How to Spend 48 Hours in Cairo

Cairo's Nile view
Cairo's Nile view | © Dan / Flickr
Photo of Yosra Shohayeb
9 March 2018

Cairo attracts visitors from all over the world for its history, culture, breathtaking landscapes and much, much more. You can’t visit Egypt and miss out on the largest metropolis in the Arab world. However, you should note that passing a little time in Cairo is definitely not like spending five days – or more – in the capital. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Cairo and how to get the best out of your experience.

Day one: A combination of ancient and modern

Your first day will be a mix of ancient Egypt and modern Cairo. Begin by visiting the remarkable Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza, where you’ll get to dive into one of the most iconic and mysterious seven wonders of the world. Continue wandering around ancient Egypt with a visit to the Egyptian Museum. In the evening, you’ll get to observe a panoramic view of Cairo from its famous tower. And to call it a day, a relaxing felucca ride on the Nile River is exactly what you’ll need – and want – to enjoy Cairo to the fullest.

Morning: The Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx

No trip is complete without a stop to the ever-still-standing Giza Pyramids. The must-visit pyramids are Khufu, the only surviving ancient wonder in the world, the Pyramid of Khafre, the Pyramid of Menkaure and the Queens Pyramids of Giza. Enjoy a camel ride while you’re there, which is also a great photo opportunity, and see the Great Sphinx rising from the Giza Plateau. Remember to plan your trip in the early morning in order to avoid large crowds. You can either opt for a guided tour, which will be more convenient and practical, or you can choose to visit independently by taking a taxi, bus or metro. Make sure you bring a hat, wear comfortable shoes and put on plenty of sunscreen.

Great Giza Pyramid and Sphinx | © Grade1 / Pixabay

Afternoon: A trip to the Egyptian Museum

Visiting the Egyptian Museum is your next stop of the day. Contemplate the beauty of Ancient Egypt by viewing more than 12,000 ancient antiques. The museum can be a bit overwhelming, therefore, it’s better to have a guide with you so that you can experience its story as well. The two famous collections that are not to be missed are the Tutankhamun and the Royal Mummies.

Egyptian museum in Cairo | © Chris Brown / Flickr

Evening: The Cairo Tower and a felucca ride

About a 10-minute drive away from the Egyptian Museum is the famous free-standing concrete tower on Zamalek island, the Cairo Tower. Going up the 187-metre tower at night will allow you to see the capital like you have never seen it before as you enjoy the city lights reflecting over the Nile. Afterwards, fall even more in love with the Nile by taking a felucca (a small sailboat) ride.

Cairo Nile view at night | © Dan Lundberg / Flickr

Day two: A combination of religion and culture

What’s great about your second day is that each monument is just a 20-minute drive from the other, as most of them are in Old Cairo. However, you’ll still need comfy shoes as you’ll be doing loads of walking. Get ready to explore several religious backgrounds mixed with history by seeing the famous Citadel, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali and the Hanging Church, among other nearby historic mosques and churches. Afterwards, make your way to Al-Moez street and go back in time as you uncover its harmonious architecture and experience culture at the Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar.

Morning: Islamic and Coptic Cairo

Start your day by heading to the Citadel, which is known for the Saladin Citadel or the Muhammad Ali Citadel. On its summit lies one of Cairo’s most prominent mosques and landmarks, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. You can experience breathtaking views from above while taking some Instagram-worthy photos. As you won’t be able to tour all of the mosques – after all, it is called the City of a Thousand Minarets – be sure to take a look at the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan and the Al-Rifa’i Mosque, which lies beside it. The Hanging Church, which was built in 690 AD and is believed to be the first Basilica-style church built in Egypt, is not to be missed as well.

Mosque of Muhammed Ali | © Makalu / Pixabay

Afternoon: A walk on Al-Moez street

Although you might miss out on visiting the landmarks of Al-Moez, a walk on the street will make up for it. As it will begin getting darker, the street’s historic buildings will start to light up, leaving you in an awe. Sit on one of its buildings’ steps, have a local drink and travel back to a good time in history.

El Moez street at night | © Kazzazm / Shutterstock

Evening: Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar

Just across the street from Al-Moez is the oldest open-air market in the Middle East, the Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar. The street is full of souvenirs, cultural garb and spices. You’ll find belly dancing outfits, accessories to go with them, jalabeyas for men, pharaonic monuments and much more. Once you’re done shopping, relax your feet at El-Fishawy Cafe, a traditional coffee shop that offers a variety of local drinks.

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

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