Cairo is home to a couple of the most recognizable monuments in the entire world, and they can be seen while driving around the city. The Great Pyramids rise above the skyline with the Great Sphinx sitting at their base. These are not the only pyramids in Egypt, or the oldest, but they are the largest and most famous – and thanks to their location in Cairo they are also the most accessible.
Most visits to they pyramids will make several stops. The first being a vantage point in the desert where you can get a view of the 3 main pyramids all together. While at this first stop be prepared for a small army of locals offering camel rides. This is a very, very pushy and insistent group of people.
While riding a camel in the Egyptian desert and looking at the pyramids at the same time is a great experience, just be ready Before You Go. Their tactic is to offer to take your picture, and to pose in pictures with you. Then they drag you over to a camel and put you on for a picture. Then they start walking the camel around. When you get off, they demand a lot of money. That can be a stressful part because they can demand $100 or more. If you are prepared before you go you can still have this great experience but if you just negotiate before they get started you can have the same experience for $5 to $10.
The second stop will be at the base of the great pyramid, where you gain an appreciation of the size and scale of the gigantic structures. The third stop will be near the Sphinx where you can get a closer look at the statue.
Another thing you can do at the Pyramids is to go back in the evening for the Sound and Light Show. The show tells a story and lights up the sphinx and pyramids and makes for another interesting view. In my opinion I wouldn’t say this is a can’t miss, but it’s different and probably worth seeing if you’re there and have the time.
The pyramids aren’t the only thing to see in Cairo.
The Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum holds an amazing wealth of ancient Egyptian artifacts. There are so many treasures that, like at the Louvre, exhibits that would be the centerpiece of most museums are in some random room off a hallway and are easy to miss. Make sure you look around thoroughly. Give yourself a lot of time to wander because with all the items displayed they are not always very organized. It can feel like a warehouse with artifacts just stacked up all over the place.
Something important to know Before You Go is that they used to charge extra to bring cameras into the museum and it is a pretty significant price tag. Check their site Before You Go for current pricing. The last we checked they stopped this policy, but check for the most recent information.
One of the most entertaining parts of Cairo is the Khan El-Khalili. It is a big, ancient bazaar, or market. Some shops have workshops or mini-factories. Going to Khan El-Khalili is a very popular thing to do while in Cairo.
A couple more things to keep in mind when visiting Cairo:
Do not rent a car. Taxis are cheap and this is a city you will not want to drive in, you definitely want a local who knows how to drive in Cairo. The normal rules of the road and even marked lanes mean nothing in Cairo. When you do take a taxi, just make sure you negotiate the rate to your destination before getting in the cab.
Dress appropriately. You are visiting another country and it is a conservative country, so just be respectful that you are a visitor.
Cairo is a great place to visit, I thought the people were friendly and the sights were incredible.