Cairo is steeped in the ancient past, making for a wide array of cultural attractions to take in on a present-day visit. Many people travel to the Egyptian capital to witness its historical marvels, and to experience some of its modern vibrancy too. If you’re planning a trip to this multifaceted city, check out these top things to see and do in Cairo.
1. Giza Pyramids
The Giza Pyramids are among the most popular landmarks in the world and they lie just outside Cairo. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, these pyramids attract tourists from all over the planet. The pyramids are among the most recognizable symbols of Egypt and attest to its remarkable past. Out of all the things to see and do in Cairo, you can’t miss this.
2. Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum contains more than 120,000 artifacts from Egypt’s ancient past. No trip to Cairo is complete without perusing the extraordinary artifacts, many of which came from the Valley of the Kings. As one of the most revered museums in the world, you’ll find its extensive collection of antiquities fascinating.
3. Nile River
The Nile River is the longest in the world. Many visitors are excited to view this fabled river, which has sustained civilizations for thousands of years. Enjoy a dinner cruise or take a felucca down the river to experience this vital waterway up close.
4. Temple of Karnak
As one of the most impressive archaeological ruins in Egypt, the Temple of Karnak is the largest of the ancient world. Situated just north of Luxor, the Karnak dates to Egypt’s Middle Kingdom. Visiting this open-air museum makes for an exciting day trip from Cairo.
5. The Sphinx
The Sphinx is a riddled monument located near the Pyramids of Giza. This ancient marvel is a must see if you visit Cairo. The enormous sphinx features the body of a lion with a human head, all carved out of a single ridge of limestone. This remarkable emblem of Egypt is an essential photo-op when in the Egyptian capital.
6. The Hanging Church
Popularly known as the Hanging Church, Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church is Cairo’s most famous Coptic church. It is named for its location in Cairo’s Old City where it sits above a gatehouse of an ancient Roman fortress. The church is invariably an important stop on historic tours of the city.
With its pyramids and tombs, Saqqara served as an important burial place for the ancient capital of Memphis. The archeological site, which includes the famed Pyramid of Djoser, is situated nineteen miles from Cairo. Present excavations are still uncovering mummies and other important artifacts.
This popular area is an upscale district of western Cairo. It is located on Gezira island in the Nile, connected to the rest of the city by three bridges. Well-heeled residents and visitors enjoy Zamalek’s wide array of boutiques, shops, galleries, museums and performing arts centers. It’s the perfect place to sip a cup of coffee or tea in a traditional open-air ahwas and soak up the Cairo sunshine.
9. Museum of Islamic Art
With its extraordinary array of artifacts, the Museum of Islamic Art showcases works from a range of historic periods spanning 1400 years. Pottery, metal work, textiles, manuscripts and other important Islamic treasures are on display here. Anyone interested in the art history of this region will want to check out its various collections.
10. Salah El-Din Citadel
Located in the Islamic region of Cairo, the Salah El-Din Citadel was constructed near the end of the 1100s. This medieval Islamic fortification contains various mosques, museums and historic sites, making it the perfect place to spend a day exploring. It’s hilltop setting makes for impressive views of the city. Consider this one of the essential things to see and do in Cairo.