What’s the Best Time of the Year to Visit the Pyramids?

Spectacular in size and scope, the Pyramids of Giza have attracted tourists for thousands of years.

Jun 29, 2024By Greg Beyer, BA History & Linguistics, Journalism Diploma

best time to visit the pyramids

 

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the Pyramids of Giza are symbolic not just of Egypt, but of the incredible feats of our ancient ancestors. They were built as tombs for the dead pharaohs, and have been subject to the ravages of time, as well as grave-robbers and scavengers. Yet their visage remains iconic, attracting millions of tourists every year who make their way through metropolitan Cairo to the pyramids towering above on the edge of the urban sprawl. 

 

For any tourist, deciding when to visit these great monuments is something to consider. 

 

What Are the Pyramids?

Aerial photograph of the Giza Pyramids. Image: Raimond Spekking / Wikimedia Commons

 

Sitting on the Giza Plateau, a rocky elevation on the east bank of the Nile, the Pyramids of Giza are the most famous pyramids in Egypt. Built in the 3rd Millennium BCE, the Pyramids are named for whom they were built – Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. The Pyramids are massive tombs and contained the mummified remains of these pharaohs.

 

The site also includes the remains of temples, cemeteries and the workers’ village that housed those who constructed these monuments. Nearby is also the Sphinx, famous for having the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh, although it is theorized by many that the original structure had the head of lion too, which was recarved. 

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Avoiding the Tourists

Crowds of tourists gather to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza. Image: Wikimedia Commons

 

Attracting more than 14 million tourists per year, the Pyramids of Giza are a bigger tourist attraction than the Louvre in Paris. While this is an astonishing feat, it also means that at the height of tourist season, there are crowds of people everywhere, and getting a clear photograph of these Ancient Wonders without tourists in the way is next to impossible. 

 

Of prime importance to most people visiting the pyramids is the time of year. The vast majority of Egypt is covered by the Sahara Desert. It is a hot country and the capital of Cairo is no exception. From May to September, the mercury rises, with a daily average of well above 90°F (32.2°C). For many, this heat is particularly uncomfortable, so the winter months draw the biggest crowds as tourists from around the globe flock to take advantage of the cooler weather. 

 

November to February is peak tourist season, so those wishing to take advantage of smaller crowds and wanting to avoid the oppressive heat, should plan their visit to coincide with either end of this period. Additionally, weekends are busier, so choosing to visit the Pyramids during work days is preferable to those wanting to avoid the crowds. 

 

Getting There

A camel near the Pyramids. Image: David Dennis / Wikimedia Commons

 

The Pyramids of Giza are located on the western edge of the City of Giza which is part of the Greater Cairo metropolis, just a mile from where the buildings give way to rocky desert. Given the prominence of the Pyramids to the Egyptian tourism economy, tour buses and other forms of transport are readily available. 

 

Traveling through the Cairo streets can be heart-stopping for nervous passengers, but once out of the city and onto the Giza Plateau, the experience becomes a lot calmer.  Tour buses travel right to the edge of the pyramids, so walking through the desert is not necessary. Once there, most people opt to walk about, but there is always the option to observe the site from atop a camel. Be wary though! Unscrupulous camel handlers will charge a pittance to get on the camel, only to charge an extra fee to get off at the end of the ride!

 

Other Things to Do

The Sphinx. Image: Fabio Minetto / pexels.com

 

Looking at the Great Pyramids of Giza isn’t the only thing to do while in the Giza Necropolis. East of the Pyramid of Khafre is the famous Sphinx which gazes eastwards. 

 

For those wishing to get out of the sun and experience Ancient Egypt up close and personal, tours inside all three of the Great Pyramids are available, and tourists can see the final resting place of the pharaohs who were buried within these incredible structures. 

 

A trip to Egypt is incomplete without a visit to the Giza Necropolis to wonder at the marvels of the Great Pyramids. Monumental in form, these pyramids are the only Ancient Wonder of the World left standing, and are sure to be standing many centuries, even millennia, from now. 

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By Greg BeyerBA History & Linguistics, Journalism DiplomaGreg specializes in African History. He holds a BA in History & Linguistics and a Journalism Diploma from the University of Cape Town. A former English teacher, he now excels in academic writing and pursues his passion for art through drawing and painting in his free time.