Weekend in Cairo, Egypt
Updated: Jun 18, 2019
Growing up I studied the history of ancient Egypt. Fascinated, I’d watch movies and read books about the Gods, pharaohs, and ancient burial tombs. I told myself that one day I would witness the pyramids with my own eyes and in February 2019, for my brother’s 30th birthday – we ventured to the Middle East and Northern Africa to tick a few more Wonders of the World off of our bucket list. We started in Jordan (a future blog post) and ended in Cairo, Egypt. Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in Africa. It is located along the River Nile and is home to 20 million people, which makes it the largest city in Africa and the Middle East, and the 17th largest metropolitan area in the world.
Through research – we learned a weekend in Cairo would be sufficient, but we weren’t prepared for the traffic, smog and overall congestion that we experienced. Despite these challenges - it is 100% worth a trip! Come prepared with eye drops, cough drops, a face mask, and dramamine as you navigate your way through this bustling city.
Below Itinerary for CAIRO:
✈ AMMAN —> CAIRO (1h 30m) = $206 (nonstop)
Royal Jordanian 505 (operated by Royal Jordanian)
If you are American, you don’t have to purchase a visa in advance. All you have to do is purchase it through the Currency Exchange teller when you exit your plane.
• 🚖 Transportation – highly recommend booking transportation through your hotel. We saw maybe 2 stop lights on our journey. The freeway is packed with all modes of transportation including horse-drawn carriages, piled-high pickup trucks and families of 4 to 5 on a single motorbike!
• 🏨 Check into Hotel — Marriott Mena House = $355 (for 3 nights) – time of year rates change. Address: 6 Pyramids Road, Giza, Cairo 12556 Egypt
Marriott Mena House was beautiful and only minutes away from the pyramids - you can dine with views of the only existing Ancient Wonder of the World. In a stone palace on 16 acres of gardens -this upscale hotel offers views of the pyramids of Giza.
• Explore: (Day Group Tour) = we booked a tour through the hotel, but if we did it again, we would have opted out of the tour. We could have easily walked to the pyramids from our hotel and booked our own tickets (making sure to purchase a ticket to climb inside the pyramid too, which is a MUST- do experience)
• Pyramids of Giza & Sphinx - the city’s most famous landmark is the Great Pyramid of Giza. The structure was built about 2500 BC, covers an area of 53,000 square meters and is 140 meters high. Over 2 million huge stone blocks were used to build it, some of which weigh over 72 tons. It’s estimated that 20,000 people took 20 years to build it. It was an incredible, once-of a lifetime experience to see this Ancient Wonder.
Camel Riding – I am not proud to say we rode camels (it was part of the Pyramid tour). I literally broke down in tears when I saw the mistreatment of these animals. My camel’s harness was so tight on his face that it drew blood. I cried as I heard the camel cry and when I brought it up to the handler – he slapped the camel’s face – I promised I would share this story as a way to deter others from riding camels. It is commonly known that it is cruel to ride elephants in Asia, but I would say that it is equally cruel to ride camels.
• Khan el-Khalili Bazaar (market) in the evening. Khan el-Khalili is one of the largest souks, or outdoor markets, in Cairo. It dates from the 14th century and is divided into different sections selling carpets, spices, metalwork and many other items. It is not the most impressive market we’ve seen and it is also not necessary to go in a group. In fact, you may be hassled less without being in a tour group. Be prepared to bargain and don’t be surprised to discover that most items were manufactured in Asia and not Egypt.
• Nile — Dinner Cruise - you could opt for a dinner cruise, but we ended up dining at the hotel after hours due to the traffic.
• Egyptian Museum - prepare to pay for a museum ticket AND a ticket to take pictures AND a ticket to visit the mummy room (a MUST see). Between meals and artifacts – the museum is a full day experience. Cairo’s Egyptian Museum has the world’s greatest display of ancient Egyptian artifacts, including many from the tomb of Tutankhamen. Over 130,000 items are on display.
• ✈ CAIRO —> SAN FRANCISCO (19h 30m) = $624 (1 stop)
Lufthansa 7175 (operated by Egypt Air)
Cairo to Germany — (4h40m duration)
Germany to SFO — (11h35m duration)