The only remaining of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World, seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza is a once in a lifetime experience that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. These ancient wonders were built 4500 years ago and their creation is still a mystery.
Located just a short drive from the capital city of Cairo, they are Egypt’s top visited tourist attraction and one of the most famous sites in the world. Though Egypt has some incredible ancient sites, no trip to this African country would be complete without seeing the pyramids. Here is all you need to know about visiting the great pyramids of Giza.
When To Go
The best months to visit Egypt are between October and March, when the weather is cooler. The downside is that this is when most tourists visit, but you won’t want to be touring Egypt’s ancient sites in the summer heat.
Arriving in the morning when they open at 8am is recommended to beat the crowds, but many days the mornings can have a haze that disrupts a clear view of the pyramids. Some people recommend going a bit later, from 10am-12pm, to avoid the early crowds and avoid the haze. Later in the day could be a great time to go as well to avoid morning haze, but it all depends on what the sky is looking like that day.
Getting to the Great Pyramids
The Great Pyramids are about 11 miles away from the city center of Cairo. The drive takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic. I would not recommend driving in Egypt, so the best way to get to the Pyramids would be with a guided tour, or if you want to do it yourself you can hire a taxi or uber to take you there and wait for you.
Prices to get guides are cheap compared to US prices, so I would highly recommend getting a guide for the transport, security, and to learn more about the pyramids. Getyourguide, Viator, and Airbnb Experiences are all great and reliable places to find a local guide.
Entrance Fee & Operating Hours
The entrance fee is 200 Egyptian Pounds (roughly $9 USD) per person. If you are going with a tour, which I would recommend, they should factor this into the rate and take care of entrance tickets for you.
Operating hours are from 8am to 4pm everyday.
Going Inside the Pyramids
You have the option of going inside one of the Great Pyramids while visiting the ancient wonders in Giza. Our guide discouraged us from doing so, as he said we will just be walking in a line of people with no hieroglyphs or anything to see.
My friend and I had entered the Red Pyramid in Dahshur the day before, which was a very thrilling experience that we had all to ourselves, so we were fine with skipping this and riding a camel around the pyramids instead. The price is also around $22 USD.
Following the advice of our guide, everyone in our group chose to ride the camels instead of entering the pyramids. I can’t speak for the experience myself, but I’d say if you’ve always wanted to go inside a pyramid - and aren’t going to the older ones in Saqqara or Dahshur - you should take the opportunity to go inside. Just keep the expectations in mind that you most likely will be walking in a line of people and not seeing anything interesting like the tombs from the Valley of the Kings - but you can say you’ve been inside a pyramid!
If you had the choice of either the camel ride around the pyramids or going inside the pyramid, I would definitely choose the camel ride.
Riding a Camel Around the Pyramids
The best way to experience the Pyramids, in my opinion, is to ride a camel to the viewpoint of the 9 pyramids. Our guide offered this to us as an option, and highly recommended it as it will give you the best view of the pyramids - and he was right. He also took us there first thing as the pyramids opened, to avoid the lines, and left us time to explore the pyramids after. This was also another great idea and the way to do it.
You will ride the camel for about 15 minutes to an incredible viewpoint of all 9 pyramids that is only accessible via camel ride or horse carriage. You cannot drive or walk to this point. Once there, the young man guiding my camel took a bunch of great and fun photos of me on my camel in front of the pyramids.
Riding the camel was a thrilling experience in itself. I’d recommend being in somewhat decent shape, as you will have to be holding on to the saddle pretty tightly - especially if the camel is going up and downhill. You will be bouncing around quite a bit. I’d also recommend wearing long pants to avoid chafing your legs on the rough saddle.
I was determined to get photos and video content while riding the camel, so I held on with one hand while taking photos, then would switch over to my phone and mini osmo for some videos. It’s a tricky thing to do, as you need to be holding on tight with your other hand, but it was worth getting some of these shots. Just make sure your shutter speed is high as you will be jolting around constantly.
The experience cost $20 USD, with a tip to the young man guiding my camel for about $2-$4 USD. A relatively inexpensive cost for one of the Most Unforgettable Experience in Egypt.
Located just down the road from the Great Pyramids is the Great Sphinx of Egypt. It’s an awe-inspiring sight. Something you’ve seen your whole life finally right in front of you. Its massive scale is also felt strongly when you’re there in person.
Entrance to see The Sphinx is around $9 USD per person and will get you right up next to it. Our guide however recommended not going into the entrance as the view there is mostly blocked by scaffolding, and instead had the tour bus stop on the road right outside so we could hop out and take photos from there.
Had it been up to me I would’ve paid the $9 USD to get up close to the Sphinx, as the angle we had from the road wasn’t the best spot. I asked the guide if I could walk down a bit on my own to get a better angle while he took photos of people in our group, and that’s where I got a much better angle. But if I wouldn’t have had my zoom lens my photos wouldn’t have been too interesting. For these reasons I’d say it’s worth entering the area of the Sphinx.
As we left the area, our bus drove through an area where there were hundreds of younger local people from Giza, mostly females, lined up next to the road waving and cheering at all the buses. Our guide explained that people come here to wait and watch tourists drive by, as this is the only time they ever see foreigners. We felt like the Beatles driving by large groups of screaming young females. It was a wild end to a very memorable morning at the Great Pyramids and Sphinx.
What to Look Out For
Like most places in Egypt, you’ll want to be hyper aware while visiting the Great Pyramids. Not only is the potential (however unlikely) threat of pickpocketing an issue in Egypt, but many of the locals at the pyramids have mastered the art of making you pay them a tip for something you didn’t think was going to cost you anything.
Our local guide advised us to not hand anyone our phone if they ask to take a photo of you, as they will always ask for a tip and even sometimes hold your phone until you do so. In the area near the Sphinx, our guide said to absolutely not hand anyone your phone there because they will run away with your phone as soon as they have it.
Another example was when one of the people in my group bought a traditional Arabic headdress (keffiyeh), a local came up to him and told him he wasn’t wearing it right. Without being granted permission, the man took off his keffiyeh and placed it back on the man’s head without changing it much at all. He then told him he needed a tip. The man refused, as he did not ask for this to happen, but the local kept asking for a tip, following the man around for several minutes until the man finally caved and handed him a tip. It’s not necessarily a safety threat, but it is something to keep in mind that many people around the pyramids are looking for money in any way possible, so it's best to keep your guard up.
For more information on Egypt, check out the Ultimate Egypt Itinerary and the Best Things to do in Egypt.