top of page

Egypt: Discover Cairo - 5 must-see highlights

Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Cairo

Cairo the capital of Egypt is huge and chaotic, but absolutely worth seeing. The highlights are of course the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. The Grand Egyptian Museum, the largest archaeological museum in the world, is brand new. Like something out of 1001 Nights: The atmosphere at the Khan al-Khalili bazaar and in the Muslim old town of Cairo. Pure relaxation on the Nile island in cosmopolitan Zamalek.

Every Egyptian adventure begins in the capital Cairo! Here are my 5 must-see highlights

Egypt Giza Pyramids Camels Entrance Ticket

1. Wonders of the World: The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx

Cairo is one of the great cities of antiquity, whose history is symbolized by two impressive landmarks - the over 4,5000 year old Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Not only since reading “Asterix and Obelix with Cleopatra” (if you don't know what I'm talking about - "Asterix & Obelix" is a famous comic) did I want to see the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that is still preserved.

Click on the first photo to see the images in large size:

Fortunately, photos had warned me: the pyramids are not, as expected, in the middle of the desert, but more or less on the outskirts of Cairo. From many places you can see the city in the background. But as soon as we enter the area, we are in another world: camels with colorfully embroidered saddles, donkeys and horse-drawn carriages that look as if they come from another world line the cobbled paths. Behind the dunes there is a sandy desert.

Make sure you take enough time to explore this wonder of the world on foot.

For an additional charge you can also climb into the Great Pyramid of Cheops . The narrow corridors are not for the claustrophobic. Crowds of people push their way through the narrow corridor between the huge stone blocks. In my opinion, you can do it, but it's not a must. Especially if you continue your journey to the Valley of the Kings.

Will the famous Sphinx let me pass?
Pyramids of Giza Egypt Sphinx

Below the pyramids, the Sphinx guards the realm of the dead. The nose is off - no doubt about it - Obelix did a great job. I cautiously approach your field of vision – will she let me pass? I am lucky: All goes well! The Sphinx seems to have become careless over the years - on the plateau next to it, Asians take silly photos of themselves kissing it - and the man with the body of a lion lets it live. Actually the kiss is a funny idea and we'll do that too.

My tip: stay until sunset. Firstly, it becomes emptier and secondly, the setting sun bathes the pyramids in a magical light. At this time the donkeys, camels and horses return to the exits - the best time for marveling and taking photos.

After sunset the Light Show takes place here at the Pyramids. I'm actually not a big fan of it, but I quite liked it, especially because of the location.

“Hey, when do you ever sit in front of the famous pyramids of Giza and see them appear in laser light?”

It’s also cool that you learn something about the history. This can be a good introduction, especially at the beginning of your journey.

Egypt Giza Pyramids Night Sphinx Light Show

We spend the waiting time between the closing of the site and the light show on the roof terrace of the  “Giza Pyramids View Inn”. The view from the roof terrace is gigantic and you can have a drink or a bite to eat there. There are also hotel rooms with a view of the pyramid. If the content isn't that important to you, you can also watch the light show from the roof terrace. But then you don't understand what is being said.

2. Grand Egyptian Museum - the largest archaeological museum in the world

Unfortunately when we there the Grand Egyptian Museum was still closed, which is supposed to be the largest archaeological museum in the world. There is currently limited entry for visitors to check whether the museum is ready for the big rush. If I were there, I would really like to do that -

How cool to be one of the first to see Grand Egyptian Museum?

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar Cairo Egypt 1001 Nights Shops Shops Cafe
3. Shop till you drop: The Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

In the old Islamic part of the city lie the narrow streets of the Khan el-Khalili bazaar.

The "Khan" is one of the largest and oldest markets in the world, centered around an ancient neighborhood known as Al-Azhar - a warren of alleys lined with stalls offering a uniquely Cairo experience.

Promising names such as the Gold market, the "Perfume Street" and the Spice Market, where intoxicating aromas hang in the air, luring us from one alley to the next.

At the beginning we weren't sure whether we would get hopelessly lost in this labyrinth, but luckily Google Maps recognizes where I am and that makes me feel safe straight away.

Every corner looks like a picture from 1001 Nights. We are spoken to, but we don't feel harassed. In Café Om Kalthom (you can find the address at the end of this blog post) we treat ourselves to a break with fresh mint tea. From here you have the best view of the goings-on in the alleys and in the small square where lanterns and other handicrafts are sold. Life passes us by and we enjoy it tremendously.

4. 1001 Nights – the Islamic old town of Cairo

The bazaar is part of the Islamic old town and it is not for nothing that it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Fortunately, life here is still as raging today as it was 1,000 years ago. People haggle and gossip, pray and smoke shisha, study and ride a moped.

The old town stretches 1.5 km in length between the city gates Bab Al-Futuh and Bab Zuweila. The Sharia Al Mu'izz Li-Din Allah forms its lively main axis. The neighborhood is so winding in the side streets that you really have to explore it - and the best place to start is at Bab Al-Futuh. There you will find the beautiful Al-Hakim Mosque, also called Al-Anuar, Mosque of Lights; During the Crusades it served as a prison. From Bab Al-Futuh you go south on Sharia Al Mu'izz Li-Din Allah.

Click on the first picture to see it in large:

The most beautiful example of a traditional residential building is the  Beit El-Suhaimi, behind whose simple facade true architectural treasures are hidden: a cozy inner courtyard, for example, a reception room with a marble fountain , high, painted wooden ceiling and delicate green and blue patterned enamel tiles on the walls.

The three of the former eight huge city gates that are still preserved and once surrounded and protected the Islamic city center are also magnificent: the Bab Al-Nasr near the Khan El Khalili with its massive, angular towers, the Bab Zuweila with its two delicate round turrets and the Bab Al- Futuh fortress style. The stones used often come from the Pharaonic period, and hieroglyphs can even be seen here and there.

When we were there, there was a collective ticket for all buildings in the Islamic old town.

5. Walk on the island of Zamalek

Cosmopolitan Zamalek on the Nile island of Gezira is home to cultural highlights such as the Cairo Opera House and the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art, while independent galleries focus on emerging local artists. Refined international restaurants and chic cafés line up alongside embassies and upscale hotels. From the Cairo Tower you have a view of the entire city. Here you can relax in one of the restaurants, rooftop bars or cafés on the Nile.


  1. The pyramids of Giza in the sunset

  2. the rock temple of Abu Simbel on the border with Sudan

  3. the Islamic old town and the Khan al-Khalili bazaar in Cairo

  4. Luxor with its temples, the Nile and the Valley of the Kings


Non-stop flights are available from Lufthansa and Egypt Air from about 370 €.


Taking a taxi is safest with Uber. The best thing to do is download the app. This makes it possible to track who picked you up, especially if you order it at the hotel reception.

If you have strong nerves you can, for example, at book a rental car from €140 per week. However, be warned: Cairo is one of the busiest cities in North Africa and is notorious for its traffic congestion and air pollution. I wouldn't recommend a rental car just for Cairo.


If you've had enough of Egyptian food, head to O's Pasta in Cairo  go where there is delicious Italian food. It's best to reserve in advance.

159 26th of July Zamalek, Cairo Governorate 11211, Egypt

There are delicious smoothies, coffee and a good selection of food here... actually everything here except alcohol.

Abou El Feda, Zamalek, Cairo Governorate 4271104, Egypt

From Rooftop Bar Zamalek you have a great view of the city and the river. Don't be put off by the hotel's somewhat shabby entrance hall ...

Mohammed Mazhar, Zamalek, Cairo Governorate 11561, Egypt,  +20 2 27351846

You can get really good coffee at Social Specialty Coffee

9 Brazil St, Mohammed Mazhar, Zamalek, Cairo Governorate 4271050, Egypt

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar Cairo Egypt 1001 Nights Islamic Old Town Cafe Om Kalthom Khan al-Khalili Bazaar

The Café Om Kalthom is located in the middle of the Khan al-Khalili bazaar in a small square. A great place to relax and let life go by

82 جوهر القائد, El-Gamaleya, El Gamaliya, Cairo Governorate 4331302, Egypt


I booked at  Intrepid Travel the 15-day package trip “Explore Egypt” for 1,283 €

In hindsight, I would probably choose another trip because Hurghada was too cold for me in January and I didn't really find the Alamein military museum near Alexandria that exciting. From the itinerary Egypt Experience sounds - in retrospect - better. From €1,740


The paths around the ruins are often rocky. Comfortable footwear is therefore essential. It is particularly hot in Egypt between June and September, but I always recommend a sun hat and sunscreen. Avoid plastic waste and bring your own water bottle and fill it with boiled water. There are kettles in almost all hotels.

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
bottom of page