The Best Things To Do In Cairo
There aren’t too many cities with so many faces which each tell the story of a different era. And that is what places Cairo in a class all its own. From its mighty pyramids, to its delicately designed Coptic churches right through to its Mamluk architecture, there is no doubt that this vast capital city, is simply filled with dazzling secrets all waiting to be discovered by you. The city of a thousand minarets sits astride the mighty Nile with Faiyum and Beni Suef to its south and Banha, Tanta and Mansoura to its north. If you love the idea of visiting immense ancient monuments, wandering about vast maze-like bazaars and admiring historic citadels, all you have to do is book a vacation to this enthralling city which will make all your dreams come true.
Cairo’s reputation as one of the most exciting, fascinating tourist destinations is well deserved, especially since it has thrilled the world for centuries on end. And thanks to its immense popularity it is also home to the second largest airport on the continent, Cairo International Airport. If you happen to be arriving from Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh or Hurghada, you will be able to alight at the airport following a flight trip of approximately one hour. Aswan, on the other hand, is slightly further since flights tend to take 90 minutes on average. The city itself boasts an efficient metro and a public bus system. Taxis are also readily available with Uber and Careem being extremely popular.
For centuries on end, Cairo has enthralled the world like no other. And it’s all thanks to the mammoth sized engineering and architectural wonders known as the pyramids. Here you will be able to gaze on the Great Pyramid of Khufu which has enjoyed celebrity status for millennia, the Pyramid of Khafre, the Pyramid of Menkaure and the immense Sphinx. Once you have admired the genius of the ancient pharaohs, you will be able to step into a different era which tells the tale of opulence and glamour all rolled into one. Here you will get to tour the Ibn Tulun Mosque with its delicate ornamentation, explore exquisite examples of Mamluk architecture and visit the 12th century Bab Zuweila.
HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN CAIRO…
The ancient structures that comprise the Giza Pyramids need no introduction; they are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and a visit to Egypt must include them! Explore their majesty and mystique, entering the pyramid Cheops – which towers 146 metres high – and join in marvelling at how such structures were built in those ancient times!
In ancient Egypt, the city of Memphis was the political capital – and residence to the King – until around 2200 BC, and its ruins are a fascinating display of life at that time. Explore this amazing open air museum of ancient temples and sculptures – a UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes the ruins of the Temple of Ptah and the Colossus of Ramses!
You would expect the Egyptian Museum to have an outstanding collection of ancient artefacts, and with a collection of 120,000 pieces – many of them on display – this trip back in time is truly magnificent. Take a walk back to an ancient land and marvel at the culture of the people, and the skills of the artisans who crafted the beautiful statues and jewellery. With exhibits on display such as the solid-gold death mask of Tutankhamun, and the Royal Mummy Room, this is one place you just won’t get bored!
Whilst Cairo is a modern city, you can still visit its past with a walk through Old Cairo. This small part of the city dates back to 600BC, and has lived on through time as a Roman trading post, a Christian city, and a Muslim military camp. Meander through the cobbled streets and you will come across several important places to explore, including the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Church and the ruins of the Babylon Fortress!
Take a trip from Cairo to see the magnificent burial grounds of Memphis at Saqqara (Sakkara). Explore the pyramids – including the famous pyramid built for King Djoser – and see the inside of the pyramid of Teti. As you explore the area that covers ten square kilometres, you will see the preserved sphinx and the many ancient texts and paintings. And with Saqqara being named a UNESCO named a World Heritage Site in 1979, these ruins are well worth a visit!
Pyramid of Djoser
Travel back to an ancient time – around 2700 BC – when King Djoser built the first pyramid to be used as a tomb; his own. The Pyramid of Djoser – his final burial place – towers 62 metres high, and is designed as a series of steps, facilitating the pharaoh’s journey to the afterlife. Meander through this ancient site – spread over 15 hectares – and investigate the marvels of its grand history.
El Mu’ayyad Mosque
As you approach the El Mu’ayyad Mosque, its entrance signals the grandeur of this magnificent building, which was constructed back in 1421. Explore this beautiful example of Mamluk architecture, and prepare to be fascinated by the stone carvings and painted ceilings, as you imagine the people who have passed through the central courtyard over the centuries. With a striking dome, and two minarets that tower over the structure, this is a marvellous building to explore!
Khan al-Khalili has served as one of Cairo’s largest souks – selling everything you can imagine – since the fourteenth century. Stroll through the narrow streets and be absorbed by the hustle and bustle of this hectic open air market. Breathe in the aromas of the spice trade, and experience true Egyptian culture as the locals know it – maybe even find a special memento to remember your visit!
When visiting Giza, the Great Sphinx needs no introduction. It is immediately recognisable and is for many, the main purpose of the visit. Dating back to 2550 BC, and built from limestone, the Sphinx stands 73 metres long and 20 metres tall – it resembles the head of a human and the body of a lion! Take time to study this magnificent example of the innovation of that ancient time, and reminisce on its mysterious and superstitious purpose!
The Giza Plateau is the desert location of the world-famous Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx. Visitors flock here from around the world to experience the grandeur of the pyramids and the mystique of the Great Sphinx, and while they are certainly the main drawcard, you shouldn’t forget to explore the surrounding tombs of the kings’ family too!
Arguably the longest river in the world – at 6680 kilometres long – the Nile River flows through eleven countries. From ancient times, the river has been the lifeblood – and primary water supply – of the countries it flows through, but nowadays it’s a great way to explore history and culture on a cruise, seeing major landmarks as you glide along its famous waters.
History buffs and the curious alike, love the Coptic Museum. Established in 1908 and housed in a beautiful building designed like an old monastery, the museum holds the world’s most extensive collection of Coptic artefacts, with 16,000 pieces telling the story of ancient Egypt, and of the Christian times between the Pharaonic and Islamic Periods. Stroll through this fascinating museum and enjoy the stonework, frescoes, manuscripts, and various pieced of art that have been collected over many years!
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