11 Tips to Escape Tourist Crowds in Cairo

The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan in Old Cairo
The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan in Old Cairo | © shadyshaker / Pixabay
Photo of Yosra Shohayeb
28 April 2018

When it comes to traveling around Cairo, one of the primary complaints you hear is that areas of interest are too crowded because of tourists. Your trip can turn into a nightmare if you’re constantly stuck in tourist jams when visiting monuments, sights, museums, and neighborhoods. Here are some tips to beat the crowds in Cairo and have a smoother trip.

Go to the pyramids at night

While most tourists will run to see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx in the morning, you can beat the crowds and head over there at night for a totally different experience. The sound and light show is also at night, so you can save the tour guide budget because the Sphinx will narrate Egypt’s ancient history. During the show, the pyramid complex and Sphinx light up for a unforgettable experience.

The Sphinx at night | © sciencefreak / Pixabay

Avoid Cairo during the high seasons

Most countries have certain seasons during which people pour in from around the world. Similarly, Cairo also has high seasons and off seasons. The high seasons are during Christmas, the New Year, and Easter. Usually, Cairo witnesses heavy crowds (of both residents and tourists) during these peak times because of the long holidays. However, since this city is an all-year-long kind of destination, you actually have the luxury to skip these crowded seasons. In this way, you can also avoid the price hikes!

Tourists at the Giza pyramid complex | © George M. Groutas / Flickr

Book trips with a travel agency

Most tourists know that this is a diverse city with lots of attractions, such as the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, Cairo Citadel, Islamic and Coptic Cairo, and the Egyptian Museum – the list goes on and on. It can be hectic to see all these attractions as a first-time visitor, especially if you are trying to make your way through crowds. For that reason, it is better to book trips with a travel agency. These professionals will choose the best times to visit sites and manage your stay perfectly. However, make sure you opt for a well-known, trusted travel agency such as Travco or Thomas Cook for a safe and organized trip.

Take a day trip from Cairo

The more you flee from the capital, the more you can breathe in some fresh oxygen (well, that’s the case pretty much everywhere around the world, but especially true for countries that are magnets for tourists, such as Egypt). There are many great options for weekend getaways and day trips from Cairo where you can enjoy a totally different perspective. A lot of the nearby cities are home to ancient monuments, so not only will you have a more laid-back visit, but you will also discover hidden ancient gems.

The Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria, Egypt | © Mr. Theklan / Flickr

Enjoy a felucca ride

One way to see most of Cairo’s lovely neighborhoods is through a felucca (sail boat) ride on the Nile. One thing is for sure: during this ride, you’ll avoid Cairo’s never ending traffic. Tune out the crowds, forget all your worries, and enjoy the breeze while experiencing the Nile, the longest river in the world.

Felucca ride in the Nile of Cairo | © Dan / Flickr

Go up the Cairo Tower during sunset

Now, since you’ve escaped the crowds by cruising down the Nile, try escaping them by rising above everything – simply climb up Cairo’s 187-meter high tower. The tower is located in one of the most affluent districts in Cairo, Zamalek. Since many people like to visit the Cairo Tower for the stunning panoramic views of the capital, opt to go up during sunset for a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Cairo Tower at dusk | © llee_wu / Flickr

Visit the Egyptian Museum after rush hours

The Egyptian Museum is probably one of the most important attractions after the Great Pyramids since it is home to over 12,000 ancient Egyptian antiquities. Usually, most tours combine the Great Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum together in one day, so try heading over to the museum in the evening when all the tourists are tired and heading back.

The Egyptian Museum | © Dan / Flickr

Avoid Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar during the weekend

Located in Old Cairo, this bazaar is a favorite of both residents and tourists for its unique shopping experience and great environment. During the weekend, Khan Al-Khalili can be hard to handle because of the crowds. Head to this bazaar on a weekday instead, and enjoy shopping for diverse things such as souvenirs, ethnic clothes, delicious spices, and more!

Khan El-Khalili bazaar in Old Cairo | © ramonvermij / Pixabay

Explore Cairo’s beautiful mosques

Some of the most beautiful mosques in Egypt are located in Cairo and are a must-visit for anyone heading to the capital. Since most people will rush to the Muhammad Ali Mosque that lies inside Cairo’s prominent citadel, explore other mosques that are equally beautiful and also hold historical stories within their walls. However, since you shouldn’t miss the Muhammad Ali Mosque, rise very early one day to see it first thing in the morning.

Interior of Al-Nasir Mohammed Mosque | © eFesenko / Shutterstock

See Coptic Cairo differently

Cairo is home to some of the best Coptic architecture, including stunning churches. One church that is away from the crowds is the Monastery of Saint Simon in Mokattam, also known as the Cave Church. It is called so because the church is literally in a cave and is carved inside a mountain.

Monastery of Saint Simon in Mokattam | © DYKT Mohigan / Flickr

Visit Cairo during Ramadan

As most of the Egyptian population is Muslim, the holy month of Ramadan is a sacred time that is cherished by all. Most tourists avoid visiting during this month, thinking there won’t be much to do; however, that is not true at all! Everything is open (just note that most things close two hours earlier than the usual time) and you will not have to deal with the usual rush. Plus, you’ll get to experience the Egyptian culture up close and witness the unique Ramadan spirit.

Ramadan decorations | © Mark Fischer / Flickr

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