Cairo is the perfect place to begin your time in Egypt. While the pyramids of Giza are certainly a highlight, there’s plenty to see in the city of Cairo itself. With three days in Cairo, you’ll have enough time to do it all. Here’s how to spend three days in Cairo.
Day 1: Pyramids of Giza and More
When you hear Egypt, you think “pyramids” so why not start there? You can visit the pyramids of Giza on your own, but I recommend taking a tour so you can learn more about what you’re seeing.
You can read the full itinerary for visiting the Pyramids of Giza with additional stops in Memphis, Saqqara, and Dashur here.
The Giza Complex includes the Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Cheops), and two smaller pyramids, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure.
Also located in the Giza Complex is the Sphinx.
There are pyramids in areas besides Giza. Next, you will visit the Bent and Red Pyramids in Dashur.
The next stop is the city of Memphis. Memphis was the ancient capital of Egypt and is home to the statue of Ramses II.
Last but not least, visit the Step Pyramid in Saqqara.
Day 2: Explore Cairo
On Day 2, you’ll stay in Cairo proper visiting some of the most popular sights in the city. A highlight of today’s itinerary is the Egyptian Museum where you’ll see artifacts taken from the pyramids of Giza and other ancient sites like the Valley of the Kings.
You can read the full itinerary for visiting Coptic Cairo, the Khan El Khalili Bazaars, and the Egyptian Museum here.
Coptic Cairo is a part of Old Cairo which was the center of Christianity in Egypt before and during the Islamic Era. Here you’ll visit the Hanging Church, the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, and Ben Ezra Synagogue.
Khan El Khalili Bazaars
After Coptic Cairo, head to the Khan El Khalili Bazaars for some shopping.
The last stop of the day is the Egyptian Museum. I highly recommend having a tour guide at the museum so you know what you are looking at.
Day 3: A Day Trip to Alexandria
By Day 3, you might want a break from Cairo. If so, a day trip to Alexandria is the perfect solution. Alexandria is located on the Mediterranean, about three hours away by car.
You can read the full itinerary for visiting Alexandria from Cairo here.
Catacomb of Kom El-Shoqafa
The first stop of the day is the Catacomb of Kom El-Shoqafa. The necropolis dates back to the 2nd century AD and includes three levels of underground catacombs.
The next stop is Pompey’s Pillar, a 30-meter high column that sits over the ruins of Rhakotis, the original settlement of Alexandria. Despite its name, the column was created in 291 AD to support a statue of the Roman emperor Diocletian.
Citadel of Qaitbay
Next, visit the Citadel of Qaitbay, a 15th-century fortress located on the Mediterranean Sea. It was erected in the former location of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
The last stop of the day is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. This modern library was built in 2002 as a commemoration of the ancient Great Library of Alexandria.
Have an Extra Day?
If you have an extra day in Cairo or don’t want to take a day trip to Alexandria, here are some additional options in Cairo:
- Al-Azhar Mosque
- Al-Muizz Street
- The Citadel
- Sultan Hassan Mosque
- Bab Zuweila
- Al-Azhar Park
Depending on how much time you have in Egypt, you may choose to shorten or extend your trip to Cairo. We found three days to be the right amount of time. If you are short on time, skip Alexandria and prioritize Days 1 and 2 of this itinerary. Then make your way south to Luxor to see some of the most impressive Egyptian ruins.