It’s by far the largest city in Egypt and with an estimated population of over 21 million inhabitants, the largest city in Africa as well. Cairo offers a fascinating mix of ancient Egyptian monuments and Islamic architecture in a sprawling city near the Nile Delta.
Even though the modern-day city of Cairo was only founded in the year 969 A.D. during the Fatimid Caliphate, some remnants of the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis can still be found in the historic area of the city known as “Old Cairo.”
The city is also home to the largest film industry in the Arab world and one of the oldest educational institutions in the world known as the Al-Azhar University. Moving around in the city can be done by metro, one of only two metro systems in all of Africa, the other one being in Algiers, Algeria.
If you plan to visit this fascinating city in Egypt, then here are some of the best things to do in Cairo to put on your bucket list.
1. Giza Necropolis
The Giza Necropolis, also known as the “Giza Pyramid complex,” is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Egypt, mainly because it features some of the country’s most famous landmarks.
Located on the outskirts of Cairo on the Giza plateau, the necropolis covers a huge area of 16,203.36 hectares (40,039.37 acres) and is home to the world’s tallest pyramid known as the “Great Pyramid of Giza,” built by Pharaoh Khufu around 2600 B.C.
The other main attractions apart from the various mortuary and valley temples are the Pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, as well as the Great Sphinx of Giza, arguably one of the best-recognized ancient Egyptian monuments ever built.
The great recent news is that the Egyptian Minister of Tourism is putting in a lot of effort to make the site more tourist-friendly. About €17,000,000 will be spent towards this goal in 2021.
A visit to Cairo isn’t complete without visiting these miraculous ancient monuments.
Info on UNESCO website: Memphis and Giza Necropolis
2. Cairo Tower
Towers with observation platforms are usually one of the best locations in a city to get a clear overview of the place. That’s especially the case in a city as flat as Cairo.
One of the most remarkable towers in the city is called the “Cairo Tower,” a structure completed between 1956 and 1961 located on Gezira Island in the central part of the city.
This tower stands 187 meters (614 feet) tall, a height that makes it the tallest structure in both Egypt and all of North Africa. Therefore, it’s sometimes called the “second-most popular landmark after the Great Pyramid of Giza.”
The main attraction of the tower is its observatory which is located at a height of 143 meters (469.2 feet), offering fantastic views of this enormous metropolis.
Read more on Listerious: 12 facts about the Cairo Tower
3. The Egyptian Museum
Visiting the Giza Necropolis is one of the best ways to discover ancient Egyptian landmarks still in position. If you want to learn even more about ancient Egypt, then there’s a special place to go to in the heart of Cairo.
The Egyptian Museum, also known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, is one of the largest museums in Egypt and has a collection size of 120,000 ancient artifacts.
The building was completed in the year 1902 and has been one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city ever since.
Some of the highlights of this fascinating place are the Gold Mask of Tutankhamun, made of 12 kilos of solid gold, and statues of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure.
Do you want to see the throne that Tutankhamun actually sat on about 3,300 years ago? You can in this museum!
Official website: The Egyptian Museum
4. Al-Azhar Mosque
In a city that has been referred to as the “City of a Thousand Minarets,” the first one ever constructed holds a special place.
This is the case for the first mosque that was built in the city known as the Al-Azhar Mosque. It’s located in a section of Cairo known as “Islamic Cairo” or “Historic Cairo” because it was here that city was established in 969 A.D.
Apart from serving its religious purpose, the mosque also developed into an educational facility, starting in the year 989 when 35 scholars were housed here. This means that the mosque complex is also home to the second-oldest university in the world.
The complex has been expanded greatly since its founding in the 10th century and has known a rocky history to say the least.
Regardless, it’s one of the most fascinating attractions in Cairo due to its millennium-long history and a must-see landmark when you plan to visit Egypt’s capital.
Official website: Al Azhar Mosque
5. Manial Palace And Museum
One of the most famous people in the recent history of the country is the founder of modern-day Egypt, a man known as Muhammad Ali Pasha (1769-1849).
He was the head of the so-called “Alawiyya dynasty,” also known as the Muhammed Ali Dynasty, and one of the most astounding palaces in the world was built by one of his successors named “Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik.”
The Manial Palace is located in the El-Manial district in the southern part of Cairo and has been transformed into a fascinating museum.
If you’re interested in discovering how the rulers of Egypt during the 19th and 20th centuries lived, then this museum is simply a must-visit attraction in Cairo.
Apart from the amazing architecture of the interior of the building, it also features an English Landscape garden estate park that is home to a Persian Garden, an amazing place to relax in the hectic city of Cairo.
Official website: Manial Palace and Museum
6. Cairo Citadel
One of the most imposing landmarks in the city of Cairo is its citadel, a structure also referred to as the “Citadel of Saladin.” This is a reference to the man who initiated its construction, Salah ad-Din (1137-1193).
This medieval structure didn’t just serve its purpose as a military fortification just southeast of the city’s historical heart, but also as the residence of Egyptian rulers for numerous centuries.
It was also the official seat of government between the 13th and 19th centuries, a period well over 700 years. That’s because it has a commanding position in the Mokattam hills of Cairo.
This amazing historical landmark was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1976 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
The complex features several museums for you to visit as well, including the Al-Gawhara Palace Museum which was commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha himself in 1814.
Official website: Cairo Citadel