BEST PLACES TO SEE AND THINGS TO DO IN CAIRO
The place is filled with so much culture and history that it is hard to not feel goosebumps with every new place you discover. Cairo is for sure the place where you can really get a feeling about the Egyptian street life.
Discover with us the best places to see and things to do in Cairo, but also some important and useful travel tips and advice.
1. Is Cairo / Egypt safe?
This is the main question we heard while planning our trip to Egypt, during our visit to Egypt and after we returned.
Our answer is: book your flight!
We know it is not fair to say a place is safe just based on the fact that nothing happened to us while being there, or even in this case taking into consideration that the situation in Egypt still remains uncertain. On the other hand, thinking of the times we live, we could not claim any place on earth as safe.
We wandered through Cairo and the most part of Egypt, during the day, but also at night time, and we did not had bad experiences. Of course we made sure we do not expose our money and valuable things (check here for more tips). Also, we acted normally, smiling and respectfully when engaging into conversations or negotiations with the locals.
In Cairo and throughout Egypt you will find a lot of armed Security forces (police and military). They are located mainly near the touristic attractions, public institutions, hotels or shops. Egypt has a specialized Police branch – Egypt Tourist Police. These officers often escort the tourist groups, especially if these are traveling by bus during the night time.
If you do not travel with a group or travel guide, our best advice is: always use your common sense. That being said, visiting the northern part of Sinai Peninsula, except Sharm El-Sheikh is probably not a smart idea. Egypt, while slowly being on the way to long-running peace and prosperity, is still a place with lots of internal conflicts and quite some poverty.
The final decision to go is entirely yours. We can only say that we had a wonderful time in Egypt and in Cairo. This was one of our most amazing journeys, we will return and we did not feel unsafe. Not even for a second while being there.
2. Best places to visit in Cairo
The Pyramids of Giza
These are the main landmarks that first come to mind when you say Egypt. Visiting the most ancient of the Seven Wonders of the World that survived the ages should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list.
Looking at the Pyramids, these huge and so perfectly shaped massive stones, made us feel sooooo small and yet so special.
The Archeologists uncovered over 138 pyramids in Egypt, but none of them are as big as the ones in Giza.
Guarding the pyramids is the lion-bodied and pharaoh-faced Sphinx, one of the ancient world’s most mysterious monuments & the world’s oldest monumental sculpture.
Buried for most of its life in the desert sand, an air of mystery has always surrounded the Great Sphinx. There are a lot of speculations about its age and purpose, method of construction, his role, and connection to the pyramids.
The Citadel and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali
You will have the best panorama over the city of Cairo. If you are lucky and there is no sand in the air, you can get a great Pyramids view.
Though it is not the oldest Islamic monument in Cairo, it is the city’s most famous Islamic landmark also known as the Alabaster Mosque. The Mosque is situated on the highest spot of the city, inside the ancient Saladin citadel.
Visit Khan El-Khalili – the Souk (Arabian market)
We are not fans of the bazaars, but if you are, this one should be on your list.
The market is so colorful and full of souvenir shops, spices, food, clothing, leather bags, jewelry, and antiques. Around the souk, you will find plenty of restaurants and street cafes.
Remember to negotiate everything and never pay more than 50% of the first price!
The Egyptian Museum
This is a place where you can get lost, especially if you are into history and ancient Egypt.
You will discover one of the greatest museums in the world which has more than 100,000 artifacts from ancient Egypt, including mummies, sarcophagi, jewelry, and pottery.
The main attraction still is Tutankhamun’s exhibition. You will enjoy the largest and richest collection of grave goods ever found intact in an Egyptian tomb. Do not miss admiring the treasures from the King’s tomb, including his famous golden funeral mask.
As you may know, the largest archaeological museum in the world is under construction and it is planned to open in 2020. This is The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), also known as the Giza Museum. We are sure it will be spectacular. We will definitely come back to Egypt and visit it.
The Ibn Tulun Mosque
You should know that this is of the largest mosques in the world and the second oldest one in Egypt.
It is located so close to the Citadel, and so easy to visit when in the area. The main attraction is its unique minaret having an external spiral ramp and a lovely architecture.
The Hanging Church
The Hanging Church is one of the Christian churches in Cairo. It has a special story because it is built on top of an old Roman fortress. And this is the reason why it carries this name.
3. Where to stay in Cairo?
When in Cairo, we recommend you to stay at least 2 nights close to the Pyramids (Giza area).
As a general rule in Egypt and Cairo as well, choose carefully your accommodation because they are most of the time overrated. So check these places we can recommend you:
4. Where to eat In Cairo
We found many places with good food in Cairo. You should already know that we are almost plant based and the only meat we eat is fish and seafood. While visiting Cairo, we wanted to find places that serve especially delicious fish, falafel, and humus. And we did.
Here are some of the places we recommend:
- Christo – by far our favorite, with view to the Pyramids, and delicious fish dishes
- Abou El Sid Restaurant – try the hummus, the lentil soup, the baba ganoush
- Naguib Mahfouz Café – try the Kofta (falafel dish made with fava beans)
- Crimson Bar & Grill – try the grilled octopus and the risotto with mushrooms.
For something sweet, try:
5. How to get around
Cairo is a very crowded city and the traffic is very chaotic.
We would not recommend you to rent a car in order to get around in the city. The traffic rules are not respected by the drivers. According to some locals, having the full insurance for the car does not help you either. In case of an incident, nobody is concerned about the paperwork and they are continuing their drive. In fact, you will notice that most of the cars are scratched or damaged.
The best way to visit the city is by either Uber or Careem. Cairo also has a subway service. Depending on where you are going, you could also use this one.
6. Weather in Cairo and best time to visit the city
In general, the weather in Cairo is hot, but as in every place you visit, you always need to check the weather for the exact period you are traveling.
In wintertime, for example, mornings begin with a thick, murky fog that spreads out over Cairo and sometimes makes even the pyramids less visible.
However, the best times to visit Cairo is from March to April and from October to November. These are the times with comfortable temperatures, fewer crowds and low hotel rates.
7. Our top tips for Cairo
We end our Cairo Travel Guide with this important chapter, that can make the difference when you will be visiting Cairo.
So, read carefully these tips 🙂 :
⇒ Best time to visit the Cairo Museum is the afternoon when the tickets are cheaper and it is less crowded.
⇒ Use an Uber or Careem to get around in the city, they have the best prices. Set your destination and you will see exactly how much does your ride costs. If you need to grab a taxi, do not get in the car until you negotiated and fix the price with the driver.
⇒ Buy a local internet sim card. You can get one straight from the Airport. It is the best option.
⇒ The quality of the internet is not that good in general. You cannot rely on the Wi-Fi provided by the hotels or the public places. So be prepared either with your roaming data, or with the local sim card.
⇒ If you want to see the sound and light show from the Pyramids, instead of paying for a ticket our advice is to either choose an accommodation nearby that has a rooftop terrace with a view to the show. You can even go to a rooftop terrace at the time of the show and enjoy a lemon fresh while you also get a cool view of the show. Pyramids Valley Boutique is one of the places where you can do that even if you are not staying there.
⇒ Buy spices, dried fruits, tea leaves from a supermarket, instead of the Souk. It is much cheaper and you find the same quality.
⇒ Try to dress as simple as possible and respect the culture.
Do not miss the most important ones 🙂
⇒ Learn to say “no” and don’t get stressed if people insist that you buy all kind of stuff, try to understand that they are trying to make a living.
⇒ Don’t wear stuff that might draw attention on you, like large pieces of jewelry, don’t keep money on plain sight.
⇒ Try not to ride the donkeys, the horses, and the camels to get around the Pyramids, they are not so well treated and you can walk, it is not that hard.
⇒ If people ask you where you are from, don’t be surprised when they have a friend, relative in that exact place, it is a strategy to start a conversation with you and maybe get you to buy something. You can always politely say no.
⇒ Be careful when you receive change or exchange money. The official currency is the EGP or LE (Egyptian pound). The amounts are also written in English on one side of the bills. One Egyptian pound is made up of 100 piastres. Some of the bills might look the same, especially the 50 pounds with the 50 piastres. Always look at them carefully.
⇒ When booking accommodation in Cairo or Egypt in general, always search for minimum 4-star accommodations, never less and check really carefully all the facilities. Some of the 4-star hotels look a lot like 2-star western standards and some of them advertise facilities that are far from reality (like beach front, but when looking on the map, the beach is far away from the hotel). Many of the hotels are old and need renovation.