Cairo, the Egyptians’ beloved capital and cultural center, has its own unique spirit. Being one of the largest cities in the world, and the largest in Africa, you can’t really describe Cairo without finding a lot of contradictions in your description. It is an enthralling combination of ancient and modern buildings, wealthy citizens and barefoot children, luxurious vehicles and donkey-drawn carts, lavish villas and worn-out huts. However, there’s one thing all the people of Cairo have in common, which is an exceptional sense of humor among the chaos that is Cairo. While the moving around the city is a unique experience in itself, there are a few attractions that definitely should not be missed when you’re there.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Check Out The Giza Plateau
It’s a no-brainer that the Pyramids of Giza would be at the top of the list of the things you must see. No matter how much you hear about them, visiting the astounding pyramids of Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chepren) and Mankaure is sure to take your breath away. Khufu is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still standing today, and likely to keep standing for hundreds of years to come. In the same area of the Giza plateau stands the Sphinx, standing guard over the tombs of the deceased kings. A trip the Giza Plateau is about 14 km away from Cairo, but make sure not to schedule other activities for that day. It is best if you are able to take an Egyptian friend or guide with you to facilitate negotiations with the guides over there, and to help you haggle over the prices of the camel rides over there. Visiting the Giza Plateau in summer is not always the best idea as the heat can be overwhelming. The best time to visit would be from November through March.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Go To the Top of The Cairo Tower
Moving on a little bit closer to the heart of Cairo, we come across Borg al-Qahera (The Cairo Tower). One of Cairo’s most famous landmarks, the Cairo Tower stands at 187 meters tall, and is located alongside the Nile River. It was finished in 1961 under the rule of President Gamal AbdelNasser. Visitors can go up the tower to take in a full view of Cairo all the way to the Giza plateau, or have a meal in the revolving restaurant at the top floor. Telescopes are also provided for those who wish to take a closer look at Cairo’s other landmarks.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Go Shopping in Khan al-Khalili Market
Perhaps the oldest and largest marketplace in Egypt, Khan al-Khalili is not to be missed. Located in the enchanting Old Cairo district, amid several historic mosques, Khan al-Khalili is sure to charm you with its traditional coffee shops, souvenir stalls and handmade works of art in every possible material you can imagine. Make sure to schedule a whole afternoon if you plan on visiting Khan al-Khalili, as you will find yourself captivated by the vast variety of jewelry, spices, fabrics and pieces that you see.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Take a Felucca Ride Along The Nile
Few experiences compare to the bliss of coasting down the Nile River in a Felucca. Starting from the Maadi Corniche, you can rent a Felucca as a couple or as a group, for an hour at a time or depending on your preference. Bonus points if you decide to go during the sunset, when the weather is cooler and the view is even more stunning.
Speaking of the Nile, dining on board of one of the many floating restaurants is a fascinating experience all on its own. Many of the hotels located alongside the Nile have restaurants to cater to every palette, and every budget. With so many cuisines to choose from, we guarantee that with a view like this, everything is sure to taste good.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Visit the Citadel of Salah al-Din
This medieval fortress is perhaps the most significant landmark in Egypt that is not from the ancient Egyptian era. This majestic building was built in the 13th century during the reign of Salah el-Din, and is known to be the main residence for the rulers of Egypt for nearly 700 years all the way up to the 19th century. The citadel is now a preserved historic site, and houses a number of significant mosques and museums for public viewing.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Take a Walk at al-Muizz Street
A stroll down this ancient street in Old Cairo will give you feelings of stepping back in time, throughout different eras of Islamic History. This picturesque part of Egypt has several important landmarks, starting at al-Azhar mosque, and ending at Bab Zuweila, one of the three remaining gates to the city of Old Cairo, which dates all the way back to the 11th century.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Drink Fresh Juice at a Stall
While this activity does not sound as exciting as others on this list, it is still a notable experience that is unique to Egypt. Many fresh juice stalls stand in Cairo’s main streets, where you can stop by for a quick, refreshing drink, while standing in the street. The sugar cane juice is especially popular, and is known for its energy boosting nutrients and high iron value.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Get a Pool Pass for a Day
While Egypt is full of gorgeous resorts alongside its Red and Caribbean Sea, there are times when you just need a pool break in the heart of the city. Luckily, Cairo is full of beautiful hotels with the options of “day-use” passes, where you get to spend the day at the hotel, using the pool, spa and any of its many restaurants. Treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon and take the day off to soak in Egypt’s beautiful sun.
Top 10 Attractions in Cairo – Visit the Hanging Church
Last but not least, located in Coptic Cairo, is St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, worth a visit at its one of the oldest churches known in the history of Christianity. This church was known to be the seat of the Coptic Pope from the 7th to the 13th century, and perhaps the most prominent Coptic landmark in Cairo.