Cairo is one of those cities that you dream about visiting, but worry about safety and the stability of the region. The allure of the pyramids, camels, sphinx, hot teas and hookah make this beautiful city worth visiting. A dayover in Cairo and the ancient complex of Giza is well worth the quick trip outside the airport.
We flew Egypt Air from New York to Mumbai with a 14-hour stop in Cairo. Making the most of our time, we coordinated a 9-hour layover tour with Egypt Fun Tours and had a wonderful day.
The first stop on our dayover tour of Cairo was a drive out to the area of ancient Giza. Sitting just a few miles outside the city, Giza is home to the pyramids that were built by Pharaohs Khufu (tallest), Khafre (background), and Menkaure (front) over 4500 years ago.
We spent the greater part of three hours exploring the pyramids, riding camels, and entering one of the small pyramids. We explored the valley temple of Kin Chephren and visited the Great Sphinx.
Sample Local Food and Visit Tahrir Square
The square was very busy as we passed on our way for a late lunch. At a small corner café, we enjoyed a slice of feteer, the Egyptian version of stuffed pizza.
Tour the ancient city
We marveled at the city walls as we entered gates to the ancient city. Walking the famous Islamic street we saw ancient Islamic complexes, mosques, schools (madrassas), and homes. The shops in the Khan El-Khalili bazaar, one of the oldest bazaars in the world, were bustling with activity.
Relax with Hot Tea and Hookah
Our dayover in Cairo wrapped up with some delicious tea and my first attempt at hookah. It was such a different world to experience a culture where alcohol is not consumed; instead, people socialize and relax with hookah. Nestled at a tiny table, in a busy café, we took the opportunity to really absorb the local culture.
Dayover in Cairo – Tips
- Book in advance with a well-reviewed tour company like Egypt Fun Tours so you don’t have to worry about things like luggage storage, scams, etc.
- Use your guide as a shield from the pesky cons and scammers trying to talk you into buying souvenirs at every corner.
- Decide in advance if you want to ride the camels near the pyramids. People don’t actually ride camels in this area, it’s purely for tourists, but it makes a fun experience and photo opportunity. Have your guide negotiate on your behalf so you don’t end up overpaying or getting extorted at the end.
Want to follow my travels?
Want to make the most of your long layover? Check out my Dayover tour series for more great destination itineraries and tips.