Me (a brunette Woman) walking a camel across the desert in front of the Giza Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt

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Amazing Things to Do in Egypt – Cairo Edition

The crown jewel on many traveler’s bucket list… visiting Egypt. Rightfully so, because few destinations can compare to the ancient, magical, culturally rich civilization that awaits you. The wealth of historical treasures and dazzling artifacts can keep you captivated for some time. Here are some of the best things to do in Egypt – Cairo, and what to expect to make the most of your trip.

The Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is home to over 120,000 Egyptian antiquities. One of the most amazing things to do in Egypt – Cairo. When you enter the massive structure, you will be transported to a dusty portal to yesteryear.

I could personally spend hours perusing all the pottery, jewelry, ancient artifacts and sarcophagi. However, we did not. We visited the Egyptian Museum with a guide, so our museum experience was curated to include our Guide’s highlights.

Gigantic limestone statues of the royal couple Amenhotep III and his wife Tiye at the Egyptian Museum - one of the amazing things to do in Egypt - Cairo.
The Museum is home to the gigantic limestone statues of royal couple Amenhotep III and his wife Tiye

Visiting the Egyptian Museum with a guide did streamline our visit and make the most of our time. Also, there isn’t enough information or context about a lot of the exhibits. Some of the real gems of the museum might be impossible for you to find completely on your own.

Another benefit of having a guide, is the wealth of knowledge they can provide about what you’re seeing. On the other hand, if you’re someone who wants to spend the day here, which you could easily do, and explore at your own pace, it would be better to go without a guide.

Ticket price for non-Egyptian travelers: EGP 200 or $12.75 USD

If you take the day tour we booked with Viator, your ticket fees are included.

Tip: There is no additional fee to take photos with your phone. If you wish to take pictures with an actual camera inside the museum the cost is EGP 50 or a little over $3.00 USD

The Great Pyramid of Giza

A brunette woman (me), facing the ancient pyramids of Giza. The sky is blue and the pyramid is towering over me. Visiting the pyramids of Giza is one of the best things to do in Egypt Cairo.
Enjoying a beautiful day exploring the Pyramids of Giza – truly a marvelous sight in person

Few can contest that the Pyramids of Giza, shrouded in mystery, steal the show in Cairo. For many, visiting this iconic monument, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, is the main event. This is obviously one of the most amazing things you can do in Cairo – Egypt.

Because we were on a day tour, versus going independently, we arrived in an air conditioned private car with a driver and a guide. Due to logistics such as the parking situation and heavy traffic, having a driver is super efficient for time and convenience when touring Cairo.

First, our guide took us to do what they know is very important to everyone nowadays… to take some smashing photos. We drove off into the distance a bit beyond the Pyramids where all the camels congregate and rest.

A brunette woman (me) meeting my camel for the first time in front of the Pyramids of Giza. One of the amazing things to do in Egypt Cairo
We showed up in matching outfits, instant friends! Instead of riding the camel,
I took her for a walk and we took lots of photos together!

Many day tours that are offered in Cairo include a camel ride. Since we had gone on a camel trek across the Sahara Desert in Morocco, I’ve already experienced traveling at length via these sweet beautiful creatures. We opted to just hang out with them and take some photos.

Brady (brunette man) taking a photo on top of a Camel in front of the Pyramids of Giza. Seeing the Camels around the Pyramids of Giza is one of the amazing things to do in Egypt Cairo.
We visited in the middle of October and the weather was PERFECT, warm and sunny but not too hot

Now, other than admiring the Pyramids from a distance, riding and taking photos with the beautiful camels, what are some other worthwhile things to do in Egypt – Cairo?

Aside from absorbing the wealth of knowledge about these structures from your guide, you can actually go inside the Pyramids.

No matter which tour you book, entrance to the Pyramids is not included and will be an additional fee. Our Guide said that he didn’t think it was worth it, but if we really wanted to suffice our curiosity, that seeing the inside of one Pyramid is enough. I agree with the latter.

Exploring the Inside of The Pyramid of Khafre

A tiny, narrow entrance to the Pyramid of Khafre. It's basically a small square and tunnel chiseled through the Limestone.
The tiny entrance to the Pyramid of Khafre. Be prepared to duck, squat
and walk in a narrow passage up a rather steep incline

With a little discussion, we decided that after traveling just shy of 7,400 miles across the globe, there was no way we were going to leave without exploring the inside of at least one Pyramid.

I do think that seeing the inside of one was enough for me, but that is something you can decide for yourself when you’re actually there. We ended up entering the Pyramid of Khafre, which is the second largest of the three Pyramids and around 4,500 years old.

Our guide warned us: if you’re claustrophobic, entering the Pyramids is not a good idea. I don’t mind small spaces, and have been in more than my fair share of narrow cave systems.

I still did not expect what we actually encountered.

The entrance to the Pyramid of Khafre is tiny. You’ll need to duck, squat and walk up a rather steep incline in a very narrow tunnel. It’s dark, hot and humid inside. I would still do it all over again, but be prepared for what you will encounter!

Tip: Say no thank you when any attendant offers to take a picture of you inside the Pyramid. Please keep in mind that photos are not technically allowed inside the Pyramid. A tip will be expected and he may say the tip isn’t enough or he doesn’t have change.

The Great Sphinx of Giza

Perhaps one of the most emblematic and recognizable sculptures in the world, The Great Sphinx of Giza is an iconic sight to behold. So what is the significance of this limestone figure of a lion’s body and a human head?

My husband and I (a brunette man and woman) embracing in front of The Great Sphinx at Giza, near Cairo Egypt.
Our driver and guide drove to the other side of the Giza complex and pulled over so we could
see the Pyramids famous neighbor, The Sphinx.

For most of its existence, it was covered in sand from the neck down. Then around 1817, the first excavation dig took place. The Great Sphinx was intended to protect the pyramids, and specifically, the temples and tombs of the Pharaohs in the area.

Tip: Unless you want to see the Sphinx a bit closer up, or you are trying to get a certain type of photo, you can get a great view of the Sphinx from the sidewalk of the complex rather than navigating the crowds on the other side of the Sphinx at the entrance.

Explore the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

The Khan el- Khalili Bazaar in Cairo is bustling and energetic in the evenings, cafes filled with locals

This well known bazaar in the center of Cairo is named after the man who founded it – almost 600 years ago! Having visited several bazaars and souks around the world, I have to say, this one felt special.

It’s more than just a place to find bargains, it’s like an open-air museum. A historical place, that gives you a sense of what old Cairo was like. There are also restaurants, cafes and plenty of photo ops.

Our Guide took us to his favorite cafe in the Bazaar and we enjoyed some coffee in a private seating
area. It didn’t stop many different hawkers from coming in to try and sell us various items. I did buy a purse and Brady bought a wallet.

The day tour we booked with Viator includes visiting the Bazaar. However, that specific day, I started to not feel well towards the end. We went back to our hotel early.

We were considering skipping out on the Bazaar, but ended up going with a different guide after returning from a day trip to Alexandria. I’m so glad we didn’t skip it!

A cafe at the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar bustling with locals in the evening. The room is filled with lots of chatting, laughter and music. An entire booth is filled with gentleman playing instruments and singing.

Our driver pulled the car up to the massive souk. It was dark out, as we visited in the evening. Even then, the bazaar was bustling with both travelers and locals alike. Perhaps it’s all the bright colors and fanfare, the frenetic energy that fills the air?

Antiques cover the walls, there are dazzling displays of jewelry, bright lights and music. The atmosphere at the Bazaar in Cairo is an entire mood. This was one of my favorite things we did in Egypt – Cairo.

What to Expect at Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

Fair warning, you will encounter many merchants trying to get you to part with your coins. Like most bazaars, people will be actively approaching you to sell you things. There is a key phrase that you need to learn before you travel to Egypt, as you will be using it frequently:

La, shukran.

Which means… No, Thank you.

Everywhere we went in Egypt, we eventually encountered someone aggressively selling something. Ignoring does not work as well as simply saying the magic words: “La, shukran.” It almost always instantly politely ended the pursuit.

Also, not every merchant in the Bazaar is willing to negotiate prices. I found this awesome jewelry store and the seller said he, “offers the best, lowest and final price right away to save the back and forth.”

Tip: We’d never used a guide to visit any other souk in the world, but having one here did enhance our experience. If you get a good guide, they should be fairly familiar with the bazaar. They can navigate to the things you’re interested in and even help negotiate your haggling. Our guide knew where all the best deals were. Bring cash!

Learning About Papyrus

If you take the tour we took, or pretty much any other organized tour offered by local Egyptologists, you will likely make a couple different stops to stores. One of them will be to learn the methods ancient Egyptians used to make paper with the papyrus plant. The papyrus plant is sacred to Egypt. It grows near the Nile and is symbolic for prosperity, youth, vigor and all things new.

Watching a demonstration on the process of making paper with Papyrus in ancient Egypt

Many travelers dislike this pit stop, as they feel it is very touristy. And in reality, this is an attraction specifically for tourists. When you arrive, you are assigned to a staff member who will offer you coffee, tea or lemon and mint juice (I was drinking this non-stop during my time in Egypt).

A finished piece of papyrus paper – the papyrus pieces have been wet, woven, pressed and dried to form one paper

Then, they will proceed to show you a demonstration of how the Papyrus plant was actually made into paper in ancient times. Following this, you’ll receive a tour of their gallery which showcases scads of ornate Egyptian art adorning beautiful hieroglyphics. Of course there is no obligation to buy.

There is a really large gallery of Egyptian artwork – some of it glows in the dark, some showcase complex hieroglyphics

But…after all that…you will. You will likely buy something.

Of course, we ended up getting gifts for family and a piece for our home, as well. It appeared as if countless other travelers couldn’t resist as well.

Tip: If you are on a tight budget or are very limited on time, just make clear to your guide that you really do not wish to stop at any stores or detours.

Eat a Traditional Egyptian Meal

There are many different types of cuisine available to a traveler in Egypt. But one of the must things to do in Egypt- Cairo is partake in a traditional Egyptian meal.

We started with an assortment of Egyptian Mezze (the delicious garlic sauce “toum” which is served in many restaurants in Egypt is almost gone). The Mezze consisted of lots of vegetables, hummus, lentils, fava beans, pitas and more

Almost all organized day tours in Cairo will include a traditional Egyptian lunch. Depending on the company you select and your specific guide, you could be taken somewhere touristy. Luckily, we were taken to a locally owned and run restaurant that had a mixture of locals and tourists dining. The meal was delicious! Exploring the local food is must thing to do in Egypt – Cairo.

Know Before You Go

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, and strict observers are prohibited from drinking alcohol. This means that the majority of restaurants and places you go, alcohol will not be available. Inside of hotels and some resorts, you may be able to find alcoholic beverages.

Smoking is allowed in many places, indoors included at times.

Out of respect for local customs, it is best to dress modestly or what some westerners might consider conservatively. Cover your shoulders, don’t wear anything too low cut and skirts and dresses should be at or below the knee.

The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound – LE

So have you been Egypt or is it on your bucket list? Of all the things to do in Egypt – Cairo, which one interests you most?

Headed to Egypt?

The Fairmont Nile City Hotel Cairo – a GREAT Place to Stay

How to See Magical Luxor in One Day

7 Spectacular Things to do in Alexandria Egypt

Travel Tips & Resources to Help You Plan an Epic Trip!

Going – I have been subscribed to Going (formerly, beloved, Scott’s Cheap Flights) awhile now and it’s an amazing resource for finding… did you guess cheap flights? Yes, you can set your preferences from airports to flight class and get destination deals right to your inbox. It’s fab! I use the Premium paid version, but they have a FREE version too. So what are you waiting for?! Let’s get Going!

Booking.com – the majority, if not almost all of my stays are booked on Booking.com. It’s a reliable site to book and manage your reservations. It’s a great way to find boutique stays and unique accommodations at the best rates! You can also easily communicate with your accommodation through the app!

Expedia – If I am looking for a flight to a specific destination for specific dates, I find myself booking the majority of my flights on Expedia. It’s user friendly and straight forward. I often can find the most cost effective rates, while earning points for every flight I book (in tandem with the points I receive from the credit cards I pay with).

Viator – most of the activities, tours and excursions I book for my trips are booked through Viator. Whether you’re seeking a guide for the day, a group tour, a cooking class, Viator has you covered!

Get Your Guide – this is another great marketplace to find tours, excursions and activities to book for your upcoming trip.

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