To get to know the top things to do in Cairo with family, let me first tell you that Cairo is an amazing city and one of the best destinations for travelers! So, in this post, I’ve collected some suggestions for what to do with your family!
Do you need a guide in Cairo?
First of all, I will answer this question, probably hanging around your head. The truth is that you don’t need a guide to explore the Egyptian capital and it can be explored without having someone taking you to the main places.
But isn’t it dangerous? From my experience, Cairo was very peaceful and I felt that the tourist region of Cairo is quite prepared to receive tourists, with policing in several sections. But I think it is important to highlight some security measures: do not walk in places outside the tourist axis, dress appropriately, and pay attention to “tourist friends.
Check our Cairo Holiday Packages and don’t miss visiting the best landmarks in Cairo.
However, visiting Cairo accompanied by someone who will tell you more deeply about the city’s history and the peculiarities of the Egyptian people is a very enriching experience! So, I advise everyone who wants to book a trip to Cairo to book a trip with a specialized travel agency to facilitate all procedures.
If you are not used to traveling to exotic places like this and are afraid of walking alone on the streets, I think it is a good idea to book a guided tour. It is better to have someone who gives you that security and leaves the streets carefree.
What are the things you shouldn’t miss in Cairo?
For those going to Egypt for the first time, Cairo is an almost mandatory stop. In addition to being a gateway to other must-see places in Egypt, such as Luxor and Aswan, Cairo carries the reputation of being one of the oldest cities in the world.
You will need time to explore the markets, museums, mosques, and everything in Cairo. Therefore, my suggestion is that you save at least 3 days of your trip to the capital. At the end of this article, I will give you some suggested itineraries to facilitate your planning!
1- Pyramids of Giza
Let’s start, of course, with the classic! Going to Cairo and not visiting the Pyramids of Giza is like going to Rio de Janeiro and not knowing Christ the Redeemer. Although they are not the only pyramids in Egypt, it may be possible to say that they are the main ones. The complexity and size of the buildings are quite impressive.
To get an idea of its importance, it is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still exists. Not to mention the grandeur of the look. A curiosity is that although until recently many people thought that they were built by slaves, some discoveries were made recently and today it is believed that paid professionals were responsible for the construction.
They were erected around 2700 BC to become tombs for the pharaohs and their families. Surrounded by symbolism, they are located on the west side of the River Nile, which is where the sun sets and which symbolizes the side of death.
The pyramids are located in a large archaeological complex. Therefore, there you will find not only the pyramids but also the famous sphinx and some tombs and small temples. In total, there are three pyramids (Cheops, Chephren, and Miquerinos).
It is super worth saving time to explore the complex, as there is a lot of history to learn, as well as having a great look for you to take lots of photos. And to get to know every detail of the story in-depth, I suggest taking a 1/2 day tour. We did and were delighted with the stories that the guide shared with us!
Book Tour: Half Day Tour to Pyramids of Giza
2- Saqqara Pyramid
Very close to Cairo, about 33 kilometers away, is the Pyramid of Saqqara. Its importance is not small: it is the first Egyptian pyramid, almost 4,700 years old. It was built in honor of Djoser.
This pyramid is located in the largest archaeological site in all of Egypt, with an extension of almost 6 kilometers. There you will also find other tombs and eleven more pyramids (although not all are open to the public), which are frequently updated, as there are constant discoveries about the structures that are there.
Tip: set aside a day to do an intensive at the pyramids
The Saqqara complex is located in Giza of the same name – Saqqara, the necropolis of Memphis, capital of Ancient Egypt. To get to know it, I suggest taking a full-day tour that includes both the Pyramids of Giza and the Pyramids of Saqqara. Book in advance to guarantee your private tour.
Book Tour: Memphis, Saqqara, and Pyramids of Giza Tour
3- Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is the most important in the country and one of the most relevant to the history of the world as we know it today. It is located on Tahrir Square, right in the center of the capital. Inaugurated in 1863, the museum has an impressive collection of around 120,000 pieces, which include pieces from the ancient empire, the royal mummies, statues like that of Nefertiti, and, most famously, the Tutankhamun treasure.
Tutankhamun’s treasure is the museum’s highlight and is located on the east and north wings. There are approximately 1,700 pieces that make up the set, one of which is known from the history books, which is the full-size Pharaoh mask made in gold.
How to visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo?
The Egyptian Museum is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm. Further practical information and data on the collection can be found on the museum’s website.
And if you’re interested to read more about the Cairo Museum, read our article here.
Book Tour: Tour to Giza Pyramids and Egyptian Museum
4- Khan el Khalili
If Cairo is famous for its super chaotic urban dynamics, Khan el Khalili is in the face of the city! This market is in an old commercial area of the city and is a real maze of streets full of incredible things to see, buy, and, above all, negotiate!
The history of the mixed market with that of Cairo, as it was instrumental in making the city a traditional trading point for Egypt, along with Al-Muski (another important market in the city).
Khan el Khalili was the best place I found to shop in all of Egypt! Not only because the goods are beautiful, but also because of the variety of products have you found there: they are super cool options for fabrics, crafts, clothes, spices, and decorative items.
In addition to being an incredible place to spend an afternoon, it is a great option for where to find souvenirs and buy things different from what you usually see in the most common tourist shops.
Read More about Khan el Khalili Bazaar
5- Naguib Mahfouz Café
Still, inside Khan el Khalili, be sure to visit Naguib Mahfouz Café. It is a super traditional restaurant in the heart of the market. It is worth going there to make any meal, be it lunch, a snack, or even for tea or coffee.
On a market shopping spree day, it is an excellent bet to take a break there to eat well and try an incredible variety of typical Arab cuisine. In addition to delicious food, the restaurant maintains a good reputation for having excellent service.
The Naguib Mahfouz Café is open daily from 10 am to 1 am.
6- Zainab Khatoon Café
Visiting this Café is one of the most essential things to do in Cairo. The night I was there, there was not a single tourist, and I am not surprised. It is in a half-hidden alley, although very close to the Hussein Mosque and the Hussein Hotel.
There is a very youthful and local atmosphere. They serve drinks and shisha for smoking.
Book Tour: Walk on El Moez Street Tour
7. Islamic Cairo
People usually associate the Egyptian capital with its rich history and its chaotic urban dynamics, with the movement of people and cars on all sides. In addition to the pyramids and pharaohs, Cairo’s daily life is strongly marked by the tradition of Islam.
With over a millennium of transformations, Egyptian culture bears very striking features of Arab culture. Thus, visiting Islamic Cairo is an opportunity to explore another side of Egypt, visiting buildings and monuments from a more recent and very important historical period.
The Islamic religion, which took over the city from the 10th century onwards, earned Cairo the nickname “the city of a thousand minarets” in the medieval Era. That is because the impressive number of monuments – there are about 800, with buildings like mosques and fountains – shows the grandeur of religion and its value for the local culture. Inside the mosques, we sometimes had the feeling of being somewhere else, much more peaceful.
What to see in Islamic Cairo
Among so many mosques and historic buildings, which are the coolest to visit in Cairo? I list below the most incredible mosques for you to include in your itinerary:
Muhammad Ali Mosque
The Muhammad Ali Mosque is one of the main and best known in Islamic Cairo. It is at the top of the Citadel, a medieval fortress located on top of a hill.
The look of the Muhammad Ali Mosque is very reminiscent of the Blue Mosque in Turkey. The similarity is not by chance, since Egypt was a province of the Ottoman Empire at the time when the mosque was built by Muhammad Ali, who participated in the foundation of modern Egypt.
Inside, its structure is incredibly beautiful, with a wealth of details and everything made in marble and alabaster. It is worth going there because of the beauty of the monument, the history of the place, and the landscape from above.
Ibn Tulun Mosque
The Ibn Tulun Mosque is the oldest in Cairo, having been built in 879 AD In addition to being the oldest, it is also considered the largest in Egypt (and one of the largest in the world) in terms of area of occupied land (there is about 7 acre).
It was built by Ahmad Ibn Tulun to house troops during Friday prayers. Inside, it has some patios, with galleries and super-rich and detailed decoration. Another curiosity is that the minaret, those towers that are outside, is the only one of its kind in Egypt and has become a symbol of Cairo.
Another very important place within Islamic Cairo is the Al-Azhar Mosque. Its relevance is given not only by its unique architecture but also by its history. It was built in 970 AD and, just under 30 years later, it now houses the largest university in Egypt (and the second oldest in the world).
It is truly an oasis in the middle of Cairo. There, tranquility reigns, people study, pray, and meet. It is worth starting the tour of Islamic Cairo through it.
Sultan Hassan Mosque
With a style very similar to that of the Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sultan Hassan Mosque is another of those that are among the must-see in Cairo. It is very close to the Citadel. Right next to it is another mosque, that of Madrassa, so it is worth visiting both on the same visit.
The Sultan Hassan Mosque has incredible architecture, being one of the largest in Cairo. Inside, it also has an open patio with a fountain in the middle in addition to all its details.
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8- Coptic Quarter
The Coptic Quarter, one of the oldest and home to a large part of the city’s Egyptian Christian community, is another of the best places to see in old Cairo.
These places are known as Copts already lived in this area of the city, where the Gospel places it as the place where Jesus’ family took refuge during his exile to Egypt, before the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs Walking through its streets where Christian and Jewish history is mixed, with details in many buildings of Byzantine and Arab culture, is a real pleasure for the senses.
What to see in Coptic Cairo
Among the highlights of the neighborhood is the Babylon Fortress, the Coptic Museum with its famous Nag Hammadi Manuscripts, the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, where it is believed that the Holy Family took refuge, the aforementioned Hanging Church, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Church of St. George and the Church of St. Barbara.
Hanging Church, one of the places to see in Cairo
The Hanging Church or the Holy Virgin Mary is one of the oldest in Egypt and another of the places to visit in old Cairo. Built-in the third century AD, on one of the towers of the Babylonian Fortress of Roman origin, for a time it was a mosque until it returned to the hands of the Coptic Christians who converted it as their most important sanctuary. It is worth entering the interior to see the marble high altar and the 13 pillars representing Jesus and the apostles.
St. George Church
The Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George in the Coptic Quarter can be reached via a flight of stairs and is crowned by an impressive dome.
Legend has it that São Jorge was kept in a prison near the church and that he would have been martyred there. The current building dates from the beginning of the 20th century.
Cave Church and the City of Garbage
Related to Hanging Church and well away from the center of Cairo is Cave Church. A church was built (excavated) on Mokattam Mountain. Both churches are related because in the Hanging Church the Virgin Mary would have appeared and chosen Simon for the miracle of the displacement of the Mountain.
They say that Simon (who became an important Coptic saint) would have moved the mountain for several meters only with the power of his faith. Later, the Monastery of São Simão, or Cave Church, was built there, as it is commonly known.
9- Dinner at a restaurant on the Nile River
Of course, it is incredible to get to know the most important tourist spots and stay on top of every detail of Egypt’s history for Cairo’s attractions. However, you can also opt for a much more peaceful and different experience to relax on one of the nights, having dinner in some restaurant on the Nile River.
When I was there, I had dinner at the Intercontinental Semiramis hotel restaurant. The menu is a mix of Italian, Thai, and Lebanese cuisine. In addition to eating very well, the best part of dinner there is a beautiful view of the Nile at night.
Book Tour: Dinner Cruise at the Nile
10- Felucca ride along the Nile River
If you’ve seen postcards from Egypt, you’ve probably come across those sailing boats sailing the Nile River. These boats are known as feluccas and are used as transportation by the population, but it is also a super tourist attraction.
In addition to being a super experience to walk (and get your feet wet!) Along with one of the most important rivers in the world, the landscape is wonderful! A super cool thing is that this tour is done very close to sunset time to have an even more beautiful look. Also, you can still see the bustle of the city at night beginning.
The boats have a capacity for 10 to 15 people, but you can even take a practically empty trip with luck, depending on the day.
Book Tour: Felucca Ride on the Nile
11- Gastronomic Tour
As part of the experience of traveling to a place that includes exploring the local cuisine, taking a gastronomic tour can be a great option to do in Cairo and a great chance to get to know the flavors of Egypt.
On a gastronomic tour, you can stroll through some of the main restaurants, taste the dishes and learn a little more about Egyptian culture.
Read more about the Traditional Egyptian Food
Another super cool tour you can take is the day trip to Alexandria. This is a real step back in time, especially if you take this guided tour. Thus you will have all the explanation that goes from the Classical period, passing also by the Romans and arriving at present.
In Alexandria, there are some main points to know. One is the Roman theater at Kom El-Dela, which is all marble. The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa – a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman culture – and the famous Alexandria Library cannot be left out of your itinerary either. Another must-see tourist attraction is the walls of the Citadel of Qaitbay.
Book Tour: Day Trip to Alexandria from Cairo
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Now that you know the best things to do and see in Cairo, just think about how to fit them into your itinerary. As there are many attractions and it is not always possible to explore them all, we prepared some itineraries with suggestions of what to do for two, three, or five days.
What to do in 2 days
For those who are going to pass quickly through Cairo, the best bet is to take the time to get to know the main attractions. So, on the first day, you can take a tour of the Giza complex to see the pyramids and the sphinx.
From there, you can include the felucca ride on the Nile River in the afternoon. It is a cool option to relax a little, enjoy getting your feet wet in the water, and enjoy the sunset. To close the day, at night, how about dinner by the river?
On the second day, a good idea is to enter the Egyptian Museum at least to see Tutankhamen’s treasure. Then, be sure to go to Khan el Khalili to buy items and some souvenirs. There, you can also have lunch at Naguib Mahfouz Café.
Finally, if you have time, it is worth going to the Muhammad Ali Mosque. So you can see the city from above and still see the stunning architecture there.
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What to do in 3 days
How can I spend 3 days in Cairo?
There are many activities that you can do in Cairo in 3 days, with the possibility of making a one-day trip to Luxor or Alexandria or spending the entire vacation in Cairo to enjoy its picturesque sights.
You are the best trips for 3 days in Cairo:
- 3 Days Private Cairo Tour Package
- 3 Days Tour Package to Cairo & Alexandria
- 3 Days Cairo & Luxor Tour Package
What to do in 5 days
If you want to explore every corner of Cairo in-depth, the ideal time there are five days. It is possible to go to the main monuments with a longer stay and still take guided walks very calmly.
In this case, you can save for the pyramids of Giza and the sphinx on the first day. Then, how about the food tour? On the second day, you can go to Saqqara. In the evening, have dinner in a nice restaurant on the Nile River. For the third day, it is worth taking the tour to Alexandria.
On the fourth day, you can visit the Egyptian Museum in the morning. Soon after, go to Islamic Cairo and stroll around the mosques and the Citadel.
Finally, on the fifth and last day, you can meet Khan el Khalili, eat there and, in the late afternoon, close the day (and the trip) with the felucca ride along the Nile River.
You are the best trips for 5 days in Cairo:
So, did you manage to decide what to visit in Cairo?
These are our tips for the must-see tours in Cairo and I am sure that after reading this article you will be able to assemble your itinerary much more safely!
If you have already gone or feel like visiting some other amazing place there, tell us about your experience here too!
To learn more about the best areas of the city, check out our guide about Cairo attractions.
Why is it safe to book your vacation with a travel agency !!
Our company offers all types of security to tourists, such as providing a professional tour guide who knows the areas by heart and can guide tourists to different places without fear of any danger. Egypt Time Travel is also responsible for introducing a qualified representative who helps, assist, and finalizes everything for you at the airport. So, if you want to have fun, enjoy, meditate, and be safe in Egypt, choose a professional travel agency in Egypt.
In short, you can travel safely to Egypt. Take the opportunity to book one of our Cairo packages with the Egypt Nile River Cruise to visit the most famous tourist attractions in upper Egypt between Luxor and Aswan at special prices and with expert guides!