As travel opens back up I am going to have many new places to write about (yay) but I want to make sure I finish off my Egypt series as some of them might be useful to those of you planning trips. Plus I promised my family while we were on holiday that I every time I stopped to take a photo or jot down a note it was to make sure I could have the most accurate recaps for the blog and I want to stay true to my word. During our two weeks in Egypt we explored many different places in Cairo, both starting and ending our trip there. How you define the city is interesting, on one side of the Nile is Cairo and the other is Giza but the locals consider it all Cairo so I am as well.
(1) Khan Al-Khalili. The is a famous bazaar and market is located and you can find some real treasures. However, it extends for nearly a mile and I would recommend the few blocks near the Al-Hussain Mosque – beware of pick pockets though and enjoy one of the oldest parts of Cairo city!
(2) Pyramids of Giza. Technically not in Cairo Go check out my posts about this specifically our Camel Ride around the Great Pyramids and the opportunity we had to go inside them. These huge structures are thousands of years old and one of the most iconic symbols in the world – no trip to Cairo would be complete without visiting!
(3) City of the Dead If you are visiting the Citadel and the Mosque you drive by this neighbourhood and even from the motorway it is eerie. However, while it may look like abandoned houses or shanties it is actually four miles of necropolises and cemeteries which has been deemed and UNESCO World Heritage site.
(4) Citadel of Salah Ed-Din Right next to the mosque (mentioned below) this medieval fort built was by Salah Ad-Din and it goes under many names – fortress, citadel, military building, and even castle. The later is because it was the home of all of the Egyptian rulers from the 13th to the 19th centuries but it certainly looks much more like a military fort which dates back to the 12th century.
(5) Great Sphinx of Giza This limestone statue also has many names including the Sphinx of Giza or just the Sphinx but no matter what you call it is certainly an iconic landmark, especially because when you look at it straight on you can see three of the pyramids. While the typical angle shows you the broken nose, when looking at it from the side you get a true sense of the size – it extends 240 feet from pay to tail and is still in remarkable shape considering it dates back to the Old Kingdom making it more than 4,500 years old. If you want to see a few shots of it at night you can check out my Pyramids of Giza Sound and Light Show post.
(6) Mosque of Muhammad Ali While this mosque is not the largest in Cairo it is one of the most grand with the domes covered in silver. When you buy a ticket you can also venture inside to see the floors made of marble and walls of alabaster from West Bank of the Nile in Luxor by the Valley of the Kings. We visited on one of our first mornings in Egypt and you can read more about it in this post, including how it took 17 years to build.
(7) The Egyptian Museum Formally called the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities this is another great Cairo spot that already got it’s own post but this 117 year old museum is worth writing home about, especially as it contains the contents of King Tut’s tomb. Even though the museum is currently being relocated it is still worth a visit!
(8) Memphis and Sakkara While officially called an “open air museum” this is the ruins of the ancient city of Memphis including two pyramids, the most famous of which is the step pyramid but you can not get close, unlike the Great Pyramids. Though be warned, even though the Saqqara Necropolis is only 32km outside the heart of the city it will likely take you more than an hour to get there with traffic!
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There you have it, my top eight recommendations of what to see in Cairo! And as I know someone is likely to mention this in the comments, most other best things to do in Cairo lists you will see list the Nile listed which is amazing but it runs right through the middle of the city and you will likely cross it a few times. Plus, outside of Cairo it is much more scenic to travel on.
Which spot would you like to visit?