Egypt, where legend and history mingle. Located in a continent that continues to captivate the imagination and with too many interesting places to visit, here are some of the Egyptian historical sites that we visited and will suggest for any first-timer in Egypt.
Our odyssey starts with a stop in the city of Cairo. You will try tasty food and enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the city after a first stop to one of the most visited sights :
The Pyramids of Giza, in Cairo. They are close to the city, and they are a must-see attraction. They are the Pyramid of Cheops, the Pyramid of Chephren, and the Pyramid of Mycerinus. The other buildings on the Giza Plateau are the Solar Boat Museum, the Sphinx, and the Grand Egyptian Museum.
The Great Pyramids of Giza was on my kiddo bucket list of places to see since she was 2 .
So she was uber happy to check off this UNESCO-listed site from her list . It is located on a plateau on the west bank of the Nile River, in Giza, the third-largest city, behind Cairo and Alexandria.
At the Giza Necropolis, there are the remains of members of the Fourth Dynasty royal family in each pyramid. The family reigned from around 2613–2494 BC, and all of the pyramids were built during their time in power.
The oldest and largest of the three pyramids at Giza, known as the Great Pyramid is 481 feet tall. It was built for Pharaoh Khufu and is the only surviving structure out of the famed 7 wonders of the ancient world. There are also 3 small pyramids built for Khufu’s queens lined up next to the Great Pyramid.
The second tallest pyramid is in the middle, and it is the Pyramid of Pharaoh Khafre, Khufu’s son. It is 448 feet tall and contains Pharaoh Khafre’s tomb. Inside the Khafre’s pyramid complex, you will see the Great Sphinx, represented as a guardian statue carved in limestone with a man's head and the body of a lion. It was the largest monolith statue in the ancient world, measuring 240 feet long and 66 feet high.
The shortest of the three pyramids at 218 feet is Khafre’s son Menkaure pyramid. It is the southernmost pyramid.
On our quest to see more Pyramids, after exploring the ancient capital of Memphis, we drove 20 minutes to Saqqara necropolis. We checked the first Egyptian pyramid ever built, also known as the first pyramid in the world. You can see it behind my daughter 🦋in the pict. It is called the Djoser pyramid. It was built at Saqqara about 4,700 years ago during the 3rd dynasty rule of pharaoh Djoser, and it is the only pyramid in the Old Kingdom that which 11 of the King's daughters are buried inside.
While it is not a pyramid with smooth sides, like those at Giza and Dahshur, this step pyramid structure predates them. It is a reference point to archeologists' understanding of the development of pyramid construction; it is also known as the first large-scale cut-stone structure in the world.
Imhotep is the legendary Egyptian architect behind the Pyramid of Djoser and vizier of Pharoah Djose; Before, the tombs used to be made of mud, but he changed the process significantly, leading to the making of the Great Pyramids. You can also explore the museum dedicated to him while in Saqqara and learn all about this great pioneer of Ancient Egypt🇪🇬.
After our enjoyable Saqqara adventure, we headed to Dashur on the west bank of the Nile; we got to see and explore the Dahshur Pyramids-the bent pyramid and the red pyramid. The bent pyramid of Dahshur was built by the first King of the 4th dynasty Sneferu, and it was the first attempt to make a smooth pyramid instead of a step one. The red pyramid was the first successful try for building a classical pyramid shape without any inclinations. It was called the red pyramid for having red ink writings of King Sneferu's name on the facing rocks. Inside, you’ll also find three funeral chambers inside… we’ve seen lots of interesting things on this trip and it was another memorable fun day
Back in Cairo during a relaxing afternoon, we spent the afternoon at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.. It was not far from St-Regis Cairo where we stayed.
It can boast of great collections, so give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all the museums has to offer. but if you don't have too much time, Tutankhamun Galleries are a must-visit.
On our Cairo adventure, we explored old Cairo or Misr al-Qadima. It predates what is now modern Cairo, and it is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Coptic Cairo is the part of the city within the Old Babylon walls.While there, at Coptic Cairo, we explored the famous Hanging church ( check out our instagram to learn more ). The interesting thing about this church is its history and the fact that the services are still held in Coptic, and we were told that it will be the closest we will ever get to hearing how pharaohs spoke. Pretty cool indeed .
As you know, the Christians of Egypts are called Coptics. Egypt was a Christian nation for many centuries before the arrival of Islam. There are many old churches in Coptic Cairo, dating from the arrival of Islam when Egypt had a Christian majority and when the pharaonic religion was in decline.
We've seen and entered a few of them, like the church of Saint George near the Fortress of Babylon and the church of Saint Mercurius, situated north of the Fortress of Babylon. In Coptic Cairo, we've also seen the synagogue of Ben Ezra, the oldest Jewish temple in Cairo. It used to be a church Many moons ago. While exploring the different sites, you should look for the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus. A legend says that it Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and family were hiding there during King Herod's massacre.
While exploring old Islamic Cairo down El Moez Street, we saw the Al Aqmar Mosque. At the summit of Saladin Citadel, we've visited the Muhammed Ali Pasha Mosque and one of the oldest mosques ever built in Africa: the Mosque of Amr Ibn AL. Many centuries ago, it served as a university. The Mosque is named after General Amr Ibn Al-Aas of the Rashidun Islamic Caliphate, who introduced Islam to Egypt in 640 AD. We’ve also seen the Ibn Tulum Mosque, the oldest and largest Mosque built in the city of Cairo.
Cairo's Citadel at the foot of the Mokattam Hills still preserves fragments from the original structure, and it is worth visiting.
One of the oldest mosques in the city and perhaps the finest one is Al-Azhar Mosque, built-in AD 972. The Alabaster Mosque or the Mosque of Muhammad Ali with its white walls is one of the landmarks of the city, but you should also visit the El-Nasir Mosque, the Sheikh al-Mu'ayyad Mosque and the Sultan Hassan Mosque (an excellent example of Mamluk architecture).
An interesting site is Bab Zuweila, one of the Islamic Cairo district's gates with three minarets.
It may be interesting to walk through Street of the Tentmakers and look at vivid colors of fabric used for special occasions that they sell there. Another interesting street is Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street with Madrassa of as-Salih Ayyub and Madrassa of Qalaun, great examples of architecture.
You can find boutiques and hipster restaurants in Zamalek, the district on the Nile island of Gezira. You should dine there and also visit The Palace of Arts and the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art.
Make sure to check our Instagram post about our visit to Luxor and Alexandria to learn some interesting fun stories about these 2 fascinating cities of Egypt.
CAIRO FOR FAMILIES
Al-Azhar Park, with its splendid gardens, is a hideaway from the overcrowded streets. Take your kids there and have a break from sightseeing in one of the restaurants there.
Souq Quarter, Khan el-Khalili, is the most exciting shopping experience. Don't expect shopping malls – this is a bazaar with an intricate net of lanes with all kinds of things to buy. Kids will find a lot of interesting things there.
Take your children to ride a camel at the Great Pyramids of Giza. They will make unforgettable memories.
In the Egyptian museum, take them to see the mummies. They will be impressed.
Go on a family trip to Al Sorat Farm in a small village. You can ride a horse, and little kids can have a ride on a cart pulled by a donkey. That is really an amazing experience!
Manyal Palace at the Roda Island with its extravagant style based on Arabic and European designs is lavishing.
Museo Mevlevi is an architectural gem, a place that Mevlevi Sufi dervishes once used to perform their traditional twirling.
An unusual place to visit is the Perception Mural in the suburb of Manshiyet Nasr. A street artist painted it in 2016 to show the importance of Cairo's garbage collectors who mostly live in the area.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES IN CAIRO
The city with such a long history, Cairo has some of the most important world's museums. Here are some from the fine collection: the Egyptian Museum, the Coptic Museum, the Townhouse Gallery, the Darb 1718, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, the Abdeen Palace Museum, the Manial Palace Museum, the Egyptian Textile Museum, the Gayer-Anderson Museum, and many others.
Cairo's hotels offer excellent family-friendly accommodation featuring family rooms, and special kid-friendly amenities like child safety socket covers, baby safety gates, in-room childcare, and cribs. There are a lot of things that can keep kids entertained - books DVDs, music for children, board games and puzzles. You can also spend quality time with your family renting bikes or swimming in the hotel pool or preparing dinner using BBQ facilities.
WHAT TO EAT
It wouldn't be a complete experience of Egypt without trying their traditional food.
You will probably try Simit first, as this sesame-covered bread is street food.
The national dish fuul medames made of mashed creamy fava beans
Hawawshi is pita bread stuffed with minced meat to which onions, peppers, and chillies are added.
Ful is a spiced bean stew with cumin and olive oil.
Koshary is a simple meal made of rice, pasta, lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, garlic, fried onions, and tomato-vinegar sauce.
You should certainly try Hamam Mahshi (cooked pigeon), Shawarma (meat sliced from a revolving skewer), baba ganoush (eggplant) and hummus, Om Ali (sweet bread pudding).
Finally, have a coffee in a traditional café.
For more about Egyptian food check here
Best to always carry small change with you, especially for tips. always tip in local currency – Egyptian Pounds. It is worth remembering when travelling in Egypt that tipping is a way of life and a cultural thing. It is expected to always tip.
Toilet paper- It's a good thing to always have your own as many public bathrooms in Egypt will ask you to buy them for use.
Comfortable shoes and a hat- You will be walking everywhere and climbing stairs
Dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention.
Pick up a local SIM card for your mobile as soon as you arrive. This helps with staying in touch with locals, family and friends, browsing the web, checking directions or making local calls. The four main service providers to choose from are Orange, Vodaphone, WE, and Etisalat. All provide decent coverage in the tourist areas,
You need a bottle of water with you all the time to prevent dehydration.
Also, keep in mind that Friday and Saturday constitute weekend days in Egypt and the workweek is from Sunday to Thursday.
TIME TO VISIT
If you want to avoid high temperatures and crowds, you should visit Egypt in winter or early spring. The pleasant temperatures make sightseeing a good experience. The prices are also rather low.
If you want to get from one part of the city quickly, you should use the Metro. There are also buses and micro-buses, and if they are your choice, go to Ramsis Square and Abd El Moneim Riyad Square and just ask locals for your destination. They will help you. You can also use Uber and Careem services. If you are not in a hurry, you can try the river bus, the one that will take you along the Nile.
Vibrant and mystic, the city that preserves history and towards the future, Cairo is certainly the place that should be on your travel list. Visit it with your family and make lifelong memories.