Egypt is one of the most fascinating places in the world. With a profoundly rich history, this is a bucket-list destination for so many. Known as Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus, the legendary Pyramids of Giza are the only remnants of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World and are, today, among the most famous and oldest attractions in the world. A highly skilled group of mathematicians, masons, surveyors and stonecutters were behind the design and construction of the pyramids, which were built to protect the mummies of the pharaohs and the treasures they took with them to the afterlife. Tick off this ancient wonder from your bucket list with our range of day tours and excursions, ready to book online in an instant.
If seeing the Pyramids of Giza isn’t on your bucket list then I don’t know what is. The Great Pyramid of Giza is an incredible example of human engineering and construction. Its sheer size and scale rivals any structure built within the last few hundred years. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it is the only monument on the list that is still standing today.
I realised my own personal lifelong dream when I visited the Giza Plateau. I loved it so much that I went twice during the same trip! Here are my best tips to help you plan your visit to the Pyramid Complex of Giza.
Map of Egyptian Pyramids of Giza
These maps shows you all the locations mentioned in this guide.
Why were the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza built?
Nearly 5,000 years ago, Giza became the royal burial ground for Memphis, which was then, the Capital of Egypt. Within 100 years, three successive generations of the ancient Egyptians built the three pyramid complexes to serve as tombs for their kings.
When were the Pyramids built?
The Pyramids of Giza were built during the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom from around 2613-2498 BC. The oldest and largest of the Pyramids, the Great Pyramid, was built by the 4th-Dynasty king, Khufu (2589-2566 BC.)
Who built the Pyramids of Giza?
For a long time, it was believed that the Giza Pyramids were built by slaves. This theory dates back to the Ancient Greeks, however, the idea that the Pyramids were built by slaves is a myth and has never had any archaeological proof.
It wasn’t until 2010 that an archaeological team led by Dr. Zahi Hawass discovered several new tombs that belonged to the workers who built the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre.
Archaeologists now agree that the men who built the pyramids were, in fact, highly-skilled workmen, not slaves.
These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves. If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king’s.
Where are the Pyramids?
The Egyptian Pyramids are located within the Pyramids complex on the Giza plateau approximately 25km (15 miles) south-west of Downtown Cairo.
These pyramids include the Great Pyramid of Khufu (aka Cheops), Pyramid of Khafre (aka Chephren) and the Pyramid of Menkaure (aka Mycerinus) and the smallest of the three main Pyramids of Giza.
The pyramids were purposely built on the West Bank of the River Nile because the Ancient Egyptians believed that the East side of the Nile (East bank) was for the living, because the sunrises there, whilst the West Bank was for the dead (where the sun sets).
As you travel around Egypt, you will notice that all tombs are located on the West Bank of the Nile.
14 Top Tips for Visiting the Egyptian Pyramids of Giza
1. When is the best time to visit the Pyramids of Giza?
In general, the best time to visit Egypt is during the winter. More specifically, the best time to visit the Pyramids of Giza is after the morning rush of tourist buses. I recommend going to the Egyptian Museum first thing in the morning, this was you’ll miss the tour buses which arrive at the Pyramids between 9:30 am – 10:30 am.
Another the benefit of waiting a bit longer is that it will give more time for the haze of pollution to clear up a bit. Yes, Cairo is very polluted, particularly in the mornings.
2. How do I get to the Pyramids?
I visited the pyramids twice during my trip. If you want to do on a day trip, then I recommend Giza Pyramids and Sphinx: Half-Day Private Tour or Pyramids of Giza, Sakkara & Memphis: Private Tour with Lunch tour
Giza Pyramid Complex is only about 18 kilometre from Downtown Cairo however, Cairo is a heavily trafficked city. Using the public transportation available in Cairo, there are three different modes of transport you can use to reach the Pyramids.
Taking a taxi to the pyramids is by far the easiest option as there is very little effort required on your part. From anywhere in central Cairo, you can flag down a taxi on any main street and ask to go to the ‘Haram’ (this is what the pyramids are locally known as).
The only downside to taking a taxi is that you might get stuck in traffic. On a good run, it will take thirty minutes to reach the entrance to the Giza complex. Worse case scenario it could take closer to an hour if not more.
There are three different kinds of taxi services available in Cairo:
Black Taxi – Black taxis are the oldest of the three. Don’t be surprised if they don’t have a meter or air-conditioning.
White Taxi – White taxis are the modern version of black taxis complete with a fare meter and air-conditioning.
Yellow Taxi – Yellow taxis are the most expensive, professionally serviced and can be pre-booked over the phone.
Tips for taking a taxi:
- I always recommend taking a white taxi. Before you get in, make sure you agree on a price and don’t be afraid to bargain hard for a good rate. Expect to pay around 40 LE (Egyptian Pounds) from anywhere in Downtown Cairo.
- If you prefer, it is possible to pay extra and have the taxi wait for you until you’ve finished visiting the Giza Pyramids Complex to then take you back to the hotel. While the option is there, keep in mind that the complex is huge and you could easily spend all day there. Plus, you don’t necessarily need to do this as there are plenty of taxis servicing both sides of the complex from the main entrance and exit near the Sphinx. I did, however, choose to pay extra for a taxi to come inside the complex and drive me around. This came in handy when I wanted to go around to the panoramic lookout which is far away.
Uber is the best, most convenient and still a very cheap option. The best part is that you won’t have to worry about haggling for the best price. Expect to pay around 60LE to the pyramids from central Cairo.
An even cheaper (yes, it’s possible) way to get to the Giza Pyramids from Downtown Cairo is by taking the public bus. The buses are comfortable and some have air-conditioners. Tickets are only 2.50 LE.
If you’re visiting the Egyptian Museum in the morning (which I highly recommend), located on the main road behind the museum are buses 355 and 357 which will take you to the Giza Pyramids complex.
If you’re staying near the Tahrir Square area it’s good to know what these buses also pass through here.
Locals, aka Cairenes, take the microbus (pronounced ‘mee-kro-bas’) these small vans are usually crowded, uncomfortable and can only seat 12 passengers.
Since no destinations are signposted, it can be tricky to use them at first. They do, however, then to depart from normal bus stops.
Microbuses are useful for major routes such as reaching the entrance to the pyramids from the Giza metro station.
Micro-Buses will only stop if there is an available seat on board. The fare will vary depending on the distance you need to travel. This can be anywhere from LE2 to LE5 and is paid once you take your seat on board.
The Cairo Metro, like any metro, gets really crowded during peak hours (7 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 6 pm). Avoid these time by starting your day early and returning after the rush.
Cairo’s Metro Network doesn’t cover the entire city, but for a visitor, it’s perfect as it includes all the major tourist attractions. It’s efficient and very cheap. All single trip fares are LE 2.00 no matter how far you travel.
There are four metro stations in central Cairo: Attaba, Md. Naguib, Sadat and Naseer that will take you to the closest station to the Giza Pyramids complex. After a 15-20 minute journey, get off at El-Giza station. From here it’s another 10 km to the pyramid complex entrance.
Exit the station and head down to Al Haram, this is the main road leading to the pyramids. Cross to the other side and catch either bus 900 or 997 or a microbus to the pyramids. All buses will drop you one kilometre from the entrance.
Tips for taking the metro:
- Metro stations are clearly marked with a large red ‘M’ in a blue star.
- Keep your ticket until you complete your journey, you’ll need it to feed into the turnstile when exiting
- The metro opens around 6 am with trains running every 5 minutes until closing at 11.30pm.
- Ladies, there are two carriages located in the centre of each train reserved for women only (men will be kicked out). Look for the blue ‘Ladies’ signs on the platform so you know where to wait to get on the right carriage.
- Since the roads will be chaotic, the bus driver may forget to tell you when to get off, so it’s a good idea to ask a friendly passenger to alert you just in case.
Tips on getting to the Pyramids of Giza:
- Most Egyptians don’t understand the word “Pyramids”, so make sure you learn the Arabic word for them, especially if you’re taking a taxi there. Haram also means. The strict translation of the Arabic word ‘harim’ means (a prohibited place) and is from the verbal root ‘harama’ (prohibited), designated as ‘haram’ (a pyramid). (Source)
- There are two entrances to the pyramids complex. One entrance is near the Great Pyramid of Giza, the other is near The Sphinx. You can enter via either, but if you catch a bus, you’ll arrive closer to the Great Pyramid of Giza entrance.
3. How long does it take to get to the Pyramids of Giza?
If you’re travelling by road, the journey can last anywhere between 30-90 minutes. Cairo is a heavily trafficked and congested city so be prepared for severe delays. The best time to leave is either side of rush hour.
If you’re travelling by train then bus/microbus, allow 45 minutes.
4. What are the opening times of the Pyramids of Giza?
The Giza plateau is open 8 am – 4 pm daily. The Giza Pyramids are open 8 am – 4 pm daily (5 pm in summer). The Solar Boat museum is open 9 am – 4 pm daily (5 pm in summer).
5. How much time do you need to visit the Pyramids of Giza?
How much time do you have? Haha No, but seriously, time will fly once you’re inside the complex. I recommend allowing most of the day to explore the entire pyramids complex. I arrived just before 11 am and left right on closing time at 4om and I still didn’t want to leave.
My advice? Soak it up. Don’t rush your time here. Find a quiet spot and enjoy the view. Who knows when you’ll be back to see them again.
6. How much are tickets to the Pyramids of Giza?
Tickets to the Pyramids and Sphinx area costs 120 LE (60LE for students). To go inside the Great Pyramid, it’s an additional 300 LE (150 LE for students).
If you are taking a tripod inside, you’ll need to purchase a tripod ticket for 20 LE. This is standard practice all over Egypt.
7. Can You Go Inside the Pyramids?
Yes, you absolutely can! You can go inside The Great Pyramid of Giza, Khafre’s Pyramid, Menkaure Pyramid, and Mers Ankh Tomb. Included in your ticket is a free visit to the middle pyramid of the three satellite pyramids of the Queen of Cheops.
While most people, including local guides, will try and talk you out of going inside The Great Pyramid of Giza, saying it’s not worth paying 300 LE (USD$16) for, I still recommend going inside. But it all depends on how interested you are in the pyramids.
For me, I had to go inside. After all, I travelled all that way, so why not, right? Located in the core of the pyramid is the King’s Chamber. While there’s nothing to see in the King’s Chamber per se, other than an empty sarcophagus, it’s the experience of walking through the 9 metre (30 ft) high Great Gallery and seeing the inner workings of such an incredible monument.
If you’re not already planning on going, I highly recommend going to the Egyptian Museum to see the mummies and beautifully decorated tombs. Don’t miss the Royal Mummy Room!
Tips for going inside The Great Pyramid of Giza:
- The Great Gallery inside the Great Pyramid of Giza is very narrow and you may feel claustrophobic. Reconsider going inside if you suffer from claustrophobia.
- Allow 30-40 minutes to complete your visit inside The Great Pyramid of Giza.
- Cameras, including phones, aren’t allowed inside. You can leave your items at the entrance with the guards. They will give you a ticket in exchange. Don’t lose it! You’ll need it to collect your belongings afterwards.
- It’s super humid inside the King’s Chamber, so take some tissues with you to mop up that forehead.
8. Camel and Horse Rides
As I mentioned in my things to know about Egypt guide, the camels and horses at the pyramids are malnourished and badly treated, so it’s up to you if you choose to go on a ride anyway.
If you do decide to take a camel ride, make sure you’re not hassled into paying more than the fair price. In order to crack down on scamming tourist, signs have now been put up showing set prices for camel rides which are 50 Egyptian Pounds for 30 minutes.
9. What should I wear when visiting the Pyramids of Giza?
You can pretty much wear anything you like in tourist areas such as the pyramids. However, you might find it more comfortable to wear breathable material like linen so you don’t have to put sunscreen all over your body.
Definitely wear a hat. Your head will catch the sun and tender for a few days afterwards.
Perhaps the most important item will be your footwear. You’ll be walking a lot, mainly through sand and dirt, so wear comfortable and breathable closed-toe shoes.
10. What should I pack when visiting the Pyramids of Giza?
It’s can get really hot whilst visit the Pyramids complex. It’s dry, dusty and since it’s a dry heat, it won’t be as obvious how much fluid you’re losing through sweat. I highly recommend taking three litres of water per person and keeping some in a thermal bottle to keep it cool and drink later in the day.
Take sunscreen and apply it before you go out in the sun. Wear sunglasses, a hat and take an umbrella just in case you need some shade; because there is none!
11. Can you buy food inside the Giza Pyramid Complex?
There is only one (but very good) place to eat in inside the Giza Pyramid complex. This outdoor buffet restaurant is located right near the Sphinx with excellent views. From here you can enjoy a delicious meal in the shade under the watchful eye of the Sphinx.
Before you leave, make sure you order an ice-cream from the ice-cream stand next to the buffet. It might take some time to prepare your order, but it’s totally worth it. Choose your flavour and toppings and watch as the proud ice-cream man whips up the best ice-cream you’ll have on your trip!
If you still can’t get enough of the pyramids, after you leave the Pyramids complex, head to the top floor of the Pizza Hut. Located just outside the pyramids complex directly in front of the Sphinx and watch the sunset over a pizza.
12. Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids
Go back in time and see the history of the Ancient Egyptians and the Pyramids in the daily Sound and Light show located near the Sphinx. Booking a ticket is essential, however, you can also watch the show for free if you stay at a nearby hotel with a rooftop terrace such as Pyramids View Inn Bed & Breakfast or Panorama Pyramids Inn.
The Sound and Light Show runs at 7 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm during the winter and 2.5 hours later during summer.
13. Solar Boat Museum
Don’t forget to see the boat! What boat I hear you ask? Oh, just the boat that was buried at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
It’s unclear if it was used to carry the body of Khufu from Memphis to his tomb, (markings suggest it had been sailed before) and was buried for the pharaohs own journey across the heavens or it was buried for the sun-god himself.
Either way, this impressive full-size ancient Egyptian boat took 14 years for experts to put its 1,200 pieces together.
14. Bonus tips for visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
- Climbing the Pyramids – Once upon a time you could climb the pyramids, however, this is no longer the case. But then again, it also depends on who’s working that day. A guard let me climb up just long enough to take the photo above, but that was it. It any case, it’s best to ask.
- Toilets – There are toilets near the Sphinx and at the entrance to the pyramids complex before going through security.
- Panoramic Viewpoint – There is a panoramic viewpoint you can go to but it’s a bit far to walk in the heat so you may want to get a lift there. Either take your taxi which you paid extra for (like I did) or take a horse or camel. This viewpoint is where all the tourist buses stop, so it gets busy.
While it’s a nice spot, it’s not the best perspective of the pyramids. To get a more iconic shot as seen in this photo, you’ll need to walk out into the dunes for about 15 minutes. Hardly anyone does this so ita ’s nice opportunity to just take it all in without being interrupted.
I hope this guide has answered all your questions and helped you feel more prepared for your trip to the Pyramids of Giza. If you still have any questions or concerns, please reach out and leave a comment below. I’d be happy to help where I can. If not, then I wish you a wonderful trip!