Cairo and the pyramids: best ways to visit and when to go

Aug 18, 2017

Sameh Tawfik, adventure travel company Intrepid Travel’s general manager in Egypt, shares his top tips for exploring the ancient wonders of the capital city.

Just a hop, skip and a jump from Egypt’s buzzing capital is one of the greatest wonders of the ancient world. For more than 4,000 years, the remarkable shape, flawless geometry and sheer enormity of the Giza pyramids have continued to amaze and baffle us. Seeing them in a book or on TV is one thing – stepping foot inside one? Well, that’s something else. Here is how to make the most of that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Avoid travelling in the peak season

The best time to travel to Cairo and the pyramids is between September to November and March to April; this is outside the peak season (December to February), so you can expect fewer crowds and lower hotel rates. You also avoid the hottest time of year – it’s not uncommon to see summer temperatures reach the high 30s. The weather during these shoulder seasons will be much more comfortable, and ideal for travellers keen to venture out from the busy streets of Cairo to the world-famous pyramids of Giza.

Book your tours in advance

The best way to book a tour of Cairo and the pyramids is with a tour operator before your trip – this saves you time trying to make arrangements once you’ve arrived in Egypt. A guide is also helpful in terms of getting around, as it can be difficult to get around by yourself – GPS and Google Maps will not get you anywhere in Egypt.

If you decide to go solo

Bear in mind that there are two types of taxis: the new white ones with a black stripe that have meters (note: you need to ask the driver to turn the meter on when you get in), and the old black-and-white ones that don’t have meters, so you have to agree on a fixed price before you set off. Try to use only the white ones.

When buying a ticket at the Giza pyramids, watch out for would-be guides acting like site officials in order to attach themselves to your visit. And go early – the ticket office at the Giza Plateau site sells the first 150 tickets for entry early in the morning when they open, and the additional 150 tickets are sold in the early afternoon. Tour operators tend to get there first thing to snap them all up – so you’ll need to be in the queue at about 8am to get in before them.

As for sourcing information on the places to visit, unfortunately the tourist offices in Cairo are usually closed or unmanned; instead head online and check out the official (and very user-friendly) tourist board website, which has general information on the Giza pyramids. Alternatively, if you’re after detailed historical information, you’re best off booking a guide.

SEE ALSO: The Great Wall of China: when, how and which sections to visit