Tourist Attractions in Egypt: major sights and trips in Cairo and around

What all do you remember of Egypt? The Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, River Nile, Cairo…? So, want to see them all? In this article, I will take you on a tour of all of these, which will aid you in planning a superb trip of this historically rich nation. There is no doubt that there is a myriad of tourist attractions in Egypt, which will captivate your mind and stun your eyes. Do you know that in Egypt itself there are over 130 pyramids? Yes, many of these are worth exploring. Besides these tourist attractions in Egypt; the museums, historical sites such as the home of Alexander and Cleopatra, architecture, landscapes, and the deserts add to the beauty of Egypt.

Giza, Egypt
Giza, Egypt

Exploring Cairo and around

On my first trip, my list of tourist attractions in Egypt included only the major sights in and around the capital. Alone Cairo holds many tourist attractions in Egypt such that I spend most of the time in exploring this greatest city of the Islamic world. Regarded as the largest city in Africa, Cairo is famous for its ancient monuments, river Nile, and a mix of Arab, African, and European influences.

Great Pyramid of Giza
Great Pyramids of Giza

Trip to the Great Pyramids of Giza

On the southwest border at 20 km is the Giza necropolis with the Cairo Zoo. The Great Pyramids are here out of which the three main pyramids namely, the Cheops, Chephren, and Mycerinus have attracted people from all round the world. Here, the pyramid of Cheops is the tallest and largest one at 449 feet made from some three million blocks of stone. All these three are explored via complex tunnels and staircases. The Great Sphinx is also near to the second tallest pyramid out of the three with the head of a woman and body of a lion. The entrance fee to each pyramid is charged, so explore well. For a great trip, go early morning or late afternoon due to fewer hordes. The former one is recommended as in every evening, light shows are held, which reveal the story of ancient Egypt. The entire site can be visited via hired camels, horses, or donkeys.

Great Sphinx
Great Sphinx of Giza

Places to visit in Medieval Cairo

Coming back to the Medieval Cairo, you will see thin congested streets with traders and impressive mosques. Midan Hussain is a large open square with tea houses and the holy Mosque of Sayyidna Al-Hussain. Next to it is the famous Khan-el Khalili that is among the largest bazaars on the planet. It is full of spices, coppersmiths, perfume, and trinkets. Close to this is the Al-Azhar Mosque boasting the oldest university on Earth since 970 A.D. The pre-Ottoman Madrassa and Mausoleum of Al-Ghouri are famous for Sufi dancing, while the Wakala of Al-Ghouri is a beautiful cultural center. The Museum of Islamic Art is where you are amazed with arts, ceramics, mosaics, and calligraphy.

Cairo Citadel

Come to the Citadel where rulers dominated the country for 700 years. For tourists, it offers extensive views of the city, the magnificent Midan Salah al-Din, the inevitable Sultan Hassan and Rifai Mosques, the Mohammad Ali Mosque with Ottoman minarets and interior, the Military National Museum, Al-Gawhara Palace, and Museum and the National Police Museum.

Mohammad Ali Mosque
Islamic Cairo: Mohammad Ali Mosque

Things to do in North Cairo

The City of the Dead (Northern Cemetery) is a necropolis of the Mamluks warriors where you can see thousands of tombs of the 12th century. The next worthy tourist attractions in Cairo are the Sharia Talat Harb street and Midan Tahrir (Liberation Square) that are modern packed with hotels, restaurants, and museums.

The City of the Dead Northern Cemetery Cairo
The City of the Dead, Northern Cemetery, Cairo

Do visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities boasting more than 130,000 exhibits – Pharaonic and Byzantine art, the Mummy Room, and the famous Tutankhamun exhibition. At the rear, riverside walks are recommended and feluccas (sail boats) can be taken for private trips.

City of the Dead Northern Cemetery Cairo
North Cairo

Things to do in South Cairo

The south Cairo is where you can all Coptic Orthodox Christians. The Roman fortress town of Babylon is truly wonderful to explore here. The Coptic Museum takes you back in the historical period between 300 and 1000 A.D. via its greatest display of Coptic art. The Hanging Church, Monastery of St George, and the churches of St Sergius and St Barbara are all worth a visit. Housing the remains of the Jewish cult, the Ben Ezra Synagogue is among the oldest in the nation. I also explored the Gezira island that is a modern area with the Opera House, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Cairo Tower with some breathtaking views.

Coptic Museum
Coptic Museum

Main tourist attractions Outside Cairo

Outside Cairo, more ancient tombs and pyramids exist, which are less crowded. Visit the relics of the Old Kingdom’s capital Memphis that is the necropolis at Saqqara. Look for the Step Pyramid that is more ancient than at Giza with intact wall reliefs and tombs. Head to Dahshur whose Bent Pyramid and a big field of royal tombs are the main attractions.

Pyramid of Saqqara