I was first awed in Egypt, not by the pyramids or the ancient history, but by the traffic. “It’s like video game driving, except you only get one life,” joked our driver as we headed to in Giza.
Our first day in Giza started with a homemade breakfast on the beautifully-designed rooftop of our Airbnb. Falafel, beans, pita, cucumber, and tomato – Donna and I both had seconds. We were both blown away by the most stunning view of the pyramids we could’ve imagined.
We had limited time in Egypt, so we set out to cover the basics. We spoke to the Airbnb owner about a tour and set off to the first essential Giza site.
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Sphinx is smaller than it looks in photos but impressive nonetheless. To this day, not even Egyptian scholars can determine why it no longer has its nose.
We had the advantage of being a 5-minute walk away from the entrance, so we were able to beat the huge tourist groups and, with the exception of the local Bedouins, have the pyramids to ourselves. Make sure to go early in the morning or you’ll be struggling to get around the guided tours.
The pyramids also provide one of the best views of Giza in the entire city.
Unbelievably enough, tourists are actually permitted to enter all 3 of the Pyramids in the Giza Pyramid Complex. I suggest stepping into each one for a first-hand look at the Hieroglyphics featured all throughout the inside.
Hieroglyphics are highlighted in popular culture so often, it’s hard to believe they were actual means of communication when you see them in person.
We took a ride on camels to a better viewpoint of the pyramids a short distance away. Riding camels in Egypt, or in all of North Africa for that matter, is an absolute must. It’s such a unique experience and felt extraordinary to be able to look back on the pyramids while riding through the desert.
We left the Giza Pyramid Complex after a few hours, amazed but hungry for lunch. We stopped on the side of the road on the way to the Dahshur Necropolis for some fruit and delicious, flaky Egyptian bread.
There are plenty of other pyramids worth seeing in Giza but we decided to visit Dahshur for the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. The interior of the Red Pyramid is accessible by a steep climb down a dark tunnel, so I would avoid it if you don’t like cramped spaces. There’s not too much to see but it’s still incredible to make the little journey inside.
Our last pyramid stop was Djoser in Saqqara, the first ever large-scale cut stone structure. We learned about the architect of this style of step-pyramid, Imhotep, who is also often attributed as being the first person to use stone columns to support a building – kind of a big deal.
I kicked a soccer ball around with a few local kids wearing Messi and Salah jerseys before we continued through the rest of Saqqara, located in Memphis.
We had time back in our hostel to cool off and have a bite to eat before going on the recommended Nile River Cruise, which was an absolute blast and a great way to catch the sunset on the Nile with a view.
Our second day started with another generous helping of Falafel and veggies for breakfast on the rooftop of our Airbnb. I think I could start my day with Egyptian breakfast every day and never get tired of it.
After seeing the pyramids, my number one recommendation for Cairo is The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, also known as the Museum of Cairo.
Museum of Cairo
We spent half our day in the museum and didn’t even see a fraction of all the amazing artifacts inside. The small entrance fee means you can easily come back a second day if you care to break up seeing everything the museum has to offer into two visits.
Our second stop of the day was the Mosque of Mohammed Ali, one of the most impressive mosques we’ve seen in Africa. Although the mosque itself is beautiful inside and out, we were primarily interested in the view of Cairo from the outside.
Our guide then led us into a Coptic church carved in from an overhanging cave called Mokottam. A tour leader inside described its history with a big smile and rapid-fire English. I can’t say I remember too much of what he said but I certainly won’t forget how amazing it looked.
Our last stop in Cairo was a slow walk through the 1 kilometer-long Muizz Street. A UN study found this site has the greatest concentration of medieval architecture in all of the Islamic world. The street is lined with buildings that date back to the 11th and 12th centuries.
I cannot recommend eating bread in Egypt enough.
Egypt is one of our favorite counties we’ve ever visited and a place we’d happily return to. The locals are beyond warm and welcoming, the food is amazing, and overall the country is very affordable compared to other popular travel destinations. I should mention we never once felt unsafe and we had very expensive camera gear with us so don’t be afraid to visit! As people raised in the United States, it’s rare to encounter anything over a few hundred years old, so to experience a culture with thousands of years of history leaves quite the impression. Hopefully, you feel the same way about this amazing country after your visit!
If you enjoyed this post or want to save it for later, make sure to pin the images below to your Pinterest board! 🙂