Page update - Aug 19, 2023
The Great Pyramids on the Giza Plateau are Egypt's main attraction. How to get there? How much does it cost to see the pyramids close by? Is it possible to get inside? What are the opening hours? What features of the pyramids should you pay special attention to? Read the answers on this page.
The prices, working hours, and other information on this page were updated in August 2023. Unfortunately, the price of admission went up in 2023. But the good news is that there is a new profitable combo-ticket available. All the details are below on this page.
The Great Pyramids served as the tombs of three pharaohs of the Fourth dynasty of the Ancient Kingdom of Egypt - Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chephren), Menkaure (Mikerin). They ruled from about 2600 to 2480 BC.
Historical science knows little of these rulers. Most of the information has come to us from the Greek historian Herodotus and the Greek-Egyptian Manetho. And the names Cheops, Chephren, Mikerin are also Greek. Their names in Egyptian are Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure.
The size of the necropolis at Giza is about 1x1 miles (1.5x1.5 kilometers). Of course, the Giza necropolis consists not only of the pyramids. Around each of the three pyramids is a whole funerary complex, consisting of many interesting objects.
Among the secondary structures, tourists notice first of all the "queens pyramids". There are three near each pyramid of Khufu and Menkaure, and only one near the pyramid of Khafre. The first archaeologists investigating the Giza necropolis believed that the wives of rulers were buried in these small pyramids, hence the name. Later scientists realized that the wives, sisters, and daughters of the pharaoh might have been buried there, but the name remained the same.
You can see the map of Giza Necropolis below. We marked the most interesting objects for tourists. Click on the map to enlarge to full screen. We will be referring to this map below during the text of this page.
The Memorial Temple was designed next to each pyramid. The temple was built to serve the cult of the deceased pharaoh, because the ruler was deified after death. Priests served in these memorial temples, and no outsiders were allowed in. All three memorial temples have survived, but in varying states of preservation.
Other structures called "Valley Temples" were intended for public prayers. Of the three such temples, only two are now preserved - Khafre and Menkaure, and the Valley Temple of Khufu now lies under the neighboring village of Nazlet el-Samman.
Note. Nazlet el-Samman village is under deconstruction now. In the end of 2021 - start of 2022 all the inhabitants were relocated to new houses. The village will be demolished. Maybe, the Khufu Valley Temple will be excavated soon.
The "boat pits" can also be found nearby. They are the special underground structures where the boats of the pharaohs were stored in disassembled form. There are five of them near the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre each, and no one was found any yet near the pyramid of Menkaure. Two "boat pits" have not yet been opened by archaeologists.
The giant figure of the Great Sphinx stands to the east of the Khafre pyramid, near its Valley Temple. The Great Sphinx is famous no less than the pyramids themselves.
In addition to these structures, several dozen other tombs were found on the Giza plateau. Moreover, archaeological excavations are still underway, and archaeologists find something new and interesting every year. Now the magnificent tomb of Queen Meresankh III is open to tourists.
There is another area of archaeological excavation to the west of the Khafre pyramid. The area is not part of the necropolis, but very interesting to historians. This is the "workers' village" ("workers' town") where the pyramids builders lived. The word "village" is called it conventionally, because up to 30,000 people lived there. It was quite a big city for that era.
At the very beginning of our review, we want to warn you about a few things. We hope that this warning will at least slightly reduce the negativity from them.
The first is that there are a lot of people. And is not surprising, since this is the main attraction in the country. And right now (August 2023) the crowd is mostly Egyptians, not tourists. There are a lot of school groups that create big lines and a lot of noise.
Especially large crowd happens at the south entrance. Now there are two entrances. There are always crowds at the south entrance, but the situation is much better at the north entrance. Read more about these entrances below on this page.
Want to see the big pyramids without queues and almost all alone? No problem. Go to the Dahshur necropolis, which is only 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the south. About how to get there, read our in-depth review of "Dahshur".
The second is the annoying vendors. At every step (literally) you will be approached by souvenir vendors, camel and horse herders, coachmen. They offer their goods and services very intrusively. This annoys all tourists. And the longer you are there, the more annoying it is.
Riding a camel, horse or cart costs from 250 to 400 pounds per hour. That's obviously not cheap. You shouldn't buy souvenirs there, as they are expensive - 1.5 to 2 times more expensive than in souvenir stores. Find the current prices in our review "What to bring from Egypt".
The third is all tickets are only at the ticket office. This is another unpleasant surprise. Tourists usually buy only entrance tickets at the ticket office, and do not think about tickets inside the pyramids. And then they decide to go inside, but they cannot buy tickets on the spot. You have to go back to the entrance to the ticket office, and that is a huge waste of time. Buy all the tickets you need at the entrance!
Most tourists think that the pyramids are in Cairo, but that's not quite true. The pyramids are located in Giza. Legally, Giza is a separate city from Cairo. And Giza is even a separate province (governorate) from Cairo.
However, now Cairo and Giza form a single urban agglomeration. Almost everything is the same there. For example, cab fares are the same and there are no fees for crossing the border between the cities. Cairo's subway extends to Giza. Therefore, it is quite possible to say that the pyramids are in Cairo, and there is no big mistake about that.
The pyramids are located 7 miles (11 kilometers) west of the Nile River. Al-Haram Street (Pyramid Street) leads there. From the center of Cairo (Tahrir Square) is about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers).
Presently (August 2023), you can enter the necropolis through two different entrances. In September 2021, the authorities announced that there would soon be a third entrance on the west side.
The northern (aka "northeastern") entrance is closer to the Khufu pyramid. It is the new entrance, opened in 2020. Not everyone knows about it yet, so no crowds there yet. As the north entrance looks like, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.
Everything about this entrance is great! There are several ticket booths, and the accurate price list is posted. There are several security checkpoints, and there are almost never any lines. There are almost no annoying vendors or camel callers there, as they are chased away by the police. In short, this is an exemplary entrance.
By the way, the most expensive (of those we have seen) paid WC in Egypt is there. The price is 10 Egyptian pounds. Usually visiting WC in Egypt costs 2 or at most 3 pounds.
Direct access to the north entrance is from Al Haram Street (Pyramid Street).
The southern (aka "eastern") entrance is closer to the Great Sphinx. It is the old entrance. Almost everyone comes there as a matter of habit. And cab drivers also habitually bring tourists there. So there are crowds and crowds and more crowds.
There is only one cash register, and there is no price list posted. There is always a queue at the ticket office, and in addition the shameless Egyptians pushing others out of the queue. There is only one security checkpoint at the entrance, and there is always a queue at the entrance, and in addition the shameless Egyptians cut in line, pushing people around.
There are dozens of people beckoning tourists to the camels and carts and you will get tired of fighting them off. There are child beggars walking around, which is also unpleasant. In short, it's a horror!
Go to the north entrance. This entrance is located at the end of Al-Haram Street (Pyramid Street). When the cab driver takes you, he will most likely take Al-Haram Street through Giza. If at the end of the street he goes straight ahead, he is going to the north (good) entrance. If he turned left, he was going to the south (bad) entrance.
To explain to the cab driver that you want to go to the north entrance, say the phrase: "New entrance, Khufu entrance, North entrance". He should understand something of this, but no guarantees.
Ideally, if you have a navigator on your smartphone, and you can show the cab driver visually - where exactly you need to go. It's even better to use Uber, since Uber drivers go exactly where the app says they need to go. The navigator and Uber require a mobile Internet connection. Read our detailed review "Cheap Internet in Egypt".
Option 1 - taxi. The most convenient and not expensive option. Cab rides are very cheap in Egypt. For example, either from Tahrir Square (the center of Cairo) or from the Cairo Museum or the Cairo Citadel a cab will only cost 80-100 Egyptian pounds. See the current exchange rates of the Egyptian pound in our review "Money in Egypt".
The trip cost depends on the distance. We can't predict the exact cost of the trip from your hotel or other location. But you can calculate it based on the distance (you can look at google.maps) and fares. See the up-to-date cab fares in our detailed review "Taxis in Egypt".
Option 2 - subway + taxi. It's a complicated option, and the savings are small. You need to take the subway to the station "Giza" on the 2nd (orange) line. See our review "Cairo Metro" for the subway map and fares.
Then you need to get out to Al-Haram Street. And then a super problem! You need to cross this Al-Haram street. Crossing streets is extremely dangerous in Cairo and Giza. Then catch a cab on the other side, the cab ride price is 50-60 pounds.
What if you don't cross the road? Then the cab driver will have to turn in the direction of the pyramids through the overpasses. Then the cab will cost another EGP 10-15. All the savings are lost.
Option 3 - subway + mini-bus. Cheap, but otherwise only a minus. Exactly the same way you get to the metro station "Giza", get off at Al-Haram Street and cross the street. Then take any mini-bus, as almost all of them go to the end of Al-Haram Street. Just in case, ask the bus driver for the word "pyramids".
At the end of Al-Haram Street (there will be an overpass at the top), you need to get off and walk to the north entrance for 10-15 minutes, about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer).
Presently (August 2023) Egyptians are actively preparing for the opening of the Grand Museum. Accordingly, they are actively repairing Al-Haram Street.
Some parts of Al-Haram Street are closed for repairs! Before you go, be sure to Google maps to see which ones, and whether you can drive along Al-Haram Street at all. It's probably easier to drive on nearby Tersa or King Faisal streets.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Cairo cab drivers do not use navigators! They don't know what's closed, what's open, or the best way to go. Help them as it is in your interest.
The current (August 2023) prices are:
Children under 6 years old are free of charge everywhere.
Entrance to the Giza Plateau - EGP 360 for adults, EGP 180 for students.
Entrance inside the Khufu Pyramid - EGP 600 for adults, EGP 300 for students.
Entrance inside the Khafre Pyramid - EGP 150 for adults, EGP 75 for students.
Entrance inside the Menkaure Pyramid - EGP 150 for adults, EGP 75 for students.
Combo-ticket (appeared in 2022) Giza Plateau entrance + inside Khufu Pyramid - EGP 900 for adults, EGP 450 for students.
How the tickets look like, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.
Entrance inside the tomb of Queen Meresankh III (wife of Pharaoh Khafre, supposedly) - EGP 50 for adults, EGP 25 for students.
Permission to take photos with a smartphone is free.
Permission to take photos with a camera is EGP 20.
For the current exchange rates of the Egyptian pound, see our review "Money in Egypt".
The Giza Pyramids are part of the Cairo Pass program. With this pass you can get tickets not only to the plateau, but also inside the pyramids and tombs. Read more in our review "Cairo Pass".
To look inside all three big pyramids probably will not be possible. Only two of them are open to tourists at one time, and the third one is closed for repair and restoration. Every few years one is opened and one is closed.
Which one will be closed at the time of your visit to Giza? No one knows. Right now (August 2023) all the three are open, but it is not for long. At the north entrance, the price list always tells you which one is closed and what the hours of operation of the other two are.
There is no clear explanation anywhere on the sights of Cairo as to what exactly is meant by the word "Student". We'll explain.
It refers to children of school age (6 years and older) and university students. University students must have an international student card. Some tourists see the word "student" and go to buy full tickets for children. DON'T DO THAT!
The photo of the tickets was above, and this photo has just such a discount ticket. This ticket was used by a 7 year old girl (daughter of our editor-in-chief).
Camera permits are not checked by security. Therefore, do not waste extra money. Take regular tickets and safely pass with a camera. If the guards make a complaint about this, then go back to the ticket office and buy the permit for 20 Egyptian pounds.
You can not take photos inside the pyramids even with a photo permit (for 20 pounds). But in fact, no one monitors it. Tourists take photos with no problem.
They used to sell separate tickets to the Solar Boat Museum. Now this museum no longer exists. The boats have already been moved to the Grand Museum. The white museum building near the Khufu Pyramid remains, but there is nothing inside there. It is possible that at the time of your visit this building will have been completely disassembled.
As of August 2023, the hours are as follows.
The Giza Plateau: 7 am to 6 pm. The ticket office closes at 6 pm.
During the month of Ramadan: from 8 am to 3 pm.
The most important thing is comfortable shoes. You will have to walk a lot and on stones. In the ideas of most tourists the pyramids are surrounded by sand. But the sand has long been cleared away, and only the stones are left. The surfaces are rough, and there you can't do without comfortable shoes.
How the surface of the ground in the Giza Necropolis looks like, see the photo near. Click on the photo to enlarge it to full screen. These are the stones that you will have to walk on a lot.
Special wooden decks are built for visitors in some places. But these decks are still rare.
Water and snacks. Always take water at the rate of 1-1.5 liters per person. And take a light snack: cookies, waffles, buns. You can buy all this from local vendors, but at a very high price.
Hats are a must. In Egypt, the sun can be dangerous even in the winter months. And try to wear a hat that is attached to your head somehow or at least hold on tight. Strong winds are common on the Giza Plateau.
A helmet if you're going inside. The advice relevant for those who are tall. Your head is the most valuable, take care, take a helmet. A simple construction helmet is cheap now at any large construction store.
The Giza Necropolis is large. For example, it is 1 mile (1.5 kilometers) walk from the northern entrance to the Menkaure pyramid. As a result, it will take about 2 hours to go around all the pyramids on the perimeter. If you want to go down inside and see something in more detail, then plan for 4 hours or more.
Anti-covid measures exist only on paper. In fact, no one observes them. But since they exist on paper, we will tell you about them.
The social distance in the entire territory of the necropolis is 1 meter (3.3 feet) minimum. You have to wear masks indoors. No more than 15 people can be inside each of the pyramids.
The largest Egyptian pyramid ever built. The height is 456 feet (139 meters), the length of the base is 754.5 feet (230 meters), the slope angle of the faces is 51.5 degrees. The total volume of stone - 91,200,000 cubic feet (2,583,000 cubic meters), it is composed of 2.3 million stone blocks, the total weight of which is almost 6 million tons.
In ancient times, its height reached 480.6 feet (146.5 meters), and the stones were stacked at 210 levels (now only 201 levels remain).
Of course, the numbers are stunning, especially considering that the pyramid was built 4,600 years ago. However, some historians are of the opinion that there is a mountain in the center of the structure, which fills up to 50% of the volume. That is, the ancient Egyptians simply surrounded the mountain with stones, which greatly simplified their task.
The Khufu pyramid is often confused with its neighbor, the Khafre pyramid, which is located on a hill 30 feet (9 meters) high in the center of the plateau and therefore seems to be the highest. But this impression is wrong. This photo shows the pyramids of Giza and indicates the names.
Climbing up the pyramids to the top is strictly prohibited. You must obtain special permission from the Egyptian Antiquities Authority. However, when tourists climb to 3 or 4 tiers up, the guards do not react to this.
Tourists get the strongest impressions after standing next to the blocks. The bottom level blocks reach the human height. Tourists think, "How did the Egyptians drag such blocks up to the upper levels of the structure?"
In fact, the size of the blocks decreases with each level upward. In the lower layer, the size of the blocks is 5x5x5 feet (1.5x1.5x1.5 meters) and weighs up to 10 tons. At the upper levels the blocks are approximately 1.6x1.6x1.6 feet (0,5x0,5x0,5 meters) in size and weight about 880 pounds (400 kilograms). You can see the blocks and people next to them in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.
The Khufu pyramid looked quite different in ancient times. It was completely faced with the most beautiful white limestone from the area of Tura, which is located 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) east of Giza across the Nile River.
The facing was continually being stolen for building materials, and now there is none left at all on the surface of the Khufu pyramid. All the ancient mosques of Cairo are built of this white limestone.
The second largest pyramid in Giza has a height of 448 feet (136.5 meters). The height in ancient times was 471 feet (143.5 meters). The base length is 705 feet (215 meters), the total volume - 77.7 million cubic feet (2.2 million cubic meters).
The main feature of this pyramid is that the facing remains on its top, though a little. Looking at the top, you can try to imagine how the Giza necropolis looked like in ancient times, how the pyramids shone in the sun.
The two lower levels up to 10 feet (3 meters) high were covered with red granite from Aswan. This was considered a great luxury, as the granite had to be carried to Giza along the Nile for more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers).
The second point of interest for tourists is that the memorial temple at the Khafre pyramid is very well preserved. This temple was covered with sand in ancient times and was dug out only in 1853. It was there that several statues of Khafre Pharaoh were found, and we now have an idea of his appearance.
By comparison, we know almost nothing about the appearance of Khufu Pharaoh. Archaeologists found only the one figurine only 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) high, and his facial features on it are not clear. This ivory figurine was found at Abydos and is now on display in the Cairo Museum.
The smallest of the three. The height is 200 feet (61 meters), in ancient times was 215 feet (65.5 meters). The base length is 356 feet (108.5 meters), the volume is 8,300,000 cubic feet (235,000 cubic meters).
Tourists are interested in two nuances. First, the lower tiers have preserved covering. It's amazing how it was not removed by the miners of building materials. If the covering is preserved on the upper levels, it is clear that the plunderers simply did not get to the top. But how the cladding was not removed from the lower levels? It is a mystery. The only reasonable version - the pyramid was covered with sand, and miners of building materials simply did not notice this facing.
The second moment is a big vertical "scar" on one of the sides. Presumably, the scar was left by the attempt of the Arabian sultan Al-Aziz (son of Salah ad-Din) to disassemble the Great Pyramids in the hope of finding treasures inside. His attempt failed, and this scar is the result of that attempt.
The huge statue of the Sphinx stands to the east of the Khafre pyramid. It is a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man. Its length is 241 feet (73.5 meters), width is 63.3 feet (19.3 meters), height is 66.3 feet (20.2 meters).
The first part of the tourist program at the Great Sphinx is to take a photo like the one you see on the right, click on the photo to enlarge.
Previously this was the end of the tourist program, because tourists were not allowed close to the Great Sphinx. Now you can already get close to it and see the memorial stele at its feet.
The Sphinx holds many mysteries and questions: "Whose face has he?", "What is his function?", "Who and when chopped his nose and beard off?".
Meresankh was the wife of Khafre Pharaoh (although possibly of Menkaure), and presumably the granddaughter of Khufu Pharaoh. Her tomb (designated G 7530-7540) has been open to tourists since 2012. The tomb is located to the east of the Khufu pyramid, in the area of the "eastern cemetery".
The inside of this tomb is very interesting. There are many beautiful reliefs, which mostly depict offerings of food and luxury items to the queen. Apparently, Meresankh was most concerned about not being hungry and poor in the afterlife.
There is a group of 10 statues of women on the north wall of the tomb. Who are they? This is a big mystery. Most likely among them are Meresankh herself, her daughter Shepsetkau, and mother Hetepheres. But who are the other seven?
Reminder! Separate tickets are required to enter the Meresankh Tomb. And these tickets must be purchased in advance at the ticket office at the entrance to the Giza Plateau. We gave ticket prices above on this page.
Most ancient cultures sent various objects to the afterlife. These objects could be useful to the deceased. Of course, no one beats the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, he took with him to the afterlife the Terracotta Army - 9,000 clay soldiers. But the Egyptians also have much to be proud of in this respect.
The ancient Egyptians were concerned about transport in the afterlife and buried entire ships with pharaohs. In 1954, underground vaults were discovered near the Khufu pyramid. Real river ships in disassembled form were hidden in these pits.
The first of the found ships was raised to the surface, or rather its parts - 1,224 parts. This "prehistoric Lego" was collected for more than 10 years. Regarding the function of the ship is still under debate. According to the basic version, Pharaoh had to sail on this boat across the sky, like the god Ra.
Warning. Presently (August 2023) the boats have been moved to the Grand Museum. The Solar Boat Museum on the Giza Plateau NO longer exists.
If you will be attentive during your visit to Giza, you will notice powerful spotlight installations everywhere. The photo on the right shows them, click on the photo to enlarge.
The spotlights are for the light show. It looks very beautiful, the pyramids and the Sphinx are illuminated, and the laser beams show pictures that tell the history of Egypt.
The show runs twice an evening in different languages. The show is free to watch if you stay in the hotel in Giza in a room with a view of the Giza Plateau. There are excursions from Cairo, tourists are brought to Giza at the right time, and after the show are taken back to the hotel.
Naturally, the builders had to live somewhere. There was a special settlement for this purpose to the west of the Khufu pyramid. Considering that about 30,000 people lived there, it was more of a city than a village.
Unfortunately, the buildings are poorly preserved there. There is little of interest to tourists, but the site is of enormous interest to archaeologists and historians.
A huge number of interesting artifacts have been found there. Animal bones proving the rich diet of the builders. Clay items and beer vats were found. All this shows us the main thing! The pyramids were built by ordinary workers, not slaves as was commonly believed until recently.
Tourists will find it useful to look at the Workers' Village as physical evidence that the Great Pyramids were really built by people, not aliens from outer space.
The pyramids are really huge, and many tourists cannot believe that ancient people could have built such a thing. How could such giant blocks of stone in the amount of 2.3 million pieces be delivered there and installed?
In fact, it is quite realistic. Historians have conducted reconstructions, and there is nothing supernatural. The blocks are big only at the base, but the higher the tier, the smaller the blocks are.
There was no need to transport the blocks, because limestone was mined right on Giza plateau. Logs (or planks) were put under the blocks to move them. Processing the blocks was not difficult either. Limestone is a soft stone and could be processed with instruments of copper or, better yet, any harder stone.
What is really worth wondering about is the facing of the pyramids. The blocks of white Tura limestone were carried about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) across the Nile. Red granite was delivered from Aswan, which is almost 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) by river.
- There are many kinds of tourist frauds associated with the pyramids. Which ones, read the review "Cheats of tourists in Egypt";
- If you vacation in the resorts of Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh, you can come to Cairo, although far away. You can come with a tour, but it is better on your own. Read the details in our reviews "From Sharm to Cairo" and "From Hurghada to Cairo".
We wish you an interesting hike to the pyramids, and read our interesting and useful pages about Egypt (see the list of the pages below).
map-for-tourist.com © 2020-2024