One of the main attractions of Egypt are Pyramids of Giza. Every day thousands of people visit Pyramids, and I can’t blame them. It’s a spectacular site, and it gets the whole hype for a reason. After all, everyone has heard of the Giza pyramid complex, dating back to the ca. 2580 – 2560 BC.
I left visiting Pyramids for the last of my 3 days in Cairo. To be honest, the Pyramids of Giza have never been high on my bucket list, and I went to see them only because I couldn’t have missed such a huge attraction, not because I really wanted to. I explored the site independently and on my own.
Well, to my huge surprise, I loved the Pyramids! My jaw literally has dropped when I’ve seen them from up close and for all the time I was visiting Pyramids I was in awe. No picture can show how spectacular this site is and now I really believe Pyramids is one of the places you have to see before you die!
But visiting Pyramids independently was also an utterly exhausting and annoying experience and left me drained for the rest of the day. Still, I don’t regret every single minute spent at the site. I was there on New Year’s Eve morning and visiting Pyramids was a perfect ending of the year for me.
I put together all the information about visiting Pyramids for you, so you know how to prepare for the trip to Pyramids and what to expect at the site. I went there a bit unprepared, and I wish I knew some of these things before. But I still think my visit to the Pyramids went well.
Where are the Pyramids located?
Unlike the pictures say Pyramids are not located in the middle of the desert. They are actually at the edge of the bustling suburb of Cairo – Giza. The site is some 13kms away from Cairo downtown and 8kms from the Nile.
Giza is not a pretty place. It’s a typical neighborhood in Egypt – loud, busy, dirty and smelly but if you are brave enough, you can walk around a little bit to see this face of Giza too. Or hop off to my friend Nate’s blog to see some great pictures of Giza beyond the Pyramids.
How to get to the Pyramids?
The easiest way to get to the Pyramids is taking the Uber. That’s what I did both to and from Pyramids, and it was super easy. You need a local SIM card to do it (I got mine at the airport after arriving), I also recommend learning Arabic numbers so you can recognize the license plate of your car as they are only in Arabic (although in Uber it shows the regular numbers). These are actually among my main Egypt travel tips.
While I had some problems with Uber in Cairo – drivers were canceling on me on short distances or claiming they arrived but I was not at the meeting point, it went smoothly both to Pyramids and back. On the way there I paid 65 EGP (~$3,70 / €3,30) from the downtown Cairo, the journey took around 45 minutes, and the driver dropped me off at the entrance gate on the right side of the Great Pyramid.
After my visit, I took Uber from the entrance in front of the Sphinx. I had to wait some 15 minutes for the driver to arrive (the traffic in Cairo is insane) and then went to the Citadel. For this journey 90 EGP (~$5,10 / €4,50) and we drove for around one hour (again, the traffic).
Alternatively, you can take the metro to Giza station (the ticket should cost 3 EGP one way) that is located some 5 km away from the Pyramids. From there you can catch a minibus that goes along the main road and will take you close to the Pyramids. You still will have to walk a bit to the entrance though. But if you want to spend less and you are up for an adventure this might be a good way of getting to the Pyramids.
Which entrance to the Pyramid complex you should choose?
I didn’t know that before, but there are actually two entrances to the site. One is in front of the Sphinx, and one is on the hill, next to the Great Pyramid. Uber chose for me, and the driver dropped me off at the second one.
That turned out to be a good choice. This entrance seemed to be less busy, it is also on the hill so you save yourself going up (the uphill isn’t too big but can make you a bit tired).
What are the opening hours and the best time to visit Pyramids?
The site is open every day from 8 am to 4 pm in the winter time (October to March) and from 7 am to 7 pm in the summertime (April-September). The earlier you come, the better as most of the tour buses are here around 10 am. That’s when I arrived too and there indeed were numerous groups around, but it was easy to avoid them actually, and they didn’t spoil the whole experience of visiting Pyramids for me.
In the evening you can see the light and sound show at the Pyramids. I personally haven’t attended it, but I heard rather good opinions about the show. It starts at 7 pm in the winter time and at 7:30 pm in the summer time. Each day there are three shows scheduled, beginning every hour. In Ramadan, the shows start at 8:30 pm.
How much does it cost to visit the Pyramids?
When I visited Pyramids on 31st of December 2018 the ticket was 160 EGP (~$9 / €8) for the site, 360 EGP (~$20,50 / €18) for the Great Pyramid, 100 EGP for the Khafre Pyramid, 50 EGP for Mers Ankh Tomb or 500 EGP (~$28,50 / €25) for the combined ticket. I bought a combined ticket.
Do I recommend it? Not really, to be honest. I only went inside the Great Pyramid, and it was a miserable experience indeed. The corridor is narrow, the stairs are slippery, the air was stifling, and the place was claustrophobic. I didn’t enjoy it at all, and at some point, I turned around and went back. But the whole Pyramids site was a completely different story and worth every penny!
The evening light and sound show costs $15 if you’d like to attend it. You can also combine it with the dinner, click here for more details.
Can you visit the Great Pyramid?
Yes, you can. You need to get an extra ticket for the Great Pyramid, so you need to decide at the entrance. But, as I mentioned above, I don’t really recommend it. Not only it’s not really worth it in my opinion, but you also need to leave your camera at the entrance to the Pyramid as taking pictures inside is strictly forbidden.
I had huge doubts when leaving my camera, but they were insisting and didn’t let me hide it to my backpack, I had to leave it there and then, at the stone next to the guard (this didn’t help my concerns). I got it back with no issues when I left the Pyramid, but afterward, I read some stories on how people had to bribe the guards to get their cameras back! This is yet another reason for me why I would not recommend visiting the Great Pyramid…
By the way, when I got my camera back, the guard let me take a picture inside at the entrance and even made a (blurry) picture of myself. Of course, it was for a small fee, 10 EGP was enough, so I didn’t mind it all that much.
How much time do you need for visiting the Pyramids?
It depends on you really. I spent 2 hours at the Pyramids, and I could have easily stayed there longer but I wanted to see some more places in Cairo, and it was my last full day in the city. I heard the average time of the visit is 1,5 hour, but if you are visiting Pyramids independently, you can stay as long as you want to there, even the whole day. It’s a mesmerizing site really and every minute spent there is worth it!
Should you visit Pyramids independently or with the tour?
I can’t recommend you one way or another, it depends on you and your preferences. And also on your level of assertiveness and how quickly you get annoyed.
I visited the Pyramid independently, and some parts of the experience left me outraged while others were a bliss. For most of the time though I had to deal with the constant harassment of local vendors/security/guides/drivers/ you name it who tried to talk me into taking their services, and they did it rather boldly.
If you visit the Pyramids with the prebooked guide, you most likely will avoid all these annoyances, and you will be able to learn from the first hand about the site, its history, and impact. The call is yours.
If you would like to the tour to the Pyramids here are some of the good options of highly rated tours:
What to wear when visiting Pyramids?
There is no official dress code for visiting the Pyramids but for your own sake wear something comfortable and modest (I took the tunic I wore every day when I was traveling solo in Iran). And don’t forget something to cover your head, a hat or scarf will do. This is an open area, and the sun can be cruel here, even in winter. When I visited, it was around 20 C and foggy, but still, the sun was shining through and made it really hot.
Be sure to have a bottle of water or two with you too! Better to buy it beforehand, the prices at and near the site and like 10 times higher.
What to expect when visiting Pyramids?
Visiting Pyramids can be madness, really.
As soon as you enter the site, you are constantly approached by all sorts of people who keep offering you their services. But in 80% of cases, it first starts with the question where you are from as it’s a good beginning of the small talk that would only dull your vigilance and give them the impression how wealthy you might be.
A firm but kind “no, thank you, I’m good” as an answer to all the offers is usually enough but it takes a minute or two, and you are approached by yet another one, and another, and another tout…
Some of these men (oh, did I mention they are only men?) offer to give you something for free, as a gift but remember there is no such thing as for free in the touristic places in Egypt, it’s just another way to make you pay. When I was offered “gifts,” I just said that although I really appreciate the gesture, I can’t take it as I don’t need it and why giving it to me for free when he can sell it to someone else. I kept repeating it like a mantra, at some point they got the message.
The most annoying situation I had when visiting Pyramids (or Egypt in general) was when one of the “security guys” followed me to the viewpoint that I’ve already been at, showed me the view that was already in front of my eyes and then demanded money for showing me the way and the view that I found myself. I was arguing with him a bit and eventually gave him 10 EGP.
His reaction? “This is nothing! Give me more!”. I tried to tell him that this is not nothing and asked why I should give him any more money just for the fact that he exists but got no answer for that. Instead, he told me I can give him US dollars if I don’t have Egyptian pounds and showed me his wallet full of money (so I said he doesn’t need any more money if he already has more than me).
Eventually, I gave him 10 EGP more just to get rid of him. It wasn’t scary or anything, there were lots of people around, and I didn’t feel in danger. I was just annoyed like hell.
Another trick to avoid when visiting Pyramids is when someone offers to show you “the secret place,” the shortcut or hidden tombs – I didn’t fall for it, but I’ve seen others who did and again, nothing good can come out of that.
When going to see the Sphinx they might stop you to check your ticket (so what it was already checked at the gate and the Sphinx is included) and then direct you to “secret tombs” first – don’t fall for it either. Again, a firm “no, thank you, I’m good” should be enough.
You will also be constantly asked if you want to go for a camel/horse/carriage ride. You might go, and there is a set price for that (150 EGP if I remember correctly but I might be wrong), but probably you will be asked for a tip too.
I didn’t go for different reasons – I felt sorry for animals, and I didn’t see a point using this offer when I could walk on my own. This way I could also see Pyramids from all possible angles and take pictures whenever I wanted to.
The area of Pyramids is a busy place and not as secluded as it looks on the pictures online. There is a proper asphalt road going through the site, with cars, buses, carriages, and animals going up and down for all the time. I even found a landing pad for helicopters. Since I was wandering around on my own, I didn’t have to stick to the road and could go wherever I wanted to. That’s when I finally was on my own with the Pyramids but to be honest, it wasn’t too difficult to escape the crowds.
Is visiting Pyramids safe?
Even if the day I arrived in Egypt there was a terrorist attack in Giza that was aimed at Vietnamese tourists that killed 4 and injured 12 people I still think visiting the Pyramids is safe.
At the entrance, you go through the security control and then you are free to explore the site. The whole harassment you get from all the touts is annoying, like insanely irritating, but not dangerous really. I felt safe the entire time I was at the Pyramids and I was exploring the site alone.
Is it possible to climb the Pyramids of Giza?
No, unfortunately not. In the past, for a small bribe, it was possible, but after the recent scandal with the tourists having sex on top of the Great Pyramid it is forbidden to climb the Pyramids, and the police present at the site is very strict about it. As soon as you try to do it, they whistle and urge you to go down. I wouldn’t try climbing the Pyramids really.
Where to stay when visiting Pyramids?
I stayed in downtown Cairo and visited Pyramids only as a side trip, but there are numerous accommodation options right at the spot. If visiting Pyramids was my main reason to come to Egypt, like it is for many people, I would have opted for the place to stay in Giza for sure.
After all, what’s more romantic than waking up with the view of Pyramids outside your window. Besides, you could be the first one at the site, before the tour buses arrive!
So if you would like to stay near the Pyramids these are the best options for accommodation in Giza, with the spectacular view over Pyramids:
Is it worth to visit the Pyramids?
Yes, yes and yes! Despite all the horror stories and annoyances, I think Pyramids are worth the effort. For most of the time I felt like slapping all the touts right in their smiling yet mercenary faces, and I will scream next time I hear “camel, madam?” but nevertheless I loved Pyramids, so much more than I expected.
The site is splendid, the Pyramids are mesmerizing, and no picture can do the justice to this site. Just prepare yourself for the worst, remember about all the scams, use your assertiveness, and you will be fine. Pyramids in Giza really is one of these places you have to see before you die!
If you have any questions or would like to share your experience visiting the Pyramids comment below.
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