Things to do in Cairo
Cairo has to be part of your Egypt travel route. Plan to spend two full days in the city. Ignore everyone’s opinion about the city and discover it your way!
1. The Pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza
The Giza Pyramid complex is located on the outskirts of Cairo. With a height of 139 meters, the Great Pyramid can easily be spotted from the city. Pyramids are royal tombs, and Egypt counts 138 of them! Discoveries, like mummies, are still done in this area.
The Great Sphinx of Giza is a giant limestone statue showing a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. The iconic symbol of Egypt and a real must-see while visiting Egypt.
Please: Do not support the use of camels. It is easy to get around on foot via the pavement. Here are some things to do about wildlife tourism and the better alternatives.
2. Wander at the world’s oldest open-air market
Experience the sounds and smells at one of the world’s oldest open-air markets. The Khan El-Khalili souk is a maze filled with spices, food, clothing, leather bags, jewelry, and antiques.
This Souk (Arabic for open-air market) is the place to go souvenir shopping but get ready to bargain. You should pay around 50% of the original price. Do not follow a vendor to the back of his shop; this usually is a trick.
Several restaurants, street food vendors and coffeehouses around the market serve Arabic coffee and shisha.
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3. Get a real Egyptian meal on Gezira Island
Gezira Island is the coolest neighborhood in Cairo. Young, creative Egyptians occupy the area. The authentic buildings with galleries surrounded by the water of the Nile River is a calm escape from the busy city life on the mainland. Visiting Gezira is one of the best things to do in Cairo.
Abou El Sid Restaurant is a fantastic spot to have a delicious Egyptian meal. We highly recommend the Lentil soup, Baba Ganoush, Hummus and if you’re interested: try the delicacy ‘Stuffed Pigeon’.
4. Mosque of Ibn Tulun – surprising thing to do in Cairo
In the middle of a non-touristy neighborhood surrounded by dusty roads is one of the most beautiful mosques in Cairo, the Ibn Tulun Mosque. It’s a large mosque that still has all its old details. Get an aerial view from the nearby tower or walk around on the second level.
Good to know: It is appropriate for women to wear a scarf.
5. Back in time at the Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum is home to the world’s greatest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. You can even see real preserved mummies in the mummy. It is a highly recommended thing to do in Cairo. Plan to spend 2 – 4 hours in the museum.
An entrance ticket costs 200 EGP (~ $8 USD). Get your tickets here. To visit the mummy rooms, a separate ticket can be purchased inside the mummy rooms.
6. The Hanging Church
Built on top of an ancient Roman fortress is the reason why it is named ‘The Hanging Church’. The Roman church with beautiful ornaments and mosaic paintings is still in use. In fact, 10% of the population in Egypt is Christian. Cairo has a Roman quarter where churches are mixed with mosques.
7. The Mosque of Muhammad Ali
Located on a hilltop inside the Cairo Citadel is the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. The impressive limestone mosque is a beautiful site to visit for a couple of hours and has a view overlooking the entire city.
Where to stay in Cairo
Consider staying in downtown Cairo near Tahrir Square for a central location close to the major attractions. Zamalek offers a great selection of hotels and a vibrant atmosphere. If your focus is visiting the Pyramids of Giza, stay in Giza.
How to Visit Cairo
Cairo is the capital and largest city in Egypt and is home to an international airport with flights arriving from all over the world.
Taxi services like Uber or Careem are available throughout the whole city. Easily hop from sight to sight using this service.
Best restaurants in Cairo
Cairo offers some delicious places to have lunch or dinner.
- Abou El Sid (Best Egyptian Cuisine)
- Cake Cafe (Dessert)
- Naguib Mahfouz (near Khan el Khalili Souk)
- Crimson Bar & Grill (view over the Nile river)