Sam's Big Guide to Cairo
1.5 years of knowledge, finally put to paper
Hello, gentle reader, and welcome to my giant Cairo data dump!
Just kidding. I’m going to try to keep this organized…which is easier said than done, given the richness of this city’s culture and history. Cairo is not just the Pyramids and Pharaonic stuff—from early Christianity to the Islamic conquests to Egypt’s peculiar relationship with 19th and 20th century colonial powers, there is so much to discover.
There are a LOT of guides out there about Cairo’s specific tourist sites. My goal is not to recreate a bunch of existing information. I’d rather give you a sense of how to approach Cairo overall—how to think through your itinerary, how best to structure your days, and how to get around (though I do talk through details of the best attractions below). I will give you all my tips and recommendations, but I don’t want to tell you exactly what you should do with your time; instead, I want to give you all the information you need to feel confident planning your own trip.
A few quick disclaimers before I dive in: a lot of people visit Egypt as part of a tour group. While that can be a good option for some, I am not a tour group person. This guide is geared toward people who will be touring Cairo independently. I’ll do a separate post on where to stay, eat, and shop in Cairo in the next couple weeks. I’m also planning an overarching Egypt guide, which will include tips on how to pack and dress, general rules of behavior, how best to communicate with individual guides and businesses, etc. As Cairo is very dynamic and changes constantly, I plan to update this list whenever I have more intel to share—so please stay tuned.
Also, do feel free to ask any questions you have in the comment section. I’d be delighted to give you more personalized advice!
what to know about visiting Cairo
You need 2-3 nights to do Cairo right, and you don’t need much more than that. You could absolutely spend five days here if you had time and were so inclined, but there is so much to see in Egypt that for most visitors, it makes sense to spend a couple days in the city and move on. That said, the buffet of activities I’ve laid out below includes rough timing for each stop, so you should be able to get a good sense of how many days you need in Cairo based on your interests.
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