Cairo is among the biggest cities across the world. Cairo is as beautiful as it is crazy and as rich in historical beauty as half-dilapidated. Cairo is usually a city that travelers love and hate equally. The sheer noise, pollution and disruptive traffic are an attack on your senses. However, if you look beyond the modern hustle and bustle, you will find a story spanning centuries. In Cairo you get a feel for the Egyptian street life. No trip to Egypt is complete without a stay in the city that Arabs call Umm al-Dunya (Mother of the World). With our list of top sights in Cairo, you can find the best sights and interesting activities in this vibrant metropolis.
1. Giza Pyramids
The Giza Pyramids are Cairo’s first half-day tour and a must for any traveler. Right on the outskirts of the city, on the Giza plateau, these tomb temples of the fourth dynasty have inspired travelers for centuries and are still one of the most important highlights of the country. Despite the heat, dust, and tourist crowds, you can’t miss an excursion here.
2. The British Museum
The absolutely breathtaking collection of antiques in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo makes it one of the largest museums in the world. It would take you a lifetime to see everything.
3. Al Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque is the most beautiful building of the Fatimid era in Cairo and one of the earliest surviving mosques in the city. It was completed in 972. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world. Caliph El-Aziz gave her university status in 988 (the other university vying for the “oldest” status is in Fes. Al-Azhar University is still the leading theological center of the Islamic world.
4. Old Cairo (Coptic Cairo)
This small church-rich cluster of winding alleys is within the walls of ancient Babylon, where the Roman emperor Trajan first built a fortress along the Nile. Parts of the Roman towers still preside over the main street.
5. Khan el-Khalili (Souq District)
Khan el-Khalili is one of the best shopping experiences in the world. This Middle Eastern souq (bazaar) is a labyrinthine collection of narrow streets that was established as a shopping district in 1400 and is still used by metal workers and silversmiths.
6. The Citadel
The Cairo Citadel at the foot of the Mokattam Hills was built by Saladin in 1176. The original structure that he created has long disappeared except for the eastern outer walls, but a legacy of rulers has made their own additions here.
7. Sultan Hassan Mosque
The Sultan Hassan Mosque is one of the best examples of Mamluk architecture in the world. It is a vision of Arabic art with an abundance of stalactite details and intricate arabesque elements. It was built in mid of 14th century for the Sultan Hassan el-Nasir.
8. Museum of Islamic Art
The severe damage caused by a car bomb attack in 2014 has resulted in this museum being closed to the public for years. Fortunately, it has now reopened. Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art houses one of the world’s most important collections of oriental art. Among other things, you can see Ottoman tile work, Ayyubid ceramics, frescoes, finely patterned wooden inlays, coinage, carved marble tombstones and jewel-colored carpets.
9. Bab Zuweila
Of all the gates of Islamic Cairo, Bab Zuweila is the most interesting. You can climb to the top of this relic from the Middle Ages (built in the 11th century) for a breathtaking view of Islamic Cairo on the roof. The gate itself has two minarets and is the last remaining south gate of the old town. Right next door is the red and white brickwork of the Sheikh al-Mu’ayyad Mosque and a few steps further away the fascinating handicraft stalls of the Street of the Tentmakers, in which Egypt’s bright fabric is used for weddings and other special occasions.
10. Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street
The northern part of Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street is lined with beautiful Mamluk buildings that have been carefully restored to retain their former glory. The Madrassa by As-Salih Ayyub, built in 1247, is an example of the quiet simplicity of Islamic architecture.