We spent a good 2 weeks in Egypt. We were in Cairo for about 3-4 days before we started on our journey to see the rest of Egypt.
After we landed in Cairo, it took us a while to reach the city and get to our Hotel around Giza. Yeah, we chose to stay around the “Giza limits” closer to the Pyramids instead of Cairo. It seemed like a perfect choice back then considering the price and the quality of the room. However, if I were to do this again, I would choose (and also suggest my readers to choose) a hotel room in the heart of Cairo. This will make sure that you get good vibes of the city and culture and you will also save a bit on the Taxi rides back and forth.
Below are a few things, which in my opinion, are a must do whilst in Cairo. You may need 3 whole days to see around Cairo and Giza. If you add another day, you may opt for a day trip to Alexandria to get a distinct experience!
1. The Sound and Light Show!
I know that most tourist destinations with historic attractions mandatorily have the Sound and Light show. My husband and I are not really big fans of these shows as we find them really dull and sleepy. We know that some of these are great but most not so! Luckily for us, the Sound and Light show that we randomly decided to do at the Pyramids was fantastic! I am glad we did it. It was professional and the quality of the lights were way better than I thought. The narration of the history was really appealing and kept us glued on to the show.
Sadly, I don’t really have good pictures of that evening!
I would recommend doing this activity one evening at leisure whilst at Cairo. Trust me, it will take you ages back with an amazing involvement.
2. Cairo Tower!
If you have read my write-ups, you would know that I am a huge admirer of birds’ eye views of fine-looking cities. I always try to find high rise towers to capture memorable sights to take along with me. Cairo Tower is a remarkable place for clicking some panoramic city views. It will cost you less than 10 USD per person and the views will be far-fetched!
There is also a revolving restaurant here that you may try opting for a “meal with a view”. The reviews of the food there however weren’t very interesting when we were there.
3. Pyramids and the Sphinx
It would make sense to hire yourself an Egyptologist/guide to be with you on the day you plan to see the pyramids and the museum. There is immense amount of history behind every bit around this area. I would also suggest starting early to make the most of the day and avoid the scorching heat at the Pyramids.
I enjoyed the pyramids and although there are several of them (125 of them), only the three are of importance and under upkeep. These 3 are the massive ones you have always seen in pictures. We also decided to get inside the Great Pyramid of King Khufu. You need to pay extra to get inside but it is absolutely worth doing it if you are not claustrophobic or Nyctophobic!
Tip – There is nothing inside the Pyramids but the experience of being inside itself is very fulfilling! Most of what you might be expecting to see will be for display at the Egyptian Museum.
Almost all guides are very knowledgeable and will ensure to take you to sites from where you can capture postcard perfect pictures. We also ended up posing for some cheesy pictures with Sphinx in the frame. Overall, everything seemed very charismatic at the Pyramids.
Read more about of the Pyramids of Giza
4. Egyptian Museum and the Mummy Room
After the Pyramids, our Egyptologist accompanied us to the museum. Even if you don’t like museums, I will strongly suggest you to do this. This is probably the main reason why you are in Egypt. Everything from inside the Pyramids is now in the museum.
This museum houses the world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts (about 145,000 items on display) featuring the famous Tutankhamen collection with its beautiful gold death mask, sarcophagus and the royal Mummy room, which houses an additional eleven Pharaonic dignitaries.
The Mummy room at the museum will cost you a bit extra. That said, you cannot come to Egypt and not see the Mummies!
You can also have lunch in the vicinity of the museum.
5. Khan El-Khalili Bazaar
Khan El-Khalili Bazaar is where you could shop all your souvenirs to take back home. Haggling is common and is kind of mandatory to get stuff at a ‘real’ price! Most often what is quoted as 100 Egyptian pounds is actually available for 20 Egyptian Pounds.
This Bazar is believed to be the largest bazaar in the Middle East. It was originally founded as a watering stop in the 14th Century. The Bazar has now grown and spread into several narrow streets as well. There are workshops and stalls selling stuff from carpentry, glassware, leather goods, perfumes, fabrics, papyrus paintings and other Pharaonic curios!
Tip – Most cafes around the bazar are good for a short break and snack. However, almost all of these have different menus/rates for foreigners which seemed a bit weird to me!
6. A day trip to Alexandria
We hired a cab with a guide and executed our trip to Alexandria. To be honest, I was a bit bored with the overload of history in Cairo and Alexandria was a double dose! That said, I was happy to see the way Alexandria looked!
We started with the Roman Theatre, El Montazah Palace, Pompey’s Pillar and the museums. However, what I enjoyed the most was the coastal outlook of the city, the view of the Qaitbay Fortress and the whole of the Alexandria-cornice! The cornice fascinated me and I spent a long time walking around it.
Read more about my write-up on Alexandria
These are just my ideas of the best things to spend time while in Cairo. You could also see around the Cairo Mosque but that wasn’t my area of interest.
After Cairo, we took a night train from Cairo to Aswan. We did a 3 nights River Nile cruise from Aswan (to Luxor). Read below
Read about our few days in Hurghada by the Red Sea!