Also read: Highlights of Luxor and Beyond
THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZA
As one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, no trip to Cairo is complete without a day-trip to Egypt’s 4000-year old pyramids. The Giza pyramids – including the Great Pyramid of Khufu – may be widely recognized as some of the world’s oldest manmade structures, but the mystery surrounding exactly how these massive tombs were constructed persists. Perhaps the answer will come to you as you enjoy an optional camel ride amongst them!
While you’re taking in the Great Pyramid and its iconic cohorts, be sure and leave time to admire the Sphinx. With the head of a man and body of a lion, this magnificent granite sculpture – said to be a likeness of the pharaoh Khafre – was hewn directly from the natural rock where it lays. At 20 meters high, and just over 73 meters long, the Sphinx embodies a sense of majesty and ancient power no visitor is likely to forget.
THE MUSEUM OF EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES
Looking to escape the desert sun for a while? There’s no better place to spend the day than the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Widely regarded as one of the greatest museums in the world, you won’t find a more impressive collection of archaeological discoveries anywhere. Most of the artifacts on display in this striking pink building were unearthed in the 1850s by French Egyptologist, Auguste Mariette. Together, they showcase some 5000 years of Egyptian history.
THE CITADEL AND MOHAMED ALI MOSQUE
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1976, the Islamic fortification known as The Citadel was built 800 years earlier to defend against the Crusaders. The Citadel offers glorious city views, and is the site of multiple mosques and museums. Among these, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali stands out as one of Cairo’s most recognized landmarks. Sometimes called the Alabaster Mosque for its white-stone walls, the monument boasts a pair of spindly towers – or minarets – from which Muslims were once called to prayer.
KHAN EL-KHALILI BAZAAR
Don’t even think about leaving Cairo without experiencing the exotic trade that still takes place in the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar. The narrow streets and bustling alleyways of one of the Middle East’s largest marketplaces evoke a medieval atmosphere that’s been hundreds of years in the making! Explore thoroughly enough and you’re sure to find locally woven textiles and traditional Egyptian goods, artisan-crafted from leather, gold, and alabaster.
While these are some of Cairo’s most popular attractions, the more time you can spend in this remarkable city, the more sites you’ll find that are well worth a visit!