The Great Pyramids of Egypt are among the most staggering constructions in all of history.
They accounted for one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, standing in such hallowed company as the Colossus of Rhodes in Greece, the Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in modern-day Iraq.
While they did not make it onto the updated list of present-day marvels – now including Petra in Jordan, Chichén Itzá in Mexico, and Christ the Redeemer in Brazil – many people still consider them such.
It’s no wonder (see what I did there) that so many tourists want to see the pyramids.
They are a massive testament to human engineering, a feat so impressive that some have claimed them to be built by aliens (though such theories are now debunked as racist arguments of BIPOC inferiority).
Still, that scholars have spent so much time debating their origins is evidence enough of their hold on the human imagination – and the traveler’s.
If you’re thinking of visiting the pyramids, here’s everything you need to know about going inside, touring the surrounding area, and other questions. Read on!
Visiting the Pyramids 101
Doubtless, you’re already familiar with the iconic pyramids that rest serenely at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo.
The three main structures include the Great Pyramid (built for the Pharoah Khufu), the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure – the latter two named after their eternal inhabitants.
These are all located in a centralized area known as the Giza Necropolis. “The name comes from the ancient Greek word nekropolis, which literally means ‘city of the dead,’” explains Headout.
In addition to the pyramids, the necropolis contains many other tombs of pharaohs, queens, and nobility; temples and smaller pyramids; the Great Sphinx; and ongoing excavation.
Due to their impressive architecture, the Great Pyramids were already a popular tourist destination in ancient times, attracting travelers from all over the known world.
Can You Go Inside the Pyramids?
Yes, you can go inside the Great Pyramids of Egypt! There you’ll see the hallways, tombs, and sarcophagi of kings who were once considered gods by their people.
Note that you will need to buy separate tickets to enter each of the three pyramids, and tickets sell out quickly. You should either book your tour well ahead of time to ensure you get a spot or show up well before 8 AM to get in line.
Can You Tour the Outside?
Yes, you can also tour the area around the pyramids, known alternately as the necropolis, the Giza Complex, or the Giza Scenic Area (depending on where you look online).
While this requires a separate ticket from the tickets to enter the pyramids, you must buy it to even get to the pyramids, so it doesn’t comprise an extra cost.
Make sure to plan enough time to wander around the complex. It’s a stunning area of windswept desert, fascinating skylines, and photo opportunities.
How Much Does It Cost to See the Pyramids?
It is quite affordable to see the Pyramids. Here’s the rough cost breakdown:
- $6.50 for foreigners to see the Giza Complex, which consists of the pyramids, smaller pyramids and temples, tombs, the Sphinx, and other sights (free for Egyptian citizens)
- $14 for the Great Pyramid of Khufu
- $3.50 to tour the insides of the Pyramids of Khafre or Menkaure
If you decide to join a tour group, the company will levy an additional charge for transportation and possibly food.
However, they will often pick you up from your hotel via either shuttle or tour bus, making transportation safer and more comfortable. Plus, they handle all the ticketing for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about traveling to Egypt:
Are the pyramids always open?
The pyramids are usually open, but they do sometimes undergo maintenance. If your main goal in traveling to Egypt is to see them, make sure you check ahead of time.
Is it expensive to see the pyramids?
No, it’s not particularly expensive. Tickets for entrance to the Giza Complex cost about $6.50, while tickets for the inside of the Great Pyramid are $14 and the Pyramids of Khafre or Menkaure are less than $4. You can see the whole complex, inside and out, for less than $30.
However, that does not include the cost of a tour.
Are tours of the pyramids worth it?
Tours of the pyramids, both inside and out, are worth it. And while we often recommend going to major tourist attractions on your own, it’s better to do so in a group in Egypt. Large groups are safer and you’re less likely to be targeted as a Westerner in a mixed group. Plus, you are less likely to get lost in a dangerous place, so it’s worth the extra expense.
Can you see King Tut’s tomb?
King Tut’s tomb is not located in the Giza Complex, but rather in the Valley of the Kings. This is about 8 hours’ distance up the Nile near Luxor. That said, you can tour King Tut’s tomb, just not on the same day as you visit the Great Pyramids.
Is Egypt safe right now?
The US State Department advises tourists to “Reconsider travel to Egypt due to terrorism. Exercise increased caution in Egypt due to the Embassy’s limited ability to assist dual national U.S.-Egyptian citizens who are arrested or detained.”
Although the United States offers cautions, the good news is that the United States has greater sway over American citizens who are not also citizens of Egypt. If you do not have dual citizenship, you can take fewer precautions than dual citizens.
However, attacks in urban centers and at religious sites are not infrequent, and tourists are sometimes killed on buses headed to the pyramids. Your risk tolerance, the presence of children, and the current political climate will ultimately help you make your decision.
How can you save money in Egypt?
You can save money in Egypt by remembering that it is a haggling culture. Never pay full price for a souvenir, tour, or ride unless the purveyor tells you in no uncertain terms that they will not budge. Usually you’ve got some wiggle room!
You can also save money by spending the local currency (Egyptian pounds), hailing taxis on the street rather than calling a company, and eating at market stalls rather than restaurants.
Going Inside the Pyramids: The Takeaways
Whether you’re planning a trip to Egypt immediately or are just daydreaming, we hope you’ve enjoyed a deep dive into touring the pyramids. If you go, make sure to send us a postcard!