Cairo tours and visits

The ancient city of Cairo should be on everyone’s “things to do before your die” list.  The whole experience is of the hustle and bustle of the largest city in Africa is one to be experienced first hand.  Throughout the centuries Cairo has been the centre of Arabian culture and academic excellence and today you can still marvel at the unique sights you’ll see there.

Here we have listed the top tick list sights to see on when on holiday in Cairo.  Enjoy!

Egyptian Museum

Covering more than 3,000 years of history, the Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Egyptian antiquities, with 120,000  exhibits ranging from delicate jewellery through to colossal statues.

  • Short tour (min. 2 hrs): Tutankhamen’s Treasure; statues of the Pharaohs; Akhenaten collection.
  • Extended tour: royal mummies; portraits of Fayoum.
  • Tips: read the catalogue before your visit. Visit at opening time (9.00 a.m.) or in the afternoon.

Khan al-Khalili

One of the oldest bazaars in the world, the souk occupies almost the whole of Cairo’s medieval Fatimid quarter, and has been designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.

  • Short tour (min. 1.5 hrs): 3 km walk through narrow streets, some still showing traces of 13th century architecture.
  • Extended tour (half-day): mosques (10th-19th century); Mamluk palaces in Bayn el-Qasryn; al-Ghuri wikala (caravanserai); Islamic Museum.
  • Open day and night, in the evenings the souk is full of local residents. No parking (no cars allowed).

Cairo’s mosques and churches

Sultan Hassan Mosque

One of the most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture, dating from the Mamluk era in the 14th century. In the vast courtyard you will find vaulted iwans, a domed fountain, a mausoleum and the Mihrab.

  • Tour lasts for: 30 mins
  • Tips: arrange your visit for the morning, when the light is best. Wear suitably modest clothing, remember to take off your shoes.


Muhammad Ali Mosque

Built in the 19th century inside the medieval Citadel by the founder of modern Egypt, this mosque in the Ottoman style has become a symbol of Cairo.

  • Tour lasts for: 1 hour
  • Extended tour: museum, palace, mosque of the Citadel, panoramic view over Cairo and the Pyramids from the terraces.
  • Tips: arrange to visit shortly before sunset. Wear suitable clothing, take off your shoes.


Hanging Church (al-Mu’allaqa)

Consecrated to the Virgin Mary, the church was built on top of the Water Gate and the Roman fortress. It is the most beautiful church in Cairo, at the heart of the Coptic quarter.

  • Short tour (30 mins): beautiful ornamented façade;  ruined bastions of Roman gateway.
  • Extended tour: Coptic Museum; churches of St. Barbara and St. George; Ben Ezra Synagogue.
  • Tips: Wear suitable clothing.


Church of St. Sergius (Abu Serga)

Build above a crypt which is supposed to have sheltered the Holy Family when they fled to Egypt, this 4th century church is one of the oldest in Egypt. Parts date from the 10th and 12th centuries.

  • Short visit (30 mins): beneath the church, the crypt, with its ancient marble pillars.
  • Extended tour: narrow streets and old façades of the Coptic quarter, Nilometer.
  • Tips: Wear suitable clothing.

Nearby

Cairo and the Pyramids

Within 30 km (12 miles) of Cairo, Memphis, Saqqara, the  Pyramids and the Sphinx on the Giza plateau between them represent almost the entire Pharaonic period. While the ruins of Memphis are now covered by palm groves, Saqqara, the city’s former necropolis, still bears testimony to its ancient grandeur.

Memphis

Up river from the delta, Memphis (founded in ca. 3100 BC) was the economic and religious capital of the Pharaohs. Its importance is reflected by its necropolis.

  • Tour (30-45 mins): open-air museum; colossal statue of Ramses II; alabaster

Saqqara

Royal necropolis of Memphis, Saqqara is one of the richest archaeological sites in the world: the monuments, covering a 3,000-year period, are still being excavated.

  • Short tour (min. 2 hrs): step pyramid of Djoser; pyramid of Teti; Serapeum
  • Extended tour (3 hrs): tomb of Ankh-ma-Hor, mastaba of Ti, tomb of Mereruka.
  • Tips: you will need a torch to view the tombs.

Giza plateau

As enigmatic as the Sphinx herself, the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos are supposed to be aligned with the constellations.

  • Short tour (2.5 hrs): Sphinx, 2 of the 3 pyramids (closed to visitors on alternate days).
  • Extended tour (4 hrs): tour of the pyramid interiors; Museum of the Solar Barque, mastabas of Qar and Idu; tombs of Khufukhaf and Meresankh III.
  • Tips: best to visit early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Sound and light show several times a day.