9 sights not to miss in Cairo

What to see in Cairo in 2 days

Cairo is a huge metropolis, the capital of Egypt with a history of thousands of years. It is one of the most interesting and unusual cities in the Arab world, invariably attracting the attention of travelers with its wonders. Of course, it’s difficult to explore such a city in two days, but if you’ve made the right route you can see all the most beautiful things in Cairo. Even if you have only one weekend to spare.

Where to start? Choose a destination that interests you. It could be a modern Cairo, the historic districts of the Old City, museums or palaces, monuments of Islamic culture. We’re sure you’ll be interested in a trip along the Nile, and of course the route for 2 days should include a trip to the Sphinx and the legendary pyramids. Explore our overview material and you’ll find out how to make a more convenient itinerary to famous sights.

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Route #1: What to see in downtown Cairo on your own

If you have always wanted to see the sights of Cairo, breathing history, it is better to start with the main – forts, mosques, palaces.

The Cairo Citadel

Do you like castles? Then you should definitely see the ancient citadel in Cairo, a monument of valor and military fortification. It was built in the early Middle Ages, on the orders of the almost legendary ruler – Sultan Salah ad-Din.

The citadel was to protect the city and its inhabitants from invaders, primarily crusaders. Saladin dreamed that the fortress wall would stretch from the Nile to the Nile, tightly “sealing” the passage. Not all of the ruler’s ambitious plans came true, however, to this day the fortress delights travelers. By the way, it is not only an architectural object, but also an excellent viewing platform from where you can see the city.

Citadel is also a museum of medieval history in the open air. On its territory there are mosques, palaces, museum exhibits, and the powerful towers and fortress walls of golden stone give the impression of monumentality. The Cairo Citadel and the ancient mosques and palaces of the Old City are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List as cultural monuments of Islamic Cairo.

The Citadel in Cairo

The Mohammed Ali Mosque

The most notable landmark of the Cairo Citadel is the Mohammed Ali Mosque. It is one of the largest mosques in Cairo and all of Egypt and is an example of Islamic architecture built in the early 19th century. Its domes and especially its minarets are visible from afar, their height is 82 meters. The grandeur adds to the hill on which the mosque was built, and of course the magnificent decoration of the facades, the second name of the mosque – Alabaster.

The mosque is named after Mohammed Ali, the viceroy, the Ottoman ruler of Egypt. During his era, Egypt greatly expanded its possessions, and Cairo acquired new and interesting buildings. One of them is the mosque of Mohammed Ali, which became the tomb of the ruler. The mosque is a whimsical mix of Byzantine and Egyptian architectural traditions, but dominated by the traditional Ottoman motifs of Constantinople mosques.

There is also a courtyard, elegant galleries, columns, a fountain – a gift from the French king. The interior decoration is not inferior to the beauty of the external decoration. The walls are covered with fine carvings and colorful ornaments. To visit the mosque of Muhammad Ali can representatives of all faiths – though you have to wait until the end of Muslim prayers.

The Mohammed Ali Mosque

Ibn Tulun Mosque

Worthy of a visit and the mosque of Ibn Tulun, perhaps the oldest in Egypt. Its construction goes back to the second half of IX century, and the attention of travelers to this day attracts an unusual minaret with steps in the form of the Tower of Babel. And even if you have never been to Cairo, but have definitely seen this mosque, you do not have déjà vu – its views are glimpsed in one of the films of the famous James Bond saga.

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Despite more than 1,000 years of history and many reconstructions, the mosque has retained its original architectural features. Its appearance is very different from other mosques in Cairo, and echoes rather the sacred shrines of ancient Baghdad . When you visit the mosque, take a walk along historic Saliba Street and afterwards, if you have time, check out the intriguing Guyer-Anderson Museum. The collection of exhibits is housed in medieval mansions.

Ibn Tulun Mosque

Sultan Hassan Mosque

Thinking about what else to include in your Cairo itinerary for 2 days? Of course, the Sultan Hassan Mosque, the most beautiful example of medieval Egyptian architecture. It is the best representative of the Mameluk era, a mosque and religious complex with an ancient history.

Sultan Hassan Mosque was built in the mid 14th century. The complex is very beautiful: Gothic lancet windows, golden sandstone, carved roof, stone carvings. Most notable are the entrance doors, the mausoleum, the cornices, the grand staircase, and in the interior design – surahs from the Koran, made in the Middle Ages. Sultan Hassan Mosque is a must-see for people of all faiths and is a beautiful architectural monument.

Sultan Hassan Mosque complex.

Zamalek on Gezira Island

Do you want to see a completely different Cairo – clean, European and even fashionable in some places? Then come end your day in the upscale Zamalek neighborhood on Gezira Island. A modern, trendy Cairo awaits you here, with beautiful restaurants, parks, social entertainment and great views. It’s also a great idea for finding a hotel, and Gezira Island offers everything from inexpensive modern apartments to upscale hotels.

European expats settle in the area of Zamalek. Therefore, the infrastructure is appropriate – the restaurants with beautiful terraces, trendy coffee shops, stores of European brands. There are quiet and pleasant streets, squares, green parks for strolls, beautiful mansions of the XIX century, decorated in Art Nouveau style. Among the cultural attractions Gezira Island is known for museums and art galleries, cultural centers, there is the Cairo Opera House, Cairo TV Tower, the Cathedral of All Saints.


Route No. 2: Ancient Heritage, the Valley of Giza and the Sphinx

Despite the beauty and architectural grandeur of Cairo’s ancient mosques and palaces, most travelers don’t come here for them. What lures visitors is the legacy of ancient Egypt – the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the treasures of the pharaohs.

Egyptian Museum in Cairo

If your first day in the capital of Egypt ended in the city of the future, today should begin in the glittering past. Sarcophagi, mummies, masks of pharaohs, huge stone bas-reliefs and sculptures – we know all this from the history curriculum of the ancient world. And also cinematography: perhaps there is no civilization more mysterious and attractive than Egyptian. You can immerse yourself in its mysteries in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

It is one of the most famous and attractive museums on the planet. Here collected more than 150 thousand ancient artifacts – to examine everything, of course, will not be possible, but if you come to the opening, you will see the most interesting things. Most of the exhibits are many thousands of years old – here and everyday objects of ordinary Egyptians, and mummies of pharaohs, and priceless marble sarcophagi. Worthy of admiration is the building of the Egyptian Museum, a palace from the beginning of the last century. It has more than a hundred rooms.

All are of course worth seeing, but if you don’t have a few days (or even weeks) to spare, focus on the highlights. Be sure to check out the treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb. His tomb miraculously escaped looting, and many priceless pieces can be seen today in the Cairo Museum. You will be amazed by the huge sarcophagus, which weighs over a ton and is cast in solid gold. If you are in a hurry, book a guided tour of the museum – in 2 hours your guide will take you through the museum halls and show you the most interesting exhibits.

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Egyptian Museum in Cairo

Giza Valley

Have you always dreamed of seeing the great Egyptian pyramids, the wonder of the world of the Ancient world, and of course their mysterious guardian – the Sphinx? Nothing could be easier, for this you need to get to the Valley of Giza, which is located 25 kilometers from downtown Cairo.

Giza Valley, or Giza Plateau, is a complex of ancient buildings, pyramids, necropolises, burial temples and shrines. It is believed that the first buildings appeared here during the Ancient Kingdom, about 5000 years ago. The area of the complex is about 2,000 square meters, and if you do not have a lot of time, choose to see the most interesting objects. You cannot miss the trinity of the most famous Egyptian sites – the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mikerin, and of course the Great Sphinx.

Giza Valley

Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren, Mikerine.

Giant stone structures, which for many thousands of years has not ceased to amaze people with its monumentality, are the pyramids at Giza. They are also called the Great Pyramids, and rightfully so. This is the most impressive monument of the ancient era, preserved on the planet, and at the same time the greatest mystery. Who, why and how built these huge polyhedrons, remains a mystery to this day.

The mystery that so attracts tourists. Of all the Egyptian pyramids, and there are dozens of them preserved in the Nile Delta, it is the pyramids at Giza that have become the most famous. The three Great Pyramids – the tombs of the pharaohs Cheops, Chephren and Meekerin, as well as several temples, smaller pyramids, tombs and mausoleums constitute a complex lost in the sands of the Libyan desert.

The center of attention is the Cheops Pyramid, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that has survived intact to this day. The Cheops Pyramid is about 150 meters high, it strikes the imagination even of modern travelers. The pyramid is divided into three halls, one of which was the tomb of Pharaoh. The Pyramid of Cheops is accessible to the public, but there is not much of interest inside.

The pyramid of Cheops’ descendant, Chephren, is guarded by a magnificent guardian, the Sphinx. Nearby is the smaller of the tombs, the pyramid of Mikerin. The height of this pyramid is 66 meters, and it makes up a complex of buildings with burial places of nobles and close pharaoh, the ruins of temples, and three small pyramids, presumably for the wives of the pharaoh.

The Pyramids, Egypt's main attraction.


The Sphinx, or Great Sphinx, is another mystery of the Giza Plateau. A huge monument, a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man, carved out of a single stone. The Sphinx is 73 meters long and 20 meters tall. It is surprising that the guardian of the pyramids of Giza is depicted with a human face (presumably that of Pharaoh Chephren). Usually sphinxes in Egypt appeared with the heads of animals or birds.

This sphinx is special and extremely popular among tourists. No traveler in Cairo is without a photo of it. Getting to know it will be a great ending to your Cairo adventure.

The Great Sphinx

Interesting excursions in Cairo

The capital of Egypt is the perfect destination for the inquisitive tourist. Its history, architecture, culture, geographical location, everything favors educational trips. Start your Cairo experience with a City Tour, a walk through the city’s landmarks in the company of a local guide. This could be Islamic Cairo – the citadel, mosques, palace complexes and madrassahs from the Middle Ages. Their uniqueness is appreciated by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

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Or see Christian Cairo – temples, monasteries, Coptic shrines. Some of them have survived hundreds of years of history, and are interesting not only as a sacred, but also architectural sites.

Excursion to the white desert

Excursions to the Giza Plateau, to visit the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, ancient necropolises, mysteries and secrets are very popular. You can take a ride on the golden sands of the Libyan Desert, and make memorable photos in the style of “Me and the Egyptian pyramids.

Another interesting excursion destination from Cairo is ancient Alexandria . This ancient port on the Mediterranean Sea used to be one of the wonders of the ancient world, and now it can offer visitors a legacy of Roman, Greek, and Islamic cultures. The tour will take a full day, more comfortably spent in a car with an individual guide.

Cairo itineraries in stories and travel tips

Planning a long-awaited weekend in Cairo? That’s great, congratulations. We’ve put together a variety of information to help you best prepare for your trip. Stories, photo albums, reviews and tips from travelers to help you plan the trip of your dreams. They have a lot of useful and interesting information – what to see, where to stay, what attractions not to miss. Read and be inspired to explore Cairo.

  • All Cairo itineraries are waiting for you in our general guide to the city.
  • Going to Cairo – read the story “Back to Eden” by our tourist ollennka, with interesting ideas for the weekend;
  • A tour of Islamic Cairo is described by Magdalene in the story “Put in a Word for Old Egypt.”
  • Where to look for cosmic landscapes near Cairo is recommended by Galina in the story “Another Egypt. A Branch of Mars on Earth.”

Where to stay in Cairo

Many tourists explore Cairo on their way – the pyramids, museums, Islamic shrines. Of course, this ancient city does not deserve such a disrespectful attitude, it has a lot to offer the traveler. Come to Cairo for at least 2 days – don’t doubt, there is accommodation for every taste and wallet.

Fans of respectability should pay attention to the modern district of Zamalek – here you can rent a room in a decent European hotel. Or excellent modern apartments, with a beautiful view of the Nile. It’s convenient and cost-effective if you’re vacationing with family or friends.

Travelers who come alone will come to the aid of hostels in Cairo. Here you can find both a private room and a bed in a shared company. And you’re almost certain to find great company – maybe you’ll find some pals to walk around the Egyptian capital together. Or trips to the surrounding area.

Don’t forget another easy way to save on travel. Book your lodgings on Ostrovok.ru

Cairo Top 10 Sights

Cairo is usually visited to see the pyramids, but which ones? Because in Cairo and its suburbs there are at least 20 pyramids that you can see in one day! Well, of course, the most famous ones: the Pyramids of Giza. The pyramid of Cheops – the only surviving wonder of the world, a smaller pyramid of Chephren and the smallest of the three pyramids of Menkerin. There are also small pyramids and burial chambers of queens on the plateau, plus newly discovered pyramids and tombs.

Let’s find out what to see in Cairo in a day, the top most interesting places and sights in Cairo.

And so, Cairo, what to see for the tourist in one day. Let’s start with the historical sites for which many people go to Egypt. In one day in Cairo you can see many things and visit many historical sites

Solar Rook Museum

10. Museum of the Solar Rook Khufu.

Located on the Giza plateau behind the pyramid of Cheops. The rook displayed in this museum was found in one of the pits found on the south side of the Cheops pyramid in 1954.

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 The Sphinx and its temple

9. The Sphinx and its temple

The Sphinx Temple at Giza is one of the best preserved temples of this type in Egypt. It gives an excellent view of the funerary temples and the processional road leading to it. As for the Sphinx, it is believed to be an incarnation of Pharaoh Chephren. The figure of the Sphinx is 20 meters high and 57 meters long. Between the front paws of the Sphinx is the famous stele of Pharaoh Thutmose IV, the so-called “Stela of the dream”. To visit this place. you will need a ticket, costing 100 pounds.

 Inside the tomb of workers

8. Workers’ Cemetery.

The recent excavations and restoration work at Giza now allows tourists a glimpse into new sites and tombs not previously accessible to visitors. A ticket costs 140 pounds. The workers’ cemetery was discovered way back in 1990, on April 14, but has become accessible to visitors only now. The tombs recently opened to the public are located on the east and west sides of the Giza necropolis. They have impressive facades, more like temples, and large burial chambers with columns carved in the stone. Although these tombs are not richly painted, they have rare architectural features. Six tombs are open to the public.

The tomb located in the western cemetery belongs to Sesham-Nefer, the overseer of the two sites of the House of Life and keeper of the king’s secrets, and is one of the largest tombs on the Giza plateau. This tomb is decorated with very fine reliefs and paintings depicting funerary and hunting scenes, plus paintings of offerings, as well as depictions of the daily life of Sesham-Nefer with his family and before his deities.

Tomb of Senefru-Ha-Efu, royal treasurer and priest of the god Apis. The interior walls of the tomb also show typical scenes of the late official and his children.

This tomb was built for Nefer, the overseer of souls. The walls of his tomb are decorated with scenes showing the daily life of Nefer with his family and his dog.

Another tomb belongs to Jassen, the warden of the royal farms.

The last tomb was built for Ka-em-Ankh, the warden of the royal treasury. This tomb has very impressive false doors on which are written the various titles of the deceased, and there is also his portrait.

 Pyramid of Queen Hetephares I

7. The pyramid of Queen Hetephaeres I.

The pyramid of Queen Hetephaeres I was also recently found here. But it is not yet accessible to visitors.

 Tomb of Merinsankh

6. The tomb of Meris-ankh.

This tomb, located in the eastern cemetery, includes the royal tombs of the Old Kingdom, and belongs to Princess Merisankh, granddaughter of the builder of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. This tomb was originally intended for Merisanch’s mother, Queen Hethefer II, but was given to her daughter after her sudden death. When Merisanh’s tomb was discovered in 1927, it also contained a black granite sarcophagus along with a set of vessels with internal organs and a limestone statue depicting Queen Khetafer II embracing her daughter. The sarcophagus can be seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the statue of Queen Hethefer II is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It costs 50 pounds to enter.

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5. Obelisk of Matareia

Obelisk of Matareia – Pay a ticket for £60 to see it

 Pyramids of the Queens at Giza

4. Pyramids Shrine of the Queens

The pyramids-ossum of queens can be seen in a dilapidated state near the pyramid of Mekerin, they are poorly studied.

 Pyramid of Mekerin

3. The pyramid of Mekerin.

The smallest of the three pyramids was built by the son of Pharaoh Chephren – Mekerin, you can go down into it and see the burial chamber. It costs 100 pounds to enter.

 Pyramid of Chephren

2. Chephren’s Pyramid.

This is the second largest pyramid of Giza, built by the son of Pharaoh Cheops. It, too, is usually open to the public. It costs 100 pounds to enter and it is forbidden to take pictures inside.

 Pyramid of Cheops

1. The Pyramid of Cheops

The main attraction of not only the Gizu Plateau, but the whole of Egypt. The only preserved wonder of the world! It has long been forbidden to climb the pyramid from any side and take pictures, now everything is organized. You can only climb from one side near the entrance inside. If you want to look inside, the ticket costs 400 pounds and is bought at the entrance to the complex, it is forbidden to take photos inside, plus only a certain number of people per day are allowed inside the big pyramid. What will you see there? Nothing! Bare walls and a burial room with an empty sarcophagus, no decorations inside the pyramid.

Tickets must be purchased separately to enter each tomb and pyramid at the entrance to the complex.

 Saqqara Step Pyramid

Saqqara and Abusir

After seeing Giza, you can continue your journey and go to Abusir and Saqqara. There are some more interesting pyramids and tombs waiting for you. If the tour of Abusir does not require much time, then in Saqqara you can spend up to 5 hours looking at the local attractions. So my advice to you, if you have one more day, it is better to postpone your trip to Saqqara to the next day and go there early in the morning, the place is open from 6am. You will have plenty to do there until noon. Read here what to see in Cairo in two days.

 Cairo Tower

City Walk

After your tour of the Giza pyramids, it’s best to cross the Nile and head into Downtown.

– Wander the local streets – Stop for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants downtown – Rent a felucca and take a ride down the Nile. – Visit the Cairo Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city!

 Cairo Museum of Egyptian antiquities

Cairo Museum of Antiquities

In the evening, check out the Cairo Egyptian Museum. It is open until 7pm and some days of the week at night. Soon the new GEM – Grand Egyptian Museum will open, so all roads will lead to it, so do not miss your chance and visit the Cairo Museum while it is still open, because in spite of everything, it is already a local landmark. Built over a century ago, the Cairo Egyptian Museum still attracts tourists from around the world, because it houses the largest collection of Egyptian art from the time of the pharaohs.

 Light and sound show by the pyramids

What to see in Cairo in the evening, you ask?

Go back to the pyramids and watch the omniscient sound show in Russian at the foot of the pyramids. It is held every night.

You can go on an evening cruise on the Nile with dinner and a folklore show, it runs every day from 8 to 10 hours.

Or better yet visit the oriental bazaar Khan el Khalili and experience the atmosphere of oriental hospitality.

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