In December 2022, we stayed for a week in Jordan (for the full blog post on our trip to Jordan, visit the post here). At the tail-end of the trip, we took a short hour and a half flight from Amman, Jordan to Cairo, Egypt. We spent 2 full days in the city. Here is how we spent it!
Where to stay in Cairo:
We stayed at the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino. We really enjoyed our stay here for a few reasons! After having such a busy trip, it was nice to be able to just relax at our hotel.
Here were a few features we liked:
- Room: We were able to use Marriott Points to stay at this hotel; and for a small cash upgrade, we were able to have a room view of the Nile River. The room was a standard, spacious Marriott room with two Queen beds and space for a cot. It was ideal for our two toddlers.
- Breakfast: The complimentary breakfast had great options for kids, such as eggs, waffles, pancakes, fruit, etc.
- Restaurants: There were several restaurants for lunch, dinner, and snacks in the hotel, that we liked! We usually prefer to branch out of the hotel and go to the city for more food; but at this point in our trip, we were quite tired, and having several good options available was what we needed.
- Aesthetic and Amenities: The hotel has a very ‘palace’ like aesthetic, with beautiful gold pillars and architecture throughout the facility. There were also several amenities (spa, gym, casino etc.) and shops available within the hotel, that we did not use.
I would recommend this hotel to future visitors with kids!
What to do in Cairo:
Activities we did with our toddlers included one full day in Giza looking at pyramids (including transit time); and one day of shopping at the Bazaar, eating food, enjoying the hotel amenities, and taking an evening boat ride on the Nile River.
- Explore pyramids at Giza:
- Getting to Giza: We hired a photographer on Air BnB Experiences, who coordinated pick-up and drop-off from our hotel to Giza. Although I would not recommend our specific photographer, I would recommend doing research and doing it this way, if you want quality photos. It made things easy with having a local person navigating us there and during the session.
- Ticket Entry: You need to purchase tickets at the entry. We got ambitious and purchased entry into all the areas of the pyramids. Unfortunately, this was our second-to-last day of our trip, and our kids were tired on this day. By the time we got to the second site – the Sphynx – they were both asleep in our arms! Rather than spending the rest of the day there like initially planned, we decided to have our photographer take us back to the hotel to relax. When purchasing the tickets, be realistic of your kids energy levels. This being said, if they had not fallen asleep, I think they would have enjoyed exploring the area.
- Getting around Giza: Other than driving or walking between the sites, people can hire horse carriages and camels to transport them. A word of warning is that we were a bit surprised and upset at the treatment of the horses driving the carriages. In the moment with two cranky toddlers, we made a fast decision to sit in one; but after observing the way the horses were treated, if I could go back in time, I would have tried to figure out an alternative way. We noticed that camels were treated a bit better than horses.
- Where to eat: There were a few spots in Giza to eat; we noticed a Pizza Hut which has good reviews of having great views of the pyramids and easy-toddler friendly food for a touristy day. We did not eat there, but if our kids had not fallen asleep, we would have grabbed some pizza here.
- Overall Experience at Giza: Overall our kids were exhausted by the time we got to Giza (on the tail-end of our 10-day-trip), and I did a poor job on planning the outing around their nap-times. That plus the windy conditions quickly deteriorated their moods.nSimilar to other day-long touristy activities with young kids, always remember to factor in timings for nap time, be prepared with their favorite snacks, and have their water bottles ready. And also set expectations for yourselves. We left the pyramids earlier than we had planned, but we are still happy we experienced it (and got nice photos); AND we spent the rest of the day relaxing at a nice hotel. Traveling with young kids involves flexibility, adaptability, and positivity – and it can still end up being a wonderful memory.
- Browse the Khan el-Khalili Market:
- Timing: This bazaar has many shops and is quite festive. We made a terrible decision of going after Friday prayer. The rush that came into the market post-prayer was overwhelming for us, navigating the market with our two toddlers.
- Cats: Our kids loved looking at all the stray cats and kittens roaming around the market! Out of everything, that was probably a major highlight of the trip for our son.
- Felucca boat ride in the Nile River:
- How to book: We booked our boat ride on Get Your Guide. It was a private, one-hour boat ride around the Nile River and we enjoyed the pretty views. It was a very calming experience; although I wish we had done it around Golden Hour, rather than night.
Where to eat in Cairo:
Khan El Khalili Restaurant et Naguib Mahfouz Coffee Shop: While shopping in the Bazaar, we found this little gem in the middle of the market. We found seating where our kids could nap, while my husband and I ate. When the kids woke up, there was toddler friendly food for them. There was also a shoe cleaner that walked around the restaurant and cleaned shoes for a low cost – I did this for my white sneakers, and was happy!
Cairo Marriott Hotel Restaurants: As mentioned earlier, by the time we got to Cairo, we were quite tired and looked for easy places to eat. We primarily ate at the Marriott Hotel, as there were numerous restaurant options that were toddler-friendly. We enjoyed Roys Smokehouse. We wanted to try the JW Steakhouse, but it was already booked.
Cinnabon: No matter what country you are in, a warm Cinnabon is always a good idea.
Things to consider when in Cairo:
Tip Culture: Mostly all shops will prefer cash, and there is a HEAVY tip culture in Cairo. You don’t always have to tip; but people can be quite aggressive and ask for a tip for almost every task. You can decide if you want to give the tip; but just in case, it is best to have cash on hand just in case.