Ultimate guide: Visiting the Pyramids in Egypt
The Great Pyramid of Giza is probably on every traveller’s bucket list. But, what if I told you there are other pyramids nearby that are also impressive, you can go inside AND you can have them all to yourself?
This post will tell you exactly how you can explore some of these sites without the crowds of tourists surrounding you. If you’re looking for our top 8 tips for visiting the pyramids, click here!
Where are the pyramids?
The Great Pyramid is located in Giza which is the third largest city in Egypt and is around 20km from Cairo.
If you’re heading to Dahshur, that is around 38km from Cairo. We highly recommend visiting Dahshur – keep reading to find out why.
Getting to the pyramids
We 100% recommend taking a private day tour from your hotel in Cairo. We actually arranged a two-day tour with South Sinai and were not disappointed.
Your tour guide then also acts as your driver which makes it convenient to get to the pyramids.
Why should you take a guided tour?
Firstly, if you’re with a local guide you will be given the history and information about each site so there is no guessing involved.
We opted for a private tour, and because of this we were able to custom make our tour and not only visit the Pyramids of Giza, but we could visit Dahshur as well. This is not something you can do if you book yourself on a large guided tour.
You will notice that when you’re walking around, there will be scammers and people trying to take your money for things, sell you stuff that you don’t want simply because you made eye contact. If you have a guide, they will no doubt tell you to keep walking, don’t make eye contact and don’t smile. This isn’t being rude, it is just avoiding spending unnecessary money and your local guide will help you with that. Steven made eye contact once, and it ended up in a not so free donkey ride in front of some pyramids!
Your guide can also act as your photographer. The last thing you want to do is ask a local hanging around the Pyramids to take your picture… if you do you will no doubt pay a bit of $$ just to get your camera back.
How long to spend at the Pyramids
Well, you could easily spend hours just staring at the pure size of the things!! But, we obviously don’t have an endless amount of time. I would recommend a full day tour to get the most out of your day. Anything less than that would, in my opinion, feel rushed.
It is a UNESCO site and does form part of the original Seven Wonders of the World so you need to enjoy your time there!
When to visit the pyramids
We visited in August and it was hot hot hot!!! Most travellers tend to travel in the winter time which is from the end of November until February because the weather is still warm but not as hot as the summertime.
What to wear
There are a few things to consider when visiting Egypt. If you’re a woman, click here to read Jenna’s tips for travelling through Egypt and the Middle East.
Good walking shoes: You will be spending most of the day on your feet, not to mention the ground is hot and you will be climbing up some pyramids!! So, wear some sneakers or comfortable closed in shoes.
Respectful clothing: Egypt is mainly a Muslim country so be respectful of your clothing and try to be a bit more conservative. In saying that, it is a very touristy destination so I wouldn’t say there is a need for men to wear long pants, shorts are probably OK but just not super short ones!
Hat & Sunglasses: It will be hot and sunny – you will definitely need a hat and sunnies.
Sunscreen: To avoid getting burnt, you’re best to take some with you or apply before you leave.
Small backpack: It is helpful if you can take some water with you. It can get very hot and dry at the pyramids so staying hydrated is important.
About the Pyramids
A bit of history…
The Great Pyramid of Giza is massive, no words can describe just how big it is until you see it in person. It is made of 2.3 million (yes million) limestone blocks! It is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids you will see in the Giza pyramid complex.
If you’re wondering about The Great Sphinx, it is also one of the world’s oldest and largest statues! When you see it, you will realise just how big it actually is.
There are allegedly around 138 pyramids in the whole of Egypt with the most famous of course being the Great Pyramid of Giza. They date back to 2560BC under the second ruler of the Fourth Dynasty, Pharaoh Khufu.
The pyramids are now the housing for the tombs of the Pharaohs who commissioned them. Does this give us an indication of their connection to the afterlife?
To this day, no one is entirely sure why they were built, how they were actually built or who built them – it remains a mystery to us all. Although archaeologists continue to develop different theories.
Which pyramids to visit? It’s not all about The Great Pyramid of Giza…
Dahshur: The Red Pyramid & The Bent Pyramid
We recommend starting your day off at Dahshur. Dahshur is actually part of a military base and you will also find two pyramids here, the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid. This is where we were 100% completely on our own, not another tourist in sight! It was us, our tour guide and a person at the Bent Pyramid showing us inside (yes, you get to go inside!)
The Bent Pyramid
The Bent Pyramid of Sneferu was actually the very first attempt to construct a pyramid. Obviously, given the name, it was a failure!
Can you see me in the below photo? It gives you an indication of how big this is… which if you compare it to the great pyramid, this one is tiny!!
The Red Pyramid
The second attempt was, of course, The Red Pyramid which also happens to be the third largest pyramid in Europe. You can probably guess that the name is given because it has that reddish colour to it that is different to the others.
Being the only two people visiting these two pyramids, it was a magical experience. It was nice to be able to climb up the pyramids, explore inside and not have to worry about a heap of other people fighting for their chance to climb or rush past you.
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The oldest and largest of the three pyramids in Giza. No words can describe the moment we saw it for the first time. We were speechless. It was massive… absolutely massive.
Each limestone rock was nearly the height of Jenna, goodness knows how they built it.
Camel ride at The Great Pyramid
Probably the most touristy thing you can do, but absolutely 100% worth it! Let your guide negotiate for you so you’re not too ripped off. Then, set off on your camel around the pyramids towards the Sphynx.
You can then, of course, get some typical touristy photos 🙂
What else to see on your full day tour
There are other things to see and do on your full day tour and we would recommend all of these. It includes a lovely lunch with a view of the pyramids!
The Great Sphinx
Ahhh the Great Sphinx… who doesn’t want to have a smooch with this guy? After our camel ride, we got to see the Sphinx, again it was absolutely massive.
This stop was incredible. Here you will find a massive.. and I mean the massive statue of Ramses II. It is truly incredible how large these statues are and absolutely worth a visit.
If you’re not sure what Papyrus is, it is a reed plant that grows in the Nile River. In the ancient years in Egypt, the plant was used for many things such as making writing material.
Nowadays it is used to make artwork and it is really quite interesting. At the factory we watched the locals make some artwork and if you want to purchase something you can do so here. It comes with a guarantee that you’re buying authentic papyrus pieces.
We picked up a piece of art and got it personalised with our name on it.
What to see in Cairo
If you’re looking for things to see in Cairo, click here for our suggestions.
Where to stay in Cairo
We stayed at the Marriott Cairo. The hotel and grounds were lovely and I would recommend considering it for your stay. Click here to read our full review.
Have you been to the pyramids? What did you think? Comment below!
“Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.” — Peter Hoeg