11 Best things to do in Cairo: Egypt's Fascinating Capital

The best things to do in Cairo

Cairo, Egypt's bustling capital city, is a treasure trove of history, culture, and adventure waiting to be discovered. With its ancient allure and modern charm, Cairo offers an array of unforgettable experiences that will captivate every traveller. From the iconic pyramids to the vibrant markets, this captivating city presents a blend of ancient and contemporary that is hard to find anywhere else in the world.

Here are the best things to do in Cairo

1. Marvel at the Great Pyramids of Giza

Best things to do in Cairo

The Pyramids of Giza

No trip to Cairo is complete without witnessing the architectural wonders that are the Great Pyramids of Giza. As the only one remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, these awe-inspiring structures are a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians. After exploring the pyramids, don't forget to visit the enigmatic Sphinx, another iconic symbol of Egypt.

2. Discover the new Grand Egyptian Museum

For history and archaeology enthusiasts, the new Grand Egyptian Museum is an unmissable stop. Replacing the old Egyptian Museum, it is an unmissable stop housing the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world, and providing a comprehensive glimpse into ancient Egypt's fascinating past. Highlights include the treasures of King Tutankhamun's tomb, the Royal Mummy Room, and the Narmer Palette, one of the earliest recorded pieces of Egyptian art.

Note: The museum is currently offering limited tours ahead of its official opening later this year.

3. Shop and dine at Khan el-Khalili bazaar

Holiday in Cairo

Khan El Khalili Market

The famous Khan el-Khalili bazaar is a true sensory delight. As you wander through its narrow alleys, you'll encounter a dizzying array of colours, scents, and sounds. Here, you can shop for traditional Egyptian souvenirs like jewellery, textiles, and spices. After a day of haggling, indulge in authentic Egyptian cuisine at the renowned Naguib Mahfouz Café or sip on a refreshing mint tea at Fishawi's, one of Cairo's oldest coffeehouses.

4. Cruise the Nile River

Best things to do in Cairo

Boats on the Nile (cc: Dan Lundberg via Flickr)

A trip to Cairo wouldn't be complete without a leisurely cruise along the Nile River, the lifeblood of Egypt. Opt for a traditional felucca ride or a luxurious dinner cruise to experience Cairo's skyline from a unique perspective. As you glide past the city's illuminated landmarks, you'll gain a newfound appreciation for the city's timeless allure.

5. Savour Cairo's Culinary Delights

Cairo's food scene is a delightful fusion of traditional Egyptian dishes and international flavours. Indulge in mouth-watering koshary, a local favorite made from rice, pasta, lentils, and tomato sauce, or savour freshly baked fiteer, a delicious Egyptian pastry.

6. Immerse yourself in Islamic Cairo

Holiday In Cairo

Al-Azhar Mosque

Islamic Cairo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a labyrinth of over 600 mosques, madrasas, mausoleums and other historic buildings that showcase the city's rich Islamic heritage. Start at the Citadel of Saladin and explore the Muhammad Ali Mosque. Don't miss the opportunity to wander through Al-Muizz Street, one of the oldest streets in the city, and a bustling thoroughfare with stunning Islamic architecture and vibrant markets. Also visit the Al-Azhar Mosque.

7. See the Citadel of Saladin

Best things to do in Cairo

The Mosque of Muhammad Ali at the Citadel of Saladin (cc: Dan via Flickr)

The Citadel of Saladin is a medieval Islamic fortress. Perched atop the Mokattam Hill, it offers a strategic vantage point and breath-taking panoramic views of the city. The citadel was constructed by the legendary Muslim leader Salah ad-Din, or Saladin, between 1176 and 1183 CE, as a means of fortifying and protecting the city against potential Crusader attacks. It is now recognized as one of the most significant and well-preserved military structures from the medieval Islamic world.

One of the most notable landmarks within the citadel is the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, which is designed after the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This stunning mosque is an architectural gem, featuring a grand central dome, ornate minarets, and extensive use of alabaster in its interior design. Its unique Ottoman style sets it apart from other mosques in Cairo, making it a popular attraction among visitors.

8. Visit the Sultan Hassan Mosque

The Sultan Hassan Mosque, officially known as the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, is a remarkable example of Mamluk architecture located in Cairo, Egypt. It was commissioned by Sultan Hassan, a prominent Mamluk ruler, and constructed between 1356 and 1363 CE. The mosque is celebrated for its impressive size, architectural grandeur, and historical significance, making it one of the must-see attractions in Cairo.

The mausoleum of Sultan Hassan was intended as the final resting place for the sultan and his family. However, Sultan Hassan was assassinated before the mosque's completion, and his body was never recovered.

9. Revel in the beauty of Al-Azhar Park

For a respite from Cairo's frenetic pace, head to the lush Al-Azhar Park. This oasis of greenery is the perfect place to unwind with a leisurely stroll, a picnic, or simply admiring the park's stunning views of the city. Visit in the evening to catch the golden light reflecting off the Citadel and the minarets of nearby mosques.

10. Explore the City of the Dead

The City of the Dead, or Cairo Necropolis, is a sprawling cemetery that has evolved into a vibrant, living neighbourhood. While it might seem unconventional, this unique area is an important part of Cairo's history and culture. Wander among the ornate mausoleums and tombs while witnessing the day-to-day life of the residents who call the City of the Dead their home. Remember to be respectful and considerate as you explore this fascinating, unconventional community.

11. Enjoy the view from the Cairo Tower

Best things to do in Cairo

Cairo Tower (cc: Gian Cornachini via Flickr)

The Cairo Tower is a modern landmark and observation tower located on Gezira Island in the River Nile, right in the heart of Cairo. Standing at an impressive height of 187 meters, it is the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa, offering panoramic views of the city.

A high-speed elevator whisks visitors to the observation deck, where they can enjoy stunning 360-degree views of Cairo and its surroundings. On a clear day, it is possible to see as far as 50 kilometres away. In addition to the observation deck, the tower is home to a revolving restaurant near its top, providing diners with a unique experience as they savour their meals with the backdrop of Cairo's ever-changing skyline.

Whether you're a history buff, a food enthusiast, or simply an explorer at heart, Cairo is a destination that will undoubtedly capture your imagination and leave you longing to return.

Have you been there? What are your favourite things to do in Cairo ?

best things to do in Cairo

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