Egypt is one of the most well-known, recognizable countries in our world. Its history goes back thousands of years before the Romans or the Greeks, so there is plenty to see. I’m going to start this blog post talking about the most basic must-sees of Cairo, but also some of my favorite places that are considered more of a hidden gem. Being incredibly blessed to be able to visit this country, I feel obligated to share with you my thoughts on it and to potentially help travelers in the future. So here we go.
The Pyramids, to me, are one of the most impressive things I have ever seen in my life. The size of them is something that just makes your jaw drop. When I walked up to a singular slab of limestone, it went up to about my chest and was easily 8-10 feet long. Most of them weigh over 2 tons and it took 2.3 million of them to build the Khufu Pyramid (the biggest one). In my opinion, I could just stare at it all day and marvel at how something like that was built over 4,000 years ago. Another option is to go inside the pyramid, which is worth every penny. You climb up about 40 meters (this is a guess, don’t fact-check me) to the top where there is a wide opening and a small room which was considered the King's Chamber and resting place of King Khufu. It is a very small, bare room but when you think about where you are, you can’t help but be amazed. I suggest that you bring water or hydrate heavily before because it can get very hot and sweaty in the tunnel. I would also go there right in the morning when there isn’t a crowd. It can be very tight in the tunnel when everyone is trying to shove their way to the top and get down in the same way. The other two pyramids are also amazing and you have to go up to them but to be honest, it is just more of the same.
When you walk in the entrance for the Pyramids and Sphinx, you will be bombarded by individuals trying to “help” you and sell you camel rides. I realize that this is their profession and it is always good to support the local economy, but it is not necessary to ride them. Otto, Jack, and I paid 500 Egyptian Pounds each for an hour's ride to the panoramic site to take photos and I didn’t even get my own camel. Our whole trip also took less than 30 minutes. I guess if you are young and on a budget while traveling, it is very accessible to walk between the pyramids and the sphinx, regardless of what people say there.
The Sphinx was my favorite thing about Cairo. Besides the nose, most of the structure is very well intact. It is so long and according to the legend, even older than the pyramids. Something that I regret is not having a tour of the Sphinx, so if anyone reading this goes to Cairo, you must get a tour guide that can give you all the information you can on it. It is truly a masterpiece to look at.
Global Energy Stories Team plus Jack
Before I get onto other information, I want to share with you the other Pyramids, the Saqqara Tomb, and Memphis. The other pyramids were equally as impressive as the main three but you can roam around inside of them more freely. It is a super incredible experience but it is quite the haul going down inside of them. You have to duck your head and crouch the whole 80 meters down but once you are inside you get to see different parts of the pyramid. Anyone over the height of 6ft might have to do more crawling than ducking because the entrance is very small. The drive to these pyramids is also quite a ways away so get ready to make this your plan for the day, but it is worth every second.
The Saqqara Tomb was the oldest burial spot recorded for many different kings. It was referred to as the “mega tomb” and had so many artifacts that it must have been an Egyptologist's dream to discover it. The mummies were also one of the big attractions that come with it and are required to see if you are in Cairo.
Memphis is a city right outside Cairo and was the Capital of Old Egypt. You get to see a massive structure of King Ramses II and other amazing artifacts. In my opinion, this and the Saqqara Tomb are a must-see but I would suggest that you have a guide while doing it. It is interesting reading about it yourself, but you want to have a legit, local guide that can give you more information.
For every excursion you do, you must bring water and plenty of it. If you come at almost any time of the year, the sun will be glaring down at you. If you are pasty like me, I would suggest you bring sunscreen as well because the rays are intense.
Now for anyone visiting in the future, I am going to give you my two favorite restaurants and favorite bakery that I dined at in Cairo.
Abou Tarek is a 4 story restaurant located in the heart of downtown Cairo. The main attraction is Koshari, often called “Egypt’s national dish”. Its ingredients consist of lentils, noodles, chickpeas, tomato sauce, and fried onions. Typically you make it spicy and can also add on some Egyptian whiskey, which is just vinegar (trust me, I checked). The turnover is also incredible, they can have you in and out of there within 20 minutes. For a soft drink and a full bowl of Koshari, it totaled $1.70, making it a great place for travelers who are on a budget. Overall the food and service were amazing and would highly suggest that everyone go here while in Cairo.
Taboula, a Lebanese restaurant on the outskirts of downtown Cairo, is a tourist hotspot but also has the best Lebanese food in the city. When spending time in Cairo, I learned that I have a new love for Lebanese food. Their dishes Kibbeh and Kafta were out of this world, especially if you mix it with some hummus. Lamb is one of the key meats made in many of their dishes which is one of my favorites and is a comfort food. Another must-go restaurant in Cairo.
For my followers with a sweet tooth, El Abd is the place to go. Right off the main square in Cairo, they have an abundance of options. Cake, donuts, wafers, ice cream, baklava, and much more. It is always packed so it is smart to go early in the morning or late at night, and from what I saw they are open most hours of the day. Otto and I each got a box of Baklava hoping to bring it home to friends and family but it was devoured before leaving the country. If that doesn’t give you a good explanation of how good this place was, then I don’t know what will. If you can’t find a place to head for breakfast or dessert head on over to El Abd.
Before I end this blog post, I have a few more excursions that you can add to your list. To get the best view of the city, you must go to the top of the Cairo Tower. They have a wonderful food and drink selection and it is also the best place to watch the sunset. You can see for miles and get a tiny glimpse of the pyramids in the distance.
If you have a day to just relax, you must go to Al-Azhar Park. It has amazing palm trees, fountains, and green grass that you can relax in for just a $1 entry fee. It can be a hotspot on weekends so I suggest going midday during the week so you can have an area to yourself.
I know I have filled your head with many different things to do in Cairo but I believe it is always important to have a plan before wandering around a foreign city. I hope all of this information helped you and of course, happy traveling!