I visited the Pyramids of Giza for myself in December 2021 as part of our King Tutankhamun group tour. The following are some tips shared with me by my guide and picked up by myself during the experience. I hope they are useful if you are visiting the pyramids sometime soon!
If you’re planning a holiday to Egypt then visiting the Pyramids of Giza is sure to be top of your list of things to do. These legendary ancient wonders remain the country’s top destination. So whether you’re on a group tour of Egypt or flying into Cairo for a couple of days before or after your beach break in Hurghada or Sharm el Sheikh, we thought it would be a good idea to put together some advice on visiting the pyramids, to make sure you get the most you can from your visit.
Best time to visit the pyramids
Whichever time of year you visit Egypt, it is likely to be very warm. And during the summer months of June to August it can get too hot to be outside. The pyramids are very exposed, so avoid visiting in the middle of the day if you can.
Obviously the pyramids are busy – all the time. I mean, that’s part and parcel of being the most famous landmark on the planet! You can avoid the worst of the crowds by arriving early. The pyramids open at 07:00 from April to September and 08:00 from October to March. Getting in before 09:00 gives you the best chance to see the pyramids before the worst of the crowds start arriving. If you’re trying to decide the best time of year to visit Egypt, then check out our handy guide.
What to wear
Egypt is a conservative Muslim country, but contrary to popular belief and common advice on visiting the pyramids, you do not need to dress ultra-conservative at the pyramids. As a man, I wore shorts and a t-shirt and was absolutely fine, as did many of the other members in my tour group. As a tourist destination, the expectations regarding dress are much more liberal. When wandering through the Islamic Quarter of Cairo, by contrast, I wore trousers and a shirt, as this is respectful of the local customs.
The same goes for ladies, who are fine to wear breathable summer dresses and the like. Though it is understandable for women to want to cover up to avoid unwanted attention, trousers and a t-shirt will absolutely do the job.
Get an Uber
One of the first pieces of advice I was given in Egypt was to use Uber rather than traditional taxis. The reasons for this are twofold, safety and cost. Particularly for women travelling alone, the safety features within the Uber app are worth making use of. Egypt is a safe country, but you can never be too careful.
In terms of cost, a taxi driver seeing an unaware tourist (who probably isn’t familiar with the currency yet) step into the back of his cab and ask to go to the pyramids is likely to cheat the meter, or not use it whatsoever. It also isn’t unheard of for tourists to be pressured into unwanted shopping stops. Uber takes away these issues. If you do get into a regular cab, make sure to agree a price before you set off, and state clearly that you want to go to the entrance of the Pyramids of Giza – Giza is quite a big place.
Of course, on our Egypt group tours, all transportation is provided, and you’ll travel in air-conditioned minibuses between sites.
Cost of visiting the pyramids
As a rough guide, 100 Egyptian pounds (EGP) is equivalent to around GBP £5 and USD $6. It’s worth keeping these figures in mind throughout your trip.
Entrance fees at the pyramids are as follows at the time of writing in 2022:
Pyramid complex entry: EGP 160
Entry inside the second or third pyramids: EGP 100
Entry to the Giza Solar Boat Museum: EGP 100
Sound and Light Show: EGP 250
You will be hassled – so be polite but firm
When I went to see the pyramids, there were many Egyptian schoolchildren there. We were absolutely mobbed, I felt like a celebrity with the number of kids coming up to ask for photos. They were mostly extremely polite, and I was more than happy to oblige, but it can get annoying after the tenth time! Be polite, but firm if you don’t want to engage.
Similarly, the area surrounding the pyramids is full of sellers – people selling trinkets, models, magnets, bottles of water, you name it. They can get persistent, and again, it is better to say a polite no and walk away if you aren’t interested. Hiring a guide can help with this, as they are able to say no on your behalf. On our group tours, you will be fully escorted at the pyramids by one of our licensed English -speaking guides.
Learning some Arabic is useful. Laa shukran means “no, thank you” and will go a long way in helping you to avoid the worst of the harassment.
Go inside a pyramid
You can pay a small fee to go inside either the second or third pyramid. It can be hard to get a ticket – limits are imposed, and queues can quickly form. Another benefit of joining our group tours is that this hassle is taken out of your hands. Our guides will sort the tickets for you, you can breeze straight in!
I am more than six feet tall, and I was virtually bent double to clamber down and then back up a narrow passageway to reach the burial chamber. It is mighty claustrophobic, and once you’re in, there’s likely to be a big queue of people behind you, so there’s no going back.
However, if you can fight the claustrophobia, I thoroughly recommend this experience. Admittedly, in the burial chamber of the second pyramid, which I explored, there was little to see. The room was largely empty. But you are still inside one of the pyramids, one of the actual Pyramids of Giza! I can’t say whether I will ever return to the pyramids (I hope I do!) but you can best believe I wasn’t going all the way there to chicken out of going inside a pyramid.
The best view
There are two main entrances to the pyramids complex, one by the Great Pyramid, and one by the Sphinx. But the best view from which to see the pyramids comes from the Panorama Viewpoint, which I wouldn’t have known anything about on my own. There are refreshment and souvenir stands up here, but it’s also the best place to take photos of all three pyramids from afar, in one shot. And many of the camel rides are initiated here. Don’t miss it!
Ride a camel – but don’t pay over the odds!
Another bucket list activity I wasn’t going to say no to was camel riding at the pyramids. Again, this is something my guide sorted out for me, I just handed over the cash. I was given strict instructions not to tip my handler, the guide had already included a tip in the price agreed with the main seller, which included having my photo taken in front of the pyramids. This was an incredible experience, the first time I had ever ridden a camel for sure! By visiting on your own, you do risk overpaying for this experience, though I have to say I wouldn’t have minded paying a little more for an experience that is sure to stay with me. As with the taxis, make sure you agree on a price beforehand and stick to it.
Some people will… but you shouldn’t climb on the pyramids
Now, this really goes without saying. The pyramids are thousands of years old, and people climbing on them can cause damage. You WILL see people climbing on the pyramids. If you hire a guide at the site, they will possibly offer to pay off the security guards to allow you to climb one of the pyramids. They are just trying to earn a living after all. However, we strongly advise against this, it is possible you could get into trouble and furthermore, it’s just plain disrespectful. Take photos, enjoy the experience, but don’t touch, and certainly don’t climb!
Allow time to visit the new Grand Egyptian Museum
Ok so it’s STILL not open. Now running around nine years late, the Grand Egyptian Museum is finally due to open before the end of 2022. We don’t have an official opening date yet, but if you’re booking a trip to Egypt for 2023 or beyond, it’s looking likely that you’ll be able to visit the most comprehensive museum of Egyptian history anywhere in the world. Located a stone’s throw from the pyramids, a visit to this museum is sure to become a popular highlight of travellers’ trips to the Giza Plateau. So make sure to allow enough time in your itinerary for a visit.
As soon as it opens, all of our Egypt group tours will visit the new Grand Egyptian Museum. In the meantime, we continue to visit the existing Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, Cairo. The museum is still home to the golden funerary mask of King Tut, but this and other important artefacts will be imminently transferred to the new facility.
Don’t miss the Sound and Light Show
Every evening, the pyramids and the sphinx come to life in the Sound and Light Show. The history of the pyramids is told (in English) with accompanying music and colourful lights. You can pay to watch it at the pyramids themselves, or you can get a great view from some of the nearby hotels, bars, and restaurants, where you can see the show for free and enjoy a drink or two! I can’t speak from experience, but I’m reliably told that the famous Giza Pizza Hut really does offer a good view; they have a rooftop with a full view of the pyramids. Though naturally, we would recommend you delve into a local restaurant for some shawarma and falafel instead!
Join a group tour
If you want to take all the hassle out of your visit to the pyramids, then why not join one of our Egypt group tours? They all include a visit to see the pyramids and the sphinx of Giza. You’ll be escorted by our local, English-speaking guides and will have the opportunity to go inside one of the pyramids. Your guide will help keep persistent sellers away from you and can share the rich history of the site. They’ll also get you the best deal for camel riding and can help you haggle if you did want to do any souvenir shopping.