Friday mornings are a great time to get out and explore in Cairo as traffic is waaaaaay less than normal as most locals are at the mosques (Friday is the holy day and the first day of the weekend. Having Hubby work on Sunday is taking some getting used to). We’ve been trying to go explore on Fridays to take advantage of shorter travel times.
This morning we decided to go visit the Egyptian Museum (formally the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities) to see mummies and King Tut’s golden mask and other cool things from the pyramids and tombs and whatnot. DD has been fascinated with all this and was thrilled to be going. We took an Uber, and I’ve been LOVING using Uber. Not having to worry about change (pay directly with my linked credit card), pinpoint pick up and drop off locations, and being able to follow easily on the map are all great. Plus, higher odds of finding a taxi with seatbelts. Score!
About 20 mins later we were at the museum. It opens at 9 am and there were hordes and hordes of people and tour groups. First tip–go about 9:30 or 10 to miss out on all the lines of people getting there right at opening! We didn’t realize this, and so waited in line. It wasn’t that bad and they were actually fairly efficient. You go through security three times–once to approach the entrance (minor), once before entering the complex (metal detector and bag scan) and once before entering the building itself (again metal detector and bag scan). They seem mostly concerned about weapons, and water and food was allowed in no problem.
Immediately upon entering the complex, get your ticket (it’s the same building as the second round of security). Kids under 6 are free. Everyone else counts as an adult, though they do have student rates if you have student id. We paid 75 LE per adult, plus 50 LE for a camera (phones count as cameras if you’re using them to take photos). No one ever asked to see my camera ticket again, but I guess they could have in theory. This brought the entrance fees to 200 LE for us, or about $11–not bad for the top museum in the country!
The outer complex is pretty with some interesting statues and gardens. Worth having a snack there (bring your own) or letting the kids run around a bit. A little bit of shade from the trees. If you want more shade, walk to the left to the side of the building and there are awnings. Nothing to sit on, but more shade.
Upon entering the building, you show your tickets and go through security. Since we knew we’d be back here many times, we did not do a guide and chose instead to just free explore mostly based on what DD wanted to see. Objects have labels for the most part, but there is not much signage in terms of which way to go. It is large and if you have limited time or are only going once, hiring a guide is probably worth it. They will approach you at the ticket counter. I’d question them a bit to make sure they actually know things before hiring one.
The building is two floors. The ground floor (aka 1st floor for you Americans) is ordered chronologically. The sheer quantity of objects is amazing. There is NO AC in the building except for King Tut’s room and the Royal Mummy rooms, so be prepared for hot. Especially if hauling around a baby in a carrier like I did with DS. Who is fully a toddler in weight and size. Phew! Luckily we could bring in water and I chugged it throughout and tracked down fans that were blowing throughout the museum.
DD was mostly interested in finding King Tut and the mummies, so we did the ground floor pretty quickly and then moved upstairs. Lots of mummy sarcophagi, canopic jars, statues, plus King Tut’s room. No photos are allowed in his room unfortunately, but there was AC and his famous mask. It is pretty awesome. He had some very cool gold jewelry too that DD loved seeing.
Next we wound our way to the opposite side to the Royal Mummy room. There is an additional charge to go in there. 100 LE a person–so more than it cost to get into the rest of the museum. This brought our total up to $22 for 2 adults and two free children. The mummies are pretty awesome and it is awe inspiring how old they are! 3500 years old or so (give or take a lot depending on which dynasty).
Worked our way back down and outside where I tried to find the children’s museum I had read about where they had Lego structures of mummies and kids could build, but it was closed. Asked the gift shop workers about it and it seems to be permanently closed. The government is building a new larger museum near the Giza pyramids. It was supposed to open in 2012, but was significantly delayed due to the many political events in Egypt at that time. It is progressing along now, and I gather one wing is actually open. Anyway, it seems that some of the extra aspects of the current museum are not being used or fixed because of that.
Overall, it was a great morning! Will definitely go back sometime sans kids so I can really explore and read.
Arrival–opens at 9, but show up about 9:30 or 10 to avoid the lines and crowds at security and ticket purchasing.
Food and beverage–bring your own. The restaurant is closed (looks damaged and permanently closed) and there didn’t appear to be anywhere to buy water. It is HOT inside, you’ll want a drink. You can have a snack or lunch outside in the shade upon exiting the gift shop at the end. Or eat before hand in the courtyard.
Strollers and Wheelchairs–it is friendly for both of these. Just two floors and seemed to have ramps everywhere needed. I gather there is an elevator somewhere to get up to the next floor, though I didn’t specifically see it. With strollers, might be easier just to carry it up if possible. Royal Mummy rooms would be tricky with strollers and you have to go through a turnstyle to enter them. Perhaps tag teaming with another adult and leaving the stroller the mummy room entrance–it doesn’t take long to view them. I saw one stroller today in the museum.
Bathrooms–I saw bathrooms halfway up the stairs between the two floors if you turn left from the main entrance. I’m not sure about other locations. Did not go inside them, but my assumption is no changing tables as that is not common here.
Transportation–we took an Uber there and back. Cost just under 30 pounds, or about $1.70 each way from Maadi. There were a ton of white taxis on the Corniche just past the museum, plus some taxi drivers waiting right at the exit. Plenty of options. There were also a ton of tour groups if that’s your thing.
Kid Highlights–depends on your kids, but if they’ve done any sort of reading about ancient Egypt, then King Tut’s room (upstairs, backside) and the Royal Mummy rooms (main room is upstairs, front side right if facing the building. secondary room is upstairs front left) are pretty cool. DD also loved the animal mummy room (upstairs front) and the hieroglyphics (all over).