If you’re visiting Egypt and looking for some interesting things to do in Cairo, the capital city, you’ve come to the right place! Cairo is typically the first port of entry for many travellers into the country and many choose to only spend a few days there before heading out to explore other places.
Considering that there’s so much beauty and history to be seen outside the city, I also usually recommend spending one or two days in Cairo and leaving to experience other places. However, if like me, you are spending an extended amount of time in the city for any reason, you might be looking for some interesting activities to fill your time with.Looking for fun things to do in Cairo? Check out this list of 19 sites to see and activities to do! Click To Tweet
During my most recent trip, I got to spend about 5 weekends in Egypt’s capital city and it allowed me to visit (and revisit) some pretty cool places. I revisited Giza’s Pyramids and Sphinx, dined in idyllic cafes and restaurants, and even lucked out on viewing a beautiful fireworks display from a hotel’s rooftop. In this article, I will highlight 17 of the most exciting and fun things to do in Cairo!
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1. Things to Do in Cairo: “Must-See” – The Pyramids and Sphinx
If you do nothing else in Cairo, be sure to visit these ancient world wonders. The Great Sphinx and Pyramid of Giza are a treat for history buffs and even if that’s not your cup of tea, they are still worth visiting in my books.
I’ve written quite a bit about my visits to the site (read here and here), but in summary, I’d recommend reading up about these structures before you go or visiting with a guide if you’d like to learn about them and most importantly, getting there for opening time to elevate your experience.
Info: Entrance is 240 LE (~$8).
2. Dine at the 9 Pyramids Lounge
While you are visiting the pyramid complex, consider scheduling in time for breakfast at the 9 Pyramids Lounge. This is currently the only restaurant within the pyramid complex and the easiest way to get there is by driving.
If you’re visiting without a car (like I did), walking there is also possible, but be aware that it’s a fairly long walk and weather conditions may not be favourable. Alternatively, there’s the option to go by horse-drawn carts or on the back of a camel.
I could visit this lounge without making a reservation in advance (although this is advised) and my experience with the food and service was great. However, since visiting, I have read mixed reviews about this place, therefore, I recommend that you read the latest reviews before planning your trip there.
Info: Located inside Pyramids Complex, therefore you need to pay the entrance fee to reach the restaurant.
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3. Watch the Sound and Light Show from a Hotel or Rooftop Restaurant
Still about the Pyramids and Sphinx, there’s usually a sound and light show, albeit, irregular and dated scheduled on most nights. Rather than buying a ticket to see the show within the complex, head to a nearby hotel or rooftop restaurant and enjoy the show there for ‘free’.
Because I wanted to catch the sunset and show, and also see the pyramids at sunrise, I decided to book a night’s stay at a guesthouse right opposite the complex. I paid about $50 to stay in Guardian Guest House, and apart from the itchy bedding in my room, it was generally a good stay.
In addition, the hospitality the owners of this guesthouse extended towards me and other guests staying here was remarkable.
4. Things to Do in Cairo – Visit Old or Coptic Cairo
Moving away from Giza, another thing to do in the city is to visit Coptic Cairo. Here, you will find centuries-old churches with impressive architectural elements, including a cave church where it is believed that the Holy Family took refuge during their time in Egypt.
Info: Entrance is free.
Likewise, Islamic Cairo or Historic Cairo is packed with historic mosques, tombs, fortifications and more sites dating back centuries. Some places to visit here include:
5. Things to do in Cairo – Shop in Khan el Khalili
This is one of Egypt’s oldest souks and could be an interesting stop in your itinerary. But be careful while you’re shopping there and be ready to bargain hard. The vendors usually significantly hike up prices for foreigners. I was prepared for this, yet, I somehow still ended up paying more than I should have for pieces of clothing I purchased.
The Nigerian in me is disappointed, but it’s all good! *tears*
Info: Entrance is free.
6. Things to Do in Cairo – Visit The Mosque of Ahmed Ibn Tulun
The Ibn Tulun Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Cairo surviving in its full original form. I particularly liked the open courtyard and the views of the city from the top of the mosque. If you plan to visit, keep in my mind that this is a very old mosque and don’t expect elaborate interiors.
Entrance into the mosque is free, however, the people who provide guests with shoe covers expect them to leave tips before entry.
Info: Entrance is free. ‘Tips’ are encouraged.
7. Visit the Cairo Citadel
The Cairo Citadel is an old Islamic-era fortification in the city and one of the most iconic monuments in the city. Within the fortress are museums and mosques, including the prominent Mosque of Muhammad Ali.
Visitors can also enjoy an impressive view of the city from the top of the citadel and understand why Cairo is nicknamed “the City of a Thousand Minarets”.
Info: Entrance is 200 LE (~$6).
8. Al-Azhar Mosque
Another mosque worth visiting in Historic Cairo is Al-Azhar Mosque. I didn’t stay long here as I visited quite close to prayer time. Nevertheless, I found the marble-covered courtyard to be quite beautiful and will recommend a visit here to people who have more time to spend in Cairo.
Compared to the other mosques I visited, entry into this mosque was quite strict. I wore a long dress up to my ankles but was still asked to put on an abaya, which they provided for free. If you’re visiting, I recommend wearing something long and flowing that covers your arms and legs. It is also mandatory for women to wear a scarf, so definitely bring one as well.
Info: Entrance is free.
9. Al-Azhar Park
Nearby and within walking distance of Al-Azhar Mosque is Al-Azhar Park, which is a beautiful green space for taking walks and picnicking within the city. I imagine that this place gets packed in the cooler months and evenings!
There’s a small entrance fee to access the site, which I think is reasonable, and there are restaurants and boutique shops within the premises.
Info: Entrance is from 35 LE for adults. It’s slightly higher if you visit on weekends.
10. Things to Do in Cairo – Explore the Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum houses thousands of artefacts from ancient Egypt and is a great way to learn about the country’s history. I recommend visiting with a guide to truly appreciate the displayed antiquities as many of them are not well-labelled.
Info: Entrance is from 300 LE for adults, and cash is not accepted.
11. Dine Out and Enjoy Some Pretty Cool Cafes
One of my favourite things to do in Cairo was to look out for cute restaurants and cafes to dine in. My favourite was Holm Cafe in Zamalek, where I enjoyed a lovely and quiet morning before exploring the area.
I also found Klakit Art Space and Cafe, just opposite the Egyptian Museum and enjoyed the views of the old houses and downtown Cairo from its terrace. I can’t say that it’s the best place to go for a meal though.
Other cafes which I visited and can recommend for tasty treats and a nice ambience include La Poire and Cake Cafe.
And while we’re on the topic, don’t forget to try out Egypt’s national dish – Koshary.
12. Things to Do in Cairo – Visit the Baron Empain Palace
This was by far the strangest place I visited in Cairo. I didn’t know much about it before I went and now, that I do, I miss my ignorance! Just google this place and read about it! I mean, the building itself is strange, being that it is in Cairo and has both Hindu and Grecian elements, but the story behind it is even stranger!
I don’t believe you’ll be missing out on much if you do not visit but if you’re in the area, it could be worth checking out.
Info: Entrance is 120 LE for adults and an additional 80 LE to go to the rooftop.
13. Walk around Zamalek
If I ever visit Cairo as a tourist, I would definitely stay somewhere in this leafy neighbourhood. It has many cool restaurants, cafes, art galleries and theatres. I spent an entire morning cafe hopping and just walking around and enjoyed my time there.
Afterwards, I walked across the Qasr El Nil Bridge (which I recommend) to downtown Cairo, Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum.
14. Things to Do in Cairo – Go up the Cairo Tower
In Zamalek, there are a few attractions to see and one of them is the Cairo Tower. I ended up not going to the top but I have read that it offers great views of the city, especially at sunset.
Info: Entrance is 225 LE for adults and an additional fee for an express pass and restaurant visit. Be aware that wait times may be long.
15. Stroll around Maadi
Finally, Maadi is another neighbourhood to check out while in Cairo. It’s a bit far from everywhere else and requires about 20-30 minutes to get out of but you will find lots of cool restaurants and cafes in the area, especially on Road 9 and Street 213.
There are also restaurants along the Nile River in this neighbourhood and you can take a sailboat or evening river cruise along the river.
Some Other Things to Do in Cairo…
Between work and touring in Cairo, I felt very exhausted by the time my trip was wrapping up. So even though I had initially planned to visit these other places, I ended up not doing so and chose to sleep in instead. But if you’re still looking for some other places to go or things to do in Cairo, then consider these;
- Go on a Felucca sail or Nile River cruise – I did this on my first visit to Cairo. The bigger boats offer indoor entertainment and a buffet. I preferred my sailing experience in Luxor, but if you’re not heading there, this could be a good alternative.
- Visit The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
- Visit The Manial Palace Museum
- Visit The Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum
And that’s all folks! Have you visited Cairo or do you plan to visit? Which one of these activities are you most looking forward to?