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How to Spend 24 Hours in Cairo

Spending a day in Cairo will be one of the most memorable tourist destinations that you’ve visited in a while. Cairo is the capital and most populous city in Egypt. It’s home to one of the World’s Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It’s also where you can discover an authentic Egyptian experience. There are many things to do, sightseeing, and entertainment to fill up your 24 hours in Cairo.

Sightseeing in Cairo

Cairo is one of the most picturesque cities in the world. It has its charm based on the historical significance of the city. There are two sides of Cairo that you can experience by sightseeing: historical Cairo and Islamic Cairo. You’ll be able to see them both during your 24 hours here.

Historic Cairo is perhaps the most notable side of the city. The Egyptian capital is known for its Pharaohs and the vast wealth that the city had. The historical side of Cairo will give you a glimpse into the storied past of the city. The main area to visit is the Giza Plateau. The Giza Plateau contains the world-famous Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, and many other structures. A fee is required for entering the plateau, but you’ll gain access to the entire area for exploring.

African Bucket List pyramids of giza

The Pyramids of Giza are the seventh Wonder of the Ancient World. The three pyramids include the Great Pyramid of Khufu (the largest of the three), the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure. These pyramids are open to the public, but only two at a time due to preservation efforts. The available pyramids change every two years. The interior of the pyramids will give a sense of the architectural wonders and the sacred use of the structures.

The Great Sphinx stands guard of the pyramids. It was carved out of a single sandstone block, and the most notable feature of it is the missing nose. The plateau includes several other smaller pyramids dedicated to Queens and Nobles.

The plateau is the most popular tourist attraction in Cairo and the perfect place to begin sightseeing. It’s best to arrive in the morning when it first opens to avoid the massive tourist crowds and Egypt heat.

Islamic Cairo is another notable area that’s great for sightseeing. Cairo’s location in Northern Africa near the Middle East allowed significant influence from Islam. The entire region showcases a great representation of Islamic architecture and known as an area for discovering arts and culture. The main attractions for sightseeing in Islamic Cairo are the many mosques that were built here. The first mosque built in Egypt, Amr Ibn-AlAs, is Africa’s oldest mosque. It was built back in 642 AD, around the time that Cairo was established. Other significant mosques worth seeing are the Ibn Tulun, Sultan Hassa, and El Refaa. Keep in mind that these are all religious sites and appropriate dress is necessary.

Things To Do in Cairo

Walking around Cairo can be tiresome, especially in the hot, desert heat. There are plenty of things to do around the city to give you a break from the Sun. Many of these sites are located nearby the popular tourist areas so they can be easily accessed while touring around Cairo for the day.

Egypt Bazaar

The Khan El-Khalili Bazaar is a must-see destination for shopping and getting an authentic Egyptian experience. The bazaar is the largest souk located in Islamic Cairo and undoubtedly one of the most popular for tourists. The bazaar sells everything from clothing, souvenirs, glassware, jewelry, handicrafts; anything that you can imagine. Walking around the bazaar, you’ll encounter many local Egyptians ready to sell you their goods, but always friendly to interact. Haggling is a big part of the Egyptian culture so almost everything that you find at the bazaar can be negotiated on the price for the best deals. For those not confident with their haggling skills, you can find a few retail shops with set prices.

Another unique activity to do in Cairo is to visit the Cairo Tower. The Cairo Tower is the tallest tower in the city measuring 185 meters in height. While the tower is impressive from the street level for taking photos, the best views are seen from the top of the tower. The Cairo Tower allows visitors to go to the top level where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the entire city.

Cairo was strategically established on the Nile River, the longest river in the world. Cairo has transformed the Nile into a major tourist attraction by providing boat rides and cruises along the river. Riding on a felucca boat along the Nile will be a very memorable experience. There are rides during the daytime, or you can find night cruises along the river to end your day.  Felucca boats can be chartered for a private ride with your party or hop on one of the public boats available for tourists.

Dining and Entertainment in Cairo

You’ll never be short on food or entertainment while spending a day in Cairo. Whether you’re busy exploring the tourist areas of the city or venture into the less visited areas, you can find a wide range of everything.

Egyptian Food

The cuisine in Cairo is essentially what you’d find in the Middle East. They share many of the same traditional dishes such as shawarma, fuul, and muzagga. You can find these dishes and more at many of the street vendors around the entire city, but can also order them in upscale restaurants. For those who don’t want to give Egyptian food a try, international food options are abundant thanks to the tourism industry. Many world-renowned fast food chains of western and Asian cuisine are available.

Around the entire city, you’ll see countless coffee shops. These can be found in most areas around Cairo. Coffee shops serve much more than coffee, however. One of the favorite pastimes for Egyptians is to smoke shisha, a water pipe, with friends. It’s a great way to relax but still keep you entertained while enjoying the Cairo atmosphere.

If you prefer a bit more lively entertainment, you’ll easily find it in Cairo. Although Cairo is a history-rich city, it surprisingly has an exciting, modern nightlife. Downtown has many nightclubs and bars frequented by locals, while Zamalek is a more upscale area for drinking and dancing. Cairo is a Muslim-dominated city, but alcohol is consumed widely.