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The top 10 things to do in Cairo with kids

The locals know Cairo as Umm al-Dunya, which translates into mother of the world. In Egypt’s capital city lots of firsts were achieved. Cairo is known as the cradle of civilization and is most likely the city where you start and end your ultimate family road trip of Egypt. It will instantly make your family fall in love with this country.

Why Cairo is a great choice for a family visit

There are so many interesting and fun things to do in Cairo with kids that it’s almost an insult to just name 10. See this list as a starting point for your family trip to Cairo. Of course you have to visit the pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian Museum and the most famous bazaar in the world. But don’t forget to wander around old and downtown Cairo, Islamic Cairo and Coptic Cairo. You can easily spend weeks in the city. This list of 10 things to do in Cairo with kids can be checked out at a relatively slow pace in 4 days.

Roughly 22 million people live in The Greater Cairo Area. 13 million of them live in Cairo itself. This makes it the largest urban area in Africa, the Arab world and the Middle East. Cairo blends old world and new world Egypt. In touristic areas lots of Cairenes speak English, which makes it easier for travelers to get around.

The food is very kid friendly. What kid doesn’t like fresh fruit, shawarma, pita bread and/or falafel? And if you’ve tried it all and didn’t succeed you can always visit a pizza place, KFC or McDonalds.

Safety in Cairo

Cairo is a massive city. Your first day here can feel overwhelming, definitely for kids. The noise, the smells and the heat are things kids might have to get used to, so take it easy on the first day. Streets and bazaars can be extremely busy and chaotic, so keep a close eye on children.

When I told people I was traveling to Egypt with our eldest the first question I got was: “Is Egypt safe for families to visit?” My answer is always the same. No matter where you go, be cautious. Don’t bring valuables or wear expensive jewellery while on the road. Do your research and stay away from areas the locals advise you not to visit.

Khan el-Khalili bazaar and souq in Cairo - Egypt

Tourist safety is taken very seriously in Cairo and other touristic areas. And we truly felt safe in Cairo. Egyptians love kids and children are welcomed everywhere.

You can explore Cairo and the area around it by yourselves. Or you can use a taxi or Uber (ask about the accessibility of the seatbelts, so you can actually use your child seat in the car), the metro or hire a tour guide that will show you around in a car. We didn’t use the metro, so I can’t share any tips about it. I did take a taxi from our hotel to the citadel on our last night. It was a solo outing (my 16yo wanted to chill in the room for a bit) and I felt perfectly safe.

I don’t advise to drive around Cairo by yourselves, the traffic is crazy and lane’s are mostly decorative. There’s a saying that if you can drive in Cairo, you can drive everywhere. Let’s just say that I was glad that our guide drove us around.

Guided tours

And that brings me to a tip. Taking a solo trip as a mum with my teen I wanted some extra comfort. We booked a complete tour with Egypt Eye Tour. They arranged everything for us. The owner, Sameh, showed us around Cairo and neighbouring Giza and Saqqara. He’s an Egyptologist which meant we got all the info we needed to learn more about the history of Egypt. And he also doubled as our (excellent!) driver. So if you feel like you don’t want to travel around Cairo without a guide, I highly recommend Sameh and Egypt Eye Tour.

When to visit Cairo

Avoid a visit to Cairo from May to September. It will be extremely hot during these months. If you do opt to go during this time of year bring lots of sunscreen, hats and reusable water bottles with a filter system. And do all the sightseeing in the early hours of the morning.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re not visiting Cairo during Ramadan. Lots of tourist sites, shops and services operate shorter hours. Many local restaurants not aimed at tourists will only open after sunset. In 2023 Ramadan wil start late march and last until late april.

The best time to visit Cairo with kids is peak season, between December and February. Make sure you’ve pre-booked all your accommodations and entry tickets when you’re traveling to Cairo during these months.

We were there in October. It was still about 30 degrees while we were there, but it helped that we did most of the outside sightseeing during the mornings and visited bazaars and museums in the afternoon. The next time we visit Cairo, because we definitely will, we’ll go for late October again.

How to get there

Fly

My family and I like to use Expedia for flights. They usually have some great deals available. But always make sure to double check the prices at the website of the airline to make sure you get the best deal.

Train

If you need to get to Cairo from other Egyptian cities, like Alexandria or Luxor, you can either fly or take a train from these places to Cairo. Just make sure you get tickets for an air-conditioned train. You can book them via Egyptian National Railways.

That’s enough basic information! Let’s dive into the best 10 things to do in Cairo with family.

10 things to do in Cairo with kids

Go treasure hunting at Khan el-Khalili

Meander through Coptic Cairo

Chow down on local food

Get the best view from the Citadel of Saladin

Feel like Indiana Jones at the Egyptian Museum

Sail down the Nile in a felucca

Check out the pyramids at Giza

Take a selfie with the Sphinx

Go on a dinner cruise on the Nile

Visit Saqqara’s pyramid of Djoser

Go treasure hunting at Khan el-Khalili

Khan el-Khalili bazaar and souq in Cairo - Egypt

When visiting Khan el-Khalili your senses are exposed to lovely smells of spices, incense and food. But also by traffic noise, the sight of sparkling items and people laughing and haggling all around you. A great number of cultural and historic structures make you feel like you’re stepping back into medieval times.

There’s something to enjoy here for every family member. Handmade accessories are on offer and gorgeous stained-glass lamps. But also lots of souvenirs and toys and nooks filled with silver and gold. You can spend hours here getting lost in all the tiny alleyways. Are you ready to buy something? Practice your haggling. It’s expected and fun.

Haggle ethically

When you’re buying a handmade item, someone spend time and effort into making it. Though it’s true that bargaining is an important part of the local culture here, don’t drive a really hard bargain for it. This could cause suffering to vendors already living in poverty. Both the seller and the buyer should achieve a win-win. It’s not a game where one wins and the other loses.

Meander through Coptic Cairo

Next on this list of top 10 things to do in Cairo with kids is a stroll through Coptic Cairo. But what does Coptic mean?

What is Coptic Cairo?

Although Cairo is known as the city of a thousand minarets, Cairo is also home to the largest denomination of Christians in the Middle East. More specifically Coptic Orthodox Christians. Coptic Cairo is part of Old Cairo, the original city center for centuries on end. It’s an interesting area to walk around and appreciate the centuries-old architecture.

The Church of the Virgin Mary - hanging church in Cairo - Egypt

What to do in Coptic Cairo with kids

Coptic Cairo is a relatively enclosed complex. You’ll find tourism police near the entrance and exit and after you enter it, it’s pedestrians only.

The big sights can be found on and around the main path. The cemeteries, smaller churches and alleys filled with books and postcards can be found by strolling beyond the bigger tourist sights. Remember that most of the churches are operational. So be respectful at all times and give the locals their space to go about their usual business.

Must-sees in Coptic Cairo

Babylon Fortress

This is the first thing you’ll stumble upon after entering Coptic Cairo. The ruins of the Babylon Fortress are built on the ancient Egyptian town called Babylon. It was built by the Romans near the canal that connected the Nile to the Red Sea. The fort has been closed to visitors for decades, but in March 2022 a part of it opened up to the public again. Restorations are taking place and after the completion the whole fort will be open again. Checking out this fort is a must, because from these foundations one of the greatest cities of the world sprang.

The Hanging Church

The Church of St Virgin Mary is better known amongst travelers as the Hanging Church. This church was built on top of the walls of the Babylon Fortress. When it was first built, the pillars of the gatehouse were exposed and created the hanging effect of the church. Now they’re buried due to the rise of the ground over the past millennium. The interior and exterior are really beautiful and unlike any other church we have ever seen.

The Church of the Virgin Mary - hanging church in Cairo - Egypt

The Coptic Museum

If your kids are into history make some time for a visit to this museum and learn al about Coptic history in Egypt.

Chow down on local food

Trying out the local food and mango juice in Cairo - Egypt
Eating Koshari in Egypt

One of the main reasons our family travels is to get to know more about other cultures. A huge part of a country its culture is the food they eat and serve. Food is a powerful connective tool. We bond over it with friends and family. While we travel we hope to break bread with the locals, because trying the local cuisine is a great way to experience the culture.

Our kids love Middle Eastern cuisine. Things like shawarma, falafel and hummus are things we eat at home regularly. And as soon as we arrive in a Middle Eastern country they look around for the real deal.

And there’s always more to discover, because every country or even region offers dishes that have yet to be discovered as a traveler. In Egypt our new favorites where Koshary and Tahini.

Koshary

This dish was recommended to us by our guide Sameh. He told us we couldn’t leave Cairo without trying Koshary (aka Koshari). He took us to a local restaurant and the table got filled with fried onions, tomato sauce, sambal and vinegar. Our own plate was filled to the brim with lentil rice, pasta, chickpeas and we started assembling the dish to our taste with the right amount of side dishes. We scooped up the food with chips made from fried pita bread. I’ve never seen my son finish a plate as fast as this one!

Tahini

Tahini is a thick oily paste made from sesame seeds. It serves as a base for classic dips like hummus or baba ganoush, but we had never tried it right from the jar before. It has a nutty flavor with a little bit of a bitter aftertaste and the texture can be compared to a spoonful of peanut butter. We loved it with falafel and as a dip with cooked or grilled vegetables.

Sugarcane juice

The last tip is a drink. Try sugarcane juice at one of the many juice shops that can be found in almost every street in Cairo. It’s extremely sweet, because it’s essentially a cup full of pure sugar. It’s best to share one with the whole family. But it’s a locals favorite, so you can’t leave the city without having at least a sip.

Get the best view from the Citadel of Saladin

view of cairo and theAl Rifai and Sultan Hassan Mosques at the Saladan Citadel - Egypt

The highlight of Islamic Cairo is a visit to the Cairo Citadel. I have to be honest with you and say that we didn’t have time to visit any of the mosques and museums. We definitely will next time we visit Cairo.

A taxi drove me up to the Citadel of Saladin. A UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with architectonic wonders. It’s also known as the place where you get the best view of Cairo. From the grand terrace at the front of the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan you get an amazing view of the mosque itself and Islamic Cairo below.

On a clear day you can even see the pyramid of Giza. I wasn’t that lucky this time, but it still was an amazing sight to see!

Feel like Indiana Jones at the Egyptian Museum

Inside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in Egypt
Inside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in Egypt

The Egyptian Museum is one of the 3 must-sees when in Cairo. The other ones being the pyramids and the sphinx at the Giza plateau. How can you visit Cairo without learning about Egypt’s lengthy and unbelievable history?

Unfortunately it won’t be open for much longer, because a new one is built near the pyramids of Giza. What I’m writing here about what to see and do in the museum, note that the same info applies to the GEM (Grand Egyptian Museum) once that’s opened at the end of 2022.

Depending on how long your kids remain interested you can spend hours exploring all the amazing mummies, statues, hieroglyphics everywhere you look and the mummified animals. The latter being a kid’s favorite!

If your kids can’t be entertained in a museum longer than one hour, make sure to visit Tutankhamon’s funerary collection, the Royal Mummy rooms and the room filled with mummified animals. If you have to, lure them over with the prospect of AC in the Royal Mummy rooms and Tutankhamon’s section.

This museum is best explored with the guidance of an Egyptologist. You’ll miss out on so much valuable information if you stroll around by yourselves.

Entrance to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo - Egypt

Top tip

Visit the museum when the heat outside is at its peak. There’s almost no airconditioning inside, so it’s still hot, but it’s way better than being outside in the scorching heat.

Do note that most people have this idea, so the lines in front of the ticket office are long. Buy your tickets in the morning, go explore other parts of Cairo and come back to explore the museum in the afternoon.

Ticket info

Kids under 6 are free. Ages 6 and up will pay about 4 euros per person. Insanely cheap for one of the most famous museums in the world.

If you want to take pictures with a camera or your phone you have to pay an additional 2,50 euros per camera.

Grand Egyptian Museum

The GEM (Grand Egyptian Museum) is being built at the Giza plateau. It will be the largest museum in the world once it opens in November 2022. The collections of both the original Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square and the newer National Museum of Egyptian Civilization will be on display here.

When we visited the Egyptian Museum at Tahrir Square in October 2021 a large number of artefacts had already been moved to the GEM. We were lucky enough to see Tutankhamun’s funerary collection, including his iconic golden mask. Unfortunately that is not the case anymore and you’ll have to wait until the GEM opens to see it.

Sail down the Nile in a felucca

Felucca ride on the Nile in Cairo - Egypt

I’m kinda cheating with this one. We didn’t sail on a felucca on this part of the Nile, but in Luxor. We really loved it, because it’s such a relaxing thing to do. And we’ve heard other parents talk about a felucca ride on the Nile through Cairo and were a little bit jealous.

You get such a different look while checking out a city from the water. Especially a city as vibrant and historic as Cairo. We definitely believed it when we heard that sailing down the Nile in a felucca through Cairo was one of the best family activities in Cairo. We will definitely take a ride next time we’re in the city!

Check out the pyramids at Giza

Ultimate Road Trip Guide: Egypt - blog post

How accurate is a list of 10 things to do in Cairo with kids without mentioning the pyramids? I believe such a list doesn’t even exist. And it shouldn’t. The Great Pyramids of Giza is the only remaining ancient wonder of the world. And should be on every travelers bucket list. The first time my eldest asked me if we could please go to Egypt to see the pyramids, he was 5 years old. It’s a site almost everyone in the world has heard about.

We woke up in a hotel right next to the pyramids, called Pyramids Valley. Because we arrived at night we could only see the outlines of these amazing structures. We woke up very early, opened the drapes and, I kid you not, had tears in our eyes. We have never felt more lucky than at that exact moment. Waking up to the sight of this! After that we had breakfast on the terrace and got the best view we will ever experience. We highly recommend this hotel if you want to be moved in a similar way.

Pyramids and Sphinx from Pyramids Hotel Giza - Egypt

Staying so close to the pyramids gave us time to explore this wonder in relative peace. It wasn’t overcrowded yet. We walked around in peace and were in absolute awe. You’re allowed to touch the pyramids and even climb the first few rows. It’s not allowed to go higher than that. You will see people do that, but please don’t do it. Do your part and make sure the pyramids are preserved for future generations.

After exploring the pyramids walk or drive up to the viewpoint to get a banging view of the pyramids with the city of Cairo as a backdrop.

Touts

Ignore all the touts at the pyramids. Once you start talking to them they will not let go of you, not even after you’ve politely told them ‘no’.

 

Take a selfie with the Sphinx

The Sphinx and one of the pyramids of Giza in Egypt

On the east side of the complex, close to the Pyramid of Chephren, you’ll find the Great Sphinx. This mysterious creature has the body of a lion and the head of a man, with an ancient Egyptian headdress on. Some believe it’s the head of pharaoh Khafre whose pyramid is close to the sphinx. Others think his brother Djedefre built it to commemorate their father Khufu. Khufu’s pyramid is known as the Great Pyramid.

Most kids, and also some (wannabe) influencers, can be seen taking a selfie with the sphinx and they pose as if they’re kissing the sphinx on the mouth. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stand in line to do it. The Sphinx is huge and everyone stands around it from a fair distance, so there’s space for everyone to get their selfie with the pharaoh.

No selfie to see here though, my teen has strictly forbidden me to post one of his and I didn’t take one myself.

Go on a dinner cruise on the Nile

Dinner cruise on the Nile in Cairo - Egypt

The second activity on the Nile in this 10 things to do in Cairo with kids list. Cairo is known to host many cruise ships that offer (sunset) cruises on the Nile. You get a chance to see Cairo from the Nile, enjoy a nice dinner and eventually get the best views of Cairo lit up by night. Not all dinner cruises are suitable for children, so when you’re booking with a company check out what sort of entertainment is on offer.

This tip comes from Thijs. He visited Cairo years ago, before we had kids. He highly recommended it to our teen and me, but it didn’t fit into our schedule this time.

Visit Saqqara’s pyramid of Djoser

Step Pyramid of Zoser near Cairo in Egypt

Last top thing to do in Cairo with kids is to check out the very first pyramid that the ancient Egyptians ever built and the oldest known ancient Egyptian stone structure. The pyramid of Djoser, aka Step Pyramid, in Saqqara.

Your kids and you will be staring at a structure that is about 4,700 years old. That’s not something you can say very often.

Tahrir Square in Cairo - Egypt

5 other top things to do in Cairo with kids

If you still have time to visit some more places in Cairo with family or your visiting Cairo for the second time, here are another 5 fun things to do in Cairo with kids:

  • Teach your children about the Arab Spring while standing on Tahrir Square
  • Climb the Cairo Tower for an amazing view of the city
  • Visit the Manial Palace Museum and its beautiful garden
  • Go kayaking on the Nile river
  • Get lost together in Downtown Cairo

When writing about a sprawling historical city like Cairo, a post like this doesn’t do it justice. There are so many more things to do in Cairo with kids. Did I miss any important ones? Please let us know in the comments and help other parents add your tips to their road trip itinerary!

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About me Sas Crossing Countries

Hi, I’m Saskia!

I travel the world with my family of 4 and write about our adventures.

Sas Crossing Countries is a family travel blog. It’s created to inspire other parents to travel the world with their kids. Gift your kids the world! It’s the most valuable present you can give them.

With all the experience I have as a traveling parent I’ve got lots of tools and tips for you. So on this site you’ll not only find family travel blog posts, you can also download FREE pocket guides, travel checklists and eBooks from my resources page.

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