A trip to Egypt is a trip into antiquity, and the first stop on any tour is Cairo. Some of the most spectacular monuments lie outside this great city and are within easy reach from downtown or the local district of Giza.
The Great Pyramids of Egypt lie on the Giza Plateau about 45 minutes south of Cairo. This area houses three major tourist attractions, including the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Solar Boat Museum. There is absolutely no shade in this region, so if you'd like to avoid prolonged sun exposure, try to get there early. The best time to arrive is during the opening hours; this will be between 6 AM and 7 AM, depending on the season. In addition to the sun, the heat can be severe in summer when entering the Pyramids, as there is no air conditioning or ventilation. Persons with asthma or breathing difficulties should avoid going inside during the summer.
The Pyramids. You may enter the Great Pyramid, also known as Cheops, by accessing it through a stone ledge about 6 feet off the ground. Once inside, you may climb the steep interior passageways to enter the burial chamber, which is all but empty except for an unused sarcophagus belonging to its owner, Khufu. You will see people with cameras, but be aware that photography inside is prohibited; if you're caught with a camera, it may be confiscated. To exit the pyramid, you will need to do so backwards, as the ramp leading to the burial chamber is so steep, that a forward motion would throw you into a somersault. Careful backward stepping will get you safe and sound to the ground level in one to two minutes' time.
The Sphinx. This classic monument adjoins the pyramids via a paved road for an easy five-minute walk across the desert. A small entrance fee takes you to the Sphinx for unlimited photography and exploration time. There are no interior chambers to see, so your visit will probably not require more than half an hour.
The Solar Boat Museum. This attraction is the third and final stop for your day at the pyramids, located just to the right of the Sphinx. The museum houses a pristine sailing vessel belonging to Khufu, along with other maritime artifacts from that era dating back 4,000 years. Due to possible contaminants, you will be issued protective slippers for your walk through the museum.
There are many hotels in the Giza area that will offer a splendid pyramid view from your balcony. For moderate pricing, try The Sofitel Le Sphinx and the nearby Le Meridian Pyramids for breathtaking views of the Pyramids. Higher-end lodging can be found at Mean House, but the extra money is worth it for an up close and personal view of Cheops.