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The Top 10 unique Things to do in Cairo in 2023

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Cairo, a modern metropolis surrounded by vast deserts, is a bustling city with amazing historical sites and culture.

The 4,000 year old pyramids are right next to Giza, and Coptic Cairo and the Citadel are impressive sights. The mornings are calm and the city comes alive once the sun has set.

Walking around and exploring Cairo at night was our favorite activity. Explore the city and cross the streets trying to avoid Grand Theft Auto type drivers. Watching the locals drink shai (tea) and smoke shisha while playing a serious game of backgammon is an experience you won’t forget. Cairo is a big city with several sites spread around it. To see Cairo, you will need at least two full days.

The pyramids are essential as well as the Citadel. The souk (Khal al Kalili) is best in the evening (it only opens at noon), and Islamic Cairo and Coptic Cairo are neighborhoods that require a lot of walking. With so many places to visit, we have selected the 10 best things to do in Cairo. Enjoy!


1. Visit the Pyramids of Giza

Without a doubt, the pyramids are the best site in Egypt and one of the best sites in the world. The only remaining of the original Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramids of Giza take you back in time. These 4,000-year-old structures are best seen in the early morning or late afternoon.

Tip: there are many vendors at the pyramids. Due to the drop in tourism, they are desperate. There is a scam where they give a price for the camel ride but then ask for more money to get off the camel. Be sure to negotiate a total price for getting on and off the camel.

We recommend exploring the three main pyramids on foot. We walked to the Sphinx; however, it is a lot of walking. If you want to ride a camel, hire one at the panoramic viewpoint of the Sphinx. The road is extremely beautiful and our favorite place for photo ops.

Tip: Another scam is for one of the “sellers” to ask for your ticket. Once it is in their hands, they will ask for money to return the ticket. Ask to see their ID and never give your ticket to anyone. Cost: Entrance tickets are E£80, E£40 for students. Camel rides cost E£50 for 30 minutes (negotiable).

The whole area and the Sphinx are included in one ticket. To enter one of the pyramids, a secondary ticket is required (Large Pyramid E£200, E£100 for students and smaller pyramids E£40, E£20 for students).

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2. Walk through the Egyptian Museum

The crowded Egyptian Museum does a poor job with signage and reading material; however, the rare artifacts are impressive.

The rooms have ancient history, including hieroglyphs, statues, tombs, ornaments, jewelry, board games, and stonework.

The main attraction is the mummy room. Although this adds to the total price, the visit to the mummy room is a must.

After the museum, stroll through Tahir Square, the center of the 2011 and 2013 revolutions in Egypt. Tip: If you’re really on a tight budget like us, you can split the entrance to the Royal Mummy Rooms between two people.

One person can enter one room and the other person in the other room. Cost: Entry tickets are E£75 and E£35 for students. Additional tickets for both rooms of the Royal Mummy for E£100 or E£75 for students.

3. See the Citadel

Built in the 10th century as a Crusader fortification, the citadel served as the seat of rulers for almost 700 years.

Mohammed Ali staked out a concession in the early 1800s and built a magnificent, enormous mosque. There are a few museums in the grounds that could make this a full day trip, but 1-2 hours was enough for us.

After stops at the Mosque of Mohammed Ali and the Mosque of An-Nasir Mohammed, we recommend driving through Islamic Cairo towards the Khan al Kalili market.

From the Citadel, walk to Al-Azhar Park on the main street of Darb Al Ahmar to Bab Zuweila. Turn right at Bab Zuweila and head towards Khan al Kalili.

Cost: Entrance tickets are E£60 for adults and E£30 for students for the Citadel.

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4. Shop at the Khan al Kalili Souq

This market is one of the largest in Africa and has literally everything one can imagine. It would be easy to get lost in a treasure hunt.

Quality is always in question here, and according to the skillful Egyptian sellers, everything is handmade. Negotiate hard and never pay more than half the asking price.

The market is known for its specialty goods including gold, perfumes, spices, papyrus and stone art. Best selections in the market: Perfume by Karama (E£1 per ML, possibility to buy 10ml, 25ml, 75ml and 100ml bottles), personalized books by Abd El Zaher (E£70-130), Sunny Land Papyrus traditional spice and papyrus market (E£60-120).

5. Take the Trash City Tour

Manshiyat Nasser, a Christian neighborhood in Cairo, is best known as Garbage City.

A slum that is home to the Zabbaleen, or garbage collectors, this neighborhood is an open-air garbage and recycling center that is one of Cairo’s most different settings. Families specialize in metal, paper, plastic bottles or cans.

Nearly 80% of all waste is recycled, supporting every family. This area is home to the largest church in the Middle East, Saint Samaan the Tanner Monastery. Taxis will go to the church but are unlikely to go any further into Garbage City.

Our driver was not comfortable going to Garbage City saying it was dangerous. We felt safe, but always take precautions.

Walking or hiring a tuk-tuk and a guide are the two best options for exploring Garbage City. Cost: Taxi to Saint Samaan le Tanneur. We recommend hiring a local guide from US$15.

6. Explore Coptic Cairo

Founded in the 6th century BC, Coptic Cairo is an interesting place to visit. The oldest church, mosque and synagogue in Egypt are less than a kilometer apart.

Don’t miss the Hanging Church, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, the Amr ibn al-As Mosque, the Church of St.

Sergius and Bacchus, and the Coptic Cemetery. If museums are your thing, the Coptic Museum features Coptic art and historical pieces from the early days of Christianity in Egypt.

Cost: Entrance tickets to the Coptic Museum cost E£40 for adults and E£20 for students.

7. Take a Felucca Ride

A great way to experience the Nile is to sail on a traditional felucca. The easiest place to hire a felucca is along the water in downtown Cairo or Maadi. Go out for a few hours during the day or take an afternoon stroll for the sunset.

Cost: Hire the entire boat for E£30-40 per hour.

Cairo

8. Smoke Sheesha

Shisha is an integral part of Egyptian culture. Morning, day or evening, shisha is available and smoked. Some of the common flavors are mint, lemon, apple, or a combo (the watermelon mint was our favorite). Shisha is available on almost every street corner.

The busier the place, the better, as the quality varies widely. Make sure the water bubbler is clean with fresh water.

The best shisha bars or cafes will be attentive and constantly cooling the embers. It is not rude to get their attention and ask for hot coals.

If the service is good, leave a small tip in the hookah tray for the hookah.

Cost: Prices start at £5 in most cafes and can go up to £20 in some fancy shisha bars.

9. Eat Street Food

Nothing tastes tastier than a freshly made falafel sandwich topped with tomato, cucumber and tahini for a whopping E£2 ($0.11). Street food is available everywhere.

Some of the delicious selections include poultry (beans), falafel, eggplant, shwarma, sausages, fresh bread and pastries. Street food should cost E£1.5 to E£3.

With tourists, street vendors can start at a higher price. Everything is negotiable in Egypt, even food. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask if the price seems unfair to you.

Cost: Street food costs between E£1.5 and E£3 for a mezze plate or a sandwich.

10. Enjoy a juice bar

There are many amazing juice bars in the city. Locals mostly go for the sugarcane juice, which is very sweet.

A mixture of sugarcane and orange is a great choice, or try tamarind juice or fresh mango juice, a staple in Egypt.

Cost: Sugar cane juice costs E£1-3. Tamarind juice costs 1 to 3 E£. Most fresh fruit juices (orange, apple, mango, guava) cost between E£3 and E£8.


11. Best Eats in Cairo

Sakura Sushi – Sushi in Egypt? Yes! This excellent sushi restaurant offers an extensive menu as well as an all-you-can-eat option (sushi rolls only). We liked it so much we went twice! The all-you-can-eat formula is 180 E£ per person.

Egyptian Creperie – Located just off Al Azhar Street in Khan al Kalili Market, around the corner from El Fishawy Cafe. These pancakes fall between a pancake and a calzone, and are delicious. Pancakes from £50.

Koshary Abou Tarek – This downtown establishment is perhaps the best koshary in Egypt. What most consider the national dish, koshary is a combination of macaroni, lentils and rice tossed in a spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas and crispy fried onions. Koshary starts from E£10.


Reference

wanderingwheatleys

https://www.journeytoegypt.com/en/discover-egypt/cairo-egypt

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Ahmed Shady

My name is Ahmed Shady and I am a biomedical engineer who loves to travel a lot.
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