Cairo In 1 Day
Living in Dubai is very useful as it is the perfect location for reaching parts of the world I never would have thought to visit before. Also being closer to these countries and cities means travel costs are cheaper (which is always bonus). So the day I said to my dad lets go to Cairo, Egypt for 1 day (and he laughed at me), wasn’t actually as crazy as it seemed. As it turned out we didn’t plan it on the best day but credit to us both, we powered through and had a really great day.
Our flight was at 5:25am from Dubai airport so we were up very very early to be there in time. We planned it on a Wednesday which, as I mentioned, wasn’t ideal as we had both done a full day of work on the Tuesday and a had a full day of work planned on the Thursday. That being said we committed to the day knowing we had the weekend coming up to recover.
The flight was only 3 hours and we landed at 7:25am local time ready to start our day. I had arranged for a tour guide to take us around Cairo and so we had a jam packed itinerary to get through.
First stop: The Pyramids
From the ring-road motorway you can see the pyramids in the distance and it does feel a little surreal. The ancient part of Cairo visible from the modern roads is a clash of eras.
As we approached the entrance to The Great Pyramids we were instructed by our tour guide to be vigilant whilst in the site. Only show your ticket at the main office when they ask for it. Anyone else asking only wants to draw you into a conversation and attempt to sell to you. He also warned us about purchasing items from the sellers there as they were unlikely to be “authentic Egyptian” as they so claim but more likely from china and mass produced. When you see the souvenirs you will definitely agree with the statement. This tip really helped us when we were in the site as you are approached a lot.
Once we were inside the site it was hard to ignore the overwhelming magnitude of how much was achieved in a time where there was no modern technology. The enormous structures are intimidating and spectacular in equal measures and I was unable to take my eyes away from them.
On the site is also The Sphinx, guarding the pyramids from afar. Although it has eroded significantly since it was built and the nose has fallen off entirely (and is currently residing in the natural history museum in London) it is still a sight to be seen.
I am so pleased I got to the pyramids early in the morning as when we were leaving, the area was heaving with people and trying to get a good picture without hordes of people in them would have been difficult. I always recommend you get to a tourist attraction early in the day or as soon as they open to ensure you get a good view and have easy access without long wait times.
It is a shame however how close the surrounding city is built to the Pyramid site and more specifically The Sphinx. If you turn your back to it you are looking directly as a Pizza Hut and this, for me ruins the magic a little.
I could talk for hours about the pyramids and may do a whole other post dedicated to them but lets just say visiting them was one of my favourite travel experiences!
Next stop: Papyrus Museum
It wasn’t my choice to visit the Papyrus museum however I really enjoyed the experience and it is amazing to see how it is made. It is obviously a long process and produces very durable long lasting materials for writing on. Preserved papyrus was on display in the museum but they also make their own for demonstration purposes.
The lady running the tutorial was a little pushy and I did end up walking away with a painted piece of papyrus myself. However, I do love souvenirs from my travels and I am pleased I bought one.
Third stop: The Nile
One of my favourite things to do, which I don’t get to do enough, is to spend time on water. I really enjoy sitting and enjoying the peace and quiet of being on a boat. Which is why a boat trip on The Nile was a must-do when in Cairo.
The whole trip took around 2 hours where we toured the river whilst learning about its history and its construction. One fascinating fact I learnt was that the River Nile used to run right in front of the Pyramids however it has now migrated much further away so they are no longer visible from the water.
Next up: Khan el-Khalili -The Bazaar
One thing I LOVE to do when travelling is to explore the local markets, souks and shopping streets. I much prefer them to malls and I always find some beautiful things when browsing through a small boutique store or handmade stall. This is why I was so excited to walk through the Bazaars in Cairo.
I did this with my dad and our tour guide and to be honest it was still a little intimidating even with two men at my side. We were stopped a lot for photos and I can imagine as a solo traveller I would have been a little anxious. That being said however, I never felt unsafe or in danger.
Our guide knew a huge amount about architecture and showed us some stunning buildings with ornate details that I would never have noticed had I been on my own. We also visited one of the oldest mosques in the country which was nestled amongst the bazaars. We weren’t able to enter but we were still able to appreciate its beauty. I haggled with some street vendors, bought some beautiful cushions for my house and took an insane amount of photos. What more could you want?
Final stop: Naguib Mahfouz Café
Before we had to head back to the airport we made a stop for some authentic Egyptian food and where better than this hidden gem, tucked away in Khan el-Khalili. We devoured some yummy food and quizzed our tour guide on all of the things we had seen that day. I highly recommend this restaurant (that was converted from an old market hall) for a quick snack or a full blow out. Definitely order the hummus, it is truly delicious.
Cairo is flooded with culture, history and fascinating stories. The city is well worth a trip but if you do, consider hiring a tour guide to show you around. I can’t speak for every guide in the city but Mina was so knowledgeable and informed that you could ask him anything and he would have the answer for you. I could have listened to him for days talking about the Great Pyramid of Giza or the architecture of a mosque. I have left his details below so you can look him up when you visit!
“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us” - anonymous
All opinions in this blog are my own