For as long as I can remember, the Sphinx and pyramids of Egypt have been on my bucket list. The ancient buildings are the only remains of all the wonders of the ancient world. Few buildings have survived so many centuries and continue to fascinate humanity. Our second day in Egypt we immediately visited these special buildings and I collected 20 practical tips for your visit!
20 tips for visiting the pyramids in Egypt
# 1 Buy all your tickets for visiting the pyramids straight at the entrance.
You can buy your ticket directly at the entrance and then immediately choose the right ticket. So do you also want to visit the boat museum? View a pyramid from the inside? Only at the entrance you can buy the ticket for that.
# 2 Go for the combination ticket.
For 600 Egyptian pounds (February 2020) you buy a combination ticket for the pyramid complex and access to a pyramid. As an added bonus, this also includes access to the boat museum.
# 3 You can enter the pyramids of Giza.
Yes, you read that right. You can buy a ticket to see the pyramids from the inside. In my opinion, to complete your ultimate bucket list experience, this is a must-do. You walk, crawl and climb through narrow and low corridors to the old burial chamber.
# 4 But don’t if you’re claustrophobic.
The corridors in the pyramids are tight, low, dark and stuffy. It can be busy and the walls will come at you. If you suffer from claustrophobia, consider skipping the pyramid anyway.
# 5 Think about your camera.
When you enter the pyramid, you must leave your camera at the security. We didn’t like that idea and luckily we had a guide with us who could take care of our things outside. Telephones are not taken into account and – even if this is not officially allowed – you can take telephone photos inside.
# 6 Also enter the queen’s pyramid.
In addition to the pyramids, you have three smaller pyramids that are called the queen pyramids. You will find them immediately to the left of the first great pyramid. You can also visit the middle one. A lot smaller than the great pyramid and really pitch dark, so use your phone’s flashlight.
# 7 Don’t climb the pyramids.
It is not allowed in order to protect the pyramids. Yet you see people everywhere trying to climb those first stones for the best photo angles. There is security everywhere to get you off the stones right away. But if you give them a tip, they will gladly help you and even take photos. Just don’t do that and respect the ancient monuments.
# 8 Watch the hieroglyphics in a tomb of a high-ranking official.
An asphalt road for tour buses runs right past the pyramids. On the other side of that road is the burial place for senior officials of the time. There is always a tomb opened and we saw the most beautiful hieroglyphics. The pyramids themselves are bare inside and not decorated, so this is the spot for hieroglyphics.
# 9 Walk to the viewpoint in the sand dunes.
It is a bit of a walk, but then you have the best view over the pyramids. Around the pyramids and especially on the city side, you mainly have shops, roads and many visitors. Therefore choose a beautiful viewpoint with some rest. This quiet viewpoint is not the point where the tourist buses stop at the end of that paved road. Walk a bit into the desert and sit there for the most beautiful view in all of Egypt.
# 10 Ignore the camel drivers and horse carts.
They will tell you that you cannot walk through the desert yourself, but it is seriously less than half a kilometer. Just ignore them, they are only trying to find new customers. Their alternative is to go to the viewpoint on their camel or in their horse cart, though it’s only a 10-minute walk. A waste of your money and especially pathetic for the poor animals.
# 11 Also, don’t skip the boat museum.
Right next to the Khufu pyramid, archaeologists made a bizarre discovery: parts of a huge ship were buried. In the same place they reassembled the boat and created a museum around it. The boat is 43 meters long and was still complete. No nail is required to assemble the boat, a unique piece of craftsmanship.
# 12 The cleanest toilet is in the boat museum.
There aren’t many clean public toilets in Egypt, but in the boat museum there is at least a cleaning lady. Give her a small tip and you will even get some toilet paper.
# 13 Bring plenty of water and preferably your food too.
The tourist prices at the pyramids are, of course, higher than anywhere else in Egypt. Your visit will take some time, so you’ll want to have a snack and something to drink. Bring it yourself to save your money and haggling with the sellers.
# 14 Bring a jacket in the winter.
While the pyramid area is sweltering in the afternoon in the summer months, it can be chilly and cold in winter.
# 15 Go as early as possible in the summer or in the afternoon in the winter.
In the summer you want to avoid the hot afternoon sun and the crowd, so you might want to come as early as possible. There are fewer visitors straight after opening hours in winter as well, but later in the afternoon is also a good option. The group tours and tourist buses are usually already gone by that time.
# 16 Allow at least four hours for your visit.
The pyramid complex is large. You also want to visit the Sphinx and the noblemen’s tombs. It also takes some time to visit the Great Pyramid inside. Plan in enough time for your visit and take at least four hours.
# 17 Read in.
The pyramids only come to life when you know a bit more about them. Fortunately, countless books and documentaries have been made about these wonders of the world, so plenty of choice. For example, did you know that the pyramids were not built by slaves, but well-groomed Egyptians? The Sphinx carved from one rock? The pyramids once lined with white limestone to shine in the sun? Are there still hidden chambers in the pyramids?
# 18 Visit the light show in the evening.
Almost every day a sound and light show is shown in the dark, as is the case with many ancient Egyptian monuments. In front of the Sphinx, the audience sits on chairs to hear the story of the Sphinx.
# 19 The best place to sleep near the pyramids is the Marriot Mena Hotel.
The pyramids are located in Giza, a district of Cairo. So you don’t have to sleep at the pyramids or in that neighborhood, but if you do, the Marriot is the best choice. From this hotel you have a phenomenal view of the famous wonders of the world. A budget option with just such a great view is Panorama Pyramids Inn. Check here the current prices and availability for the Marriot and Pyramids Inn.
# 20 From downtown Cairo take the Uber to the pyramids.
We paid £ 150 and £ 180 (Egyptian pounds) for a one-way taxi trip to Giza. The Uber app gives you the best prices in Cairo though and it saves you many ugly discussions and price haggling with taxi drivers.