Of course, the site of the Great Pyramid, the only surviving wonder of the ancient world, is a must-see for any visitor to Egypt’s capital city. with the pyramid complex and its sphinx offering visitors a spectacular taste of ancient times. Even older are nearby Dahshur and Saqqara – the first of Egypt’s pyramids created by Sneferu who ruled between 2686 and 2667 BC.
But beyond the remnants of the Pharaohs are a number of Coptic sites such as the Babylon Fortress, the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Church and the Greek Church of St. George. Then there is Islamic Cairo, one of the world’s oldest Islamic cities tucked within modern Cairo. Founded in the 10th century, it became an important centre of the Islamic world with its mosques, madrasas, fountains and hammams.
Take a stroll through the medieval markets by Khan El-Khalili, wander along the Nile promenade with a sugar cane juice or suck on a shisha at one of the city’s many street cafes known as ‘ahwas.
Places to Visit in Cairo
- Giza Necropolis
- Islamic Cairo
- Coptic Cairo
- Nile Promenade
- Khan Al-Khalili
Unique Things to See and Do in Cairo
- Explore the mosques and hammams of Islamic Cairo
- Step back into the world of the Pharaohs at the Giza Necropolis
- Discover the city’s Christian heritage in Coptic Cairo
- Go shopping among the many shops of medieval market Khan Al-Khalili
- Take a walk along the Nile Promenade
Cairo – Egypt’s Capital City
Although Cairo was built just over one thousand years ago, its history draws on ancient times thanks to its location near the Pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx which date back around 4000 years.
Those sites, once more closely affiliated with Memphis, the heart of ancient Egypt, have now been absorbed by the burgeoning city as it swells to hold its rapidly growing population. For Cairo is not only the largest city in the Arab World but also one of the most densely populated cities on earth.
The Romans first settled a large town where Cairo now sits in the early fourth century. Then, in the seventh century, the Muslims who had conquered Egypt moved the capital from Alexandria to the newly-founded city of Fustat which lies within the area of modern Cairo, with subsequent dynasties keeping the capital in the area.
But it wasn’t until the 10th century that a fortified city was built and given the name Cairo, and from then onwards, the city was the country’s capital, with the Ottomans making it the capital of the territory when they took power in Egypt.
Getting Around Cairo
The streets of Cairo are congested with traffic making the city’s Metro an attractive way to dodge the gridlock in order to get around the city. The underground train network’s cleanliness, affordability and overall efficiency are added bonuses.
Taxis will get you to areas not covered by the Metro, with buses another overland and very cheap option although they can be crowded and challenging for those not familiar with them.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Cairo
Summer months can be particularly challenging in Cairo with temperatures sometimes reaching highs of 36 degrees Celsius in July. March, April and June see the Khamaseen winds blow in from the desert, carrying higher temperatures and sand in with them. But the cool breeze from the Nile River can offer those staying along its banks some respite from the heat.
Did you know…?
Cairo is known as the city of a thousand minarets thanks to its wealth of Islamic architecture.
Did you ALSO know…?
The Al-Azhar University of Cairo is the oldest university in the world.
Ready to plan your visit to Cairo? Check out these popular guides and trips.