of Mount Mokattam, the Citadel offers awesome magnificent scenery around the fort. Remember guys – visitors must be appropriately dressed so no knees or shoulders on show.
4) Khan El Khalili Bazaar
You can’t come to the African door to Arabia without visiting a ‘souk’. The Khan el Khalili market is the most famous and busy bazaar in all of Cairo, selling everything under the sun. If you are passionate about ethnic wears, you can buy colourful veils shisha, silver jewellery, brass lamps, a box of herbs tea and more. And if all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with a ‘I heart Cairo’ t-shirt, right!?
5) Coptic Cairo
Coptic Cairo, or Old Cairo, is a historical Christian area, where there are old relics from the time when Christianity was first introduced in Egypt. This place has endless grand churches, among them the St. George is the largest and St. Sergius Church is the oldest. The Coptic museum displays valuable collections of ancient Coptic art. Spend an afternoon wandering around this area and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time until you come across some guy selling bloody laser pens on every street corner.
Google Map of the Top 5 Sights in Cairo:
I’d recommend taking on the Top 5 Sights in Cairo in this order, starting with the Pyramids of Giza in the morning to avoid the crowds and finishing with the Khal El Khalili bazaar to buy your gifts.
Cairo in 1 day; Top 5 Places to Visit in Cairo
If you only have one day in Cairo, these 5 sights are your must-sees. I’d also add a Nile cruise to the itinerary too. I have a 3 day Cairo itinerary, with Google maps etc, on this blog post here, so check that out for more info. Egypt has developed a reputation of being more of a tourist destination than a backpacking route in recent decades but that’s unfair. Very close to Cairo, you can find some awesome places to travel around like the Suez Canal, Alexandria, Mount Sinai etc. I spent almost a month meandering through this country and that was the perfect amount of time. Give yourself at least 3 or 4 days for the Capital, you won’t regret it. Make sure to check out these five hotspots on your visit and you’ll be reminiscing about Cairo for years to come. Happy travels!
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