Guest post and photos by Carrie Reed
What to see and do in Cairo with kids
Cairo might not seem like a top kid destination, but as I’ve discovered in the eight months that we’ve lived here so far, there is a lot to do for kids big and small! Where else can you explore what life was like 4,500 years ago in the morning, investigate a palace in the afternoon and then end the day with a quiet sunset sail down the mighty Nile? Pyramids, mummies and why the Sphinx has no nose fascinate children of all ages.
Egyptians love kids and while you won’t always find kid menus, plenty of Egyptian food is kid friendly and there are a wide range of international options-including plenty of common fast food options for the pickiest of eaters. Tourist safety is taken very seriously and I feel 100% safe when out exploring the city with my two- and four-year-olds. Now is a perfect time to explore Cairo and the rest of Egypt as prices are still extremely affordable. From horseback riding to King Tut’s treasure to bargaining at a local market for exotic souvenirs, Cairo has everything you would want on a family trip!
So without further ado, here are 10 of my top activities and sights to explore with children in Cairo.
1. Ride a Camel at the Great Pyramids of Giza
When you think of Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza are probably one of the first things you think of – and with good reason! Approximately 4,500 years old, they are huge and impressive and can be seen from many parts of the city. They are often the number one activity to do with children in Cairo.
Start off on foot at the Pyramid of Khufu, better known as the Great Pyramid and then walk over to the Pyramid of Khafre. Marvel at their massive size and learn how the ancient Egyptians brought the huge stones from 500 miles away! Then head up to the panoramic overlook and hire camels to ride through the desert. Feel free to baby wear the littlest ones. Enjoy panoramic views of all three pyramids while pretending to be a great explorer. End the visit with a stop at the Sphinx and come up with theories as to what happened to its nose!
2. Step Back in History at the Saqqara and Dahshur Pyramids
Prefer to experience the pyramids without the crowds? The pyramids at Saqqara and Dahshur south of Giza, contain the first, third and fourth pyramids built in Egypt and often are almost deserted. Start at Saqqara and learn about the great Step Pyramid and then climb down into the very kid friendly smaller pyramid. Kids can wonder at the hieroglyphs on the walls and pretend to be a great archaeologist. Plus there is plenty of open sand for running and rocks to climb. Next head over to Dahshur to see the Slant Pyramid. The builders realized halfway through they had made a mathematical error and had to correct the slant. Adults and bigger kids will then enjoy going deep inside the Red Pyramid – be prepared for lots of stairs and keep your eye out for mummies!
3. Relax in Nature at Al Sorat Farm
Time for a break from the hubbub of Cairo and all that sightseeing? Kids need to let off some steam and parents want to relax? Head out to Al Sorat Farm in Abu Sir near Saqqara. Run by Canadian MaryAnne, Al Sorat Farm is situated in the middle of a small village. Adults and bigger kids can take a trail ride on horses through the village, while little kids ride on a donkey pulled cart. This is a very different activity for kids and one that the entire family will enjoy. Along with horseback riding, there are plenty of goats, sheep, water buffalo, donkeys, and farm dogs to pet, grassy space to run around and a delicious optional farm lunch. Or bring your own items and have a picnic!
Al Sorat is a green, quiet oasis and a perfect spot to spend half a day. If you’d like to focus on longer rides and go out into the desert near the Abu Sir Pyramids, go just down the road to KFB Stables. Kids of all ages can join on the desert ride on their own horse, with a lead line, or in front of an adult (either you or the guide).
4. Explore Life in Ancient Egypt at the Pharaonic Village
Want to sail on the Nile, investigate village life in Ancient Egypt, explore King Tutankhamun’s tomb, and learn how pyramids were built all in one spot? The Pharaonic Village takes kids (and adults!) back in time to see up close and personal life in ancient times. It’s a great introduction to life in ancient Egypt for children. The visit starts out with a boat ride past scenes where actors portray daily life as the boat narrates. Then a guide takes you through a small village replica where people perform daily tasks. You’ll have a choice of museums to visit, small shops, a cafe, an art room, and a very well done replica of King Tut’s famous tomb and burial items. It’s a great way for kids to really visualize ancient Egyptian life in a kid friendly manner.
5. Sail Down the Nile in a Felucca
What better way to end the day than peacefully sailing down the Nile, watching the sunset, while having a drink, snacks, or a meal? Feluccas, ancient-styled sailboats, are quintessential Egypt and a must for anyone visiting. For a low key and cheap adventure, you can easily arrange your own at several points along the Nile (ask your hotel for the closest one) and bring snacks or a picnic. Our kids tend to find 1-1.5 hours is long enough. Have a group? Let Sweets and Treats cater a meal on one of their private feluccas. It’s easy to arrange via Facebook Messenger, or a phone call, and is a luxurious way to experience the Nile. Either way, be prepared for cooler temperatures once the sun goes down. Also to note, the feluccas all have low sides with no railings. I always bring a kid leash for my toddler to prevent unwanted swims in the Nile! Feluccas operate all day, but in my opinion, a sunset sail is the way to go.
6. Discover Mummies and Hunt for Treasure at the Egyptian Museum
When we moved to Cairo, the two things my four-year-old most wanted to see were pyramids and King Tut’s treasure. The Egyptian Museum houses thousands of ancient artifacts, including numerous mummies and many of King Tut’s treasures. The building is dark and dusty and you feel you’ll discover new treasure around every corner. Plus, what kid doesn’t want to see a giant crocodile mummy?
It’s important to note that the government is in the process of building the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and is slowly transferring artifacts to the newer museum. A few rooms are open in the new museum and more will open over time.
7. Take a Walk at Manyal Palace
Manyal Palace (also called Manial Palace) on Rhoda Island combines plenty of green outside space for the kids to run, and fascinating buildings for everyone to explore. Rarely crowded, it offers a great blend of religion and more modern Egyptian history. The tiny mosque is gorgeous inside with beautiful Quranic verses and lovely architecture. The Hunting Museum features stuffed animals from Egypt and the world from King Farouk’s personal collection. Prince Muhammad ‘Ali built his personal residence and ornate throne hall in the early 1900s here and both are on display. The opulence and detailed woodworking are sure to awe everyone. The buildings’ interiors are extremely impressive and the outside gardens are a lovely bit of quiet, and have room to stretch and run.
8. Treasure Hunt for Bargains at Khan el Khalili
Every great trip needs some awesome souvenirs and the great souq of Khan Al Khalili is your place in Cairo to find treasures to take home. Tiny alleyways, hidden shops and plenty of sensory overload give the Khan its charm. Here you’ll find everything from great jewelry, blown glass, and furniture to tourist t-shirts, mugs, and metal work. Essential oils, perfumes, and spices are also popular purchases. Every age and budget will find something. The later afternoons and evenings can be very crowded and noisy. For a quieter, more low key experience, visit as the shops start to open around 11 am or noon.
9. Run Wild at a Local Park
Cairo has several great family parks for a break from sightseeing. In Islamic Cairo, Al Azhar Park is a convenient stop with its winding walkways, views of the mighty Citadel, restaurants, and large playground. Take a walk along the Ayyubid Wall from the 1100s and you might get lucky and see pigeons flying from their rooftop homes where they are kept by local families. A bit further out in New Cairo, Family Park lives up to its name. With multiple playgrounds, huge grassy areas, a small zoo, museum, train ride, movie theaters, military equipment to climb on, and more; every kid and adult will find something to do. Very popular with families, it is a great way to spend half a day and recharge for more sightseeing.
10. Chow Down on Local Foods
Egyptian food has numerous kid friendly options that are sure to entice even the pickiest eaters. Most of it is not spicy, and combines easily identifiable foods. Try koshari, Egypt’s comfort food. The most basic recipe is simply lentils, rice, and onions. Many versions now include pasta and it is often topped with a delicious red sauce and/or garlic sauce. My very picky four-year-old adores koshari. Falafel, or fried fava bean patties, tastes much better than its description sounds! Often served in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, and perhaps a tahini sauce it is filling and delicious. My toddler downs these every chance he gets! Creamy lentil soup, shish tawook (marinated grilled chicken pieces), shawarma (grilled beef or chicken served in pita or on rice), and local bread are all kid friendly options. You’ll find a ton of restaurants offering these choices. Zooba is one of our favorites for fast and delicious food. They have a branch in Zamalek in Downtown along with other locations. Or stop at Naguib Mahfouz in Khan el Khalili as a yummy break from shopping.
Do you need a visa to visit Egypt?
Most visitors to Egypt do require a visa and a valid passport. The exceptions include citizens from Bahrain, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Macao, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates who can enter Egypt without a visa for periods of up to three months. Citizens from EU countries and the USA who travel to the resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba, and Taba, for a maximum of 15 days, can get a free entry permission stamp on arrival. If you plan to stay longer or travel outside of the resorts then you require a visa. Egyptian e-Visa allow visits for up to thirty (30) days and are valid for a three month period. You can apply for an Egypt visa online. As always, it’s worth checking with your own consulate, such as the FCO, prior to any travel.
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