The Great Pyramid at Giza - nestling in a complex that also contains five further pyramids, the Great Sphinx, and a number of additional tombs and monuments - is one of the oldest and most iconic tourist sites in the world. Here's how to make the most of your visit.
The oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World, the three pyramids of the Giza Necropolis are also the only of these ancient wonders to remain intact. The scale and accuracy of the pyramids' construction still excites scholars today, and there are many competing theories as to how the giant structures came into being. We do know that these remarkable feats of engineering were completed around 2560 BC, and are made up of millions of tonnes of local limestone and imported granite.
It is widely believed that the pyramids were constructed as elaborate tombs for the Pharoah Khufu (also known by his Ancient Greek name of Cheops) and his wives. Popular legends circulate about curses on the tombs, which doesn't stop tens of thousands of visitors enjoying a trip to the pyramids each year.
Travelling to the pyramids is easy if you're based in Cairo - take bus number 355 or 357 from the centre of town directly to the pyramids, or you can take a taxi for around 30 Egyptian pounds (be prepared to haggle!) It's also possible to take a day trip from the coastal resort of Sharm El Sheikh to the pyramids - although it's worth considering an overnight stop in Cairo to break up the journey.
The weather in the region is hot and humid year round, especially between April and September. If you're sensitive to heat, the most comfortable time of year to visit is winter, and you'll want to bring suncream and a hat or headscarf regardless of when you visit.
A guided tour of the pyramids can really help you to get the best out of your visit by providing fascinating details and historical context, but make sure you tour with a licensed guide to ensure the information you're getting is useful and relevant. Try Viator for tried and tested guides, or book with an ABTA-registered tour company like On the Go Tours.
It's worth going inside the pyramids for a closer look, but be aware that each of the main three pyramids is closed on rotation for conservation reasons. Check the closure schedule before you plan your trip at the Supreme Council of Antiquities on their website. Note that limited numbers of visitors are permitted each day, and the Great Pyramid is closed daily from 11am to 1pm.
Most group tours arrive at the pyramids in the morning, so to avoid the crowds you may find it better to visit in the afternoon - late afternoon sunshine and desert sunsets can also help produce some fantastic images if you're a keen photographer. For an entertaining experience, an evening sound-and-light show bathes the site in spectacular illuminations.
Visiting the Pyramids at Giza is an unforgettable experience - add this amazing experience to your bucket list and find out what has drawn travellers to the site since ancient times.
Written by Lise Smith, a former contributor to Lonely Planet's India guidebook - she's seen her fair share of hotel rooms (both grotty and glamorous!). She learned to walk in a hotel corridor in Tunisia, and at the age of three had been on more aeroplanes than buses. Lise writes for a number of local news, technology and arts publications.comments powered by Disqus