Giza is an Egyptian city on the west bank of the Nile, near Cairo. The Giza Plateau is home to iconic Egyptian monuments, including 3 tall pyramids built as royal mausoleums around the 26th century B.C. No trip to Egypt is complete without time spent here at one of the world’s most recognizable tourist attractions.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Giza is from October to April, when temperatures are at their most pleasant. However, December and January constitute peak tourist season, and iconic sights like the Pyramids of Giza, the Temples of Luxor and Abu Simbel can get crowded.
Top Places to Visit in Giza
1. Great Pyramid – Pyramid of Cheops or Pyramid of Khufu
Giza’a Great Pyramid (also called the Pyramid of Cheops) is not only this ancient site’s most famous monument but one of the most well-known monuments in the world. According to Herodotus, 100,000 men worked on its construction for three months every year. This mammoth structure’s cubic content is staggering. Excluding the rock foundation and the interior chambers, the Great Pyramid is 2.3 million cubic meters. The base measurement is 227.5 meters, and the vertical height is 137.2 meters.
2. Pyramid of Khafre
Khafre, the second pyramid, seems larger than that of Khafre’s father, Khufu. At just 136m high, it’s not, but it stands on higher ground and its peak is still capped with the original polished limestone casing. Originally all three pyramids were totally encased in this smooth white stone, which would have made them gleam in the sun. Over the centuries, this casing has been stripped for use in palaces and mosques, exposing the softer inner-core stones to the elements.
3. Pyramid of Menkaure
At 62m (originally 66.5m), this pyramid is the smallest of the trio, only about one-tenth the bulk of the Great Pyramid. The pharaoh Menkaure died before the structure was finished – around the bottom are several courses of granite facing that were never properly smoothed. Inside, you descend into three distinct levels – the largest surprisingly vast – and you can peer into the main tomb. To the south is a set of Queens’ Pyramids. If you hike this far, horse and camel touts will want to lure you out into the desert for better photo ops of all three pyramids.
Known in Arabic as Abu Al Hol (Father of Terror), this sculpture of a man with the haunches of a lion was dubbed the Sphinx by the ancient Greeks because it resembled their mythical winged monster who set riddles and killed anyone unable to answer them. A geological survey has shown that it was most likely carved from the bedrock at the bottom of the causeway during Khafre’s reign, so it probably portrays his features. As is clear from the accounts of early Arab travellers, the nose was hammered off sometime between the 11th and 15th centuries.
5. Solar Boat Museum
Excavations on the south and east sides of the Pyramid of Cheops in 1954 brought to light five long cavities for boats, with a Solar Barque broken into more than a thousand pieces as a votive offering. Painstaking restoration work pieced the barque back together, and the 4,500-year-old cedar-wood boat is now exhibited in this small one-room museum just beside the Great Pyramid.