This guide will succinctly detail how to visit the Pyramids of Giza independently as a half day trip from Cairo.
Pyramids of Giza | Self Guided Tour
Here’s the scenario. You’ve arrived in Cairo or are planning to travel there. Visiting the 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 group tours. You want to explore the Pyramids independently. How will you get to the Pyramids without getting overcharged or scammed. Can you get there safely? Please find below the main steps in visiting the Pyramids of Giza independently and safely without getting ripped off!
The Great Sphinx
The famous Great Sphinx: Upon entering the complex 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, less people will be in your photo.
The Giza Pyramids
Egypt’s most well known Pyramid: You then have ample time to explore the Pyramids. They are truly breathtaking. I will never forget the moment I first caught a glimpse of the Great Pyramid from the Uber! I felt so lucky to be here! Visiting my very first Ancient World Wonder. If you are 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 note, that the below information is not guaranteed fact. But only the most recent theories.
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? 2 decades.
- How many pyramids are in this complex? 9. Throughout Egypt though, 138 pyramids have been 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.
Certainly a tour guide may be able to provide these statistics and much more. In general though, I personally like the freedom of exploring a place at my own pace. But I do some research beforehand. That’s so I have some idea about the place I’m exploring. Even downloading an audio tour can be an option sometimes. What do you prefer to do when travelling? To tour group or not? Let me know what you prefer in the comments section below.
There is no one amazing spot for the best viewpoint of the Pyramids. However, walking around the Pyramids from afar will help you get the best shots. This involves going to Panorama Point. But there is a parking lot there. So be aware that it does get overcrowded as a result of the tour groups going there for sunset.
Simply keep walking around this point to some of the sand dunes further on. There are men selling camel rides next to Panorama Point. They told me I wasn’t allowed to walk there. But they were lying. That’s their way of tricking you into thinking you have to do a camel ride to go to these areas. My favourite photos of the Pyramids were from different hills dotted on the outskirts of the complex. They provided excellent perspective shots, specifically when groups of camels ventured into shot!
Self Guided Pyramids of Giza 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. It’s more than safe to do so, as long as you follow simple and standard travel precautionary measures. Specifically, this guide will help you plan your trip to discover the Pyramids independently and safely.
Getting to & from Cairo
Flights: You’ll likely need to get a flight to Cairo. I flew there from Lebanon. Using Skyscanner, I flew Beirut to Cairo with Middle East Airlines for $98USD and booked through Travelgenio. After my Egypt trip, I flew back to London for $181USD with 1 stopover. Again, that was using Skyscanner. I booked through Kiwi.com. The first flight from Cairo to Athens was with Aegean and the second flight to London with Ryanair.
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 4 times as many deals emailed to you. Plus, it’s only ($43USD) and we guarantee that by booking merely 1 flight deal, that you’ll more than earn back the price of membership. For instance, a London to Paphos flight we booked using Jack’s Flight Club, was around ($49USD) cheaper than the usual fare. So we made our money back, and then some, with that single purchase!
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Airbnb: Before you head to the Giza Pyramids, you’ll need a place to stay in Cairo. Using Airbnb, I booked a hotel room at Golden Star Hotel for $23USD/night. The owner (Whatsapp +201220328174) was really nice. Plus, the room was spacious, clean and well located. Alternatively, you could use Booking.com. Admittedly, a lot of the Airbnb’s listed in Egypt are actually hotels. So using either to book accommodation online would suffice.
Getting to the Pyramids of Giza
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 Pyramids. With traffic (there is always traffic in Cairo), the drive takes anywhere between 30-45 minutes.
I highly recommend getting to the Pyramids of Giza independently by taking an Uber. This way you will avoid the overpriced taxi. It is 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 closeby. But when you go to look for the Uber, subsequently you will lose your accommodation Wifi connection and won’t be able to find it. 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 offer was an 8GB prepaid data SIM Card for E£200 ($12.50USD). This means you can also get an Uber from the airport to your accommodation. From the airport to the city centre was E£115 ($7USD) with Uber. It takes around 30-45 minutes depending on traffic.
The Uber to the Pyramids will cost between E£70-100 ($4.50-6.50USD).
SIDE NOTE: Ensure the Uber driver drops you off near the entrance. See Google Maps below. You will then walk through a quick security check. Next, follow that road leading to the ticket office. Let the hassling begin! Be mindful that for your ENTIRE trip here, you will be harassed by locals. They will try to sell their services such as guided tours and camel rides. A firm but polite no thank you or la Shukran (Arabic) usually does the trick. For locals that continued to pester, ignoring them seemed to work well.
The Entrance Fee for the Pyramids of Giza
The entrance fee for the pyramid complex is E£160 ($10USD). To actually enter inside the Great Pyramid, is an additional E£360 ($23USD). Plus an extra E£100 ($6.50USD) for entries inside the 2nd and 3rd pyramids. The Great Pyramid is merely an empty stone room. It’s adjoined by a hot, narrow and steep corridor. Buying the additional tickets isn’t necessary.
Opening Times for the Pyramids of Giza
The pyramid complex opens 7am-6pm from April – September. It’s open 8am-4pm from October – March. To beat the crowds, arrive as early as possible.
Getting from the Pyramids of Giza to Cairo
Uber: Retrace your steps back to the road where you were initially dropped off. Then order an Uber. The first 2 Ubers I ordered seemed to cancel at the last minute. But I wasn’t charged. Third time lucky!
- SIM Card: E£200 ($12.50USD).
- Return Uber from Pyramids: E£140-200 ($9-13USD)
- Giza Pyramids entrance fee: E£160 ($10USD)
A cheap half day out at the only surviving ancient wonder of the world! Also, you’ll need to factor in accommodation and flight costs.
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 sunshine bright in Giza so slip, slop, slap!
- Ray-Ban Polarised Clubmaster Square Sunglasses – a no brainer.
- Pack snacks: You will spend half a day here so be prepared. You don’t want to get hangry.
- 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 is 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.
Egypt as a whole is safe to travel. Unfortunately though, pick pocketing is not uncommon. You should be sensible when when visiting tourist hot spots like the Pyramids of Giza. So equip yourself with anti-theft gear. It may help prevent your valuables from being stolen. 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 safe, visit 66 Items You Must Travel With.
Also, I recommend reading Third Eye Traveller and her 21 Essential Tips for visiting the Pyramids of Giza for more in depth information about the Pyramids.
Have you visited the Pyramids independently before? How did you find it? Leave us a comment below to let us know.
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