Things to do in Cairo with friends to enjoy to the fullest
South of the Nile Delta lies an ancient city where life pulsates in its streets and its urban landscape hides secrets that resist being revealed. Travelling to Cairo with friends can be the most exciting experience of your life, as every step you take will be a new discovery that will form part of your best anecdotes in the future. If you’re not yet familiar with Egypt’s capital and are looking for a destination that has all the ingredients for success with your group of friends, this corner of the world is a great choice.
It’s not easy to choose a place for a group getaway where everyone will find something to enjoy, but the range of things to do in Egypt is so broad that everyone will find something inspiring. History buffs will enjoy discovering the Giza plateau with its famous necropolis, art and architecture lovers will find the new Egyptian Museum one of the most amazing places in the world and won’t want to leave, while those who enjoy the street atmosphere and bazaars will have an exciting time. A trip with friends to Egypt’s capital is sure to be a welcome decision.
- Visit the Citadel of Saladin
- Get to know the Coptic Quarter
- Discover the City of the Dead
- Enter the pyramids of Giza
- Dine at the Cairo Tower
- Have tea at the Mirror Café
- Stroll along the Nile
- Tips and recommendations
- Where to stay in Cairo
Visit the Citadel of Saladin
It’s important to organise your travel plans well with your group of friends, so our suggestion is that you start by visiting Cairo’s main monumental landmarks. In the Citadel of Saladin you’ll discover a large fortress, built in the 12th century, which houses a number of monuments inside. With a single entrance ticket you can visit its three mosques, including the Mohammed Ali (or Alabaster) Mosque, the Carriage Museum, the Military Museum, and the Garden Museum. Don’t miss the Gawhara (or Jewels) Palace, named after Gawhara Hanem, Mohammed Ali’s last wife, or a walk along the ramparts to admire the beautiful views from a high vantage point.
Get to know the Coptic Quarter
One of the most surprising districts in Cairo is known as the “Coptic Quarter”, the place where the first Christians settled in the 4th century. It’s very enlightening to stroll through its maze of narrow streets and discover curious churches such as St Mary’s, commonly known as “the Hanging Church”, which is the oldest church in the capital. In addition to temples such as St. Sergius, St. George, and St. Barbara, you’ll also find the Ben Ezra synagogue, considered to be the oldest in the country. To learn more about history, it’s best to spend at least one or two hours visiting the Coptic Museum, which houses hundreds of documents and historical pieces from the country’s different periods.
Discover the City of the Dead
A visit to a cemetery doesn’t usually feature among plans with friends in Cairo, but on this occasion we’ll make an exception and recommend a visit to the City of the Dead. This large necropolis, which has millions of tombs, is inhabited by both the living and the dead. Among its streets and even inside the pantheons, there are more than half a million people who haven’t found a better place to live their lives. Wandering the streets, entering the shops, and talking to the locals are one of the most impressive experiences you can have in the Egyptian capital.
Enter the pyramids of Giza
This is probably the things travellers want to do the most, so it’s worth getting organised and getting up early. The Giza esplanade is home to the ancient necropolis where the pharaohs were buried alongside as well as their wives and relatives. Among the remains that have survived to the present day are the pyramids of Cheops (the largest), Chephren, and Mycerinus. If you’re not claustrophobic, we encourage you to at least see the inside of the pyramid of Cheops, even if the corridors are sometimes no more than a metre high or you have to crawl into some of the burial chambers. The experience is rounded off with the Great Sphinx, which is part of the complex, and a camel safari in the surrounding area. It can be a fun experience to enjoy with friends.
Dine at the Cairo Tower
The Cairo Telecommunications Tower is visible from anywhere in the city as it is 180 metres high (higher than the Great Pyramid) and is home to a viewing platform, a café, and a revolving restaurant at the top. This can be an excellent place to dine with the highest panoramic view of the city. You need to buy a ticket to go up there but it’s well worth it.
Have tea at the Mirror Café
Certain places with history are a must see, and El Fishawy Café (better known as the Mirror Café) is one of them. Located in the famous Khan al-Khalili market, it became famous as a favourite hangout spot for writers such as Naguib Mahfuz. This café is the perfect place to take a break, enjoy the atmosphere, sip tea, and smoke some shisha. We can’t think of a better place to go with friends in Cairo.
Stroll along the Nile
For many it’s a touristic thing to do, but sailing down the Nile at sunset as the sun goes down is an unforgettable experience. There’s something for everyone, from the most romantic feluccas to larger boats that include live music and dinner. You’re sure to have a great time and it’s not expensive at all.
Tips and recommendations
Travelling with a group of friends to Cairo can be extremely convenient as you can book activities or guides for yourselves to suit your schedule and preferences. Our basic recommendations for travelling to the Egyptian capital are common-sense ones. If you’re travelling during the warmer months, wear breathable cotton clothing, and use sunscreen. It’s a good idea to pack mosquito repellent and anti-diarrhoea medicine because, although you shouldn’t drink unbottled water, sometimes you might not realise that the ice in your drink can affect you too. When visiting some places you’ll be asked to dress more modestly, so it’s advisable to bring something to cover your shoulders or legs.
In general, bazaar sellers are very insistent, so be patient and try to understand them without getting angry. And, of course, bring an extra suitcase because the market temptations are hard to avoid.
Where to stay in Cairo
Choosing a hotel in Cairo is a responsibility that makes or breaks your travel experience, so you should select an establishment with standards that match what you’re looking for. An excellent choice is the Barceló Cairo Pyramids, where the Spanish hotel group has spared no expense in providing European-standard facilities. Located on Sharia Al Haram, one of the city’s main avenues, it offers 236 rooms with every detail, and views of the pyramids of Giza, just four kilometres away. A swimming pool overlooking the pyramids, three bars and three restaurants (one with a panoramic terrace), a gym, and a complete wellness centre round off the offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best things to do in Cairo with friends?
Things to do with friends in Cairo include exploring the city together, not forgetting the Citadel of Saladin, the Coptic Quarter, and the City of the Dead. Experiences such as a camel safari at the Pyramids of Giza and a cruise on the Nile are also highly recommended.
What are the best excursions to do with friends in Cairo?
If you extend your stay in Cairo, in addition to visiting the Giza plateau with the pyramids, you can consider trips to Alexandria (2.5 hours), the Suez Canal (2.5 hours), Saqqara (45 minutes away), and even Luxor (by train or bus, around 8 hours; it's quicker by plane).
What is the best time of year to travel to Cairo with friends?
The best time to travel to Cairo is during autumn and spring, as temperatures are more moderate and it's less crowded. If you can organise your trip between September and November, or between March and June, you'll be on the right track. There’s less heat and lower prices.