7 Facts You Need to Know Before Visiting the Pyramids of Giza
Egypt is well-known for having the most ancient civilization in the world as well as being the oldest tourist destination, with visitors from all over the world marveling at the wonders of this massive civilization. Being home to one (and the only surviving one) of the World’s Seven Wonders, the Great Pyramids, the Pharaohs of Egypt need no introduction!
The Great Pyramid of Giza, belonging to King Cheops (Khufu), has a height of around 140 meters, constructed with over 280 stone blocks – meaning it stands taller than the statue of liberty, Big Ben, and the leaning tower of Pisa! The pyramids were built with almost 2.5 million limestone & granite blocks. Imagine building this masterpiece, block by block? We’ve put together a list of all the things you need to know when visiting the Pyramids to make your trip easier – and cheaper!
Where to stay near the Pyramids?
There are many hotels advertised online as being “close to the pyramids” when in reality they’re a good car ride away. So it’s really important to confirm your chosen hotel has everything you need and is less than 0.5 miles away from the Pyramids. We’ve picked our favorite hotels and there’s an option for everyone here. The best near-Pyramids hotel to stay in is the Marriott Mena House Hotel; this luxury hotel has a breathtaking garden and Pyramids view, a great restaurant with authentic Egyptian food, and amazing room service. It is less than 0.3 miles away from the Pyramids and 18.5 miles away from the airport. A night here costs around $160, which is rather expensive so it would only be suitable if you’re there for a few nights.
For a more budget-friendly hotel, there’s Hayat Pyramids View Hotel (0.2 miles away) and Atlantis Pyramid Inn (0.3 miles away), both for $40 a night. You won’t get the luxury treatment of the Marriott but both are good options (especially if you have children) with nice rooms and super friendly staff. The best way to get from the airport to your hotel is by Uber; because a taxi driver will most likely overcharge you and you don’t want the hassle of looking for a bus with luggage. Since Cairo’s airport is mid-city, the trip may take up to an hour in traffic to get to the hotel – but the ride fee would be around 60-70 pounds so $5.
How to get to the Pyramids?
If you’re staying in a hotel downtown to be in the center of all the action, you can catch a bus from Tahrir Square to the pyramids, it’ll cost around 10 pounds so less than a dollar. You can also take a taxi to get there faster since the bus will stop at multiple stations before getting there so it could take up to an hour. But a taxi can get you there within half an hour. Before riding the taxi though, make sure the driver is using the meter! This way they can’t overcharge you. It’s usually the white cab that is using the meter but you can ask the driver before riding to confirm. The cab ride would be around 30 to 40 pounds so around $3. If you’re staying near the pyramids, you can simply walk to the main entrance or take a cab or an Uber, both would cost less than $3!
How much do tickets cost?
You start the trip at the Main Entrance of the Giza Plateau; it is a fenced area so you can’t get in without a ticket. The general admission ticket is 120 Egyptian Pounds so around $8. You can even go inside the Pyramids, but usually, not all of them are open for visits at the same time. The best option would be to go inside the Cheops Pyramid, as it is the biggest one. However, you need a special ticket to go inside, for around $18. You climb inside a narrow shaft and make your way up a long passage leading to a burial chamber. There isn’t much to see inside but engravings on the walls and an empty coffin but you’ll feel the mystical and spiritual vibes of the place – definitely worth it if you’re looking for an adventure! You’ll also need to get tickets for The Cheops Boat Museum for 100 pounds so $7, a photo pass (if you want to take pictures inside) for 50 pounds so $3, and a ticket to the tomb of Mersankh III for 50 pounds at the entrance. Overall, the cost of tickets is around $40 for the full experience while visiting the pyramids.
To Get or Not to Get – A tour guide:
Booking a tour guide can be very helpful but it can also be overpriced if you’re not careful. So the question of the hour is, do you need a tour guide? If you do your reading on the historical site beforehand, you can manage on your own perfectly. But you’ll want to stay away from the hagglers, vendors, and photographers in the area because they’ll always be trying to sell you something. Websites like viator.com or getyourguide.com offer full-day trips with a tour guide to the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx, Memphis, and Saqqara – where you can see even more pyramids, for around $70.
This is a good option considering that Saqqara and Memphis are an hour away from the pyramids so you’ll need to pay for transportation anyway. I’d definitely recommend getting a tour guide for this day at least, because they’ll provide transportation between the sites (which is great in Egypt’s heat) and you’ll have a better experience when you hear all the fascinating stories about how the pyramids were built, the Kings that reigned, and the history behind the places you visit. If you don’t have a tour guide, most likely you won’t bother going to Saqqara and Memphis.
What else to see in the Giza Plateau, besides the Pyramids?
The Pyramid of Khufu is the closest to the entrance and so it’ll be the first one you visit, this is also when you can go inside the pyramid (you can go inside the others as well, but this is the best one). Before moving on to the pyramid of Khefre, you should visit the Cheops Boat Museum, which lies just south of the great pyramid. Inside you can find one of King Cheops solar boats (143 ft.); it was buried near his pyramid and was possibly used to move the mummy across the Nile for the funerary rituals. After the museum, you can continue to the pyramids of Khefre and Mankaure. Next to them are the three pyramids of the wives and you can go inside the tomb of Marsankh III (if you booked a ticket) to see a burial chamber with hieroglyphic inscriptions and sculpted statues.
If you’re planning to visit Luxor & Aswan, you can avoid this part because there are plenty of tombs to visit there. You can move between pyramids by camel ride, it’ll cost around 100 pounds per trip so $7. To get a great picture of all six pyramids aligned, take a camel ride beyond the pyramids of the wives for the perfect shot! Next, you can visit the Sphinx, the oldest sculpture made by Ancient Egyptians (a human head and body of a lion) and right next to it, the valley temple of Khefre, where the king was mummified. You can get some great shots of the Sphinx from the temple as well!
How to eat like a local?
The best part about Egypt is that it’s stacked with restaurants serving popular cultural food within all ranges, whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a full meal – you’ll easily find one nearby. For a quick meal, you can get a falafel sandwich for as little as 5 pounds, $0.31, a shawarma sandwich (grilled chicken or meat) for 25 pounds, $1.50, or a plate of koshary (noodle, rice, lentils – topped with tomato & garlic sauce), for around 20 pounds, $1.20! The closest koshary place is Koshary Hekaya on Zaghloul St, 0.8 miles away from the pyramids, and for a wider variety of Egyptian food, you can head to Felfela on the Alexandria Desert Road, where they serve kebab, hummus, falafel, and more delicious dishes – it’s only 0.6 miles away from the pyramids so a 15-minute cab drive!
Khan El Khalili: Nightlife in Cairo
Located in the heart of the bustling Capital of Egypt, Cairo, there is no nightlife in the city without a visit to Khan El Khalili. This is your go-to destination for souvenirs, cultural trinkets, and everything Egyptian, for affordable prices! Structured back in 1511, this bazar is crowded with vendors in narrowed allies, selling everything from spices, perfumes, handmade jewelry, antiques, and glass-stained lamps delicately casting light in the Khan. After you’re done exploring, enjoy a cup of tea (or my personal favorite, freshly-made mint lemonade) while listening to live folklore music at the historic café, El Fishawi. But most importantly, remember while shopping to always bargain! There are no set prices in Egypt, everything is negotiable.
The pyramids are a must-see destination in Egypt and with this guide, you’re guaranteed to have a great time at the most affordable rates – and most importantly, take some great pictures!