No one leaves Cairo without visiting these three huge monuments, located in Giza just outside Cairo. Most are stunned by the incredible size. Even if you are 100 meters away, you have to put your head back and take your view in the panorama to catch everything. These are the only seven wonders of the original world that still exist. The entrance fee costs about 50 NOK plus 100 extra if you want to enter the Keopspyramiden. Please note that only the first 300 each day get tickets into the pyramids! Open from 2 pm 0800 to 1600 every day.
Inside the same area as the pyramids you will find the legendary Sphinx, the 57-meter-long statue of a human-headed lion, who lost his nose after Napoleon’s soldiers fired cannon-fired drills during the French invasion of 1798. No one knows when the Sphinx became carved out of the one stone it consists of, or what it really is meant to symbolize.
midst of the Islamic Cairo is this huge fortress, built by the legendary Saladin around the year 1180. This was Egypt’s center of power for several centuries, and countless fascinating stories originated from here. If you have a touch of historical interest, bring a guide or a good guide book. Inside the area are the magnificent Mohammed Ali Mosque (no, not the boxer…) and several museums, among others. the military museum and a somewhat macabre police museum.
Open daily from 2 pm 0900 to 1600, entry fee about 40 NOK.
The Egyptian Museum
It is an all-day project to embark on the Egyptian Museum. The museum is a huge multi-storey complex with 120,000 exhibited objects, and you can spend days here without bringing everything. Most visitors naturally gather around the objects from Tut-ankh-Amon’s burial chamber. The legendary pharaoh who died in his teens is still fascinating. The museum is located in the city center just north of Midan Tahrir. It is open daily from 7 am The entrance fee costs around 50 NOK + 80 extra if you also want to enter the mummy department or bring a camera. The address is Tahrir square.
This market started in 1382 and remains one of Cairo’s most important shopping areas for the city’s inhabitants. Even if you do not intend to buy anything, it is a pleasure to stroll around this chaotic, vibrant, exotic scented market, where Cairo’s daily life goes almost exactly as it has for centuries. Here also the ordinary tourist who has not been in the Middle East before, really fulfilled their expectations of how it was thought here.
Day 1 in Cairo
If you only have a few days available in Cairo, get up early to get the most out of the city. If you manage to have breakfast and get to Giza until noon. 0800, the chance is present for you to see Cairo’s main attraction, the pyramids, calmly before the chaos begins. A taxi from the city center to Giza should not cost you more than around 20 kroner, or alternatively there are buses for 50 øre, but this takes half an hour in fancy vehicles. The taxi driver might suggest a cup of coffee to a cousin that he only has to stop for two minutes with, and this cousin will most likely offer you to see the camel back pyramids for a few hundred bucks.
If you refuse and are dropped off outside the main gate into the pyramids, the entrance fee costs around 50 kroner, twice as much if you want to enter the Keops pyramid. Only the first 300 each day receive this offer, and while there may not be much to see inside the pyramid, it is definitely an experience to bring. When will you have the opportunity to wander around in a 4600 year old building next time? This pyramid, which is the last of the seven wonders of the world, was originally 145 meters high. It was the tallest building in the world in 43 centuries, and was surpassed only in the 19th century.
Just below the Keops Pyramid stands the Chepren Pyramid, which many people are mistaken because the Chepren Pyramid looks the biggest. But it is built on upright terrain, and is “only” 136 meters high. Here, too, you can go for an extra ticket for about 25 kroner, and walk down the claustrophobically narrow hallways to Chepren’s burial chamber, where his sarcophagus still stands. The third and least visited pyramid is Mycerinus. Mycerinus is 62 meters high and is located beyond Chepren. You have to pay NOK 25 in entrance fee here too, but in return you may get the experience for yourself if you are early.
Below this plateau lies the legendary Sphinx, the 55-meter-long statue of a lying lion with a human head. Each night, the Sphinx is the narrator in a separate light and laser show about the history of the pyramids, while the pyramids themselves are illuminated by flickering colored lights. Very visual and entertaining, although it is a bit strange to see one of the world’s oldest buildings used in such a performance.
It can be difficult to digest the impression of these incredible buildings, as you must expect to be constantly disturbed by vendors offering you drinks, sunscreen, movies and souvenirs. A fun way to avoid these sellers might be to say yes to one of the horse or camel landlords, and ride away to one of the dunes a few hundred yards away. Here you have a fabulous panoramic view of the entire plateau. This normally costs no more than around 20 kroner per hour, but clearly agree what you are going to and how long you pay for. If you do not do this, you will definitely be charged extra upon delivery. There are stables that have fixed prices at both entrances.
After the pyramid visit you can walk down to the beautiful Mena House Hotel, which is next to the main entrance. Sit at the poolside bar and order a well-deserved ice-cold refreshment. Mena House Hotel offers beautiful surroundings with fragrant jasmine gardens and the pyramids as a backdrop. If the time is right for lunch, the hotel also has several restaurants, from a la carte to snacks. Prices are quite high for Cairo to be, but most Scandinavians will hardly respond, especially if they have just arrived in the country.
Now you’re ready to embark on the most buzzing, old-fashioned and noisy part of Cairo. Take a taxi and ask the driver to get off at or near the Midan Hussein square. This is in the heart of Islamic Cairo, and the starting point for exploring the famous bazaar Khan al-Khalili. Before you enter the bazaar, take time to al-Azhar Mosque on the south side of the square. It is one of Cairo’s oldest mosques (970 AD), and is also considered the oldest university in the world, although students are now mainly taught in branches spread throughout Egypt. On the north side of the square is one of the holiest mosques in Cairo, Sayyidna al-Hussein, where only Muslims are allowed in.
Khan al-Khalili is the quarters west of Midan Hussein Square, with the wide pedestrian street Muski in the south and the narrower Siket al-Badestan in the north. In both streets you are in constant congestion and queue, while the shopkeepers are fighting for your attention and trying to lure you into their exact booths. Most of the commodity groups are located in the same area, for example you can find almost all the gold, silver and copper shops in the northwest, all the antique shops in the north, and spices and herbs in the southwest.
If you have the time and opportunity, indulge in a cup of powdery coffee at Fishawi, the city’s most famous tea house that has been open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year since 1773. But don’t expect anything but liquid dining, food can You may want to buy outside and bring in.
A few hundred meters south of the bazaars you can see from two distances two high minarets. These are the towers of Bab Zuweyla, the southern gate of the ancient city wall of Islamic Cairo, and it has a cruel medieval history of executions and heads of stakes in the square in front. But today you have one of the most beautiful views from the towers, and on a clear day you can see all the way to the pyramids of Giza.
Cairo is a safe city to stroll around in. Robbery and assaults almost never happen, but in return there is a lot of hassle from sellers, taxi drivers and beggars. There are also pickpockets everywhere, though the ordinary Egyptians are very honest. Trying to deceive yourself into demanding overpricing for any item, however, is just part of the culture. You are allowed to try it, and if you accept the price, it is okay!
Now you probably want to come back to the hotel room to get your eardrums cleaned and dusted and sweaty. And then it’s time to start thinking about dinner. Why not combine the meal with a sightseeing tour of Cairo’s heartbeat, the Nile? There are several boats offering two-hour dinner cruises that include buffet, belly dancing and live music. Drinks usually have to be paid outside. The price is usually around 75 kroner. Nile Beijing has Chinese food, and the boat is said to be the vessel Agatha Christie based her novel “Death On the Nile”. This boat leaves from Kornish el-Nile Street and can be booked on tel 02/51 70 839. You may have Nile Maxim, an elegant riverboat that runs from the Marriott Hotel at Zamalek, or Scarabee, the oldest and smallest, but perhaps the most elegant boat., which runs from the Shepherd Hotel in Garden City.Phone 02/3543199. Whichever boat you choose, it is a good idea to pre-book a seat.
Day 2 in Cairo
After a late night and a hearty breakfast we start the next day at. 0900 when the Egyptian Museum opens its doors. You need to spend a total of 130 kroner if you want to bring a camera in (and you will!) And also have access to the mummy department. Founded in 1835, this museum has over 120,000 items on display at the time of writing. This means that even if you spend only 5 seconds on each item, you will spend over 66 hours watching everything. Coffee break is not included.
Most tourists go straight to the most famous exhibits like Tut-ankh-Amon and the mummies, but if you are historically interested, most of it is very interesting here. It may be an idea to hire an official guide to join you. The guides can be rented in the entrance for about 50 NOK per hour. Here you will also find a cafeteria where you can have lunch.
If it’s not too late before you leave the museum, you can take a taxi to the fortress, which for seven hundred years was Cairo’s center of power, the Citadel. Inside the area you will find several mosques, museums and palaces with a fascinating and bloody history behind them. Again, it is advisable to hire a knowledgeable and official guide to show you around this 830-year-old defense force, where from the terraces you have a brilliant view of the whole city.
400 meters farther north-west is one of Cairo’s most characteristic mosques, the so-called Blue Mosque, or the Aqsunqur Mosque it is really called. The exterior of this 660 year old mosque is decorated with blue marble tiles. It costs about 7 kroner in entry money, but then you can also climb up the minaret, which gives you a great view of the citadel.
After a trip back to the hotel, we suggest a trip to Midan Orabi, where you will find Alfy Bey, a good but simple and affordable Egyptian restaurant that has been here since 1938. They do not have alcohol, so if you want to end the day with a beer or a glass of wine, but don’t want to go back to the hotel just yet, we suggest Pub 28 at Zamalek. The contrast from downtown Cairo is amazing, it’s like strolling into a cool English pub with western music, dart slices and imported beer on tap. Here, many of the city’s western embassy staff have met for years. Optionally, find yourself a real Egyptian coffee house and sit down on the pillows on the floor, serve a cup of powdered tea on the 30-inch-high table, and teat on a water pipe filled with apple-flavored tobacco.