Best Places to Visit in Cairo
Cairo is one of the largest megacities in the world. As beautiful as it is rich in historical costumes, confusing for first-time visitors and shocking to your senses, Cairo is a city often loved and hated by tourists. The sheer noise, pollution, and traffic can be overwhelming for first-timers, but Egypt’s capital has a lot to offer travelers beyond its troubles.
Vibrant Cairo is where you can really feel the Egyptian street life. No trip to Egypt is complete without stopping in the city that the Arabs call Umm al-Dunya (Mother of the World).
The main tourist attraction everyone sees here is the Pyramids of Giza at the gate of the city, but the city itself is full of important monuments spanning centuries. There is so much to do in Cairo that you can only pay for a fraction of the cost of a trip.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Cairo and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Cairo
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Cairo:
1. Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza is Cairo’s #1 half-day tour and a must-see on anyone’s itinerary. Located on the Giza Plateau at the edge of the city, these Fourth Dynasty tomb temples have fascinated visitors for centuries and remain one of the country’s highlights. Despite the heat, dust and constant flow of tourists, you cannot miss a trip here.
The Pyramid of Cheops (also known as the Great Pyramid or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the largest pyramid in the Giza group, and although there is nothing to see other than a common burial chamber, the interior of its narrow passages can be explored. empty sarcophagus.
Just behind the Great Pyramid is the Solar Boat Museum, which displays one of the ceremonial solar boats unearthed in the area and has been lovingly restored to its original glory. Further south of the plateau is the Pyramid of Chephren (also known as the Pyramid of Khefre) and the smaller Pyramid of Mycerinus (Pyramid of Menkaure), with an accessible inner tunnel area.
The pharaoh-faced sphinx guarding these mortuary temples is one of the iconic monuments of the ancient world. When the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is finally completed, the Giza Plateau will host another attraction.
When it opens, it will be the world’s largest museum dedicated to the antiquities of a single civilization, displaying a vast collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, many of which have never been seen before by the public.
After construction halted and financial difficulties, the museum’s opening date is set for the end of 2021. Pyramid Plateau is located on the edge of the sprawl, on the outskirts of Giza, about 13 kilometers southwest of the city centre.
2. Egyptian Museum
The absolutely amazing collection of antiques on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo makes it one of the largest museums in the world. It takes a lifetime to see everything on the screen correctly. The museum was founded by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette in 1857 and moved to its current home, a unique pink mansion in downtown Cairo, in 1897.
Yes, collections are poorly labeled and cannot be displayed well due to space constraints (only a small portion of the collection is actually on display). As the artifacts have been moved to the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which has yet to be opened, there are still some empty boxes at the moment, but you still can’t help but be impressed by the magnificence of the exhibits.
If you’re short on time, head straight to the Tutankhamun Gallery. The treasures on display here are from the tomb of Tutankhamun, son-in-law and heir of King Amenophis IV (later Akhenaten), who died at the age of 18. Discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings, the tomb contains the largest and richest intact set of funerary artifacts in Egyptian tombs.
3. Al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque is the most beautiful building of the Fatimid period in Cairo and one of the oldest mosques in the city, completed in 972 AD. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world – it was granted university status by Caliph Al Aziz in AD 988 (another university competing for “oldest” status is in Fez), and today, Al-Azhar University remains the leading theological university. Center of the Islamic world.
The main entrance, II. Adjacent to the new Arabian façade built by Abbas is the Barber Gate on the northwest side of the building. Leave your shoes at the entrance and walk towards the central courtyard. On your right is the Al-Taibarsiya Madrasa with a mihrab dated 1309.
From the central courtyard, you can have the best view of the five minarets of the mosque located at the top of the building. Across the courtyard is the main place of worship, covering an area of 3,000 square meters. The first half is part of the original building, while the second half was added by Abd al-Rahman.
Al-Azhar Mosque is located in the heart of the Islamic Cairo district and is easily accessible by taxi. Al-Azhar Street stretches from Midan Ataba in the city center to the east, to the square where the mosque is located.
Address: Al-Azhar Street, Islamic District, Cairo
4. Saqqara and Dahshur
The vast necropolis of Saqqara and the nearby ruins of Dashur is home to the “Other Pyramids”, where a day trip is as rewarding as a trip to the Pyramids of Giza. These places are about 30 kilometers south of Cairo. The Step Pyramid is Saqqara’s most popular tourist attraction, but the entire area is filled with ornately painted tombs that are worth exploring for a few hours.
Saqqara is so large and so extensive as a historic cemetery that excavations here continue to unearth discoveries that made headlines around the world. Not far away are the Red Pyramid and Dahshur’s Bent Pyramid, not to be missed. Expect even the shortest trip to take at least half a day.
5. Khan al-Khalili
Khan al-Khalili is one of the best shopping experiences in the world. This bazaar is a labyrinthine collection of narrow streets that was built as a shopping district in AD 1400 and still resounds with the jingle of metalworkers and silversmiths.
The main street was long ago entirely devoted to tourism (there were plenty of cheap papyrus paintings and plastic pyramids on display), but the transformation of the main street into surrounding alleys, small shops and sprawling workshops is part of that. The best place to buy traditional products is in Egypt.
Here you can find everything from antiques and ornate metal lampshades to locally woven fabrics. Here you can stop by Fishawis, Cairo’s most famous café, where syrupy Arabic coffee and sweet teas are served quickly to tourists and local traders.
For shoppers, the main market road is Al-Muski Street (known as Gawhar al-Qaid Street at its eastern end). Most of the gold and silver workshops are concentrated on the north side of the intersection of this street and Al-Muizz Li-Din Allah Street, while the spice market is concentrated on the south side.
On the east side of the market, in 1792 Hz. There is the Syedna Hussein Mosque, which was built in honor of the grandson of Muhammad. The most convenient entrance to the Khan al-Khalili area is opposite the Al-Azhar Mosque.
Location: Next to Al-Azhar Street, Islamic Quarter, Cairo
The fort in Cairo is located on a high point at the foot of Mount Mukatam and was built by Saladin in 1176. The original structure he laid out is long gone except for the east façade, but the monarch’s legacy has added its own here.
Mohammad Ali Mosque is the most famous monument and main reason to visit. Nicknamed the “Mosque of Alabaster”, its white stone and tall, slender minaret is one of Cairo’s most important landmarks. Another great reason to come here is for the view of the city. For some of the best panoramic views in town, head to Gawhara Terrace.
Just northeast of the Mohammed Ali Mosque is the Al-Nasir Mosque, built by Mohammed al-Nasir in 1318-35. Some rather reluctant museums occupy some of the other buildings on the site, and it’s worth seeing the architecture of the actual buildings rather than the exhibits themselves.
If you’re feeling full of energy, you can walk along Khayyamiyya Street from Bab Zuweila to the Castle District. It takes about 30 minutes to walk.
Location: Midan outside Salah-ad-Din, Islamic Quarter, Cairo
7. Sultan Hassan Mosque
One of the world’s finest Mamluk structures, the Sultan Hassan Mosque is a vision of Islamic art with its rich stalactite details and intricate arabesque features. It was built for Sultan Hassan al-Nasır in 1356-63. The huge main gate in the north corner is about 26 meters high and the minaret in the south corner is 81.5 meters high, making it the tallest in Cairo.
The main entrance leads to a domed entrance, then a small entrance and a corridor leading to a magnificent open courtyard centered on a fountain. From here, an iron gate opens to the Sultan Tomb, where the stalactite projection of the original dome remains. There is a plain sarcophagus of the sultan in the middle of the room.
Directly facing the Sultan Hassan Mosque, the Al-Rifai Mosque was built in 1912 to house the tomb of Khedive Ismail and mimics its former neighbor next door. The former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919-1980) is also buried here. Both mosques are prominently located in Midan Salah ad-Din, just below the Cairo Citadel.
Location: Midan Salah-ad-Din, Islamic Cairo Area
8. Museum of Islamic Art
The destruction caused by a car bomb attack in 2014 kept the museum closed to the public for years, but thankfully it has now reopened. The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo houses one of the most important collections of Middle Eastern art in the world.
Ottoman tile work, Ayyubid tiles, frescoes, finely patterned woodwork, coins, carved marble tombstones and jewel-toned rugs are on display. Be sure to take some time to peruse the luminous Quran and the beautifully decorated display cases of ceramics, glass and metalware.
Then proceed to the magnificent jewelery collection and rooms devoted to astronomy and other sciences, where you can find highly detailed astrolabes and other equipment. The museum is located on the fringes of the Islamic Cairo district, so it’s a good place to start or end a visit to the neighborhood. Bab Zuweila is within walking distance to reach Bab Zuweila (when you cross an extremely busy main road).
Address: Midan Bab Al Khalq, Islamic Cairo Area
9. Al-Muizzli-Din Allah Street
The northern part of Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street is surrounded by beautiful Mamluk buildings that have been lovingly restored to their former glory. The As-Salih Eyyub Madrasa was built in 1247 and showcases the serene simplicity of Islamic architecture.
Across the road is the ornate religious school of Kalun, considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of the Mamluk era. Completed in 1293 by Qalaun’s son Mohammed al-Nasir, the interior is decorated with fine tiles, fine marble, mother-of-pearl mosaics and stained glass windows. When the Kalun madrasah was first opened, it functioned as a hospital.
A little further north is the young Nasser Mohammed Madrasa (built in 1309) with many awe-inspiring ornate details, and then you’ll come to the magnificent Egyptian Textile Museum, which houses collections from the pharaonic to the Islamic period.
Address: Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street, Islamic Quarter, Cairo
10. Ibn Tulun Mosque
The Ibn Tulun Mosque is the second oldest mosque in Cairo, it was built between 876 and 879 AD and is modeled after the Kaaba in Mecca (Saudi Arabia). When it was built, it was the largest mosque in existence. The main courtyard’s colonnade houses a large exposition of intricate frieze fragments and leads to a series of narrow halls.
The main chapel still retains fragments of its old carved plaster and wood decorations, and the altar here retains its original gold mosaic ornament. On the north side of the mosque, there is a 40-meter-high minaret with a horseshoe-shaped thin arch at the entrance and an internal spiral staircase. It is modeled after the minaret of the Great Mosque of Samara on the Tigris River.
If you climb 173 steps to its upper platform, you can enjoy magnificent views extending to the sea of houses to the north and Mount Mokattam to the east. It is easy to walk from Sultan Hassan Mosque to Ibn Tulun Mosque, following Al-Saliba Street.
Address: Al-Saliba Street
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Cairo. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Cairo, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.