Cairo is a fascinating city filled with culture, beauty and of course one of the world’s most stunning ancient wonders. Obviously the Great Pyramids of Giza were number 1 on our list of things to do on my Cairo layover, but once we arrived we quickly realised there is so much more to do and see.
Making the most of our two days in the Egyptian capital we wasted no time and first up we set out to do exactly what we came here for.
I was seven years old when I first learned about Egyptian history and decided that one day I would visit these stunning pyramids. Fast forward 21 years and here I stand in front of one of the greatest world wonders to exist on our planet. The Great Pyramid of Giza took 20 years to build requiring a workforce of 100,000 men. The fact they are still standing today 7,000 years later is astonishing. With our guide, Nevin, from Deluxe Tours Egypt we drove through the site and got dropped off at individual pyramids – don’t underestimate the sheer size of this site. We got to see all pyramids and even explored inside some of the ancient tombs. Nevin also sorted all our entry fees and took us to the best photo spots.
Following the Great Pyramids of Giza tour, Nevin took us to a local perfumery.
We sipped Egyptian coffee (very much like Turkish) whilst we learned the history of oils and scents used to preserve those mummified in ancient Egypt. Egyptians discovered 3500 year old lotus oil in the ancient pyramids. By adding no alcohol to the oil it hadn’t evaporated. We smelled oils in their natural state that are mixed to make up scents created by many designer perfumes. It was such a fascinating half hour, and we even left with a few supplies to take home. I went for the papyrus oil, which traditionally is dotted in a pyramid shape between your forehead and behind both ears, symbolising love, long life and happiness.
Following our perfumery visit it was time for a spot of lunch. We stopped by Nevin’s favourite falafel shop. Hot n fresh with extra tahini. There’s usually a half hour wait but Nevin’s charm and contacts get her to the front of the queue. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the name either, you’ll have to hang out with Nevin yourself to find this secret spot 🙂
Following lunch we visited a stunning Coptic church and Synagogue. These stunning places of worship are situated next to each other in peaceful harmony.
Shortly after we made our way to the river bank for a felucca ride on the Nile. Golden hour on the river makes you quickly forget the busy, duty and chaotic streets of Cairo.
Old Islamic Cairo:
This was my favourite area of Cairo. Some of the most stunning buildings and monuments lie here in the Old Islamic quarter. We wandered through the streets looking at the stunning Mosques and taking in the atmosphere of the Khan el-Khalili souks. Go to Moez Street around sunset and enjoy this bustling street with Egyptian life of all ages.
Stop off at El Fishawy for some sweet mint tea to take a breather from the chaos. It’s a very famous and tiny cafe in the epicentre of the souks. Also check out Naguib Mahfouz coffee shop for delicious Egyptian food and shisha.
We felt extremely lucky to see so much of Cairo in our first day. I’d absolutely recommend getting a tour guide to show you around. Cairo is an overwhelmingly large and busy city that can be fairly difficult to navigate around. Having a guide who knows the roads and the people definitely helps. We were so glad we reached out to Nevin to show us around her beautiful city. We told her a few things we wanted to do and see and she designed our day for us. The cost was such good value for everything, including entry to the pyramids and the felucca private boat ride was included in the price.
The most wonderful thing was that we met Nevin in the morning as our guide and that evening we said goodbye to her as our friend. Every time I visit Cairo I’ll be booking one of their wonderful excursions. You can take a look at what they offer here.
After the hectic, whirlwind tour of Cairo on our first day in Egypt we decided to slow the pace down a little on day 2. First up at 10am we visited The Egyptian Museum.
This is an absolute MUST DO for any history lover. The museum is filled with thousands of artefacts from ancient pyramids, including everything salvaged from Tutankhamun’s tomb (except his body which remains in Luxor). Pay the extra to visit the mummy section of the museum, which is an extra 150 Egyptian pounds. Here you can see real life preserved mummified Egyptians.
Following a morning at the museum, we pitched up at The Four Seasons Nile Plaza for a spot of lunch and some pool time.
We had stunning spread of mezze plates and seafood platters, with a decadent chocolate soufflé to finish. All washed down with freshly squeezed mango juice and piña coladas. Followed by an after lunch sisha of strawberry and mint before we lounged by the pool for the rest of the afternoon. The Four Seasons Nile Plaza really is a little oasis in the desert.
When to visit: I was lucky to land a Cairo layover in early spring. As the temperatures start to soar the number of tourists visiting the capital drops dramatically. We visited these incredible monuments with little to no crowds at points. Early autumn is also a great time to visit before the peak winter season starts.
We had the absolute best time in Cairo. I love being able to take people away with my on crew layovers.
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