Cairo is Egypt’s holiday hot spot. This city of many archeological sites becomes a destination du-jour, where tourists flock for sales bargains, sunshine, and family fun.
Cairo is famous for sightseeing attractions such as Cairo Tower (Africa’s tallest building in the 60s, and 70s,) and a number of well-known shopping malls that come complete with entertainment platforms and indoor ski slopes.
But this megacity, which is the largest metropolitan area in the Arab world, has many cultural highlights and things to do, as well as all the glamorous modern add-ons.
Take a wander around the Masr-Eladima quarter, and you’ll discover the Cairo of old, then cruise along Cairo Nile Corniche in a traditional Falouka boat, and you’ll soon realize there’s more to this city than its flashy veneer.
Learn more about the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions in Cairo.
Egypt’s second landmark building and major tourist attraction after the Pyramids of Giza is actually Cairo Tower also known as Burj al-Qāhirah in Arabic, which at 187 m (614 ft) is the tallest building in Egypt and North Africa and also the most famous of the city’s points of interest.
This national momentum was designed by the Egyptian architect Naoum Shebib, inspired by Pharhous Architecture. Its partially open lattice-work design is intended to evoke a pharaonic lotus plant, an iconic symbol of Ancient Egypt.
For most visitors, a trip to the observation deck on the 62nd floor here is a must-do while in the city. The stunning views across the city skyline from this bird’s-eye perspective are simply staggering.
Nighttime visits are particularly popular with photographers due to Cairo’s famous city-lights panoramas.
Buy your Cairo “At the Top” Entrance Ticket in advance to avoid long line-ups, especially if you are planning to visit on a weekend.
National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
A walk in the midst of various ancient Egyptian civilizations: this is what the amazing NMEC offers. You’re still not convinced? Ideally located at the foot of the Fustat hills, this museum which rises above a green garden and natural lagoon is a unique place in Cairo. Follow this guide and learn more about the history, the collections, the prices, and how to get to it.
Among the prestigious art collections on Egyptian soil, Egypt’s Civilization Museum (NMEC) is a modern masterpiece. Split between six campuses—the collection houses works by Ancient Egyptian artists and countless Old Masters.
The modern museum, also known as Fustat Museum, is also home to thousands of precious antiquities which offer insight into ancient life.
The NMEC showcases Egyptian civilization from prehistoric times to the present day, using a multidisciplinary approach that highlights the country’s tangible and intangible heritage.
The Fustat Museum, which is cited as one of the largest museums of civilization in the Middle East, features generous temporary exhibition spaces, an auditorium, and an education and research center, as well as an exhibition on the development of the modern city of Cairo.
The museum is open from Saturday to Thursday between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and the garden is open between 6 am and 9 pm.
Ticket prices for the NMEC are divided as follows:
LE200 for foreigners.
LE100 for foreign students.
LE60 for Egyptian citizens.
LE30 for Egyptian students.
Even in a land as ancient as the Middle East the neighboring of AL-Azhar stands out. It was founded by the Fāṭimid dynasty in 970, AL-Azhar vies for—and just might own—the title of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited district.
The city has changed hands countless times over the centuries. Fāṭimid, Mamluks, Ottomans, the Abbasi caliphate, Seljuk Turks, French, Brits, and many others all once held sway here. Each group left echoes behind that became part of the city’s rich tapestry—then vanished. The city itself, though, thrived as it does today at the heart of an independent Egypt.
Al-Azhar’s rich history is alive in the historic quarter, where narrow lanes wander through warrens of ancient buildings, pass lively markets, and reveal historic sites—all surrounded by remnants of venerable walls and legendary gates. Actually, it is one of the best cities in Ancient Cairo that will leave you in awe of it.
The Azhar Mosque is Islam’s earliest great mosque and university and ranks in holiness below those of Mecca and Medina. As befits Great Cairo, the mosque site was once a shrine to the Shea of Fāṭimid, then to a Sunni Islamic Chief school of Islamic and Arabic learning in the world during the medieval ages of Cairo, especially the era of El-Naser Saladin.
Next to the mosque’s north gate sits the tomb of Tumanbay the legendary Mamlouki warrior-sultan who defeated the Portuguese army in the Arab Peninsula in several decisive battles and drove them from El-Hijaz.