I still ask Brandon to pinch me every now and then because I can’t really believe we were in Egypt less than a week ago. The moment we booked our tickets for Morocco, Brandon made it very clear he wanted to visit Egypt during our trip. It’s not exactly a close journey but after a little convincing, I was sold. I mean, how can we go all the way over there and not visit Egypt?
While Marrakech might have been my favorite city overall (more to come tomorrow), Egypt and our experience in Cairo might be the most meaningful of all my travels to date. To see the pyramids up close, to learn about the history and culture, to just BE there…it was an emotional experience for sure. I’m so glad we got to make this a part of our adventure and we can’t wait to go back with our families one day.
I won’t bore you any longer. Without further ado, my Cairo Travel Guide!
Cairo Travel Guide
Where we stayed:
We stayed at the Kempinski Nile Hotel Cairo. I’ve always loved Kempinski hotels and I was torn between this hotel and the Ritz Carlton (both on the Nile River and pretty reasonably priced). We ended up choosing the Kempinski due to the slightly cheaper rate and I’m so happy with our decision.
The hotel is in the perfect location (two blocks from the US Embassy) and right on the Nile River so the views are amazing. We booked a room with a River view and waking up to the site of the Nile River was something I’ll never forget. The staff were all so amazing and friendly and the service was fantastic. The décor is gorgeous but slightly dated which isn’t a surprise for Cairo. All of the “luxury” hotels seem to be a great combination of elegance and tradition which I loved.
We obviously didn’t want to walk around Cairo by ourselves but were also against big group tours. I like to do my own thing on my own time and because I knew we’d be taking our time and capturing content, we didn’t want to hold up a group.
I randomly stumbled across a post by @whats_up_beaches on Instagram when I was looking for inspiration/things to do in Cairo. She raved on and on about the private tour guide she hired and I reached out immediately. She connected me with Alaa and it was love at first text (I’m exaggerating but he was SO sweet).
We set up a private two-day guided tour with Alaa complete with hotel pickup/drop off, lunch for both days and entry costs into the pyramids and other sites. It was the best thing we could have done. Alaa knew literally everything and was such a great guide to the city. We felt totally safe with him and loved getting to spend two days with someone who could provide tons of insight into the culture and history of Cairo. He also coordinated our entire itinerary for both of the full days we were there which took a lot of the planning and research out of the equation for me – talk about a blessing.
I cannot recommend him enough. Whether you’re visiting Cairo or another city in Egypt, he is your guy. Shoot me an email and I will pass along his information. You’re going to love Alaa!
8:30pm Arrived in Cairo and departed for the Kempinski hotel via an organized airport pickup (highly suggest booking through your hotel vs grabbing a taxi)
7:00am We were picked up for our first full day with our guide Alaa. We met him in the lobby and, again, I fell in love with this sweet man immediately. We hopped in the car and started for the Giza pyramids. (
10:00am After exploring the three pyramids, we want on a camel ride. Literally one of the best moments of my life. We drove a little ways away from the main entrance to this gorgeous panoramic viewpoint of the pyramids. Here they had little vendors set up and lots and lots of camels. Alaa paid the guide directly to get us the best price and avoid the jacked up tourist prices.
I can’t even begin to explain this experience – but it was SO cool. And also, a lot scarier and harder than I thought. I would highly suggest taking off your sandals if you’re not wearing sturdier shoes and although you’ll definitely want to get the perfect shot, put the phone and camera away for at least a portion of the ride and just enjoy it.
11:30am Our last stop before lunch was the Sphinx. It was so surreal being here and of course we had to get lots of touristy shots. Make sure you stop and learn about the history of the Sphinx either with your guide or ask around – so interesting!
1:00pm We grabbed lunch at Sun Z which is definitely a touristy spot but SO good. A lot of the guides bring their groups here after the pyramids since it’s close and you get a view of the pyramids from lunch. Order a Stella (an Egyptian beer) and make sure you get the Kofta if you like beef. And of course all of the salads are amazing.
2:30pm Our last stop of the day was the Egyptian Museum. I’ll warn
The highlight of the museum was seeing the mummies. Like, real mummies. General entry to the museum gives you access to see two mummies that are on display. You can buy an upgraded ticket for a few extra dollars if you want to see even more. Which of course we did because Brandon was obsessed.
7:30am Another early morning pickup by Alaa before heading to Memphis which is about 45 minutes outside of Cairo.
8:30am We were the first group to arrive in Memphis so it was pretty cool to see this outdoor museum without all of the crowds. It’s not a huge space but the artifacts are pretty cool and have so much history.
After touring the grounds with Alaa, we picked up a few local hand crafted souvenirs – great negotiating here.
10:00am Next up was Saqqara which is just a few minutes from Memphis. This is the site of the first ever attempted pyramid. Although it failed, it was the inspiration for the Giza pyramids so it was so cool to see the first bit of progress. In addition to the step pyramid you also get to see the tombs they created – such a cool thing to see.
11:00am After leaving Saqqara, Alaa took us to an authentic Egyptian carpet house where they learn to make the carpets and also sell them. We got a little lesson and ended up spending about an hour looking at all of the gorgeous varieties. So glad we got to walk away with a carpet for the new house – can’t wait to share some photos once we find a good home for it!
1:00pm Our last stop of the day was at Azba – probably the cutest and coolest places for lunch. Picture a bright and colorful and whimsy garden vibe with amazing food, camels, ponies and not a ton of tourists. I highly suggest stopping here for lunch if you make it out to Memphis or Saqqara.
3:00pm We got back to the hotel and decided to get a quick nap in. We were a tad bit exhausted by this point and still going off about four hours average of sleep each night.
6:00pm Got dolled up and head up to the rooftop bar at the Kempinski for drinks. We fell in love with the Jardin Chardonnay which seems to be a popular brand of wine in Cairo. Sipping on wine with a view of the Nile River might just be one of my favorite moments from the trip.
7:00pm Hopped in a taxi to head to the river for our dinner cruise. We booked with Nile Maxim through our hotel but I’m sure there are a ton of options. The boat was gorgeous and the setup inside was so elegant. We were seated next to the window so we had a great view of the river.
You order a la carte off the menu and the salads and dessert are included. We ordered a bottle of wine (the Jardin Chardonnay
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In case you missed it, checkout my Casablanca Travel Guide. You can also catch all of my latest adventures here. From travel guides to travel tips, consider this the ultimate resource for all things #laurenelytravels.