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The best things to see and do in Cairo include a mix of historic landmarks, dating as far back as early Pharaonic times, and recreational spots that give you insight into the city’s daily life. Check out Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the top five can’t-miss Cairo attractions.
1. The Pyramids of Giza. Perched on a desert plateau on the west edge of the city, the Pharaonic tombs par excellence are the last remaining wonder of the ancient world. A visit early in the morning, before the heat sets in, is a glorious way to see these ancient icons. Don’t forget to pose for a Sphinx-kissing photo.
2. Egyptian Museum. Cairo’s great storehouse of antiquities is a worthy complement to the Pyramids. It’s crammed full of treasures, from grand statues to delicate jewelry, including all the gold King Tut was buried with.
3. Khan al-Khalili. Cairo’s main souk, in operation since the medieval period, is a warren of alleys and historic buildings. Much of it is devoted to souvenir sales, but it’s a great starting point for exploring the surrounding medieval quarter, commonly referred to as Islamic Cairo.
4. Al-Azhar Park. For relaxation — you’ll need it after intense sightseeing — head to this green space on the east edge of Cairo. Perched on a hill above the medieval quarter, it has great views across the city and on weekends, families come here with picnics, making it a nice (and rare) spot to see Cairo at leisure.
5. Felucca ride. For the best view of Cairo at dusk, hire a felucca (a traditional sailboat) for a cruise on the Nile. The din of city traffic recedes as you float on the water, leaving only the twinkling lights. Bring snacks and your own beer (and some to share with your captain) and you have a perfect picnic.