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Cairo see + do

Cairo is one of the world's most layered cities, dubbed "Umm Al Dunya," or "Mother of the World," by locals. Its sites and cultural heritage reflect more than five millennia of human occupation, from the earliest pyramids and the world's first stone monuments to a thousand years of Islamic architecture, the colonial downtown, and new suburbs emerging on the desert's edge. Package tours cover the obvious pharaonic and Islamic sites in a mere two days, but Cairo is a city to savor through long walks in historic neighborhoods, visits to a surprising variety of museums, and timeless vistas of desert and river. A prearranged guide can be useful, but many Cairenes speak some English and are happy to give directions; you'll appreciate the culture by taking local taxis and striking out on your own. At heavily touristed areas such as the Egyptian Museum, and Khan El-Khalili, self-appointed guides will offer their services, along with souvenirs you may not want to buy. A friendly but persistent "no, thanks" deflects the touts.

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Palace Walk, Cairo

Sadly, the tenth-century palaces of the Fatimids (Shiites from Tunisia who gave Cairo its name, Al-Qahira, meaning "the victorious") no longer exist. However,...more

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The Pyramids, Giza

There are actually more than 100 pyramids scattered along the west bank of the Nile across from Cairo—ancient Egyptian burials were always made on the...more

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Sakkara, Sakkara

Sakkara was the main necropolis for Memphis, the capital of a united Upper and Lower Egypt. A 15-minute drive south from the Giza Plateau, past villages and...more

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Whirling Dervishes, Cairo

Sufi dervishes whirl to live music Wednesday nights in an arched room at the mausoleum of Al-Ghuri in the historic Islamic district. The 7 pm show is free, but...more

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