If you hear the word Egypt, I am sure the first thing that comes to mind is the Great Pyramids of Giza. But, there is so much more to Egypt than the Pyramids and in fact, Cairo itself is a city with a personality of its own. From the chaos of traffic to the crowded markets to the beautiful mosques to a relaxing experience on the Nile River, Cairo has so much to offer.
If you are wondering what kind of experiences to add to your itinerary for your next trip to Cairo, you've come to the right place.
Below, I will share some of the things we did along the way. Though my experience in Cairo was a little different since I was traveling with a big group, I am positive that you will create unforgettable memories on your trip.
Canadians need a visa for Egypt and I was able to get one on arrival for only $25 USD. I had an expediter meet me on arrival which made the procedures at the airport swift. It can get busy with people not respecting lineups, thus if this service is an option that is available to you, I would suggest getting it to bypass long lineups. Additionally, If you do get a SIM card, locals have recommended getting a Vodafone SIM.
I am not much of a city girl, as I prefer the outdoors and quieter areas, however, I did enjoy my time in Cairo (minus the traffic of course). Some of the places we stopped at, included:
1. The Mosques of Cairo
Egypt is the perfect place to step back in time and learn about history. Here, you will also find many beautiful mosques that are over 1,000 years old. You will even find one of the
oldest mosques in Africa (Mosque Amr Ibn Al-A'as), in Old Cairo. Even if you are not a Muslim, I strongly encourage you to visit the mosques, as they are stunning and play an important role in Islamic history. You can also easily dedicate at least half a day to Islamic Cairo, as there is a lot to explore and learn.
Add these sights to your list: Al Azhar Masjid, Masjid of Muhammad Ali, Al Rifa'i Masjid, and Masjid Al-Hakim.
2. Giza Pyramids
Our first stop on our first day in Cairo was at the Pyramids. We had an Egyptologist as our guide and they gave us some time to explore the Pyramids as well. Here, we had the option of taking a camel ride (additional cost), where they take you to get a view of the Pyramids and of the area. We also stopped by a shop on our way where we got the opportunity to purchase Gold Cartouche pendants (they wrote your name in Egyptian hieroglyphs) and see how they use papyrus in modern times to create art.
3. Marriott Mena House
This was our lunch stop and it was worth mentioning it, as it was a beautiful stop and one of my favorites from our first day. The hotel property is beautiful and we were treated to a delicious lunch buffet, that offers an epic view of the Pyramids.
4. Khan El-Khalili Street
This popular souq is located in the historic center and is the hotspot for tourists and locals alike. I feel like this is where I've seen the city being the most lively. Here, you will find many traditional handicrafts, carpets, papyrus, jewelry, and more. We spent hours wandering the alleys, haggling to get the best deals, and took a lunch break at Naguib Mahfouz Cafe.
5. Sunset Cruise on the Nile
We ended our day in the most relaxing way; a dinner cruise on the Nile River. The boat we were on (Cafelluca) was the perfect size for our group and included comfortable seating both at the top and the bottom of the boat. We were treated to a delicious meal while enjoying the sunset on the Nile.
I do admit that the traffic in Cairo is unlike anywhere else I've experienced, and it was one of the things that made me not want to go out after coming back from an outing for the day, but aside from that, the cuisine, history, and culture that is found in Cairo is an experience not to be missed. If you like visiting museums, there are many and you can dive deep into Ancient Times and learn more.
Have you been to the bustling city of Cairo yet?