Visit the oldest of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – the spectacular & mythical Pyramids of Giza

Photo of The Great Pyramid of Giza, Al Haram, Nazlet El-Semman, Al Haram, Egypt by Malika Bhavnani

One of the biggest draws in all of Egypt is without a doubt the Great Pyramid at Giza. This spectacular monument that overlooks Cairo is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still standing. It is an iconic place that finds itself on the bucket list for many world travelers, and rightfully so. It’s fascinating to learn and hear about the history of these amazing structures. . It’s even more amazing and exhilarating to see them in real life. Set in the dusty and mystic desert, under the hot Egyptian sun, the whole scenery looks like it jumped out of an old, old storybook. If you’ve been contemplating a visit, now actually is the best time to go! Most people are still afraid to visit and there aren’t that many people flocking the popular tourist sites.

The Giza Pyramid complex is located just at the outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo and comprises three Pyramids that each have a mini-complex of its own along with the Sphinx. The Sphinx is an iconic Giant statue of the mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Many people believe the human head to be that of the Pharaoh Khafre. Either way, when you visit, a kiss is a must! The Pyramids were constructed about 2000 B.C. The Pyramid of Khufu (or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and the largest among the three pyramids. It initially stood at 481 feet and was the tallest man-made structure for about 3,800 years. Unfortunately, due to external factors like erosion and other natural issues, it currently stands at about 455 feet. The other two, Khafre’s pyramid complex and Menkaure’s pyramid complex were named after the pharaohs that had it built. Each complex consists of temples, statues, and tombs.

Photo of Giza Pyramid Complex, Al Haram, Egypt by Malika Bhavnani

Getting There:

There are a number of ways to see the Pyramids of Giza. While public buses and the metro are by far the cheapest options, they get quite crowded and hence may be uncomfortable. You could take a private taxi (don’t forget to bargain for a good taxi fare!) or join a small guided group tour. Best would be to do your own guided tour as it is not only affordable but will also save you a lot of hassles and help set expectations right for your visit. While you will still be asked to buy souvenirs and postcards, take photos for you, ride camels, but our guide gave us the advise to just ignore these pushy people. These guys know each other, the guides visit all the time and they will tell you clearly not to engage. Almost anyone who starts a conversation with you will likely be looking to offer you a service so they can request a tip. Just about when you think you are close to losing your patience with these pushy vendors, look up at the marvel :)

Photo of Pyramid of Khufu, Al Haram, Nazlet El-Semman, Al Haram, Egypt by Malika Bhavnani

When to Go:

To escape the crowds and the worst of the desert heat, the earlier you can get here, the better. We chose to visit the Pyramids on a Monday and opted to stay in Giza for the night. If you are driving from Cairo, the pyramids are about 30 minutes away from Downtown, but depending on traffic conditions (and there’s a lot of traffic in Cairo), it may vary and take about 60-90 minutes. On Fridays and Saturdays, children who have those days off school come in large numbers. If you plan on visiting the pyramids on either of those days, be prepared to be requested to take a minimum of hundreds of selfies with the excited kids who don’t get to meet tourists often. The Giza Plateau Area is open from about 8:00am – 4:00pm all days and the inside of the Great Pyramid is open from 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:00pm all days. We chose to get their bright and early at 8:00am, and found that it was actually very peaceful with hardly any tourists and we also beat the midday heat! The morning sun casts a beautiful light on the pyramids, and the site will be nearly empty if you’re there at around 8 am which is when it opens. The entrance tickets to the main site cost around 60 Egyptian pounds and will give you access to the pyramid site, but won’t permit you inside the pyramids themselves. Another important point to note is that the pyramid sites may be closed for restoration at any point, so be sure to check what’s open and what’s not before you head there.

Photo of Egypt by Malika Bhavnani

Transport within the Plateau

The ground that the pyramids cover is pretty extensive, and walking from one pyramid to another isn’t a short stroll (even if they may appear to be reasonably close to one another), especially in the scorching heat. However, if you do decide to visit early in the morning, you can chose to explore on foot and walk like an Egyptian. This way you can travel to the main sites in your own time and really soak up what you are seeing. The distance between each of the 3 main pyramids is about a 10-15 minute walk and it takes about an hour to walk from the entrance to the furthest viewpoint of all three Pyramids. Just protect yourself from the sun with a hat and adequate sunscreen. Also, don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes and carry lots of water to keep you hydrated.

If you don’t want to ride a horse or camel, it’s best to not make eye contact. Although it's something of a cliché, a camel ride in front of the pyramids is one of those tick-the-list Egyptian things to do. If you're going to get on a camel once during your trip, it should be here. Prepare to bargain.

Photo of Cairo, Egypt by Malika Bhavnani

Best Instagram Spot

With the highest pyramid measuring more than 140m, capturing them together from afar is the only way. The best panoramic pyramid viewpoint is about four kilometers south of the Pyramid of Menkaure. Seeing all of the pyramids lined up definitely is the most iconic and picturesque of all the viewpoints. Make sure you plan your day so that you can wander the pyramids, and I suggest you take a horse / camel ride over to the panoramic site rather and riding around the pyramids if you are tight on time. From here, you can shoot one of the three classic shots. The second and the easiest spot is from in front of the Sphinx. Make sure you find your way to the Sphinx viewing platform and get a chance to kiss the Sphinx!

Photo of Visit the oldest of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – the spectacular & mythical Pyramids of Giza by Malika Bhavnani

Inside the Pyramids

Yes, you can go inside, but it’s not as exciting as getting inside the tombs at the Valley of the Kings. There are no mummies inside since they were all moved to the Egyptian Museum that I highly recommend on visiting as well. There’s also no hidden treasures thanks to the robberies. We had to walk down through a small, narrow passage (warning for anyone who doesn’t like small, enclosed spaces) until we made it to one of the burial chambers which were empty. While it is possible to climb up the pyramids to get to the entry, it is strictly forbidden to climb to the top.

Photo of Cairo, Egypt by Malika Bhavnani

Sound & Light Show at the Pyramids

Right in front of the Sphinx, every night there is a sound and light show at the pyramids which is a journey through the history of Ancient Egypt. If you’re staying at a nearby hotel, you can watch it from the rooftop, otherwise the entry fee is about 100 Egyptian pounds. Keep in mind that you should arrive about 30 minutes prior to the show to get good seats and also bring along something to keep you warm since it gets chilly. The English show usually starts at 7:30 pm, and there are shows in Italian, German, Spanish and French starting from 8:00 pm. It truly was a visual spectacle because they use spotlights to illuminate the Sphinx and pyramids in different colours, while a narrator tells a story about the Pyramids mixing facts and fiction to great a nice narrative. The good news is that they are finally going to be updating the show which has been running for over 20 years!

Photo of Sound and Light Theater, Giza Governorate, Egypt by Malika Bhavnani