This article will provide you with ideas on things to do in Cairo, Egypt. This week's 90-degree weather just reminded me of how it was under the sun in the Sahara a few months back (and thank goodness for the cooler temps coming up!). So I finally had the time to write about this amazing trip of ours to Egypt!
Yes!! We finally got the opportunity to see Egypt!
Egypt had always been on our bucket list, but we never really came through until we planned a trip to visit Jordan. Cairo, only being an hour and a half plane ride from Amman, we figured this was the perfect time to make our ancient Egyptian dreams come true!
Egypt was once one of the most visited places on earth, with its awe-inspiring pyramids, tombs and artifacts. Built with such precision, these amazing sites are evidence that show us how advanced ancient civilization was. It's just beguiling to think how something so large can be built with exact precision on man power alone. Or was it? (Ah, I'll let the scientists argue that. I'm just here to show you how amazing and worth the trip it was!)
But it does make you wonder what purpose these enormous structures really served, and how freaking rich were these pharaohs to have built their tombs out of solid gold!?
Sadly, because of the recent attacks on Egypt, tourism has down on this part of the world. Even more devastating is that, because it is mainly in the desert, the population depended hugely on tourism for livelihood.
Now, since we only had 3 days to explore Egypt, we chose to stay in Giza. And to ensure that we were to make the most out of it, we hired Egypt Tailor Made Tours to give us a tour of this lovely city. Now, J and I usually don't hire a tour guide when we go places. However, in this area, we wanted to see so much in so little time in a place where traffic rules are suggestions, that we felt like it was just essential.
I highly recommend this company, by the way! They were so accommodating of our needs. From airport pick-up with an air-conditioned car & driver, visa-escorting. Walid, the owner, will even personally give you a call each day to ensure that all is going well and as planner. Our highly highly-knowledgable tour guide, Ms. Laila, with her words, painted such a great picture of what ancient civilization was like, and how life has transformed in Egypt since then. Any-who, here is our 3 day itinerary on what to do in Cairo.
After numerous flight delays from Amman, we finally got to Cairo early in the afternoon. Thankfully our lovely friends from Egypt Tailor Made were very cooperative and adjusted our itinerary. Upon picking us up, we headed out to the Citadel of Saladin Al Ayouby in Cairo. Just about a half an hour from the airport, we go to see the busiest streets of Cairo, with traffic that looked like mayhem but somehow the drivers and pedestrians moved in harmony.
The Citadel sits a top a hill with a magnificent view of Cairo was built in the 12th century to fortify Cairo against the crusaders. For 700 years, it became home to Egypt's rulers. It is now composed of mosques and museums and was renowned to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside the Citadel, we visited the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Inspired by the architectural style of the Ottomans, who ruled over Egypt for quite some time, you'll noticed how similar it is to the blue mosque in Istanbul,Turkey. inside is just as spectacular, with it's highly detailed decoration of the domes, chandeliers and red carpet, you will know why the Egyptians place a great deal into this monument.
Disclaimer: don't forget to dress appropriately. My biggest mistake was thinking that a dress that covered my knees was enough. A light weight long sleeved maxi dress will be your best friend out here. Also, a scarf to cover your head.
After this, knowing me and my love to shop, we had to go for the complete Egyptian market experience---at the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. One of the things I look for whenever we travel are the local markets. Not just to buy souvenirs, but going to places like this, where the communities comes together tiny a small space, allows me to experience the truest essence of a destination's culture. It allows me to see a the true dynamic of a community.
Built in the 14th century, this medieval style market will make you feel like you are time traveling. In this place you will find EVERYTHING. From silver, gold, copper lamps, to carpets, spices, to tacky toy camels. Don't let these merchants smooth talk you into buying it all, because I swear you will! And if they don't have what you are looking for, 100% they will find someone else who will :)
And when it all became too much, we sat down at a Bedouin-style cafe, that served us Sahlab--a sweet hot drink with made with milk mixed with flour made from a type of orchid (Orchis) with a slight dash of cinnamon.
At this point, it was night time, and we decided to head back to our hotel in Giza.
We stayed at Le Merdien in Giza. We chose to stay here simply for convenience and for the breathtaking views it gave us. Right across from this hotel was the pyramids of Giza!
The next day, we woke up early, had breakfast at our hotel (which was actually very good, if you are thinking about staying here), and Ms. Laila from Egypt Tailor Made picked us up along with a driver in her air-conditioned sedan, and we headed out to The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. Here is home to over 12,000 treasures and masterpieces dating back from the Ancient Egyptian period, including the collections of King Tut Ankh Amon.
I am SO glad we pre-booked a private tour, because OMG was it PACKED!! Everyone from everywhere in the world was here! And I don't blame them. In this museum, housed are sculptures and tombs that were excavated from Egypt's archaeological sites:
There were mummified royals, animals, and food:
And my absolute favorite wing was King Tut's, and you'll know why ;)
After this, we had lunch at a restaurant that gave us the most beautiful, unobstructed, view of the pyramids in Giza.
We decided to head to the pyramids later in the day to avoid the crowds during the heat. So glad we did that, because it was SO HOT.
Here you will see the oldest and largest of the Egyptian pyramids, built roughly during 2500 BC
I couldn't believe we had seen them, up until i came close and touched them; and even then, I was at a loss for words.
But if i was to describe them, it would be ASTONISHINGLY ANCIENT. 4,000 years old and they are still standing!
I couldn't believe it with my very eyes. From afar, you will see how massive these pyramids are. But we didn't realize how large each block was until we came up close! Each one is at least a TON! It's no wonder it's still a mystery how they were built. They once even argued that aliens or angels could have constructed them, due to it's highly precise construction! It makes you think that maybe our ancient ancestors were much more advanced than we think they are.
Fun fact: these pyramids were actually made to be tombs for the pharaohs. In them, included all kinds of gifts and treasures that they planned to take to the afterlife.
Giza was a great place to stay for quick 3-day stay in Egypt. It was less than an hour away from the airport in Cairo (of course depending on how heavy traffic is), and the pyramids were just RIGHT THERE.
In complete honesty, I wish we had more time. I wish we had time to hop on a plan and go see more of this beautiful country like Aswan and Luxor. But that's okay, there's always next time. In my thoughts, if the pyramids were there 5000 years ago, and are still standing, I'd hope they'll still be there in a few more years when we decided to come back, heh ;)
And despite current fears of going to this part of the world, I highly recommend coming out to see these beautiful wonders. You'll be surprised of how graceful this culture has aged!
Hope you enjoyed reading and gained some inspiration for things to do in Cairo, Egypt.
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To those who have questions, feel free to leave a comment. And to those who've gone, I'd love to hear from you! Share with me your Egyptian experience :)