36 hours in Cairo

A weekend travel guide

36 hours in Cairo

Cairo is known for its rich and sprawling history, but there’s more to this amazing city than Pharaohs and pyramids. It may seem a challenge to fit the history of one of the world’s oldest civilisations into a weekend, but the city’s diversity is not to be missed.

Day 1

If you’re visiting Egypt, then the chances are high that you want to see the Pyramids. To do this in the best way possible, you’ll want to get there before 9AM. This allows you to beat both the crowds and the midday heat. There are lots of ways to reach the Pyramids, some people preferring to go by taxi and others by getting line 2 of the metro to Giza.

After you’ve seen the Pyramids, you can continue your cultural tour of the city by visiting The Egyptian Museum  - impossible to miss if you have any interest in Ancient Egypt. If you got to the Pyramids early enough, then you’ll continue to beat the crowds at the museum, as most tour groups don’t descend until the afternoon.

See the city, sitting down

It’s not time to come back to the present just yet though, as you should spend the afternoon and evening exploring Khan al-Khalili , a traditional Arab souk and the perfect place to practice your haggling and pick up souvenirs. Right next door you’ll find Al-Azhar Park , which holds the best views of the city. Depending on your budget, you can eat at the renowned Citadel View  restaurant or the more modest but equally delicious Lakeside Cafe. Finish your day off taking in the view and get ready for the following day.

Day 2

Today you have the chance to visit a lesser talked about part of the city: Coptic Cairo. Take the metro to Mar Girgis and escape a bit of the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting the Chapel of Saint George - a tiny underground room that many tourists miss. Here visitors can marvel at images of Saint George slaying the dragon and see the chain that was supposedly used to torture him. You can also visit the old cemetery to see just how much cultural diversity has made up the long history of Cairo.

Not-so-Ancient Egypt

Head back to downtown Cairo to grab lunch at another historical haunt, this time a restaurant used as a secret meeting point during the 1919 revolution against British occupation. Cafe Riche  may not have the same endless ancient history as other places in the city, but is still hugely important in Cairo’s story. After lunch, transport yourself to Europe and get lost in the 19th century boulevards that are more akin to Paris than Cairo. These streets were once the home to the city’s elite, but the recent neglect make them an interesting site to see.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: