Most travelers try to avoid layovers on their way to the final destination but that’s not always an option.
Luckily, those whose flight plans include spending up to 2 days in Egypt on their way to another country have several alternatives to take advantage of the situation.
That’s because passengers with 6 to 48 hours can leave Egyptian airports provided they have a transit visa for Egypt.
Two days is enough to see some of Egypt’s top attractions if the itinerary is carefully planned. Some companies offer 1 or 2-day guided tours which are a good option for seeing as much of the area as possible in this short time frame.
However, travelers with fewer than 6 hours between flights and those without a transit visa must remain inside the airport.
With plenty to see and do in close proximity to the country’s main international airports, transit visa holders can take advantage of 2 days in Egypt. Those who wish to spend longer than 48 hours in Egypt must apply for a tourist visa.
Foreigners with a layover at Cairo International Airport can find information below about what to see and where to stay close by. The top attractions near Luxor and Hurghada International Airports are also listed.
What to Visit Near Cairo International Airport
Cairo International Airport is one of Egypt’s main ports of entry with more than 65 airlines operating domestic and international flights.
Being so well connected to other cities and countries, many foreigners catch connecting flights out of Cairo Int’l Airport.
There are many tourist attractions in close proximity to Cairo’s airport. To see and do as much as possible in 48 hours it’s advisable to hire a car. A number of vehicle rental companies are stationed at the airport but foreigners should be aware of Egypt’s driving conditions and regulations before getting behind the wheel.
From religious monuments to places of natural beauty, visitors can get a sense of the Egyptian culture and lifestyle in a short period of time.
The following are some of the most impressive places to see within an hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Cairo airport.
Al-Azhar mosque, a significant Islamic religious building
This is one of the most important Egyptian mosques and widely known in the Islamic world. First opened in 970, it is the first mosque to have been built in Cairo.
The oldest part of Al-Azhar today is the central courtyard, whilst the minarets date from the 14th to 16th centuries. The architecture is varied and interesting.
- Distance from Cairo airport: 14 miles (23km)
- Journey time: 53 minutes by car
- Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm
The Coptic Museum: Egyptian artifacts and Coptic artwork
Founded in 1908, the Coptic Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Egyptian artifacts plus some of the most important examples of Coptic art.
By visiting this museum, tourists can use their short transit to learn about the complete history of Egypt, from its origins right up to the present day. It is a good idea to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Distance from Cairo airport: 17 miles (28km)
- Journey time: 1 hour by car
- Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm
Khan Al Khalili market offers an authentic shopping experience
For a unique shopping experience, travelers can head to Khan Al Khalili, one of the oldest markets anywhere in the Middle East. The market dates back over 600 years and has maintained much of its original architecture.
With a large variety of shops and bazaars, tourists can pick up souvenirs before catching a flight to their next destination. Some of the goods on offer are rugs, jewelry, and papyrus. There are also several dining options.
- Distance from Cairo airport: 33 miles (53km)
- Journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes by car
- Opening hours: 9 am till late
The Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza
The Giza Pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the World and recognized across the globe.
Passengers transiting through Cairo can take advantage of their spare time to visit the pyramids, one of Egypt’s top tourist attractions.
Built as tombs for the powerful Pharaohs, the landmarks are an impressive site and feature on almost every Egyptian travel itinerary. The emblematic Sphinx is another highlight.
- Distance from Cairo airport: 35 miles (57km)
- Journey time: 1 hour 25 minutes by car
- Opening hours: 8 am to 4 pm (October to March) 7 am to 7 pm (April to September)
The Pyramid of Djoser is Egypt’s earliest colossal stone building
In addition to the Giza complex, sightseers with 2 days in Cairo should consider visiting the Pyramid of Djoser. The pyramid, which was built to bury Pharaoh Djoser, was constructed in the 27th century BC and is the focal point of an expansive mortuary complex.
This pyramid has 6 tiers and 4 sides and is 205 feet high, it was reopened in March 2020 following a 14-year restoration.
- Distance from Cairo airport: 40 miles (65km)
- Journey time: 1 hour 16 minutes by car
- Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm, depending on the season
The Egyptian Museum holds exhibitions of Egyptian antiquities
The best place in Cairo to see ancient Egyptian artefacts, with over 100,000 items ranging from jewellery to funeral facilities. There are temporary and permanent exhibitions and guided tours are also available.
Activities are held for children which can be reserved online in advance.
- Distance from Cairo airport: 13 miles (21km)
- Journey time: 34 minutes
- Opening hours: 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday 10 am to 2 pm
Where to Stay Near Cairo International Airport (CAI)
Travelers with longer layovers may need to spend the night close to the airport. Luckily, there are several accommodation options available.
The closest hotels to Cairo International Airport are just over a mile (1.9km) away and cost around $70 to $75 a night.
More luxurious alternatives can be found slightly further away, some have entertainment and spa facilities. A number of hotels also offer free airport transfers, check when making the reservation.
If no free transfer is available, plenty of taxi companies are in operation around the airport.
Luxor International Airport Layover
Luxor International Airport serves the popular tourist destination of Luxor, famous for its ancient temple complexes.
48 hours in Luxor is enough time to see some of the important monuments to be found here, including:
- Valley of the kings: 50 minutes by car from Luxor airport
- Valley of the Queens: 45 minutes from Luxor airport
- Luxor temple: 16 minutes from Luxor airport
- Karnak temple: 15 minutes from Luxor airport
There is a great deal to see and do in Luxor, should tourists decide that they wish to explore the area more thoroughly they should apply for an eVisa for Egypt, the single-entry visa that allows for stays of up to 30 days.
Hurghada International Airport Attractions
Hurghada is one of the major tourist attractions on the Red Sea Coast. The area is popular for its long beaches with calm and clear waters.
Two days in Hurghada is enough time to visit some of the dive sites around Abu Ramada Island including Fanadir and Giftun Soraya.
Hurghada Grand Aquarium, Egypt’s largest Aquarium is also worth a visit and is just an 11-minute drive from the airport.
Mini Egypt Park featuring miniature buildings and models of some of the country’s most emblematic sights is a good option for travelers with children, 30 minutes from Hurghada International Airport.