13 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Cairo

Jul 22, 2021

Cairo's spectacular monuments, old palaces and grand mosques, such as the Alabaster Mosque, Al-Azhar Mosque, and the Hassan mosque, are joined by beautiful narrow alleys and dazzling bazaars.

The museum quarter of the city includes the Ritzy Hotel, the Egyptian Museum, and the glorious Hatshepsut Temple.

Outdoor activities in Egypt include touring the Sinai desert by car or hiking in the cool mountain ranges.

Anywhere you go in Egypt, you're likely to come across the army or police. However, if you're able to manage a visit to the Suez Canal, you will find a very different country that's easy to fall in love with. The land of palm trees and watersports, Egypt is the world's most important crossroads between Europe and Asia. Discover it with our list of the best things to see in Egypt.

Egyptian Museum

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Egyptian Museum: en.wikipedia.org

The Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) in Cairo's front line, Tahrir Square, is housed in the beautiful and airy hall of the Egyptian Museum and is one of the world's largest and finest museums of Egyptian antiquities. About 70,000 artefacts were unearthed between Egypt and the United States in a joint mission led by museum director Zahi Hawass, and displayed here. Standout exhibits include the Ramses II statue from the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II, and some of the oldest tombs ever found: the mysterious Abydos graves containing the remains of kings and priests from ancient Egypt. Among the other highlights are the 3,000-year-old Ka statue of a young boy, the beauty and fine detail of a 13th-century terracotta sculpture and a collection of more than 30,000 statues from the museum's own collection, which include some of the world's earliest representations of Osiris. A visit to the museum also includes an obligatory tour of the adjoining Necropolis of the Kings (Necropolis). This necropolis dates back to the Pre-dynastic Period, when it served as a burial ground of the kings and nobles of that period. The area where the necropolis is located is built upon and occupied by the so-called 'Tomb of the Divine Parents', a large tomb of the pyramidal and barrel-vaulted type, which, according to the excavators, served as the sepulchral monument of the ancient royal family.

Grand Egyptian Museum

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Grand Egyptian Museum: en.wikipedia.org

Cairo, Egypt's largest city, is home to this remarkable museum, which is now the largest archaeological museum in the Middle East. More than 1,400 rooms, showcasing 3,200 objects, have been arranged in eleven permanent exhibitions, including The Emergence of Civilization, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egypt Revealed, and Ancient Egypt โ€“ Space, Time, and the Gods. The museum's entrance leads through a series of themed exhibitions, such as How to Live in an Ancient Egyptian Neighborhood, Ancient Egypt โ€“ the People, the Places and the Gods and Other Worlds, Ancient Egypt: Religion, Magic, Mythology and Ritual, and the Food, Textiles, and Rituals of Ancient Egypt. The exhibition Egypt Revealed, which focuses on the relationship between humans and nature, includes a statue of Sekhmet, the fierce lion-headed goddess of war and protection. A labyrinth of 134 rooms is located below ground; it's an interactive journey through ancient Egyptian life and shows visitors how daily life was structured during the reign of the Pharaohs.

Al-Azhar Mosque

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Al-Azhar University: en.wikipedia.org

Al-Azhar Mosque is a religious and educational center founded in AD 975 and rebuilt in its present form in 1471. The mosque's massive walls and squat square structure, designed by the Egyptian architect Muhammad Ali in the mid-1800s, and containing some 1,500 rooms, house elaborate tombs of the Muslim scholars who produced Islamic law. A visit includes a look at the mosque's massive marble and granite-cut walls and its glittering collections of precious Egyptian and Islamic art and history, including the Quran written in 10th-century gold on 250 kg of gold leaf. The mosque is open to visitors from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

The Pyramids of Giza

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Giza pyramid complex: en.wikipedia.org

The most famous collection of ancient pyramids in the world, the Giza pyramids were built as tombs for the ancient Egyptians. They consist of three massive pyramids with interior chambers built around a central burial chamber. Getting there is the best way to experience Egypt, with the airport in Cairo one of the most modern in the world and a growing number of international airlines flying to this Egyptian capital. There are frequent flights from throughout Europe. Giza features, next to the pyramids, a modern museum with objects from the ancient world. A visit here will also include the fascinating site of Saqqara, the only necropolis in the world, and built over the 2,500-year-old ancient necropolis of Memphis.

The Roman Forum

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City of the Dead (Cairo): en.wikipedia.org

The Roman Forum (Teatrino Romano), was the main center of political power in Ancient Rome. It is located in the modern suburb of Italian Palazzo near the Obelisk in the center of the city and next to the Nile River. Although you can't actually enter it, the remains and museum which surround it are enough to entice visitors from all over the world to visit. Highlights of this most extensive and significant site include the arena, forum, the main basilica, law courts, and the treasury.

Great Sphinx of Giza

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Great Sphinx of Giza: en.wikipedia.org

The so-called "Great Sphinx of Giza," at the edge of the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, dates from the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt (2,790 to 2,190 BC) and is a fine example of Egyptian sculpture. Although the name "Great Sphinx" is somewhat misleading because the statue is actually rather small at 12 meters (39 feet) high, the lion-man sculpture is actually among the oldest statues in Egypt and is part of a unique form of art known as the "Sphinx. Other ancient Egyptian buildings in the necropolis include some very important tombs and small pyramids, including those of Thutmose III, Akhenaton and Tutankhamun. Access to the ancient site is by tour (Egyptian English-language guided tour) organized by most hotels and tour agencies in Cairo.

Coptic Cairo

Coptic Cairo is the old Arab part of the city. For centuries it was the economic and religious center of Egypt, a close trading partner of Venice. The many mosques are characterized by their highly elaborate faรงades, which usually include a portico or two at the top of the main portal. The Minareum in this district is a six-thousand-year-old cenotaph and funerary monument built around 1400 BC.

Museum of Islamic Art

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Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo: en.wikipedia.org

The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo is housed in the Mausoleum of the 18th Dynasty King, Ramses II. Its centerpiece is the burial chamber, featuring a mosaic ceiling depicting the god Osiris with four hundred statuary gods and goddesses. The figures were made by an Italian goldsmith in the late 18th century. Other highlights include the two sitting rooms, each decorated with wall paintings, but only in parts, and the tiny mausoleum of the great Hanefi Bey, himself a vizier of the Mu'azzamid in the 17th century. With much of Cairo destroyed and rebuilt since the 18th century, the Mausoleum of Ramses II provides a singular glimpse of the Egyptian city's once-grand past.

Pyramids of Sakkara

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Saqqara: en.wikipedia.org

Cairo's main tourist attractions are concentrated on the banks of the Nile, particularly on the island of Luxor, where the huge temples of Karnak and the famous Valley of the Kings can be found. The only other major archaeological site is Sakkara, or as it is better known, the Pyramids of Sakkara. Although not quite as impressive as the best-known examples in the Giza area, these impressive pyramids are close by and, with the exception of the mastaba pyramids, are only partially excavated. Sakkara is also home to several impressive statues, including the spectacular Hypostyle Hall. The Pyramids of Sakkara are divided into three phases: pyramids I, II, and III.

Colossi of Memnon

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Colossi of Memnon: en.wikipedia.org

Located in a suburb of Cairo near the pyramids, the Colossi of Memnon are a group of three stone columns that lie on the north side of the Nile, just south of the Giza pyramids. They date back to the time of the Pharaohs, when the pyramids were built. There is no known historical record of what happened to the group, but the columns were given their name as their silhouette resembles those of the legendary monster of the same name from Greek mythology.

Karnak Temple

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Karnak: en.wikipedia.org

Karnak Temple, the largest in all of Egypt, was built by the Egyptians in around 2500 BC, and was continued by the Greeks and Romans during the Middle Ages. Karnak remains one of the best-preserved temples from the ancient world. You must pay for entrance into Karnak Temple, the museum that houses the structures. Visitors buy timed tickets in advance to guarantee a certain amount of time to view these temples. Entrance fees for the largest temple site range between 50 and 100 Egyptian pounds (US$7-$14) for adults, 50 to 100 Egyptian pounds (US$7-$14) for children.

Suez Canal

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Suez Canal: en.wikipedia.org

The Suez Canal, or "Eisenhower Canal", is the world's most important waterway, carrying 70 percent of all global trade by volume. The opening in 1869 of the canal cut the travel time between Europe and Africa from 2,500 days to 6 days, allowing traders to ship materials and people in bulk across the globe and removing a major impediment to trade. The Suez Canal Authority also has ambitious plans to develop tourism, new trade and other commercial activities. This, in turn, will aid the region's economy. More than 5,000 ships use the canal every year. It can be visited by tourist cruises and private yachts, although an ordinary tourist visit is not permitted to the locks.

Giza Plateau

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Giza Plateau: en.wikipedia.org

The Giza Plateau's manmade pyramids are the most famous monuments in Egypt. Located south of the city of Cairo, the Giza Plateau contains the greatest concentration of monumental statues in the world, the best preserved of which are the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren, and Mykerinos. Archaeologists discovered the area in 1879, and the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaura were completed around 3,350 BC. Travel to the Giza Plateau can be done by bus or plane from Cairo and is served by direct buses from Alexandria or Hurghada on the Red Sea Coast. Be sure to purchase tickets before leaving home as they may be difficult to obtain after you arrive.