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Landing in Cairo International Airport, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. I’d been restless for a true adventure for ages, and so while the usual new country nerves were buzzing, the sense of relief I felt at having made a dream into a reality was stronger.

Whatever the next three weeks had in store for me — much of which was literally still up in the air as the wheels touched the ground — it was going to be just what I needed.

Cairo Egypt Solo Female Travel Blog
Cairo Egypt Solo Female Travel Blog

One thing I did know? Where I was staying for the next three nights.

Egypt’s hostel scene is pretty weak, and while luxury hotel brands can be had for a fraction of what they run elsewhere in the world, their aesthetics just weren’t my style. So I turned to Airbnb, and found the most incredible room in a flat straight out of a home design magazine for a mere $28 per night! (New to Airbnb? Get $40 off your first booking using my discount code.)

It was my first time renting a room on Airbnb and not a full apartment or house, which I was tad apprehensive over, but I shouldn’t have been. While I only met two of the other three women who shared the space, it was a warm, welcoming haven and I often had it to myself. There was a balcony overlooking a bustling little square and I loved starting my mornings there, cup of tea in hand, watching the world wake up while I worked. I can’t imagine a more perfect place to sleep off jetlag and ease into the chaos of a new country. Bonus? Free dog to cuddle!

Chic Airbnb in Maadi Cairo

Chic Airbnb in Maadi Cairo

Chic Airbnb in Maadi Cairo
Chic Airbnb in Maadi Cairo

Chic Airbnb in Maadi Cairo

Chic Airbnb in Maadi Cairo

The flat was in a neighborhood called Maadi, a lush, affluent neighborhood south of Central Cairo. While I started out stressed about the distance between it and Zamalek, where it seemed most tourists stayed, I actually enjoyed the seclusion from the full hustle and bustle.

My first morning venturing out into the world, I braced myself for the full stop pandemonium I’d heard was Cairo… and found myself in a leafy suburb instead. It was a similar “ha ha Alex, you’re an idiot” moment to the one I’d had when I arrived in a super posh neighborhood of São Paulo, Brazil and walked out of my hostel with nothing but a credit card in my bra, preparing to be mugged at the next intersection and found exactly what I found in Maadi… People jogging, tidying their lawns, walking with expensive strollers and iPhones and quietly going about their business. Facepalm! Maadi was no hassle, no stress, and I felt this crazy surge of energy walking through its streets, that familiar rush of being on the road alone again.

Maadi Cairo
Maadi Cairo

Maadi Cairo

As for getting around the rest of Cairo, it was an easy metro ride up to Downtown — more about that in my next post — and Ubers were so cheap it felt criminal. Getting to Giza and the airport were both comparable to if I’d been staying in Zamalek, actually, so the only one really crazy long Uber ride I took was after having dinner with friends there. It was over 45 minutes… and cost less than $4USD. So yeah, it turned out staying down in Maadi was not an issue.

The only thing that gave me pause was the truly staggering amount of trash that would become a sadly familiar sight across Egypt. In Maadi, which otherwise seemed like this posh little pocket of bliss, it seemed so out of place to be kicking garbage out of the way when you walked down the street.

Stop sign in Cairo

Maadi Cairo

I admit, I loved the expat-oriented food options available in Maadi. I had weeks of authentic, hole-in-the-wall Egyptian food ahead of me (which guys, I was SURPRISINGLY INTO!), so I was more than happy to ease in with treats like avocado toast at Ovio Maadi, juices and salads from Lychee, and modern shakshuka pitas at the hip Zööba.

Zooba Maadi Cairo

Zooba Maadi Cairo
Zooba Maadi Cairo

Maadi Cairo

However, there’s really no contest when it came to the most scenic meal I had in Cairo. Brace yourself for it…

Pyramids Pizza Hut Egypt

What! When my friends Shannon and Sam from and I realized we’d all be in Cairo at the same time, we of course coordinated a big Thailand reunion at the Pyramids of Giza. And in true expat form, we geeked out when we saw that there was a Pizza Hut with an air-conditioned, A+ view of the pyramids from which to enjoy our loaded breadsticks.

After alarming the Hut staff with our enthusiastic reunion, we over-ordered like whoa, though our new friends very sweetly offered to store our leftovers so we could swing back and pick them up when we were done sightseeing. That kind of lovely hospitality was to become one of my fondest memories of Egypt (that, and the breadsticks… KIDDING!)

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Solo Female Travel to the Pyramids of Giza

If you too are a traveler who doesn’t shudder deep on a soul lever at the mere thought of eating international chain food abroad, Sam researched a pretty neat little hack for those sticking around Giza at night: Pizza Hut has a third floor rooftop that has crazy views over the Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids. Rather than pay to go in and sit in a row of plastic folding chairs to watch, post up on the roof and pound a pizza instead!

Solo Female Travel to the Pyramids of Giza

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt
Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

While walking into the pyramids (admission 120EGP, or $6.70USD), we decided to just kinda do our own thing. We briefly debated hiring a guide, but Shannon and I had both heavily researched my copy of Lonely Planet Middle East and we knew that we had so much gossiping catching up to do, there’s no way any guide we’d hire would come out of the experience un-traumatized.

So instead we decided to simply wander around the complex and let the whims of the day lead us. Shannon’s big priority was going inside the Great Pyramid, my big priority was holding hands with Shannon, and Sam’s big priority was surviving the day with us two fools.

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Going inside the Grand Pyramid was kind of a crazy experience. It was hilariously chaotic figuring out how the heck to get in there — we actually had to go back out via a different entrance, buy tickets there (300EGP or $17US), and then re-enter the pyramid complex, and then climb up the pyramid a few steps to enter. When we did, the guards saw me putting my water bottle in my bag and said “camera?!” and frantically pawed at my bag, which did, in fact, contain a huge camera. I showed them the water bottle, yelled “no camera!” and ran inside, ha. But what the heck was I supposed to do, leave my Canon 6D with them? Um, no. They were literally chilling on plastic chairs on the edge of a pyramid, so there was hardly a formal electronics check system in place. So if you don’t have someone to leave your camera with on the outside of the pyramids, hide it well in your bag to avoid hassles at the entrance.

Once inside, as we started the ascent up the steep, narrow, dark and sweaty interior of the pyramid, I had a momentary flash of, what the HECK and I doing up in this claustrophobia-fest. I had a moment of near-vertigo where I literally had to pretend that I was on a challenging scuba dive so I could reach the same level of practiced zen to carry on. I thought I was the only one on the edge of a freak out, but when we were all back on solid ground Shannon confessed she’d also been staving off a meltdown. So basically, it was an incredibly humbling and memorable experience to walk deep within the belly of a pyramid — but proceed with caution if you think it might send you into a tailspin. This isn’t Disney and there are no emergency exits.

Going Inside the Great Pyramid

Oh yeah. And I snuck one photo. Everyone was doing it! To which I can practically hear my mom saying, “if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you do it too?” And my sassy self would probably ask what was at the bottom.

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Solo Female Travel to the Pyramids of Giza

And then, Grand Pyramid tackled, we continued our aimless wandering, fending off enthusiastic offers to camel and carriage rides, tour guiding, and photography assistance at every turn. Shannon’s tactic for the most common offer, the camel ride, was an effective one — she’d shriek, say “I’m afraid of camels!” and everyone would laugh just long enough for us to make an escape. Feel free to adopt for your own travels.

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

After what felt like a brag-worthy length of wandering through the desert, we reached the famous pyramid viewpoint. Here, we paused to admire the awe-inspiring complex we’d spent the day in — and the step counts on our iPhones.

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

Visiting the Pyramids Independently in Egypt

As much as I love solo travel and was thrilled to be doing so much of it this trip, I seriously couldn’t believe my luck at getting to experience this world wonder with one of my best friends. I cried my eyes out the night this little lady said goodbye to Thailand back in January and missed her something fierce ever since — it was so nice to be back in hugging distance once again.

And we had one more hilarious adventure before we parted ways and I headed back to Maadi to succumb to jetlag for the evening. We needed to get back to our starting point to catch Ubers and pick up our Pizza Hut leftovers (most importantly, of course), but none of us were up for another trek through the sand, and we didn’t feel great about the camel or carriage options, either. I’m not ethically opposed to camel or horse riding the way I am elephant riding — this explains why quite well — but we just weren’t sure if these camels or horses were the healthiest and happiest looking, so we decided to skip it to be safe.

However, when we saw a sweet old green hooptie chock full of locals, Sam asked if we could hitch a ride. After negotiating an extremely reasonable rate — I believe we paid 40EGP — they escorted us straight through the pyramids to the original gate. We have no idea how they had permission to drive inside the complex but hey, this is Egypt.

The Pyramids of Giza Travel Blog

The Pyramids of Giza Travel Blognormally I don’t allow this many chins to see the light of day but hey, look how happy we are

The Pyramids of Giza Travel Blog
The Pyramids of Giza Travel Blog

Next up, a day at the Egyptian Museum and Islamic Cairo!

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41 Comments...
  • I almost had a panic attack just reading about your near-panic attack! I believe it was the Mummy (or whatever tomb-themed thing) that was the only BTS house I couldn’t go into when we were doing our Halloween Horror Nights tour! Waaaaaay too claustrophobic for that, so perhaps I’ll admire the pyramids from the Pizza Hut if ever I make it that way 😉

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      Hahaha, which is funny because that’s the only one I DID go in… thanks to Rick kindly allowing me to hide my face in his shirt the whole time. Pizza Hut would definitely be a safe vantage point from which to experience the inside of the pyramids for you. Lol!

  • Taylor
    May 27 2018

    I’m pretty sure I have that Airbnb saved under a Cairo folder on my account haha!! I’m glad you enjoyed it I’ll have to look it up if I ever make my way there. As always your photos are beautiful! Can’t wait to see the rest of your Egypt posts 😊

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      It’s basically the one baller Airbnb in Cairo so I’d guess that a LOT of people have their eye on it 😉 It’s the perfect place for women traveling solo!

  • Kathryn Allen
    May 27 2018

    I could never go inside a pyramid and admire you for doing it despite the terrifying feeling of being too closed in. I can panic when the covers on my bed are tucked in too tightly!

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      Yeah, I would definitely recommend admiring from the outside for you 🙂

  • Lisa
    May 28 2018

    Such a great post as always! I’m working on my Egypt trip now so timing is perfect!!!

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      Yay! So glad this worked out so that I could give you some ideas and inspiration 🙂 I am soooo excited to hear about your trip!

      • Lisa
        May 29 2018

        Thank you!!!
        My inspiration!

        • Alex
          June 14 2018

          You’re the best <3

      • Lisa
        May 29 2018

        Thank you!!!
        My inspiration!
        Did you have an Air Bnb in either Sharm or Dahab?
        I have four extra days before I get on my week long liveaboard and am trying to figure out where to stay. They will be non diving days…only recovering from jetlag and R&R
        Thank you!!!!

        • Alex
          June 14 2018

          Hey Lisa! In Sharm I highly recommend Sinai Old Spices. I think I may have recommended it to you on Instagram? It’s pretty off the beaten path but we just LOVED it. Totally unique and feels super bohemian. Perfect for some R+R!

          • Lisa
            June 15 2018

            Omygosh…seriously..you are my travel fairy godmother.
            I didn’t see your recommendation on Instagram so my apologies. I must have missed it.
            I already have ‘Sinai Old Spices’ booked! I was a little concerned about being away from the ocean (I know you get that) so thought I’d split my time.
            I had just decided to stick with my original plan as the owner is so responsive and seems amazing!!
            I only have four free days before my liveaboard so I’ll try to go on a day trip to Dahab and not stress myself out by moving.
            Thank you!!!
            🙏 😘😇

      • Lisa
        June 15 2018

        Thank you!!!!
        Next time you are in the region message me and I can give you some tips about visiting Jordan…it was unreal!!

        • Alex
          June 15 2018

          I am absolutely planning to go to Jordan! I loved it there!

          • Lisa
            June 15 2018

            Oh that’s great! With long term travel things can start to run into each other but Jordan and Petra made me weep…I was awestruck.
            😍

  • Marisa
    May 28 2018

    Gosh – I remember going into that pyramid and quietly freaking out also – I think I stayed a minute before noping the hell out of there! It was so incredibly claustrophobic! The area you stayed in looked amazing!

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      Once we got to the top I chilled out a bit but that initial climb was like WHAT IS HAPPENING IS THIS SAFE WHERE ARE THE EMERGENCY EXITS?!?!?! Haha. Glad we made it! I wonder how often people need to be carted out of there, catatonic!

  • caroline peters
    May 28 2018

    Looks incredible! And that neighbourhood looks such a great find and transition into Egypt!

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      It was just what I needed! I think I’d have a totally different impression of Cairo had I not stayed there.

  • Dominique
    May 28 2018

    Fun!

    Cairo has tickled my interest for years after multiple visits to the seaside resorts of Egypt. My idea of Cairo comes from old movies (hello, sassy Brendan Fraser!) and I always pictured the hustle-and-bustle of the town but not stylish and tasty restaurants! Let alone beautiful AirBnB with dreamy balconies! I can’t wait to read more about your trip!
    Dominique recently posted..Product Review – A Map of the World from Wereldkaarten.nl (plus Giveaway!)

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      Oh girl you definitely need to tack in a few days in Cairo to your next trip! I really, really loved it there.

  • Amanda
    May 28 2018

    Sounds like you had such a great Cairo experience! I stayed in one of those “fancy” tourist hotels, and believe me – you weren’t missing much! Haha. I love the Pizza Hut hack, and how happy you guys look in all your photos!

    I, too, was really surprised by going inside the Great Pyramid. I didn’t get particularly claustrophobic, but it was so HOT in there (I went in December, so it was noticeably hotter inside than out), and because there was another group behind us we went straight up without any breaks. My legs were sore the next day!
    Amanda recently posted..Dart River Adventures: The Most Fun Way to Explore Mount Aspiring National Park

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      Oh gosh yeah that thing was like a stairmaster times ten thousand. I was dying at the really narrow part, when people were just squeezing past in each direction. I was like, um, surely there’s a more organized way to do this, ha ha.

  • “So instead we decided to simply wander around the complex and let the whims of the day lead us. Shannon’s big priority was going inside the Great Pyramid, my big priority was holding hands with Shannon, and Sam’s big priority was surviving the day with us two fools.” Haw! Haw! ‘Love it!

    Seriously though, I’ve been to Egypt 4 times, and I absolutely loved it! The first time we went, we were there for 2 weeks, so we did a week of the Pyramids of Kings, and a week “resting” and snorkelling on the Red Sea.

    The pyramid thing was crazy. It was so hot that I couldn’t breathe (I’m asthmatic), & actually fainted! Yeah, that was fun. I was with a bunch of Germans, and I was the only one who fainted, and the only one who ended up spending the rest of our holiday in the shade!

    You guys look like you had so much fun. Yay!
    Victoria@TheBritishBerliner recently posted..Best of Eastern Europe. And that’s official!

    • Alex
      May 29 2018

      Wait, you fainted IN the Pyramid?! How did they get you out! I was actually wondering about this exact scenario!

      • We’d been to many of the pyramids and we were OUTSIDE one of them, when it happened.

        We had a guide who was introducing the history, and as much as I love history, he was droning on and on (in German no less too!), and it was about 09:00 and it was burning hot! I tried to stay focused and concentrate, but I just couldn’t, and simply dropped to the floor!

        The staff were great & my boyfriend was with me, so everyone rushed around and got me back to our ship (we were on a cruise & thankfully, our ship was privately sourced, so were weren’t more than 50 people, with about 20 staff I believe.) A doctor was sent for, and I had to stay in bed for 2 days!

        Oh yeah, and that was where I discovered that I had a heat allergy! Ha! Ha! Go figure!
        Victoria@TheBritishBerliner recently posted..Best of Eastern Europe. And that’s official!

        • Alex
          June 14 2018

          Dang! A heat allergy definitely does not sound conducive to travel in Egypt 😉

  • I was so inspired seeing this side of Cairo! Egypt was put on a no-go list by my government a long time ago and after reading this post I went to check if that had been lifted — turns out it has, at least partially. So Cairo is definitely back on my list now.
    Jay @ The pathway there recently posted..How to travel Oman on a budget

    • Alex
      June 14 2018

      Hey Jay! There are several areas in Egypt that I think are WELL worth exploration and a dose of adventure. Stay tuned for more 🙂

  • Ijana Loss
    May 29 2018

    Those pictures of Cairo look like they could have been taken in any major city suburb in the world! I suppose you have to get good at saying no to all the salespeople, but aside from that the experience you described seems so much calmer than what people make Egypt out to be 😛

    • Alex
      June 14 2018

      For me it really was! There are so many possible reasons why that could be but all I know is — I’m grateful!

  • Megan
    May 31 2018

    Thanks for this post! I’m considering stopping in Egypt next year as part of a bigger trip. A friend of mine who traveled there said she did not feel safe going out alone (and she’s a pretty experienced traveler).
    As a result, I’ve been considering booking a tour (which I never do). It seems you have had a different experience. I know you were with a friend, but do you think you would feel OK about traveling in Egypt solo?

    • Alex
      June 14 2018

      Hey Megan! I had overall a very positive experience but there are just SO many factors that can go into that — luck being one of them! I actually just wrote a full post about my decision to take a group tour — curious to hear what you think after reading it!

      • Megan
        June 14 2018

        Hey Alex! I did read that post today, actually. It sounds like I could probably do Cairo solo, and join a group tour for everything else. Thanks for blogging about a budget tour. Other ones I was looking at were way more than I would want to pay.

        • Alex
          June 15 2018

          You’re welcome Megan! I also think, if you wanted to add in some beach and diving time, Dahab is SO easily do-able solo. It’s the one place I went in Egypt that had a true backpacker vibe. I’ll be blogging about it soon!

  • jenn
    June 1 2018

    What a fun journey! I can’t believe that you were able to get a room that cheap! I’ll have to check it out for myself.

    • Alex
      June 14 2018

      I know! It really was one of my best Airbnb finds ever.

  • Isha
    June 6 2018

    Loved your way of writing. The photos are pretty and the place you stayed looks beautiful. I am sure you had a wonderful time and it was a real adventure going inside the pyramid. Wow! Appreciate it.

    • Alex
      June 14 2018

      Thanks Isha. You’re too kind!

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