Pyramids of Giza: Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors

The pyramids of Giza are the defining feature of modern Cairo, and the site of some of the most important events in human history. It’s no wonder that the pyramids are among the most visited monuments in the world, with millions of people passing through its stone gates every year. 

Given their sheer size and importance, I thought it was time to write a guide for first-time visitors with everything you need to know before your visit.

Ahead

How to get there

pyramids of giza Pyramids of Giza: Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors

The pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, are located about 15km southwest of Cairo. 

As such, you can get there by car, bicycle, bus, train or taxi. You’ll likely be flying into Cairo International Airport from your home country. From there, it’s a 25-minute taxi ride to downtown Cairo; from there you can easily take a metro straight to the pyramids—the journey takes about 45 minutes .

It is also possible to reach the pyramids by horseback—a journey that will take about an hour and cost about 5 Egyptian pounds ($0.81). However if you’re feeling ambitious (and are better dressed for it), you can also walk to them in just over 80 minutes (assuming no stops along the way).

What to bring

Here’s a list of things you’ll want to pack in your luggage before your trip:

  • Water. Bring enough water for each member of your family to drink 2-3 liters per day, especially if you plan on spending part of the day inside the pyramids. Because it’s not advisable to drink tap water there unless it’s been boiled, bottled water is a must.

  • Food. While there are a handful of restaurants and food stalls near the pyramids, bringing some snacks is a good idea for young children who may get cranky if they have to wait too long between meals.

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats (for everyone). The sun can be very strong in Egypt and cause sunburns quickly. Also, most of the sites are open areas with little shade available—a hat will help protect against sunstroke or heat exhaustion.

  • A camera that can withstand sandstorms because sometimes these happen

  • A raincoat or umbrella for unexpected showers that can occur during certain months

  • Comfortable walking shoes if you plan on walking from one site to another instead of taking taxis or camels as transportation

  • A small first aid kit with basic supplies such as acetaminophen/ibuprofen/aspirin and allergy medication

  • Toilet paper since public restrooms near many attractions often run out

  • Some money to tip the guides who take care of your group at each attraction

When should you go?

between 10 am and 1 pm or 2 pm and 5 pm Pyramids of Giza: Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors
  • between 10 am and 1 pm or 2 pm and 5 pm

  • The last ticket sale is at 4:30 pm

  • Remember Pyramids are located in “Desert”

The best time to visit the Pyramids of Giza is between 10 am and 1 pm or 2 pm and 5 pm. The heat can be intense during the day, so try to avoid visiting during midday when they’re open.

The pyramids are open every day except Fridays, but you’ll need to arrive early if you want to see them without a lot of tourists around. The last ticket sale is at 4:30 pm, but if there are still people inside after that time, they’ll let you stay until they leave.

Keep in mind that the pyramids are located in an area known as “the desert” which means that it’s hot outside all year long!

How much will it cost?

  • In General, Around $100 per Person

The cost of seeing the pyramids varies widely depending on how many days you want to spend there, your level of comfort, and whether you’re traveling in high season or not.

In general, if you’re taking a day trip to see the pyramids, plan on spending around $100 per person. A three-day trip will likely set you back about $800 per person.

Most people opt for a tour group to get maximum value out of their vacation time and money—that price includes transportation within Egypt, food and lodging (usually), visits to other sites in Cairo, entrance fees to attractions, and the services of an experienced guide who will make sure all your questions are answered.

How much does it cost to go to the Great Pyramid of Giza?

You’ll need to pay 25 Egyptian pounds (≈$1.50) for access to the Great Pyramid of Giza, as well as additional fees if you want to bring a camera or tripod, or have a guide.

If you want to go inside the pyramid, that’ll cost an extra 200 Egyptian pounds (≈$12)

Do you need a guide for Giza?

piramidi di giza Pyramids of Giza: Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors

You do not need a guide to explore Giza’s pyramids. However, if you want help navigating the complex or an explanation of the history behind each pyramid, you may want to hire one.

You can hire a guide at the ticket office, but some prefer to be fully prepared in advance and choose a guide from a tour company. Either way, it’s important to ask these questions before you commit:

  • How long have you been guiding?

  • What languages do you speak?

  • Can I see your identification?

Do I need a guide for the pyramids?

You can definitely see the pyramids of Giza without a guide, but that doesn’t mean you should. Guides are there to help you and make your experience better; they know where to go and what to avoid and can also be hired for an entire day.

To hire a tour guide for the pyramids, simply walk up to one of the many guides hanging out at the entrance (they’re easy to spot in their red blazers) and ask if they are available. Be sure to negotiate on price before agreeing on any deal.

If you want to hire a guide in advance, most hotels will be able to help you with this or recommend someone. In this case, prices will usually be set in stone before meeting the tour company or guide

If you’re visiting as part of a tour group then there’s no need for worry—your main guide will take care of everything. If not, however, it’s still possible to get around without having a private guide or going it alone—it just takes some research!

You’ll have more fun if someone knowledgeable accompanies you so they can point out interesting things along the way or tell stories about its history while keeping track of time so no one gets lost (or worse)!

How long does it take to climb the pyramid of Giza?

How long does it take to climb the pyramid of Giza Pyramids of Giza: Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors

The climb is relatively short, however, it is still difficult. The pyramid is very steep and the blocks are uneven. Expect to spend 1-2 hours climbing and descending from the top. You climb up one side and down the other.

If you choose to climb, bring water and wear a hat to protect yourself from sunburns or heat exhaustion. It’s also best to not carry too much stuff with you when you make your ascent — just keep your essentials on hand!

What’s the best time to visit the Pyramids?

Visiting the pyramids at the right time is key to having an enjoyable experience. There are a few factors you should consider when deciding the best time to go:

  • The Pyramids of Giza are open all year round. However, it’s worth noting that during Ramadan—the holy month for Muslims—and on several national holidays, not all attractions will be accessible (the Sphinx, for instance). It’s wise to check the calendar before planning your trip.

  • Be sure to avoid visiting during Egypt’s high season, which runs from mid-October through March and June through August. This is when temperatures are most comfortable, but it also means that it can get very crowded in Giza (especially on weekends). If you want a more intimate experience with fewer crowds and higher chances of seeing camels still in operation, opt for going off-season when most of the tourist traffic has died down.

  • Avoid visiting on Sunday mornings if possible. On this day, many local families will travel from Cairo to spend time with their loved ones who live near the pyramids or work as camel operators. It’s likely that you will see large groups of men coming by bus just to take pictures with their families next to camels and inside pyramids.

You can climb the pyramids

Now for one of the biggest FAQs about visiting the pyramids: Can you climb them? The answer is yes—and it’s a lot easier than you may think. If you’re thinking of climbing, it’ll be helpful to know how to go about it.

To get to the top of a pyramid, follow these steps:

  • Find one of the entrances located on either side at ground level that are designated for climbers and line up with other eager visitors.

  • Pay your fee (no more than 50 Egyptian pounds) directly to the guard manning each entrance or through one of the vendors selling tickets nearby if there isn’t already a guard present.

  • Enter through the door and begin climbing up a steep, narrow staircase made from stone blocks built into the interior wall. It can be slippery in some places, so tread carefully!

  • After approximately 10-15 minutes (depending on how many people are ahead of you), exit onto an upper landing where you can catch your breath and take in views from above before making your way out onto an exterior ramp leading to another, smaller pyramid that sits atop the main structure. From here, proceed up another flight of stairs until reaching yet another upper landing with even better views before completing your ascent onto the top platform where you’ll get magnificent all-around panoramas while standing next to a metal railing that surrounds it for safety purposes—this is what everyone comes here for!

You can go inside the pyramids

You can enter three of the pyramids, but we only recommend visiting one: The Pyramid of Khufu. It’s by far the biggest and most spectacular of them all and, at 146 meters (478 feet) high, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 4,000 years.

Visiting a pyramid is not cheap; each ticket costs E£600 ($41), though you may be able to haggle that down if you’re traveling as part of a group. If you want to take pictures from inside, you’ll need to buy an extra permit for E£200 ($13). The permits are available from kiosks outside each pyramid.

Inside the Pyramid of Khufu, visitors go down a very steep passage (it has handrails) into its burial chamber where there are several exhibits: Queen Hetepheres’ golden sarcophagus (the lid is on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo); a reproduction of Djedefre’s black granite sarcophagus; and fragments of Cheops’ red granite sarcophagus. 

You’ll also see some graffiti left by early explorers and tourist souvenir vendors flogging fake papyrus paintings or trinkets such as stone scarab beetles.

Last You Must Need to Know

Climb up one of the pyramids! There are actually several available for climbing: three large ones and two smaller “queen” pyramids next to each other near the Great Pyramid, plus one smaller pyramid next door by itself.

All have steep staircases that lead up either inside or outside their surfaces; no ropes are needed for ascending or descending them so this activity is suitable for anyone with good mobility and comfortable shoes.

However be aware that security guards tend to rush climbers down from their perches rather quickly once they reach the top, so don’t expect more than a few minutes’ rest before being ushered off again!

Note that if you’re wanting photos without people from below looking up like ants then try visiting after sunset.

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