For years now there’s been a huge buzz about the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo – a museum several decades in the making, which, when finished, will be the largest archaeological museum in the world. It’ll be the permanent home for over 100,000 Ancient Egyptian artifacts, including the complete King Tut treasure collection, for the first time ever.
Is the Grand Egyptian Museum open yet?
There’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the museum IS pretty much finished, but the bad news is that it’s not open to the public yet (or at least, the interior galleries and collections still aren’t open. You can see the Grand Hall, commercial area and outside gardens if you book a guided mini tour, but more about that below when we discuss the tours).
Museum officials say that the Grand Egyptian Museum will officially be open in late 2023, but to be honest, the opening date has been punted multiple times so we shall see. We’ll continue to update this article as soon as we find out the confirmed opening date! But it’s likely to be 2024 if not late 2023 – so less than a year from now, hopefully.
It’s predicted that once open, the Grand Egyptian Museum will receive 15,000 visits daily - 5 million a year, which is triple what the current Egyptian Museum of Antiquities (Cairo Museum in Tahrir Square) receives annually.
Can I Book A Grand Egyptian Museum Tour Before It’s Officially Open?
Yes you can, but it will be a guided mini tour.
So first things first: we want to be super clear when we say that this guided mini tour is NOT a full museum tour; in fact, you won’t be seeing any proper Grand Egyptian Museum exhibitions or galleries at all. We just want that piece of information to be crystal clear so that people don’t have certain expectations and then be disappointed when they buy tickets for the mini tour and don’t get a full museum experience.
The guided mini tour is mainly to give visitors a sneak peek into the incredible architecture of the museum, to share history and context, and to give both tourists and locals alike a toe dip into what will soon be one of the most impressive museums in the world. The guides are incredibly well-versed in not only the history of the museum, but the history of Egypt as a whole. Not only will they explain clearly to you everything you’re looking at, but also will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Here’s the most important information about booking your tour:
You can book and pay for a mini tour from the Grand Egyptian Museum’s booking site: www.visit-gem.com (don’t be weirded out if the website looks a little dated; it is in fact legit and safe to use)
There are four daily Grand Egyptian Museum guided tour slots a day: 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm (the museum’s gates open at 9 am and close by 6 pm)
Each tour lasts about 45 minutes
The guided tours are either in English or Arabic, and you select which language you prefer upon buying your ticket. If you would like a different language besides English or Arabic and you’re a big enough group, please contact: email@example.com
You have to book your tour ticket online in advance, there are no ticket sales at the museum (we list the different ticket prices further down in this article)
You won’t be able to gain access to the Grand Egyptian Museum’s parking lot without your ticket and QR code (which you’ll receive via email once you buy your ticket online)
There’s free museum entry for children under 6 years old
There’s a Children Museum Tour for kids ages 6-12, with its own programs and tickets (more info about this below)
You’re not allowed to bring in food or drinks into the museum (you can purchase from the Grand Egyptian Museum’s restaurants and cafes, we listed the different restaurants they have below)
You can only take pictures with your phone or small handheld camera, professional cameras, tripods, etc. are not allowed (and there are certain areas where you’re not allowed to take pictures at all, but a museum attendant will inform you of those places)
So what WILL you see on the Grand Egyptian Museum mini tour?
You’ll meet your tour guide in the museum’s outer courtyard past the ticket gates. He or she will introduce themselves, and distribute headphones (free of charge) so that you can hear them clearly throughout the tour.
This is a summary of what you’ll see in the Grand Egyptian Museum:
The Grand Egyptian Museum’s outer gardens, where you can take in the beautiful architecture of the museum and its surrounding courtyard – including a hanging obelisk
The museum’s inner Grand Hall, where you will see a 3,200 year old statue of Ramses II, a column of King Merneptah, and two other Ancient Egyptian Ptolemac statues
You can stand at the bottom of the Grand Staircase and see the ancient statues flanking both sides, but you can’t go up the Grand Staircase or take pictures (you are allowed however to take pictures in the Grand Hall and outer areas)
You can get something to eat or drink at the Grand Museum’s food court/dining establishments
You can browse the gift shop and curated Egyptian goods stores, and buy everything from Egyptian cookbooks to souvenirs to locally made clothes and bags.
Grand Egyptian Museum Children's Tour
GEM offers different tours and programs made especially for kids, ages 6 to 12. These aren’t daily however, so make sure to check their website to see what children tours or programs are coming up.
These programs are usually themed and based on the age of the kids, so for example there’s a program about learning about Pyramid engineering (where kids learn the principles of how the Pyramids were built, and then get to build their own with blocks), and this is for the younger kids, ages 6-9.
For the older kids (ages 9-12), there’s a program about discovering archaeological sites via robots, and the kids learn how to actually use functional robots.
There's also been other children's programs themed around chariot making and gaming in Ancient Egypt.
All programs include a guided tour of the museum dedicated just for kids (and their guardians). Please note though that the kids’ programs change so make sure to check GEM’s website for their current running programs.
Grand Egyptian Museum Ticket Prices
Ticket prices for non-Egyptians:
GEM Tour (adult): 1,000 EGP
GEM Tour (youth, age 6 - 21 years old): 500 EGP
GEM Tour (student, age up to 30 years old): 500 EGP
Children Museum Tour (age 6 - 12 years old): 500 EGP
Children Museum Tour (adult guardian): 250 EGP
Ticket Prices for Egyptians:
GEM Tour (adult): 150 EGP
GEM Tour (youth, age 6 - 21 years old): 75 EGP
GEM Tour (student, age up to 30 years old): 75 EGP
Children Museum Tour (age 6 - 12 years old): 150 EGP
Children Museum Tour (adult guardian): 75 EGP
Please note that ID and student ID will be required on site.
Restaurants & Cafes in the Grand Egyptian Museum
Your purchased tour ticket allows you access to GEM’s commercial area, which includes a selection of small restaurants, cafes and shops to relax, have something to eat or drink, and shop for souvenirs.
Here’s a list of the restaurants that have opened or are opening soon in GEM:
Zooba (upscale Egyptian street food)
30 North (cafe)
Starbucks (no explanation needed)
Dolato (ice cream)
Bittersweet (restaurant & cafe)
Ladurée (world-famous pâtisserie)
Should You Stay in the Area & Neighborhood Around the Grand Egyptian Museum?
So now that we filled you guys in on what exactly GEM is and what to expect when you’re actually there, let’s talk a little bit about the area where GEM is and whether or not you should pick your hotel or accommodations there.
Like we said above, GEM is right next to the Great Pyramids of Giza (for our full guide to the Pyramids, head here). The area is called Haram (translating to ‘Pyramids’), or Nazlet El Samman. Honestly it’s not a great neighborhood currently, but there’s huge development plans for the area over the next few years.
Staying near the Pyramids or GEM makes sense if you want to dedicate more than one day to the Pyramids of Giza, or if you want to also go visit nearby sites like the Step Pyramid at Saqqara or the Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid at Dahshur.
However if you’re only going to see the Pyramids of Giza and do the 45 minute Grand Egyptian Museum mini tour, then it’s not necessary to actually stay in the area; all the good restaurants, bars and other spots of sightseeing interest are more towards central Cairo, so it makes more sense to stay there.
Hotels Nearby to the Grand Egyptian Museum
If you do choose to stay near the Pyramids and GEM, there are a couple 5 star hotels there. Our personal favorite is the Marriott Mena House (which is on our list of 7 best hotels in Cairo as well as our list of 11 Historical Hotels in Egypt You Can Still Stay In Today). There’s also the Steigenberger Pyramids Hotel close by with great views, but it can in no way compete with the Mena House.
A new fad that we’ve witnessed thanks to Instagram and Tiktok, is people getting great Pyramid view content from little hole-in-the-wall ‘hotels’ in that area. These are definitely a case of something looking better on social media than they do in real life; while these motels DO have great views, some are actually shabby as hell and the area around is not great. A lot aren’t even registered as official hotels or motels with the government, so do your research before you book anywhere that seems a bit iffy.
Other Museums To Check Out in Cairo
If your guided tour of GEM got you all excited and wanting more, then you’re in luck! There are other museums in Cairo that you can peruse to your heart’s desire; the main ones being the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (Cairo Museum) in Tahrir Square in Downtown Cairo, where the King Tut Room is; and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization where the Royal Gallery of Mummies is.
Here’s a full list of 9 Cairo museums you should visit at least once.
We hope this extensive guide to the Grand Egyptian Museum was helpful, and we’ll be sure to update it as soon as we have new information about the opening – and when of course, we can actually visit it in its entirety, because it truly looks like it’ll be spectacular.