How to Spend Five Days in Cairo

Cairo's October Bridge view at night
Cairo's October Bridge view at night | © Guillén Pérez / Flickr
Cairo is full of wonders and you can’t help but visit every single inch of it. However, when you have a five-day-trip-plan to Cairo, you have to focus on what’s on top of that list and make the best of it. Plus, you need a good pair of comfy shoes, because you won’t stay still. Just so your fear of missing out is put to rest, here is a guide to spending five days in Cairo.

Day 1

Start your trip by visiting – you probably guessed it – the Great Pyramid of Giza. Well, how could you not, when it’s the only surviving ancient wonder in the world, and obviously, a defining symbol of Egypt. Just right next to the Great Pyramid lies the two other pyramids knows as the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure. The area is also rich with ancient Egyptian monuments and tombs, such as the Tomb of Queen Khentkaus, cemeteries and the remains of the ancient workers’ village. You also can’t miss visiting The Great Sphinx, which you can do via a relaxing horseback ride or a horse carriage ride.

After you’ve enjoyed discovering ancient Egypt, it’s time to savour an authentic Egyptian lunch at Abou Shakra restaurant, the Sphinx branch. This restaurant has a wide range of Egyptian cuisine offerings that you’ll absolutely love, and above that, it has a great view of the pyramids. After a good rest and a nice cup of tea, it’s time to visit the Egyptian Museum. Get there by taxi, as it’s located in Tahrir Square, downtown. The museum was built in 1835 and is home to over 12,000 ancient Egyptian antiques, which is enough to keep you wandering around in awe. Don’t leave downtown just yet; enjoy taking a walk by the Nile on Qasr El Nile Bridge and have a local hummus drink while you’re there.

Horseback riding at the Giza Pyramids © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Day 2

While still mesmerized by yesterday’s history of ancient Egypt, you don’t want to snap out of it just yet. Today, you’ll visit Memphis, an ancient city that is 20 km south of Giza, which was the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom era. The city has an open-air museum, where you can admire the remains of the original city, as well as monuments including a monumental Statue of Ramses II and a remarkable sphinx carved from a huge alabaster piece. Just nearby is the Saqqara necropolis, which is a huge burial area from ancient Egypt. The area of Saqqara is home to the famous Pyramid of Djoser (the step pyramid), also known as the Saqqara Pyramid. You will see mortuary temples, monuments and burials that date back to the 27th century BC.

Another royal necropolis located near Memphis and Saqqara is Dahshur. The area is famous for housing some of the oldest pyramids, including the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur, the Red Pyramid of Dahshur, the Black Pyramid of Dahshur and the Pyramid of Senusret III. After this, call it a day and make sure you rest because you’re about to discover another era.

Djoser step pyramid at Saqqara necropolis © Rüdiger Stehn / Flickr

Day 3

You’re about to delve into a completely different era and that is by visiting Islamic and Coptic Cairo. Islamic Cairo was founded in 969 by the Fatimid caliphs and is known for historically significant mosques. Here, you will visit beautifully architected mosques, including Sayyidna al-Hussein Mosque, Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, Al-Rifa’i Mosque, in addition to several other famous mosques. The most prominent in this area is the Citadel. The landmark is famous for the significant Mosque of Muhammad Ali and for its breathtaking views of downtown, Cairo.

Then, it’s off to Coptic Cairo. Start by visiting the Hanging Church, which was built in 690 AD. The Saint Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church is believed to be the first Basilica-style church built in Egypt. Its beautiful Coptic art will inspire visitors. While you’re in the area, the Coptic Museum is also worth a visit. Just nearby the church is the ancient Ben Ezra Synagogue. This landmark was renovated over the centuries and contains uncommon decorations in Jewish religious buildings, such as the Turkish-inspired patterns of stars, rectangles and pentagons on the walls, ceilings and floors. End the day with a delicious dinner at Studio Masr, located inside Al-Azhar Park. Besides its authentic Egyptian interior, the restaurant is famous for its breathtaking view of Al-Azhar Park’s landscapes, and most importantly, the Citadel. Enjoy watching it while it lights all up at night.

The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan in Old Cairo © shadyshaker / Pixabay

Day 4

Also located in Old Cairo is the famous Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar, one of the most prominent bazaars in Egypt. Here, you can enjoy the area’s old architecture along with a great shopping experience filled with traditional jewellery, clothing, accessories, spices and souvenirs. Next to Khan Al-Khalili is Al-Moez street, which is home to several historic Islamic buildings that have witnessed the era of Amr Ibn Al-As, the Tulunid period, the Fatimid, the Ayyubid dynasty, Mamluk and the Ottoman until the Muhammad Ali Era. The street includes the beautiful Bayt Al-Suhaymi, an old Ottoman house built in 1648, in addition to many mosques, such as the Mosque of Al-Hakim Bi Amr Allah. Settle at the popular El Fishawy, the oldest coffee shop in the midst of Khan Al-Khalili. This coffee shop used to host kings, princesses, famous artists and intellectuals.

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

Day 5

You can’t leave Cairo without discovering the Nile. Enjoy Cairo’s beautiful breeze while experiencing a relaxing felucca ride on the Nile. We suggest starting with a one-hour ride, so you can delight in Cairo’s beautiful landscapes. You will definitely see Cairo from a different perspective. There are different areas where you can take a felucca from; however, this time, take it from the Zamalek district of Gezira island on the Nile river. After the felucca drops you off, head to the Cairo Tower that is located in the same area. The tower is 187 metres in height and is a place where you can observe almost all of Egypt from above. It opens in the day and at night, so choose whatever time suits you, or experience both. Walk through the Zamalek district afterwards, observe some of the most luxurious buildings in Cairo and have an authentic bite at Cairo Kitchen.

Felucca ride in the Nile of Cairo © Dan / Flickr