The Egyptian capital, Cairo, hides a lot of fantastic pearls. It is therefore a must to spend a few days here during your trip through Egypt. The versatile city of Cairo will certainly not disappoint you with its colorful mosques, impressive museums and ancient buildings.
Cairo Tourist Map with the Top Attractions
8 best things to do in Cairo
# 1 The pyramids and the Sphinx
The famous pyramids and the Sphinx are probably one of the reasons that you wanted to go to Egypt. Rightly so! Of all age-old wonders of the world, only the pyramids are still standing. They have been attracting visitors from all over the world since ancient times and you are not allowed to skip them in Egypt. They are in the suburb of Giza, so just a short taxi ride from downtown Cairo. Don’t forget to buy a ticket with access to the big pyramid. Although the interior is not particularly interesting, crawling through the narrow corridors to the old burial chamber is a unique experience.
# 2 Souk Khan El-Khalli
A souk is an authentic market that you will find in many Arab countries. The souks in Cairo are also a fascinating chaos of colors and scents. Khan El-Khalli is the oldest market in Cairo. Although there are many souvenir shops nowadays, wandering through the souk is still an experience and must-do.
# 3 Citadel with the mosque of Mohammed Ali
The citadel towers high above Cairo and offers phenomenal views of the city. Even without clear weather like ours, you can see the pyramids on the other side of the city. The two mosques in the citadel are also a must-visit. The large mosque is that of the former head of state Mohammed Ali. All splendor!
# 4 Egyptian Museum
This is one of the most famous museums in the world. Here you can admire the famous death mask of pharaoh Tutankhamun and you can see pharaoh mummies. The other parts of the museum are also recommended and show the most beautiful archaeological finds from Egypt. Take a couple of hours for the museum. Tickets cost 200 EGP, you pay an extra ticket for a camera and you have to show your passport.
Tip: a brand new museum on the outskirts of the city should be opened in 2020. But that has also been postponed for years, so don’t count on it just yet. For years, the most beautiful finds from all over the country and from all museums have been collected for this new pride of Egypt. So keep an eye out on the website for an opening date.
Another tip: if you buy an extra ticket for the mummy rooms, don’t forget the second room on the other side of the museum. The extra ticket costs 180 EGP.
# 5 The Sultan Hassan mosques
At the foot of the citadel are two mosques, connected with Sultan Hassan. If you are looking for a place to be amazed by the splendor of Islamic architecture, this is where you should be. Both mosques are phenomenally beautiful. They are rarely visited by tourists, so you can enjoy this in peace.
# 6 Coptic Cairo with the Hanging Church
The Copts form the largest Christian group in Egypt and are mainly found in Cairo. In Coptic Cairo you will find several churches and a museum. According to the Copts, this area was visited by the Holy Family after Mary was chased out of her country with her newborn son Jesus. Especially popular are the Saint George and the Hanging Church, both on the same street. The Saint George has a special, round dome that covers almost the entire building. The Hanging Church is especially famous, so named because it is built over a gate and passage. Because the land level has risen since construction, you don’t see much of that nowadays. Entry for both churches is free.
# 7 Gezira island
The hippest part of Cairo is the Zamalek district, or the Gezira island. That is actually a double name, since gezira is Arabic for island. On this island in the Nile you will find a museum for modern art, art galleries, coffee bars and trendy restaurants. This makes it one of the more popular places for expats to live. We too found this a relief in the middle of dusty, noisy and chaotic Cairo. We recommend Lychee for smoothies and juices, Cake Café or Holm Café for coffee with cake and L’Aubergine for dinner and cocktails.
# 8 The old city gate Bab Zuweila
Old Cairo was surrounded by ramparts and city gates, of which Bab Zuweila is one of the last remains. Bab also means ‘gate’. The two towers are beautifully made and resemble the many minarets in the city. From the towers you have a beautiful view over the city, but you first have to climb the very steep and dark stairs.