• Local's Guide To Egypt

Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 9 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit


If you’re visiting Cairo but on a budget, you don’t have to worry about sightseeing breaking the bank. Besides our list of 10 things to do in Cairo on a budget, there’s actually a bunch of awesome sites that actually cost nothing --yes, as in for free-- to visit. Can’t find a better deal than that!


PS: looking for a detailed Cairo itinerary? Check out our 1 day, 2 day and 3 day itineraries.



1. Ibn Tulun Mosque


Ibn Tulun. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit

Location: Old Cairo


Established: 884 AD


Ibn Tulun is not only the oldest mosque in Cairo in its original form, but also the largest. It also has one of the very few minarets in the world where the staircase is on the outside and lends to stunning views of the city.


The mosque was built by Ahmed Ibn Tulun, an Abbassid governor in Egypt, and it’s said that he was inspired by his homeland of Iraq. Some historians maintain that Ibn Tulun mosque has the world’s first pointed arch, some 200 years before Europe started incorporating Gothic arches in their architecture.


Ibn Tulun. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit
Photo credit: archnet.org

While entrance to the mosque is free, the caretakers regularly ask for donations which is up to your discretion. They also ask you to buy shoe covers (5 EGP per person/20 cents per person), but you can take off your shoes and carry them if you prefer.


Local tip: make sure to climb to the top of the minaret!


Read more about Egypt's 10 most beautiful mosques.



2. Hanging Church


Hanging church. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit

Location: Coptic Cairo


Established: 690 AD


One of the most famous churches in Egypt, The Hanging Church is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Historic Cairo.


It got the name of ‘Hanging Church’ (or ‘Suspended Church’ in Arabic, ‘El Moallaqa’) because of its location above a Roman fortress gatehouse. When it was first built the pillars of the gatehouse would have been easily seen, creating the ‘hanging’ effect of the church, but now are buried due to the rise of the ground over the past 1300 years.


Hanging church. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit

The church is believed to be the first basilica style church built in Egypt, and houses 110 icons, most made of ebony and some inlaid with ivory, the oldest and holiest dating back to the 8th century.


For more churches and cathedrals in Egypt you need to visit, head here.



3. Ben Ezra Synagogue


ben ezra synagogue. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit

Location: Coptic Cairo


Established: 882 AD


Originally a Coptic Church (it’s actually situated right behind the Hanging Church), Abraham Ben Ezra from Jerusalem bought the church and converted it to a synagogue. It’s believed to be the spot where the baby Moses was found.


The synagogue went through a series of renovations over the centuries, with the current structure dating back to 1892. It’s built in the style of a basilica, with two floors: the first floor dedicated to men, and the 2nd dedicated to women.


ben ezra synagogue. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit

Due to the huge decline in the Jewish community in Cairo, the synagogue now functions as a museum and a tourist attraction as opposed to an operating place of worship.



4. Khan El Khalili & Moez Street


khan el khalili. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit

Location: Old Cairo


This sprawling souq is not just a bazaar where you can buy jewelry, antiques, handicrafts and souvenirs -- it’s also a piece of history, dating back to the 14th century when it was a large caravanserai, housing merchants and their wares. Head here for our full Khan el Khalili guide.


Khan el Khalili today is an integral part of Old Cairo, and the architecture and surrounding areas like Moez Street are reason enough to go (a UN study found that Moez Street has the highest concentration of medieval Islamic architectural treasures in the world). This whole area is called Historic Cairo, and is one of Egypt's 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


muizz street. Cairo Sightseeing For Free: 10 Awesome Sites That Don’t Cost Anything To Visit

For our detailed local's guide to Moez Street and all its treasures, head here.


Local tip: go at night to see all the medieval Islamic architecture lit up.