The Best Things To Do in Cairo Egypt: A Guide to the Top 13 Activities and Attractions

Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, is a metropolis embedded in history and culture. Known for its ancient pyramids and temples, Cairo is a popular tourist destination that offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. To help you plan your visit, here are some of the best things to do in Cairo, Egypt.

City view of Cairo, Egypt.
Photo Credit: Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock.

Historical Landmarks in Cairo, Egypt

Cairo is a rich historical city with many historical landmarks to explore. Here are a few of the most popular:

1. Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza are one of the most famous landmarks in the world. These pyramids were built over 4,500 years ago and are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Visitors can explore the three main pyramids, as well as the Sphinx. Visitors can take a guided tour of the complex to learn about the rich history and significance of these ancient pyramids.

2. Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum is another popular historic attraction in Cairo and is a must-visit in Egypt for anyone interested in ancient Egyptian history. It is the largest museum in Africa and contains over 120,000 artifacts and treasures. One of the most popular artifacts is the gold mask of the 18th-century Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Visitors can explore the different galleries, showcasing everything from mummies to ancient jewelry.

Note: The mask of Tutankhamun is set to be relocated to the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is scheduled to be completed by Spring 2023. 

3. Islamic Cairo

Islamic Cairo is a historic district that dates back to the 10th century and showcases Cairo’s rich Islamic heritage and history. Visitors can explore the hundreds of mosques, tombs, mansions, and madrasas (Islamic schools) in the area. In 1979, this area became a World Cultural Heritage Site. 

4. Khan El Khalili Bazaar

Khan El Khalili Bazaar is a famous bazaar that can be found in the historic district of Islamic Cairo. This is a must-visit place for anyone who wants to experience the rich cultural heritage of Cairo. This market is one of the oldest and largest in the Middle East, with it being established between 1382 and 1389. Visitors can wander through the narrow alleys and streets while admiring the beautiful architecture and traditional crafts. The bazaar is famous for its handmade jewelry, textiles, spices, and souvenirs. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs and bargain with sellers.

5. Coptic Cairo

Coptic Cairo is the city’s oldest part, home to many important Christian landmarks. The city was a stronghold for Christianity in Egypt, once known as Babylon, both before and during the Islamic era. This area has many Christian churches which were around before the arrival of the Islam religion in Egypt. Visitors can explore the Hanging Church, one of the oldest churches in Egypt, which dates back to the 3rd century, and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, or El-Geniza Synagogue, which is believed to be the site where baby Moses was found.

6. Salah El Din Citadel 

In the busy heart of Cairo, the Salah EL Din Citadel blends history and picturesque city views. Sitting high on Mokattam Hill, the Citadel of Saladin offers views of the whole city and the Nile River. For 6 centuries, the Citadel served as the seat of the government and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1976. You will find that as you move around Cairo, you will see the Citadel from almost everywhere because of its prominent location on the Mokattam hills.

Inside the Citadel is the Mohamed Ali Mosque, also known as the Alabaster mosque. It was built by Mohamed Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848 and contains his tomb. The Mohamed Ali Mosque is different from the other mosques in Cairo because of the beautiful views due to its location. 

Overall, Cairo is a city rich in history, with many historical landmarks to explore. Whether you are interested in ancient Egyptian history or the city’s more recent past, there is something for everyone to discover.

Cultural Experiences in Cairo, Egypt

For those interested in experiencing the modern side of Cairo, the city has a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues. Visitors can also indulge in the local cuisine, which includes a variety of delicious street food and traditional dishes. Whether you are interested in history or culture or just soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling city, Cairo has something to offer everyone.

7. Whirling Dervishes Show

The Whirling Dervishes Show is a performance that showcases the spiritual traditions of the Sufi order. The dancers, known as whirling dervishes or tanoura dancers, dressed in long colorful skirts, spin around at high speed to the sound of traditional music. Visitors can watch this unique and mesmerizing show at various venues across Cairo, including the Al-Ghouri Complex and the Mawlawiyya Theater.

8. Cairo Opera House

The Cairo Opera House building is a stunning example of modern Egyptian architecture and a hub of activity in the city. It is part of Cairo’s National Cultural Center and is the main performing arts venue in the area. It houses several theaters and performance spaces, including the Main Hall, which seats over 1,200 people and has four levels. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of performances, from classical music and ballet to contemporary theater and opera. The Opera House also hosts art exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year.

Recreational Activities in Cairo, Egypt

9. Nile River Cruise

The Nile River is a famous landmark that is embedded in Egyptian society and development. The Nile River is the longest in the world, measuring an amazing 4160 miles long. To fully understand Egyptian civilization as a whole, a Nile River Cruise is a great activity to add to your Egyptian itinerary. It provides a unique opportunity to see the city from a different perspective, with stunning views of the city’s skyline and landmarks such as the Cairo Tower and the Citadel. 

There are many options for Nile River cruises, ranging from a few hours to several days. Some cruises offer dinner and entertainment, while others focus on sightseeing. It’s a perfect way to relax and unwind after a busy day of exploring the city.

10. Al-Azhar Park

Al-Azhar Park is a beautiful green space and public park in the heart of the historic districts of Islamic Cairo. It offers a peaceful escape from the everyday bustle of Cairo streets, with lush gardens, fountains, and breathtaking views of the city. The park is perfect for a picnic or a stroll. It’s also a popular spot for locals to gather and socialize. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and there is a small entry fee.

11. Cairo Tower

The Cairo Tower is one of Cairo’s most iconic landmarks. It stands over 613 feet tall and offers panoramic views of the city. Visitors can take an elevator to the top and enjoy a meal at one of the tower’s restaurants. A crowd favorite is the Revolving Lounge and Restaurant, which offers stunning views of the cityscape and rotates 360 degrees every hour and 45 minutes. The tower is open daily from 9 am to midnight, and there is a small entry fee.

Dining and Cuisine

Egyptian cuisine is a fascinating mix of flavors and ingredients that have been shaped by the country’s long history and diverse cultural influences. Some traditional dishes include koshari, a hearty vegetarian dish made with rice, lentils, chickpeas, and pasta, and ful medames, a breakfast dish made with fava beans, garlic, and lemon juice. Other popular dishes include molokhia, a stew made with a green leafy vegetable, and stuffed pigeon, a delicacy usually reserved for special occasions.

It would be a disservice to visit Cairo and not explore the amazing traditional dishes this place has to offer so be sure to add your “stretchy” jeans to your packing list

12. Street Food Tours

For those who want to experience the local cuisine in a more casual setting, a street food tour is a must. Cairo’s streets are filled with vendors selling an array of delicious snacks and meals, from falafel and koshari to shawarma and taameya (Egyptian falafel). There are a variety of food tours available that will suit your needs. Some tours offer tastings at many different vendors and even include entertainment throughout the tour. Visitors can pick a guided tour or explore on their own but should be prepared to try new and exciting flavors.

13. Explore Specialty Restaurants

For a more upscale dining experience, restaurants in Cairo offer an amazing ambiance and delicious cuisine. A really popular option includes Nile Maxim, which is a “cruising restaurant” that offers a dinner cruise along the Nile River. Another great restaurant is 139 Pavilion, which is an open-air restaurant located in the Marriott Mena House Hotel. The restaurant is a scenic hotel that is surrounded by greenery, flowers, and The Great Pyramids of Giza. 

Things To Do in Cairo, Egypt 

For those interested in experiencing the modern side of Cairo, the city has a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues. Visitors can also indulge in the local cuisine, which includes a variety of delicious street food and traditional dishes. Whether you are interested in history or culture or just soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling city, Cairo has something to offer everyone.

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

Author: Latoyia Downs


Latoyia is a travel enthusiast and founder of the travel blog, The Impulse Traveler. A graduate student with wanderlust and limited vacation days, Latoyia usually takes short, last-minute trips. She created The Impulse Traveler to share travel guides for travel where readers can experience a destination in just a weekend.

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