1. Face the Ancient Wonder: The Great Pyramid of Giza
I don’t think any introduction is required for this signature wonder of Egypt! The Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu, along with the pyramids of Pharaoh Khafre & Pharaoh Menkaure is located in Giza, near about 20 kms away from the capital city Cairo.
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2. Have a Day Trip to Saqqara and Dahsur
The Step Pyramid of Saqqara is considered as the first pyramid of the world. There are two pyramids in Dahsur – the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid; both of them were built in the time period between the Step Pyramid of Saqqara and the Pyramids of Giza. These pyramids of Saqqara and Dahsur are worth-visiting to perceive how those ancient pyramid-makers were progressing with times before creating their masterpieces in Giza. Saqqara is 35 kms away from Cairo; Dahsur is another 10 kms away. Both of the places can be covered in a day-trip from Cairo.
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3. Get Awestruck by the Collection of Egyptian Museum
This huge museum is a home to the royal mummies and extensive collection of antiquities related to ancient Egypt. The museum is located near Tahrir Square, at the heart of the city.
If you are planning to visit the museum by your own, our blogs may be of your help:
4. Explore the Coptic Cairo Area
Coptic means Egyptian. One-tenth of the Egyptian population is Christian by belief and they are called Coptic Christians. Coptic Cairo is a particular area of Old Cairo, where numbers of old churches and other monastic settlements are scattered everywhere; along with a Coptic Museum and an old synagogue. This place is nice to explore for being introduced to the distinct architecture, culture and lifestyle of Coptic Christianity. This place is adjacent to the Mar Girgis metro station of Cairo.
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5. Stroll through the Allies of Islamic Cairo
The part of the city regarded as Islamic Cairo is an area, located on the east bank of Nile, where Islamic architecture of bygone era are mostly preserved in their unaltered forms, with picturesque street-life and intriguing neighborhood around. This area is best explored on foot. I am attaching the map of the trail with mentioning the highlights.
- Salah El din Citadel : A medieval Islamic fortification. Mosques and museums are there in the complex. Muhammad Ali Mosque is the most popular site among them.
- Muhammad Ali Mosque : An impressive manifestation in city’s skyline. This is an example of Ottoman style architecture, built in 19th century.
- Bab Zuwaylah : One of the remaining city-gates of Old Cairo. There are two minarets and from top of them, one can get the beautiful cityscape of Cairo.
- Museum of Islamic Art : Good to visit for being introduced to the Islamic history of Cairo through the displayed artifacts and other objects.
- Tentmakers’ Market : Excellent place for street photography and textile collection.
- Al Azhar Mosque : A huge mosque and more to this, a centre for studying Islamic religion. Students come here from all over the world.
- Numbers of not so well-known, but fascinating mosques and palaces are located on the both sides of the way; keep eye on them.
- All the highlights mentioned above are the popular sites of the city; any taxi-driver is supposed to know these places. Therefore, hire a taxi and ask to be dropped off wherever you want.
- Sites like Citadel area, Islamic Museum etc are usually kept open from 9am-4pm for visitors.
- The Tent-makers’ Market remains closed on Sunday.
6. Experience Khan-el-Khalili Market
Khan-el-Khalili, located in Islamic Cairo area is the biggest and one of the oldest markets of the city; a paradise for photography enthusiasts, souvenir-hunters and antique collectors. The traditional coffee-houses situated inside Khan-el-Khalili are good for observing the city-life.
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7. Don’t Miss the Sufi Dance Show in Wikalat Al Ghouri
Wikalat Al Ghouri, located just opposite to Khan-el-Khalili was a caravanserai, built in early 16th Century. Today the large courtyard of the building is used for a Sufi Dance Show being held twice/thrice a week. First of all, be there to look around the impressive medieval architecture. Then comes the Sufi Show; a vibrant and extremely skillful performance of Derveshi dancers, along with Sufi vocals & masterful percussion. The show is touristy, but still amazingly captivating and full of emotion.
- The show usually starts from 7.30 pm. Tickets are being sold from 6.30 pm.
- The show is held twice a week, Saturday and Monday.
- The show time and days may change with times. Do check the latest info before being there.
- The show is very popular among tourists. So get there as early as possible to acquire the best seat for you.
- Still photography is allowed there; no video recording.
8. Feel the Ecstasy: Have a Sheesha Time
Everywhere there in Cairo, you will smell the fragrance of sweet fruity aroma and where there is a smell there is a smoke, smoke of water pipe what they call Sheesha. Innumerable coffee-houses are found in every corner of Cairo, on footpaths, inside narrow allies, on bus stands, inside big markets like Khan-el-Khalili, even in front of the mosques; whatever be their size, but two things are most certainly available there, Egyptian tea and Sheesha. Coffee-houses are kept open from morning, but popular hours are after sundown. After a tiring day, people gather here to smoke Sheesha, relax, get socialized and be engaged in their favorite activities like watching football-match in television or playing Backgammon with friends. To get soaked in the true essence of Cairo, one should not miss experiencing Sheesha in a coffee-house and if you are not a smoker, even after that, be there, have a cup of tea and observe the locals around you.
9. Have a Trip to an Off the Beaten Track of Middle Egypt
The area I am going to introduce is politically sensitive and the best way to explore that part of Egypt is arranging a day trip from Cairo; in spite of staying there. The highlights of the trip are:
- Zawiyet el Maiyitin – One of the largest burial sites of the world; better to be described as a a sea of tombs spread over miles and miles.
- Beni Hasan – A group of ancient tombs (built during Middle Kingdom), carved into the high limestone cliffs, having colorful frescos painted on the inner walls.
- Tuna el Gebel – A complex containing tombs of Ptolemic period, an Animal Catacomb and a stone slab depicting the scene of Pharaoh Akhenaten and his family worshipping Aten, the sun-disc.
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10. Visit Birqash Camel Market
Egypt’s largest camel market is held on Birqash, a small village 40 kms away from Cairo. Friday & Sunday are the most popular days. Other attractions of or near Cairo took so much time, that we could not manage time for being there. Looking forward for our next trip to Egypt! In the mean time if you go there, please share your experience and valuable tips in comment section.