The Pyramids of Giza are one of the most visited ancient archaeological sites in the world. Of course, if you end up in Egypt, you’ll have no option but to visit the incredible Pyramids of Giza. Despite the amazingness of the site, visiting the Pyramids isn’t made easy for tourists. It’s common for locals to scam tourists. Basically, it’s not a question of, if someone will try to scam you, but when! This makes visiting the Pyramids without a guide, tricky! In this guide, we’ll teach you how to safely visit the Pyramids without a guide and without getting ripped off. With that said, this guide will concentrate on how to safely get from Cairo to Giza, to visit the Pyramids.
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Visiting the Pyramids Without a Guide
Here’s the scenario. You’ve arrived in Cairo or are planning to travel there. Visiting the Giza Pyramids (AKA the Cairo Pyramids), an original Wonder of the World, is the obvious reason for your trip. You’re worried about all the scams and tourist traps you’ve heard about in Egypt. You’ve read about the overpriced organised tours. You want to explore the Pyramids independently, without a guide. How will you get to the Giza Pyramids, from Cairo, without getting overcharged or scammed? Can you get from Cairo to the Pyramids of Giza safely?
Don’t worry, we’ve visited independently, had a great time and managed to avoid the scams. Please find below the main steps for visiting the Pyramids of Giza independently and safely without getting ripped off or scammed. Let’s start by talking about getting from Cairo to the Giza Pyramids independently and safely.
How to Reach the Giza Pyramids From Downtown Cairo
There are four options for getting to the Giza Pyramids from Cairo independently. These include getting an Uber, taxi, public bus/minivan or a combination of the Cairo Metro and then a taxi or public bus. Hands down, the safest and best option for getting from Cairo to Giza to visit the Pyramids is getting an Uber. But, for thoroughness and so you know the full story, we’ll discuss the other options mentioned.
Before we talk about about these four options, let’s look at the distance from Cairo to Giza and the Cairo to Giza travel time.
Cairo to Giza Distance
The Pyramids are located outside of Giza about 20km southwest of the Cairo city centre. There is nothing else special about Giza other than the awe-inspiring Pyramids. With traffic (there is always heavy and chaotic traffic in Cairo), the drive takes anywhere between 30–60 minutes. This travel time estimate is more accurate if you’re taking an Uber or taxi. Catching a public bus or the Cairo Metro will take longer, perhaps closer to 45–90 minutes.
Please click on the image below for an interactive map showing you the journey from Cairo to the Giza Pyramids.
Cairo Airport to Giza Pyramids
Some people travel straight from Cairo International Airport to the Giza Pyramids. In this case, the distance from Cairo Airport to the Giza Pyramids is around 45km and the drive time is around 1 hour. If you’re travelling from Cairo Airport to the Giza Pyramids, we recommend an Uber (a backup option would be a taxi) as it’s a much more straightforward route compared with taking public transport.
We highly recommend getting from Cairo to the Pyramids of Giza independently by taking an Uber. This way you will avoid the overpriced taxi. It’s possible to order an Uber using Wifi, possibly at your accommodation. But from experience, this is never a good idea. Because the traffic is pretty hectic in Cairo, roads are congested. It’s likely that your Uber driver will find it difficult to wait for you at the designated meeting spot. They may be waiting for you somewhere close by. But when you go to look for your Uber, you may lose your accommodation Wifi connection and won’t be able to find your driver. Then you’re in trouble!
To avoid this problem, buy a SIM card upon your arrival at Cairo International Airport. Vodafone has the best reviews. Their cheapest offers are usually something along the lines of an 8GB prepaid data SIM Card for around E£200 ($12.50USD). This means you can also get an Uber from the airport to your accommodation in Cairo. From the airport to the city centre was around E£115 ($7USD) with Uber. It takes around 30–45 minutes to get from the airport to the city centre, depending on traffic.
The Uber to the Pyramids will cost somewhere between E£70–100 ($5–7USD).
Before ride-hailing companies like Uber, taxis were a popular way to get from Cairo to Giza to visit the Pyramids. Indeed, getting from Cairo to Giza Pyramids by taxi is still a popular way to get to there independently. But, you’ll have to know how to haggle hard. It’s likely that the best price you’re going to get is around E£70–100 ($5–7USD). Specifically, we’ve heard the best Cairo to Giza taxi fare is around E£70 ($5USD). So, you may as well just get an Uber, because you’ll get a similar price, but without the tedious haggling. Also, using Uber, although never 100% safe, is still a safer option than a taxi.
Not to scaremonger, but there are scams involving taxi drivers. They’ll lie to you, saying they’re safe, legit and cheap, and whilst they’re driving you from Cairo to the Giza Pyramids, they’ll pick up their shady tour guide mate on the way. The tour guide, in on the scam, will also tell you that they’re legit and will begin hassling you to organise a tour. Of course, this could still happen with an Uber driver, but it’s far less likely.
Public Buses or Minivans
Other than an Uber or taxi, you can use public transport to get from Cairo to Giza to visit the Pyramids. From a bus stop behind the Egyptian Museum, you can catch a large air-conditioned bus (no. 355 or 357) from Cairo to Giza. The price of the journey is very cheap at around E£4 ($0.15USD). There are also smaller minivans, that aren’t air-conditioned, which are much more crowded and uncomfortable. But, these are even cheaper at around E£4 ($0.15USD).
When it comes to using public transport to get from Cairo to Giza to visit the Pyramids, there are pros and cons. The main advantage is that you’ll avoid overpriced taxis and taxi scams. Additionally, the bus fares are very cheap. The downside is, you may still get scammed by the bus driver if you look like a tourist. Although, we’re not talking about a lot of money; but, still, it’s the principle! Also, how good is your Arabic?
FYI – buses and minivans will take even longer to get to the Pyramids, compared with private transportation.
Another public transport option is using the Cairo Metro. This is one way to beat the terrible traffic in Cairo and is very safe and cheap to use. But, you’ll have two main problems with using the Cairo Metro. First, how’s your Arabic again? Understanding the metro stations and metro lines, without knowing Arabic can be tricky. Of course, with some street smarts, learning basic Arabic and using technology (thank you Google Maps), you might get by.
But, the second problem is that the Giza (AKA El Giza) metro station isn’t located very close to the Pyramids. So, inevitably, you’ll have to then get a taxi or bus to visit the Pyramids. Remember those pesky overpriced taxis or scams involving taxis? Well, you’ll be a sitting duck if you’re a tourist hailing a taxi from the metro station to visit the Pyramids. Of course, you could always get the bus from the Giza metro station to the Pyramids to avoid this problem.
Pyramids of Giza: Self-Guided Tour
By now, you’ve realised the safest and easiest way to get from Cairo to Giza to visit the Pyramids is by using Uber. Hopefully, you’ve now made it safely and soundly and it’s time to visit the Pyramids without a guide!
Before your self-guided tour begins, make sure the Uber driver drops you off near the entrance of the pyramid complex. You’ll then walk through a quick security check. Next, follow the road leading to the ticket office. Let the hassling begin! Be mindful that for your ENTIRE trip here, you’ll be harassed by locals. That’s because you’ll be visiting the Pyramids without a guide and when there’s no guide, the locals smell fresh meat! They will try to sell their services such as guided tours and camel rides. A firm but polite no thank you or la Shukran (in Arabic) usually does the trick. For locals that continued to pester, ignoring them seemed to work well.
Of course, you could avoid being hassled as much by simply doing a group tour as locals will see that your money is already being taken by another local. But, these are generally overpriced. And, besides, the mission is visiting the Pyramids without a guide! By doing so, you’ll save on overpriced tours and can simply explore at your own pace.
The Great Sphinx
Upon entering the complex (AKA the Giza plateau) head straight to the Great Sphinx. This is so you can capture the best view before it’s overcrowded. The best photo op would be from just in front of the light and sound show seating area. This view also captures the Great Pyramid in the background. Otherwise, the designated area for side-on shots of the Sphinx is also amazing. Here, fewer people will be in your photo.
The Giza Pyramids
You then have ample time to explore the Pyramids. They’re truly breathtaking. We’ll never forget the moment we first caught a glimpse of the Great Pyramid from the Uber. Indeed, we felt so lucky to be here! Visiting our very first Ancient World Wonder – wow! If you’re also lucky enough to go; but are also not doing a tour, make sure to do some research beforehand. This will help you put the amazing views into perspective. Please find some Fun Facts About the Pyramids of Giza here.
There is no one amazing spot for the best viewpoint of the Pyramids. But, walking around the Pyramids from afar will help you get the best shots. This involves going to Panorama Point. Just be aware that there is a parking lot there. So, it can get overcrowded as a result of the tour groups going there for sunset.
To get to Panorama Point, simply walk, in an anti-clockwise direction, towards the sand dunes on the eastern parameters of the pyramid complex. As you walk towards Panorama Point, you’ll walk by men selling camel rides. They told me I’ll tell you that you’re not allowed to walk to Panorama Point without a guide. But they’re lying and trying to scam you. That’s their way of tricking you into thinking you have to do a camel ride to go to these areas. Our favourite photos of the Pyramids were from different hills dotted on the eastern outskirts of the complex. They provided excellent perspective shots of the Pyramids, specifically when groups of camels ventured into shot!
How to Get From the Pyramids of Giza to Cairo
So, you’ve done an awesome job visiting the Pyramids without a guide. To get from Giza to Cairo, you’ll simply retrace your steps back to the road where you were initially dropped off. Then order an Uber. Admittedly, the first two Ubers we ordered seemed to cancel at the last minute. But we weren’t charged. Third time lucky!
Getting From Cairo to Giza Independently: Recap
Visiting the Pyramids of Giza may be one of the most culturally inspirational experiences you may ever have. Unfortunately, organised tours can be on the expensive side. Thankfully, the Pyramids of Giza can be visited independently, without a guide. It’s more than safe to do so, as long as you follow advice from this guide and use simple and standard travel precautionary measures. To that end, we hope this guide has helped you plan your trip to visit the Pyramids without a guide, safely and confidently.
The Entrance Fee For the Pyramids of Giza
The entrance fee for the pyramid complex is continuously increasing and is currently E£200 ($10USD). To actually enter inside the Great Pyramid, it’s around E£600 ($30USD). Truth be told, the Great Pyramid is an empty stone room, which is adjoined by a hot, narrow and steep corridor. Personally, we think buying these additional tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid isn’t necessary. But, of course, YOLO!
Opening Times For the Pyramids of Giza
The pyramid complex opens 7am to 6pm from April to September. It’s open 8am to 4pm from October to March. To beat the crowds, arrive as early as possible.
Fun Facts About the Pyramids of Giza
- When were they built? 4,500 years ago in 2,500BCE in the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt.
- How long did they take to build? Twenty years
- How many pyramids are in this complex? There are nine. More than 138 pyramids have been discovered in Egypt; although, pyramids are continuously being found and discovered.
- How high is the Great Pyramid? 139 metres
- How much does the Great Pyramid weigh? 6.5 million tonnes
- Can you climb the Pyramid? Technically, no. But people do it anyway.
Pyramids of Giza Tours
Certainly, a tour guide will be able to provide more facts and much more information about Egyptian history. In general, though, we personally like the freedom of exploring a place at our own pace. But you should do some research beforehand. That’s so you have some idea about the place you’re exploring. Even downloading an audio tour is an option sometimes. What do you prefer to do when travelling? To tour a group or not? Let us know what you prefer in the comments section below.
Anyway, if you’re hellbent on doing a Pyramids of Giza tour, to learn more about this wondrous site and to have transport from Cairo to Giza included, check out GetYourGuide. They offer many epic Pyramids of Giza tours.
Of course, before you head to the Giza Pyramids, you’ll need a place to stay in Cairo. We booked a room at Golden Star Hotel. The owner was really nice; plus, the room was spacious, clean and well located. We can definitely vouch for staying at the Golden Star Hotel during your trip to Cairo.
Getting to and From Cairo
You’ll need to get a flight to Cairo to visit the Pyramids. When it comes to booking flights, we usually do a search on Skyscanner to get the ball rolling.
If you’re flying from the UK or USA, we’re sure that you can find deal flights to Egypt. Subscribe to Jack’s Flight Club to monitor these. If you have free membership, you’ll receive 1 email per week which includes lots of deals. However, we highly recommend paying for premium membership. You’ll get four times as many deals emailed to you. We guarantee that by booking merely one flight deal, that you’ll more than earn back the price of membership.
Five Travel Essentials For the Pyramids of Giza
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – using a reliable backpack to securely store your belongings is a safety must. Although, only pack what absolutely need.
- Travel wallet – using a reliable and secure wallet will ensure you finish your trip to the Pyramids with everything that you started with!
- Travel/money pouch – an alternate option for securely storing money.
- Banana Boat Sport Sunscreen Lotion (SPF 50+) – the sun shines bright in Giza so slip, slop, slap!
- Ray-Ban Polarised Clubmaster Square Sunglasses – a no brainer.
- Pack snacks: you don’t want to get hangry! Make sure to pack some snacks with you.
- Limited toilet facilities: there aren’t many if any toilet facilities so plan accordingly!
- Dress appropriately: the weather will be warm but dress modestly. It’s culturally appropriate. Perhaps some light long sleeved clothes are best. It’s very dusty and sandy so definitely wear closed in footwear.
- Watch out for thieves: pick pocketing can occur here so watch your belongings. Also, DO NOT let anyone, other than perhaps another tourist, use your camera or phone to take a photo. Otherwise, it may be the last you see of it.
- Explore the city of Cairo: other than checking out the Pyramids of Giza, you should take some time to explore the city. We recommend checking out the areas known as Islamic Cairo and Coptic Cairo to experience the diversity of the city.
Safety Tips For Getting From Cairo to Giza
Egypt as a whole is safe to travel. Unfortunately though, pick pocketing is common. You should be sensible when when visiting tourist hot spots like the Pyramids of Giza. So equip yourself with anti-theft gear. We recommend leaving essential documents like your passport and any additional money or bank cards at your accommodation. If you would like information on other gear that helps you travel safely, visit 66 Items You Must Travel With.
Have you visited the Pyramids independently before? How did you find it? Leave us a comment below to let us know.