Cairo, Egypt’s capital city, is a bustling place filled with good food and some amazing sights.
I hope this post can get you in the right direction of figuring out what to do. Here are some places you should check out when you visit Cairo!
Giza Pyramids Complex
It feels slightly silly to start off this post by directing you outside of Cairo but chances are, this is what you’ve come to Cairo to see. The famous pyramids are awe-inspiring. Located about 30 minutes outside of Cairo in the city of Giza, they’re fairly easy to get to and explore. Even if you don’t stay long or go inside, it’s a bucket list item to see it with your own eyes. I tell you all about our visit and tips in this post.
Another site you can’t miss is the Egyptian Museum. They are currently building the new museum complex near the Giza Pyramids Complex and it’s projected to be done in 2020. We drove by it on the way to the pyramids and it will be incredible when it is finished!
However, the Egyptian Museum is still open in Downtown Cairo near Tahrir Square and you’ll easily spend a few hours exploring all the rooms. It is a little chaotic since there is little signage for so many statues and artifacts. They have clearly outgrown the space but that adds to the intrigue of the number of items you can view.
Tahrir Square is near the Egyptian Museum. Most recently, it was the place of political demonstrations in 2013 and during the 2011 Revolution. Hundreds of thousands gathered here to protest.
Bellies En-Route Food Tour
We did this food tour on our first night in Cairo, and I’m so glad we did! We tried many of the dishes in my eating and drinking in Egypt post and was a good introduction to the dishes we would be enjoying.
If you’re looking for souvenirs or want to experience a crazy market, this is the place! Blocks and blocks of this bazaar are filled with shops and tourists. Located in Islamic Cairo, you’ll get a glimpse of old architecture and wander the maze of shops.
Citadel of Cairo
The Saladin Citadel of Cairo is a historic Islamic complex that was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1976. Here you’ll find a few museums and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque, and the Mosque of Sulayman Pasha.
If you’d like to visit older and more beautiful mosques than those in the Citadel, consider these options.
- Al-Azhar Mosque – one of the oldest mosques, it is also considered one of the most beautiful.
- Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan – one of the biggest mosques, its Islamic architecture is a sight to see.
- Mosque of Ibn Tulun – the oldest mosque in Cairo, it’s recognized by its flat square roof.
- Al-Hussein Mosque – located near Khan El-Khalili, this mosque is considered one of the most sacred Islamic sites and is the burial place for the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
The Nile River
You can’t miss the Nile River. You’ve probably read about it in history books, so seeing it in person is a little surreal. Walk along the streets near Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum and you’ll see it. A popular activity is taking a felucca ride along the Nile.
Shaped like a lotus flower, the Cairo Tower was once the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa. The funds to build the tower came from a U.S. bribe to the Egyptian president in the 1960s. Taking the bribe as an offense, the president used the money to build this tower. The tower has an observation deck and restaurant.
Coptic Cairo: The Hanging Church, Coptic Museum, Babylon Fortress, and More
Coptic Cairo is in Old Cairo and was the place where Christianity thrived among the Islamic and Muslim majority. Here is where you’ll find The Hanging Church, Babylon Fortress, and Church of St. George, to name a few historic sites. The Coptic Museum holds the largest collection of Coptic artifacts.
Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of Islamic Art holds the largest collection of Islamic art in the world. More than 100,000 artifacts of intricate designs, manuscripts, and craftsmanship will have your head spinning with creativity.
City of the Dead – Not Recommended
One local kept telling us that we had to see the City of the Dead, so I wanted to include information about this here so you know what it is. The City of the Dead started as a cemetery and parts of it still is that. Poverty in Cairo has pushed the poorest out and many have ended up living in the mausoleums of the cemetery. While it might be interesting that 500,000 people are living next to tombs and some of the tombs are beautiful, it’s also one of the worst slums in the country. In my opinion, it is not somewhere travelers should go to sight-see.
Want to see more about my Egypt trip? See the posts here.