Cairo, and Egypt as a whole, is renowned for its rich civilisation and history. It is also somewhere I was fortunate enough to spend five years, exploring its many charming wonders and attractions.
While its historical landmarks, museums, tombs and pyramids are impressive artistic and architectural feats, modern Cairo has an abundance of activities and excursions to suit both history buffs and those in search for a cultural yet relaxing getaway. Living in Cairo granted me an insight into local destinations and activities which I hope to briefly share through this article, for anyone fascinated by Egypt’s history or looking to plan their own trip one day.
The most obvious sight-seeing destination for any trip to Egypt is a visit to the Pyramids of Giza. The pyramids truly are an out of this world experience and a source of pride for Egyptian locals. Even after years of living in Cairo, the awe-factor of just casually driving past them never fully wore off on me.
When you actually visit the pyramids, you have the opportunity to snap the iconic pyramid picture of yourself seated on top of a camel, holding up your arm to pinch the tip of a pyramid behind you (an image I ironically never actually took). You even have the opportunity to go inside a pyramid, entering through a long narrow tunnel (not best suited for anyone who feels claustrophobic in tight or dark spaces).
For anyone who prefers to admire cultural monuments from afar and just sit back and relax, there is an opportunity to do just that at the Nine Pyramids Lounge. Opened in 2020, the lounge offers a breath-taking view of all nine Pyramids on one side, as well as a panoramic view of the city of Cairo on the other. It also offers no shortage of amazing photo opportunities, where you can snap photos of yourselves in front of the pyramids with no one else around.
For a more detailed look at Egyptian civilisation and the kind of artefacts excavated from the Pyramids and tombs themselves, you can visit The National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation. Here, you have the opportunity to view the mummies of the Kings and Queens of Ancient Egypt in the Mummies Hall, as well as various artefacts of early Ancient Egyptian Civilisation, including clothing, pottery, statues, and much more.
The mummies exhibition of the royalty of Ancient Egypt is the gem of the museum
The museum is a way to really get a glimpse into the incredible innovation, culture and history of Ancient Egypt, with historical elements from other middle-eastern countries as well. The mummies exhibition of the royalty of Ancient Egypt is the gem of the museum. Located underneath the main hall is the mummies exhibition, where mummified bodies of past great Kings and Queens of Ancient Egypt are arranged in glass coffins along a spiralling hall, to create the impression of walking through the Valley of The Kings.
To get a sense of the spirit of the locals and artisan culture of Egypt, Khan el-Khalili is another must see. Kahn el-Khalili is large bazaar, where you can visit historical monuments and gaze upon examples of Islamic architecture. It also offers ample opportunities for shopping, both for souvenirs and local artisan craft products, as well as lots of food and drink options to get a taste for the local cuisine, including the famous Naguib Mahfouz café, named after one of Egypt’s most renowned writers.
A felucca is a traditional wooden boat which you can hire for a trip along the Nile
Keeping with the authentic tourist spirit of Egypt, felucca trips along the Nile quickly became a favourite of mine during my time living in Cairo. A felucca is a traditional wooden boat which you can hire for a trip along the Nile in Cairo, and in other cities in Egypt. You can bring along your own food and speakers, and it makes for the perfect spring or autumn activity, when the weather in Cairo is at its best. It made for the most memorable and enjoyable summer evenings with friends, watching the sunset and getting another kind of glimpse at Cairo.
In the grand scheme of things, this is just a brief introduction of examples of things to see and do in Cairo, from my own experiences there. Cairo, and Egypt more broadly, is a rich, vibrant, exciting and inviting tourist destination and I hope this article offered a quick birds-eye view of all the wonders on offer, catering to a wide range of tourist interests.
In-article images courtesy of Kinda Atassi. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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