Answers from Our Experts (1)
Of course, if you’re visiting Egypt, you’re already headed for the Pyramids of Giza — but there are plenty more amazing historic sites in Cairo. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend the following places to complete your visit to this ancient city:
1. “Medieval Cairo” is the broad term for the city built before the colonial period. Don’t miss the area called Bein al-Qasreen (sometimes translated as Palace Walk — an area depicted in one of Naguib Mahfouz’s novels), where several mosques and houses have been beautifully restored and are free to enter. If you continue south along this street, you’re walking along the historic backbone of the city, and eventually reach the medieval gate of Bab Zuweila, where you can climb the adjoining minaret for a great view.
2. The area known as Coptic Cairo is a collection of churches and monasteries, some dating from the very earliest days of Christianity, south of the center of the city. The area is easily reached by metro, and the beautiful Coptic Museum displays art by early Coptic artisans as well as more recent work — all unique to Egypt.
3. If you prefer even older relics, just outside of Cairo and easily accessible on a day trip are the sprawling ruins of Saqqara, where the step pyramid of Djoser is another icon of ancient Egypt. A trip here usually also visits the pyramids of Dahshur, where you can clamber inside the enormous Red Pyramid — and you’ll likely be the only person around.
4. Don’t discount the historical appeal of downtown Cairo. This area was built up in the 19th century and its buildings, under all the caked-on dust, show beautiful colonial-era details.