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Cultural Treasures

It’s impossible to think about Egypt without thinking of its pyramids. And while they’re certainly the country’s most iconic attractions, there’s much more to explore. Museums filled with ancient artifacts, Islamic art and contemporary pieces abound. Churches and burial grounds give visitors a sense of the depth of Egypt’s religious and cultural history. Even if you’ve only a few days to spare, your experience with Cairo’s cultural treasures will be rich.

Day

1

MORNING
  • Authentic Breakfast.

    A Cairo favorite, Zooba Café’s chefs use wholesome, local ingredients to craft authentic Egyptian street food. From baladi bread to taamia falafel — slow-cooked fava beans — Zooba’s offerings are healthful, delicious and a wonderful way to fuel up for a day of adventure. 

  • World Wonder.

    Just a bit southwest of Cairo, the Giza Plateau houses the pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, as well as the Great Sphinx. A tour among the sites reveals a world of wonder, history and culture. In fact, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one mostly intact. 

MIDDAY
  • Go Green.

    After exploring Giza’s pyramid complex, find color and beauty at the Orman Botanic Garden, also in Giza. The 28-acre garden, which dates to 1875, connects a rose garden, a cactus garden, an herbarium and a stunning lotus pond. Orman, a Turkish word, means “the forest.”

AFTERNOON
  • Day at the Museum.

    The Egyptian Museum’s original collection was established during the late 19th century. Now, it contains more than 160,000 objects, including many pharaonic antiquities, covering more than 5,000 years of Egyptian history. Its 107 beautiful halls were designed in the neoclassical style, and it’s easy to spend hours exploring them.  

EVENING
  • Dinner and Dancing.

    Return to The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo for a Middle Eastern inspired dinner at Bab El-Sharq. Enjoy mezza — small plates — and a selection of shisha (hookah) flavors as you dine under the stars in the property’s lush gardens. Afterward, get lost in the rhythm, beauty and sparkle of a nightly belly dancing performance. 

Day

2

MORNING
  • Coffee Bazaar.

    Tucked inside the Khan El Khalili bazaar, El Fishawi Café is a favorite among locals and visitors. Mirrored, smoky and busy, the café offers delicious mint tea and plenty of rich Arabic coffees to start your day.

  • Shop the Souq.

    After your morning coffee, wander the labyrinth that is the Khan El Khalili. Originally the site of the Saffron Tomb and dating to 970, this souq is filled with vendors selling souvenirs, antiques and jewelry. Bustling and busy, Cairo’s bazaar district is extremely popular among tourists. 

MIDDAY
  • Be Studious.

    More than 1,000 years ago, the Fatimids founded Al Azhar Mosque. Today, the mosque, as well as its eponymous university, is considered one of the most important centers of Islamic theology in the world. Tour the mosque’s beautiful marble courtyards, its towering minarets and its madrassas for an education in the region’s rich religious heritage. 

AFTERNOON
  • Through the Gates.

    Bab Zuweila is one of only three remaining ancient gates in Cairo. Its name is derived from bab, meaning “door” and Zuwayla, a tribe of Berber warriors from the western desert. Considered a major landmark, the gate was part of the wall surrounding Fatimid Cairo in the 11th and 12th centuries. When you go, “read the wall” — pay attention to abrupt changes in structure and construction materials. They trace refortification of the wall over the centuries. 

  • A Promise Kept.

    When a Mamluk sultan was imprisoned and tortured in the early 15th century, he vowed to transform the site of his capture into a school and mosque. And he did. Today, Sheikh al-Mu’ayyad Mosque, nearby Bab Zuweila, is a major destination for tourists who come to appreciate its architectural beauty and attention to intricate detail.  

EVENING
  • Set Sail.

    Before dinner, watch the sunset from the Nile River, as you float along on a felucca, or small sailboat. As the sun begins to set, soak in the colors and fragrance of the surrounding landscape. 

  • A Casual Feast.

    After a long day, return to The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo for dinner at the comfortable, casual Culina restaurant. Featuring a menu of local favorites, the restaurant overlooks the hotel’s garden and the Egyptian Museum. 

Day

3

MORNING
  • Take a Lap.

    Before embarking on another tour of Cairo, consider a swim in The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo’s pool, the largest in the city. With year-round warm, sunny weather, a quick dip is always a perfect start to the day. 

  • A Church Tour.

    The Coptic Cairo section of Old Cairo includes the Greek Church of St. George, the Babylon Fortress, the Coptic Museum and the Hanging Church, some of which predate the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the seventh century and all of which are major destinations for culturally inclined tourists. While guided tours are available, it’s also easy to walk among the buildings on your own for an education into Cairo’s religious history. 

MIDDAY
  • Opulence Abounds.

    The Manial Palace Museum highlights Ottoman Dynasty decadence at its finest. Built between 1899 and 1929, the palace and grounds are preserved as a heritage site and include an extensive collection of manuscripts, art, furniture, clothing and intricate ceramic tile designs. 

AFTERNOON
  • Find a Fort.

    The Saladin Citadel of Cairo, on Mokattam Hill near the city center, was fortified by an Ayyubid ruler in the 12th century to protect it from the Crusaders. Today, the Citadel is a preserved historic site that houses museums and mosques. For a different look at Cairo’s history, visit the Carriage Museum, which contains a collection of carriages from several Egyptian eras. 

  • Left Lunch.

    With an incredible view of the Nile and a selection of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, Left Bank restaurant is a must-visit before you depart Cairo. Open and airy, the restaurant is a great place to unwind before an evening out. 

EVENING
  • Sail Away.

    A dinner cruise along the Nile means you’ll experience a segment of the world’s longest river, all while watching the city lights begin to twinkle. And, of course, authentic Egyptian or Mediterranean cuisine will satisfy your palate as belly dancers entertain you along the way. Dinner cruises may be booked through one of several local companies or through The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo concierge.