Spending a day in Cairo
There is so much to see in Cairo that one day won't be enough time! Many people find themselves with only one day in which to see the main sights of Cairo. If you find yourself in this position, then let me share with you what I did with my one day.
I visited Cairo on a day trip from Alexandria (having stopped there on a cruise). Firstly, the transfer time from Alex to Cairo is circa 2.5 hrs - so be sure to allow enough time. The real MUSTs are of course, the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Cairo Museum.
Firstly, the Giza plateau. Here's you'll find the pyramid complex and the Sphinx. The plateau gets VERY hot in the midday sun, so time your trip with that in mind. You will need to pass through metal detectors to get onto the plateau.
We've all seen pictures of the pyramids and so when you see them for the first time, they will feel strangly familiar. However, nothing will prepare you for the absolute huge size of them. In the early 1900s people used to be allowed to climb up the pyramids (some even picniced on top!), but nowadays this is strictly forbidden.
I've read recently that the government are planning to move the hawkers back from beside the pyramids to allow visitors have a hassle free time wandering around. This will make a big difference as the hawkers did spoil things a little. [Update 2012 - I think this has now been done.]
There are limited numbers allowed into the great Pyramid nowadays (the one with the most specatular insides!) and I think you need to get a ticket in advance. Also, you may find that one of the pyramids is closed occasionally. If you cannot get into the Great Pyramid, then it is definitely worth going into one of the others. Bring water as it gets very hot and humid inside. We were lucky that we went into the Pyramid of Chephren at a quiet time and found ourselves alone inside.
Solar Boat Museum
Solar Boat Museum, Sphinx and Lunch
After a hot and sticky trip inside, it is definitely worthwhile going into the Solar Boat museum (beside the great Pyramid) as it is nicely air conditioned and gives you a break from the heat of the day. The Solar Boat museum houses one of the cedarwood boats that were found in pits beside the pyramid. Fascinating stuff. You will be asked to put soft cloth 'shoes' over your shoes to protect the floor!
A short drive takes you to the Sphinx and you can walk around and appreciate the enigmatic figure. It's a little more weather-beaten than you might expect but still majestic.
If you're feeling hungry at this point, try to lunch at a local hotel overlooking the Pyramids. We took lunch at the beautiful Mena House Oberoi - and had a direct view out to the Pyramids - best lunch view in the world!
What a view for lunch!
Next stop the Cairo museum. Now you could really spend a whole day here but do your homework in advance. Decide what you want to see and plan your visit accordingly. The Mummy rooms and the King Tut rooms are a must. You will NOT be allowed to bring your camera or video recorder into the museum but you can shop in the museum gift shop and buy books and souvenirs.