If you are planning a visit to Egypt, it is likely that visiting the pyramids of Giza is part of your itinerary. Visiting these Cairo pyramids has always been on my bucket list. I am not sure if it was due to the theories about how they were built with such precision, or whether it was my interest in history at a young age, or even if it was just because I have always had the travel bug. I knew I would visit them one day. I bet you are the same, right?
After falling in love with the Middle East after our first Jordan visit, I knew I would take my boys to see the pyramids as soon as I could. With the social unrest in Egypt, I just did not know when that would be.
After seeing other travellers posting photos of their visits to Egypt, I did some research on the area, read a lot of blog posts from people who were actually there, and enlisted my mother in law to visit with me. I decided that Egypt was safe but I didn’t know if I wanted to tackle it on my own with two young boys. Thanks to my mother in law agreeing to visit with us, it was just down to purchasing a flight! After our tickets were booked I could not be more excited and one of the top places to visit in Cairo was going to be the Pyramids.
Top Tips for Visiting The Pyramids of Giza
I am going to give you my top tips for visiting the pyramids of Giza. This will include things I wish I knew before visiting the Pyramids of Giza and everything to expect whether you are arriving on a tour or visiting independently.
Tip 1 for visiting the Pyramids
Avoid hassles: Benefits of having a Guide on your Cairo Tour
We saw Luxor and the Valley of the Kings on a one day tour before visiting Cairo and arranged the same company to do a one day tour of Cairo and Giza. It was extremely affordable and I suggest you take advantage of having a guide with you!
If you want to book a 1 day tour, check out this one here.
While you will still be asked if you want to buy souvenirs or ride camels or horses, a guide will likely suggest just to ignore them and walk past. These guys know each other, the guides visit all the time and they will probably tell off a pushy vendor for you.
And they can be pushy.
After you finish reading this post on visiting the pyramids, make sure you check out this post I wrote about the realities of traveling in Egypt so you know what you are up against with the hassles.
Guides will help you get what you do want, whether it is a camel or carriage ride ( I personally wanted an iconic photo of the camel with the pyramids! My guide made it happen )
Guides will prep you on what to expect on the site and tips for your visit. They also help when things like queueing in line becomes a bit of a shoving match
Tip 2 at the Pyramids of Giza: What you want to know about Riding horses and camels in Giza
My son loves horses, but when asked if I wanted to ride a horse, my first question was that I wanted to see it first. I did not want to be riding something that looked unhealthy and unkept. With owners facing tough times due to the instability of the country and the decline in tourists visiting since the 2011 Arab Spring, they are desperate to feed their animals.
I agreed on a pair of horses that were fit, and then it came down to price. Riding horses has a set price ( if you see the sign ) but that doesn’t mean that you will not be “upsold” with a longer ride or the cost of an escort.
After mounting our horses, they wanted to charge me for a third horse for the man who was going to take us to the panoramic photo spot. I thought it was ridiculous and told him that just me and my son would ride over there. After a bit of back and forth I offered him a few dollars and we were on our way.
I had arranged a custom tour just to the panoramic spot as that was the only place I had not taken photo at yet. We had visited the day before and had wandered between the pyramids on horseback and on a camel, but I really wanted that panoramic shot (and well, Markus loves horses, so he wanted another ride.)
We arrived without incident, Markus enjoying riding his horse by himself as I snapped photos.
After being at the panoramic spot and having some photos taken, the tourist police showed up looking for a bribe. Our horse guide slipped him a few Egyptian pounds and he continued on. The culture of baksheesh drives me crazy, but it’s pretty normal in Egypt.
The guides constantly ask if you are having a good time, and are not afraid to ask for a tip. As long as you are ready for it, it is fine. You get used to it quick. Do not give what you don’t want to, and if you enjoyed your time, whatever you want to tip should be fine. They will likely ask for more, but try not to buy into it if you were happy with your tip. No one seems to give decent tipping guidelines which is annoying, but I was told that a private tour guide’s tip for the day would be about 200 Egyptian Pounds. So I used that as a base.
Also when you finish your ride, the horse owner or whomever organized the ride will mysteriously appear and also ask for a tip for the horses. Again, it is up to you to tip or not. I got flustered at one point and felt like I kept handing over money. SO be prepared and keep lots of small bills.
Do make sure you have your camera or your phone handy! There are plenty photo worthy moments all over Giza, especially on the back of a camel or horse! Then check out these vacation captions for Instagram photos! It will give you the perfect quote for your photos! I also have a post on funny camel puns as well as desert captions for Instagram that you will find helpful!
Tip 3 Visiting the Pyramids of Giza: Going inside the Pyramids
You can buy a ticket to go inside one of the pyramids. Egypt seems to be full of places where one ticket only gets you so far and if you want anything else you need another ticket or pass etc. But they do not really do a good job of explaining that. It is nothing like the inside of the Valley of the Kings and you cannot take photos but it is well worth it in my opinion!
Tip 4 Tourists Beware:the Typical Giza Pyramids Scams
I have a whole post dedicated to Egypt Safety, but these are a few common issues that plague tourists in Giza.
The Taxi Scam
Arriving in Giza by taxi, make sure when your driver drops you off you do not fall for the carriage driver who arrives at your side offering you a carriage ride to the entrance because it is so far away. It is likely just around the corner.
You can read more tips about scams like this in my post on things to know about visiting Egypt.
Horse Riding Scam
As I mentioned above, riding a horse, carriage or camel has a set hourly price of EGP200 when we were there. BUT as soon as you agree, there is an upsell or additional charge that they make up. Whether the ride the sell you, which is often around all the pyramids and up to the panoramic photo site is more than an hour, you generally want to see everything so you agree. Just make sure you know what you are getting for your money.
Read more Egypt Scams here: Things to know before visiting Egypt.
Tip 5: Best Places for Photos at the Pyramids
The Panoramic Photo op
Seeing all of the pyramids lined up is quite the ride away, as the site is huge. Make sure you plan your day so that you can wander the pyramids, and I suggest you take a horse ride over to the panoramic site rather and riding around the pyramids if you are tight on time. If you have time, you can tour the pyramids by horse or camel as well as ride over to the panoramic spot and back to the Sphinx
The Sphinx Photo op
Make sure you find your way to the Sphinx viewing platform and get a chance to kiss the Sphinx! When we went there were about 100 people there, but we still managed this shot! There are a few twists and turns to get up to the platform, but there seemed to be a steady stream of visitors on our visit, so we followed the queue.
Visiting the Pyramids of Giza, How to get There!
We took a taxi for 200 Egyptian Pounds from the airport side of Cairo to Giza and then the taxi took us back using the meter. I think it was closer to 250 Egyptian pounds in rush hour and the ride was over and hour. We probably could have hired a car for the whole day for that price, but the taxi was convenient.
A Note About Tours and Luggage.
Luggage needs to be screened before a vehicle is allowed into the site when you are visiting the Pyramids of Giza. This meant that we had to unload out suitcases and have them scanned and then load them back on to the car (which once empty, was also screened. While I do not mind security, it is a bit of a hassle if there is a long queue.
Any questions? feel free to let me know in the comments! I am happy to share my tips on visiting the Pyramids of Giza.
The Best Cairo Day tours here
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.