The Pyramids of Giza are one of the most unique and historically significant places in the world and visiting is definitely a bucket list experience. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen photos of them, it is truly such a unique experience looking up at them and seeing them for the first time in real life. It feels like you’ve stepped back in history. However, there are a few things to know before you go that will make your trip and experience a lot easier.
Here’s what you should know before visiting the Pyramids in Egypt:
About the Pyramids:
The Giza Complex includes three main pyramids, the Temple of Khafre, the Sphynx, and various smaller structures. The Great Pyramid is the largest and oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramids were built around 2500 BC. You can go inside the Great Pyramid for a fee, but it’s a very crowded experience, so we wouldn’t suggest it if you get claustrophobic.
How to get to the Pyramids of Giza:
The pyramids are located about 20 kilometers outside of Cairo in the city of Giza. The best way to get to the pyramids is by taxi or Uber. If you’re using a taxi, we suggest getting one from your hotel and deciding on the price before hand to avoid getting scammed. If you use Uber, you won’t have to worry about negotiating a price, but we found that most of our Uber drivers would message us in Arabic, so download a translation app, so you can communicate back with them. We paid around $3 to $5 USD for a 15-20 minute drive from our hotel in Cairo to the pyramids. We also suggest getting a SIM card when you arrive in Cairo, so you have data to use Uber and know where you’re going while you’re there.
Best Time to Go:
Plan your visit during the cooler months. The Pyramids are in the desert and can get unbearably hot during the summer. If you want to enjoy your time there to the fullest, you won’t want to be standing in the heat for hours on end. We went at the end of September and it was still very hot, but not totally unbearable. We’d recommend visiting between October and April. Get there early in the day too, so you can beat the crowds. The complex is open from 8 am – 5 pm, so getting there right at 8 am will make it so you have the place mostly to yourself. Tour buses generally start arriving around 9:30-10:00 am, so that’s when it starts to get busier. That being said, the pyramids were far less busy than most other iconic tourist destinations we’ve been to.
What to Expect When You Arrive:
To enter the Giza Complex it costs 80 Egyptian pounds per person (about $5 USD). To go inside the Great Pyramid you’ll pay an extra 300 Egyptian pounds ($18.50 USD).
“GUIDES” WILL HARASS YOU:
As soon as you enter, you’ll probably notice a lot of people coming up to you offering to “guide” you around. Be careful. They will likely show you a badge and tell you that they don’t want your money, but they will inevitably demand a hefty tip at the end and make you feel like you have to ride a horse or camel. You can definitely walk around and enjoy the pyramids on your own, so if you don’t want to worry about being hassled, just ignore them and keep walking. It seems rude, but it’s worth it to not feel pressured and to be able to explore at your own pace. We noticed the people here were a bit more aggressive and didn’t really take “no” for an answer, so while it might seem rude to ignore them, that really is your best option if you want to enjoy the pyramids on your own terms and you don’t want to be forced into spending money unnecessarily.
This might sound silly, but the sun is so bright here that you’ll definitely want sunglasses while you’re out exploring.
PACK LOTS OF WATER:
It is hot and you’ll likely be walking around a lot, so be sure to bring lots of water with you.
THERE WILL BE LOTS OF PEOPLE OFFERING YOU A CAMEL OR HORSE RIDE:
What to Do:
TAKE A PHOTO WITH THE SPHYNX.
GO TO LOOKOUT POINT TO SEE ALL THE PYRAMIDS.
GO INSIDE THE GREAT PYRAMID.
WANDER AROUND AND ENJOY THE ANCIENT HISTORY.
What to Know Before You Go:
US Citizens need a visa to enter Egypt. The single-entry visa is $25 and you can apply for it and receive it ahead of time here or you can get it on arrival at the airport. We applied for it ahead of time through that website and avoided waiting in the line at the airport to receive it. There are other websites that say they’ll do it for you, but they charge a fee. If you’re a US citizen, don’t pay more than $25 for your single-entry visa online or on arrival.
IS IT SAFE?
We felt very welcome and safe while we were there. However, as always, it’s important to use caution while traveling anywhere. We didn’t travel with a tour or guide, but if you’re concerned about safety, we’d suggest hiring a local guide or joining a tour.
WHAT TO WEAR:
Egypt is a very conservative and religious country, so be respectful of the local culture and make sure you’re wearing clothes that aren’t too revealing. We suggest clothes that cover your shoulders and come to your ankle, like longer dresses, skirts, or pants.
AVOID PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION.
Because Egypt is a very conservative country, public displays of affection aren’t really acceptable. We made sure not to kiss in public, but even holding hands seemed a little beyond the norm.
DON’T BRING A DRONE.
Drones are prohibited in Egypt and will likely be confiscated at customs. Even if you’re not planning on flying it, they still won’t let you bring it in the country. You could be held and questioned if you try bringing one in, and it’s not worth the risk. Just leave it at home this trip.
Where to Stay:
The Pyramids of Giza are about 30 minutes outside of Cairo, which means, Cairo is a great place to stay, especially if you want to do a few other things while you’re there. We stayed at the Intercontinental Semiramis Cairo and had a wonderful experience. If you’re looking for a hotel with a view of pyramids, check out Marriott Mena House.