Ever since I was a kid and watched Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time, I dreamed of seeing the Great Pyramids and discovering what mysterious ancient treasures were hidden inside of them. *Spoiler alert: It was nothing. But, despite this mind-blowing realization, I still regard Egypt, and Giza in particular, as one of my top 10 favorite destinations of all time.
Based on the city’s stunning views and lush, rich history alone, it remains a strong and worthy contender for other bucket list locales. Fortunately, Missy and I had the chance to stay within a short walking distance of the pyramids and where able to view the nightly music and light show — some tourists pay top dollar for — right from the comfort of our hotel room balcony.
Overall, we’re glad we had a chance to stay so close to the Pyramids. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us, but if given the chance again, we’d probably opt to stay in Cairo and take a half-day tour to Giza. There was just some ‘surprises’ that came along within our stay in Giza we didn’t care for. One of them being giant cockroaches the size of scarab beetles from The Mummy in 1999. The other being all the armed guards and zoned checkpoints we had to cross in order to enter and exit Giza’s various neighborhoods.
But, if neither of those things are a real deal breaker for you, then, by all means, go to the “Where we stayed” section of this page.
This whole trip happened by accident. Missy and I were looking at random flights, and I happened to find two cheap one-way tickets for $406.20 on Skyscanner from Orlando to Glasgow. After that, it was a simple matter of connecting the dots for us. We flew from Glasgow to Budapest, Budapest to Athens, Athens to Egypt and Egypt back to the States (more on that later). All the while, we utilized mostly low-cost or budget airlines along the way.
Regarding Giza specifically, we looked on Trip Advisor and found EMO Tours Egypt. Ultimately, we booked all of our tours through them for a dinner cruise on the Nile, a full-day tour of Giza and Cairo and a full-day day tour of Luxor. However, we don’t recommend doing this as you’re not guaranteed to have the same tour guide and your mileage may vary. Our first and last tour guide sucked, while our second one was phenomenal and went above and beyond to show us Giza, Cairo’s new and old areas and educate on their long, rich history. She also took us to a non-touristy area to purchase souvenirs where the merchants didn’t haggle with us and many of their items for sale were extremely cheap to buy.
Overall, we looked at other tour operators before going with EMO. We just weren’t thrilled with how they handled our day in Luxor.
So, we highly recommend everyone to obtain at least 3 price quotes (when possible) before deciding to go with any tour service or company.
If you’re looking to get some quotes on pre-booking your airport pick-up, the average cost to travel from the airport to Giza via Uber is around 193.06 Egyptian Pounds or $10.30 USD.
Be sure you have enough local currency so that you can pay and tip your guide. You also might want to work out ‘when’ you are suppose to pay them (e.g. before or after the trip).
A good place to purchase foreign currency is from your local bank or credit union as they usually offer lower rates than foreign currency exchange kiosks at airports. Make sure you allow yourself at least two weeks before your trip to receive it. By the way, if you are an AAA member, you can order/buy currency there, too. Although at present, AAA uses Travelex as its currency provider which is essentially the same as going to an airport.
When visiting Egypt from the US, you will need to obtain a Egyptian tourist visa.
All U.S. citizens must have a visa to enter Egypt. U.S. citizens can obtain a renewable single-entry 30-day tourist visa on arrival at Egyptian airports for a 25 USD fee. A multiple entry visa is also obtainable for 60 USD.
Not wanting to run into issues at the airport in Cairo, we sent off our passports months ahead of time and obtain our Egyptian visas through the mail.
Some vaccines are recommended or required for Egypt. The CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccinations for Egypt: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for travel to all regions, both foreign and domestic.
If you do need vaccinations for a destination, it is important to give yourself a couple of months before the trip to do this as some vaccinations require a two-week to sixty-day period to be fully effective.
Typically, we use public transportation or rideshares to get around. In our experience, it’s been a great way to escape the normal touristy thing and delve into the actual local experience. This time around, however, since we had already booked a private guide through EMO, we didn’t get a chance to take public transit during our trip to Egypt.
Please note, besides tour/transfer companies, the following options are available to use for getting into/out of the city from Cairo International Airport: Bus (Both City & Private), Train, Taxi and Uber.
We stayed at Great Pyramid Inn in Giza for 3 nights from July 5th – July 8th back in 2017. We booked through Hotels.com and paid a grand total of $162.36. Since we used Hotels.com, we didn’t get charged an exchange fee.
*Just be careful when using this hotel as they have been known to try and ‘upsell’ you on various things like hotel/airport transfers and tours and they’re usually way more expensive then simply finding a tour service on your own.
When dealing with airport transfers, we highly advise pre-arranging an airport pick-up to avoid having to go with an onsite taxi service who may try to take advantage of tourists by overcharging or using other scams. Also, pre-booking is a good way to ensure there will be enough room inside the vehicle for your entire group.
We did not drink the tap water in Egypt because it is listed as unsafe for drinking by TapSafe.org.
If you have any picky eaters in your group, you might want to ask the tour company about the lunch/dinner menu beforehand. You might also consider packing light snacks.
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