There is one iconic world site that’s on literally everyone’s bucket list: The Pyramids of Giza! But don’t stop there. Giza and the surrounding area are home to over 100 pyramids dating back thousands of years, so where do you even start? Don’t let yourself get so overwhelmed that you don’t enjoy your time here. Take a look at these tips, and start planning your trip!
Go with a Guide.
I can’t stress to you enough just how important it is to explore Egypt with a guide. Almost nothing is marked, and there is very little signage. So, if you want to know what you’re looking at, and why it even matters, go with a tour guide! All tour guides in Egypt have to complete a years-long certification program, and they have to test again every five years. You’ll be getting the best information from some of the most well-educated guides in the world.
The “Big Three” Pyramids are about 45 Minutes from Downtown Cairo.
One of the biggest mistakes first-timers to Egypt make is not checking how far apart the famous sites are. Yes, a lot of the places you want to visit are in and around Cairo, but that doesn’t mean they’re all within walking distance of each other–or even easy driving distance! The Pyramids of Giza are not a “pop in, pop out” kind of attraction, so you’ll want to plan on spending at least half a day, if not a full day, enjoying them!
Read on: What to Know Before You Visit Cairo
The Three Pyramids in Giza are Not the Only Pyramids.
While the Pyramids of Giza are the most famous and the most frequently visited, they are not the only ones around! The original pyramids are actually farther south, at Dashur and Saqqara. Fewer people visit these, but a road was being built when we visited to connect these pyramids to the ones in Giza. It may be open by the time you read this!
At Dashur and Saqqara, you’ll find the “Step Pyramid,” which was the first attempt at the iconic pyramids we think of today. Then you have the “Bent Pyramid,” which didn’t turn out perfectly, but it’s pretty good! The next attempt became what we know as the “Red Pyramid,” which has those smooth sides and perfected proportions that characterize a classic pyramid.
Going in? You’re Going Spelunking.
Ever been in a cave? If you go into a pyramid, it’s kind of like that, but with straighter pathways. If you choose to go inside, you’ll climb stairs up to the opening, climb stairs or take a ramp down, and then head up again into the inner tomb. There is a lot of crouching involved, and spaces are tight. This may not be the perfect way to spend your time if you’re claustrophobic or have mobility limitations.
Take it from me, if you do go inside, your quads will be screaming at you for a few days afterward!
Beware of Enterprising “Guides” Inside.
Tour guides are not allowed inside the pyramids with you. There may, however, be a guide down there who paid off a guard to let them “help” the tourists inside. If there’s someone down there semi-professionally explaining things and showing tourists around, just know they are angling for a tip. If you don’t want to tip, do not engage. If you do ask questions or let them explain what you’re seeing, make sure you tip 10-20 EGP before you leave.
Helpful info: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping in Egypt
The Inside of the Pyramids is Rather Plain.
The later tombs and temples in Luxor, Aswan, and other points south are colorful and vibrant inside. If you’re expecting the same from the pyramids, you’ll be disappointed! This might help you decide if it’s worth it to go inside one of the pyramids or not. If it’s a bucket list item, go for it! If you’re hoping to see life-changing beauty, admire them from outside on a clear day.
Essential info: What to Know Before You Visit Egypt
It’s Okay to Ride the Camels.
Not everyone grew up on a farm like I did, and many people believe riding on animals is a mortal sin. No judgement from me one way or the other, but the horses and camels at the pyramids are not unhealthy or grossly mistreated, as they are in other places in the world. Camels have been beloved pets, co-workers, and transportation in the desert for thousands of years. It’s okay (and even iconic!) to ride the ones at the pyramids if you want to.
Make a Reservation at 9 Pyramids Lounge.
Want to dine with a view? The 9 Pyramids Lounge not only has the most epic view around, it also (shockingly) has amazing food to go with it. You must have a reservation to even go to the restaurant, so be sure to make a reservation in advance (they’re open 9-5 daily). We ate so well here, then made time to take some of the best photos from their epic view. Take a look!
Keep eating: The Best Foods You Have to Try in Egypt
Want more? Check out my dedicated Egypt Page!
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