Distant Guide Discover a delightful chaos in Cairo
Welcome to Egypt!
Your trip starts in Cairo, often referred to as the “mother of all cities”. This ancient city extends along the Nile River for 40 km making it the largest city in Africa. Travelers to Cairo are fascinated by its bustling streets, oriental bazaars and Islamic architecture. Cultural shock is a part of the Cairo experience that western travelers have to deal with and it presents itself in both pleasant and unpleasant forms.
Cairo Airport is located about 14 miles from downtown Cairo. There are several airport shuttle services, as well as taxis and buses. You can book the tickets for a shuttle van online in advance or purchase directly at the airport. Check into lodging to being your experience!
TAKE A STROLL
Walking around the narrow streets to Midanal Tahrir is a good way to get the first impression of the city. Also known as Liberation Square, this is the heart of Cairo where the main subway station Midan Ramses is located. The most important government buildings are located here and the area remains busy until late at night. Tahrir Square was the place that marked the rise of Arab Spring and has a special place in history for ending the autocratic rule in Egypt. Everything that happens here becomes a national news.
WALK THROUGH THE CITY OF THE DEAD
This doesn’t form a part of the usual tourist itinerary, but it’s worth visiting. The “City of the dead” is an ancient Egyptian cemetery with graves spread across the residential area. You can also find several mosques, madrasas, and Islamic shrines located in the area.
Morning and Afternoon
SEE THE SIGHTS
Start your day by paying a visit to the impressive Egyptian Museum of Cairo, which offers the largest collection of pharaonic pieces, along with objects from all Egyptian dynasties and the great treasure of Tutankhamun. In total, the Egyptian Museum has more than 120,000 cataloged pieces and is one of the must-see places in the city.
Just a short walk from the museum across the Qasr al-Nil bridge is the Gezira Island. It is easily identified by the lion that protects the entrance. The Zamalek neighborhood in the island is a hub of upscale hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Stroll around the island and visit the Cairo Tower, Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, and Museum of Islamic Ceramics. Take a break to relax and breathe in some fresh air in El Andalos Park.
There’s probably no better way to spend the evening in Gezira Island than witnessing an incredible performance at the Cairo Opera House. Don’t forget to dress formally. After the show, have a delicious meal at a high-rising restaurant in Cairo Tower where you can try the Egyptian tea and sheesha while enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the Egyptian capital.
Fasten your seatbelt! Today you will be going to the pyramids of Giza—the most sought after travel destination on Egyptian soil. The ancient complex of Giza is located 20 km from downtown Cairo and has three main pyramids— Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. In addition, you will also see the Sphinx, several minor pyramids, funerary temples.
You can either explore the complex on foot or ride on the back of a camel or horse. Keep in mind that the area is full of touts who would try to charge you an unfair price. To be on the safer side, book the whole tour along with a guide beforehand through your hotel or a trusted travel operator.
Another important point of interest in the necropolis of Giza is the Solar Boat Museum. Ancient Egyptians used to bury a boat with the kings as they believed that it would be used as a transport in the afterlife. The museum houses the original ship of Khufu that was rebuilt in 1985 with the remains found near the pyramids.
After your day of adventure, relax and enjoy a good meal and sheesha at the city center. Get back to sleep early to recharge yourself for your day trip to Memphis tomorrow.
Today is a great day to take a taxi or hire a car to Memphis, the ancient city dating back to 3100 B.C. where the foundation stones of the first pyramids of Egypt were laid! Saqqara and Dahshur are located close to Memphis and hold immense historical significance.
ARRIVAL IN MEMPHIS
Take a taxi early in the morning so you can explore all the three ancient towns of Memphis, Saqqara, and Dahshur. The journey takes around 30 minutes and most likely, your driver would play the role of your guide.
EGYPT’S HIDDEN TREASURE
Established by the first pharaoh of Egypt, Menes, Memphis is often overshadowed by the famed pyramids of Giza. Taking a less traveled route to Memphis is a great way to escape the excessive crowds and go further back in history.
Camel is a common means of transport used by the locals and is one of the best means to explore the ancient city. What was once an economic and political center is now reduced to ruins with the passage of time, successive military clashes, burglars, and effects of weather. Memphis is an open-air museum where you can see a large sphinx, several colossal statues of Ramses II and other archaeological remains sheltered in a covered room.
Just 3 km away from Memphis is Saqqara, the site where the first pharaohs were buried. Among the many monuments that you can visit there are the Step Pyramid, the Pyramid of Unas and Serapeum.
RETURN TO CAIRO
Return to Cairo after enjoying a spectacular sunset in Dahshur. After reaching Cairo, freshen up in your hotel and if you still have some juice left in you, browse some of the souvenir shops. There are a variety of things you can buy, including jewelry, scarves, papyrus, leather ware, ceramics, handmade bags, and clothes.
TASTE OF CULTURE
One of the best places to experience the authentic Egyptian culture in Cairo is Islamic Cairo. This area has everything that intrigues a mindful traveler: tradition, local handicraft shops, people in traditional Arabic attire, mosques, and local restaurants. Here, some of the most interesting attractions to visit are Cairo Citadel, Sultan Hassan Mosque, Mohamed Ali Mosque, and Al-Nasir Mosque.
For lunch, try some Egyptian dishes like Hawawshi (Egyptian meat pie) and Kushari, accompanied with Karka dey, a juice prepared with hibiscus flower.
After a sumptuous meal, finally, the walk through Islamic Cairo ends at Khan El Khalili, the most important bazaar in the city. Besides being an exotic shopping place, it is a good way to shop like a local amidst the usual noise and movement. Credit cards are rarely accepted so don’t forget to carry cash.
SIT BACK AND RELAX
Cairo is not short of quality restaurants and cafes, but if you had to pick one place that you can’t miss, it would be Fishawi’s. Running since 1773, this is arguably the oldest coffeehouse in Cairo and is loved by locals and foreigners alike. Along with vibrant, traditional decor, this place is also great for people-watching.
For further exploration of the history of the city, enter Coptic Cairo, an area surrounded by the walls of the Fortress of Babylon, which is nearly 2000 years old. Around the fortress,
you will find the Coptic Museum. It houses objects like sculptures, woodworks, textiles, artworks, and frescoes from the early Christian culture and history in Egypt before the advent of Islam.
Right next door, in the Ben Ezra synagogue, you can see the place where they say they found the little newborn Moses. Do not miss the Hanging Church, which houses works of religious art from the eighth century to the eighteenth century.
Depending on your energy level after lunch, you may visit Church of Saint Barbara, Monastery and Church of Saint George, and Orthodox Church, all of which are located close to each other.
You can’t leave Cairo without spending an evening at what is sure to be the highlight of your evenings in this magical city. Beit el Harawi is an 18th-century traditional house with high wooden ceilings and painted interiors that hosts traditional shows each evening. Here you can watch free shows such as Middle Eastern folk concerts and Sufi dance.
Choose to fly out of Cairo in the evening so that you can savor your last day. Was there something you read about that didn’t have time to do or see? Get out there and do it! You may have just enough time to make one last memory or see one last attraction. But, beware of traveling too far out of the city; missing your flight home is not how you want to end your magical trip! Check out the Al Azhar Park if you haven’t done so already. It was built on a garbage dump and is one of the largest parks in Cairo with entertainment areas, manicured gardens, restaurants, and fountains.