Welcome to our Top Attractions in Cairo page; a guide to the best attractions located in and around this vibrant city. Cairo is very often the first place people see when they arrive in Egypt for a vacation. The city can be hot and chaotic, but it can also be so much fun. At egyptandjordantours.com, we want visitors to enjoy Cairo and all that it has to offer.
Cairo Top 10 Attractions
Without adequate planning, Cairo can be a bit overwhelming and even frustrating. It is always best to decide which attractions you want to visit before you actually arrive in Cairo. Doing so can save you a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of frustration. So, here are 10 top Cairo attractions which we believe every visitor to Cairo should see.
1. The Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx
Just about everyone on the planet has seen pictures of the famous pyramids and the Sphinx. They are typically the first monuments visitors want to visit when they arrive in Cairo for the first time. The pyramids have fascinated people for centuries. The largest of the three pyramids is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the only one which is still largely intact.
The largest of the three is known as the Great Pyramid of Giza and it was constructed for Pharaoh Khufu. The second-largest pyramid belonged to Khufu’s second reigning son, Pharaoh Khafre. The smallest of the three belonged to Pharaoh Menkaure. The Great Sphinx stands guard over the pyramid of Pharaoh Khafre. Its face is believed to be the face of Khafre.
The pyramids might look very near to one another, but are actually quite a distance from one another. For this reason, most people choose to visit the site as part of an organized tour. Nearly all of our own Egypt and Jordan tours include a private guided tour to the pyramids. During these tours, you get to see the 3 pyramids, the Sphinx and the Valley Temple.
All three of the pyramids are essentially open to visitors. In reality, however, one of the two smaller pyramids is quite often closed to visitors. Entry to the pyramids is not included in you admission ticket for the pyramids site. Separate tickets must be purchased at the site and more often than not, only 300 tickets are sold each day.
If you really want to enter one of the pyramids, we would recommend that you only enter one of them. There really isn’t much to see inside any of them other than empty chambers, narrow passageways, and plenty of stairs. On the upside, you will be able to tell people that you have actually been inside a pyramid.
2. Giza Pyramids Sound and Lights Show
The Giza Pyramids Sound and Lights show is truly spectacular and definitely one of the top attractions in Cairo. Most of our Egypt and Jordan tours don’t include a ticket for this show. Instead, we offer it as an optional add-on. During these shows, the pyramids are beautifully illuminated with colored lighting. The show is also professionally narrated in various languages via headphones.
While we don’t include this show in our tours, we certainly do recommend it. Attending the show is a great way to enjoy your first evening in the Land of the Pharaohs. It will also make your visit to the pyramids in daylight hours that much more insightful.
3. The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities has always been one of the top attractions in Cairo. Also known as the Egyptian Museum, it is home to the world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. At any given time, more than 120,000 of these are on display. Even more are kept in storage due to a lack of space.
Once the all-new Grand Egyptian Museum opens near to the Giza Pyramids, it is safe to say that all of the very best ancient Egyptian artifacts will be moved to the new museum. Many of the artifacts which are currently in storage will also be put on display at the new museum. A lot of these have never before been seen by the public.
When the new Grand Egyptian Museum opens, it will be the world’s biggest museum that is devoted to a single civilization. Until it opens, we still highly recommend visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
4. The Saqqara Necropolis and the Step Pyramid of Djoser
Any worthy Cairo top 10 attractions list will include the Great Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser. As with the Giza necropolis, the Saqqara necropolis is also an ancient royal burial ground. It served as a burial for Memphis, the capital of the Old Kingdom.
The necropolis is located approximately 30 kilometers to the south of Cairo. It is most famous for its Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser. This was the very first pyramid ever built by the ancient Egyptians. A further 16 Egyptian pharaohs built their pyramids at Saqqara as well. Today they are all in various stages of preservation.
After an extensive restoration project that was ongoing for 14 years, the Step Pyramid was once again opened to the public in March 2020.
5. Khan El Khalili Bazaar
Khan el Khalili Bazaar has always been one of the top attractions in Cairo. The bazaar has been the shopping area of choice for ordinary Egyptians ever since the late 14th century. It is one of the biggest and oldest bazaars in the entire Middle East. It is more like a small town than it is a bazaar, complete with its own streets, alleyways and etc.
Unfortunately, many visitors never actually venture deep into the bazaar, but this is where the real character and spirit of the bazaar is to be found. Many of the shops that front the bazaar have long since turned their attention to tourists and to selling cheesy souvenirs that you can find at any tourist trap in Egypt.
Nearly all of our Egypt and Jordan tours include a visit to this medieval bazaar. If you visit the bazaar with us, your guide will be more than happy to take you right into the very heart of the bazaar.
6. Nile River Dinner Cruises
Nile River dinner cruises in Cairo are one of the city’s best kept secrets. A dinner cruise in Cairo can be a truly magical experience. While many visitors don’t even know these cruises exist, we believe that they are definitely one of the top attractions in Cairo. Enjoying a dinner cruise is a great way to spend your first or last night in Cairo
Our tours typically don’t include dinner cruises because many travelers would rather spend their money on sightseeing. Still, a dinner cruise is something which we would certainly recommend. We can also add a cruise to any one of our tour itineraries. If you ask us to add a cruise to your tour, it will also include private transport to and from your hotel.
7. The Saladin Citadel of Cairo
The Cairo Citadel was constructed in 1176. However, most of the original structure has long since disappeared, with only the eastern outer walls remaining. Even so, there is still plenty to see here, including the Alabaster Mosque (see below), a Police Museum, a Military Museum and a Carriage Museum.
The citadel is also a popular place among locals who want to enjoy a cool breeze and a wonderful panoramic view of the city. The Gawhara Terrace is the best place to enjoy the breeze and the view.
8. The Muhammad Ali Alabaster Mosque
The Muhammad Ali Mosque is the most visible mosque in Cairo. It is one of the first significant landmarks that people see when they are approaching the city. It is also one of the top attractions in Cairo. Unlike many mosques, the Alabaster Mosque is open to all visitors, including non-Muslims. The mosque is not open to tourists during prayer times.
Located on the summit of the citadel, construction began in 1830 and it was completed in 1848. It is by far Cairo’s most famous mosque, and everyone who visits the city should definitely try to visit the mosque during their stay.
9. Al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque dates back to AD 972. It was one of Egypt’s first serving mosques. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world. There is another mosque in Fez, Morocco which is often said to be home to the world’s oldest university, but many Muslim scholars dispute this. This mosque is considered to be Egypt’s finest building from the Fatimid era. The architecture really is splendid.
Al-Azhar Mosque is located right in the heart of Islamic Cairo which also makes it a very convenient place to visit. Other nearby attractions include the Alabaster Mosque and the vibrant Khan el Khalili Bazaar.
10. Al-Azhar Park
Al-Azhar Park doesn’t often make it onto a list of top attractions in Cairo. To begin with, it is very conveniently located. It is often referred to as the “green lungs” of the Old District. What was once a sprawling rubbish dump is now a well-maintained green space with beautifully manicured gardens. It is a wonderful place to visit if or when you need some respite from the chaos of Cairo.
Many visitors and tourists alike visit the park in the evenings for a stroll and to enjoy spectacular views of the Old City just as the sun is starting to go down. There are also some good and reasonably priced restaurants on the site. It is the perfect place to visit if you just want to put your feet up and relax after a long day of sightseeing.
Enjoy the Real Feel and Soul of Cairo
Enjoy the true spirit of Cairo in comfort and style. With deluxe air-conditioned transport; 4 or 5 star accommodation and your own private guide and driver, you can enjoy Cairo without a care in the world. Contact us today and let us bring your Egypt travel dreams to life.