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There is a lot to do in Cairo and you could easily spend a few days exploring the city. Sometimes, it is nice to take a break from the busy city life and discover some places around it. Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara are perfect destinations for a day trip from Cairo.

My recommendation is to drive all the way to Dahshur and make the first stop at Dahshur, and then, on the way back, make a second stop at Memphis, and finally go and make the third stop at Saqqara.

The day trip from Cairo to Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara is going to take you a little more than half a day. So, once you are done touring Saqqara, it just makes perfect sense to head on to Giza and spend the later part of the day exploring the Pyramids of Giza.

Here are a couple of posts to help you navigate through this vast necropolis:

15 Travel-Tested Tips for Visiting the Pyramids of Giza

10 Epic Things to See and Do at the Pyramids of Giza 

Map of the Day Trip from Cairo to Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara


Image credit: Map data ©2020 ORION-ME

How to Get to Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

  • WITH A PRIVATE GUIDE AND A DRIVER

I think that having a private driver and a guide is the best way to go on this day trip from Cairo and explore Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara. This option gives you total flexibility. Also, having a knowledgeable guide by your side is simply invaluable.

Now, if you are staying in one of the hotels in Cairo, your hotel will be more than happy to arrange for you a driver and a guide. Needless to say, this is an expensive option, but it is all worth it.

  • ON A TOUR

You can ask your hotel for a day trip tour from Cairo that goes to Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara. It is probably one of the least expensive options. But, it does not give you much flexibility.

  • BY TAXI

Another option is to just book a taxi and head to Dahshur, then Memphis, and finally Saqqara. You will always be able to hire a guide right at the entrance to the Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara Archaeological Sites.

Dahshur

Dahshur is located about 35 km from Cairo and, it will take you no more than an hour to reach Dahshur traveling by car from Cairo.


Image Credit: Map data ©2020 ORION_ME

Dahshur is a royal necropolis and it is famous for its two pyramids, which are the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid.

Both pyramids are one the oldest, largest and best preserved in Egypt.

The Bent Pyramid

The Bent Pyramid was the first pyramid built at Dahshur. It was built around 2600 BC under the rule of Pharaoh Sneferu.

Unfortunately, it proved to be an unsuccessful attempt at building a smooth-sided pyramid. The structural weight calculations of the pyramid placed on the soft ground proved to be erroneous and the different blocks used for building the pyramid were not distributed appropriately causing the angle of the pyramid to be off.

So, if you look at the pyramid you can see that the bottom 147-foot section was built at a steeper 54-degree angle, while the top section was finished at a flatter 43-degree angle.

Nevertheless, it is an amazing architectural achievement and something to marvel at.

Day trip from Cairo

Bent Pyramid in Dahshur / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

Bent Pyramid in Dahshur

Bent Pyramid in Dahshur / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

What is really cool is that you can get inside the pyramid! You will be able to get to its two chambers through a narrow approximately 79-meter (259-foot) tunnel. However, I need to mention that the tunnel is rather narrow and it changes its elevation at steep angles. Needless to say, make sure you are up to it!

If you are claustrophobic or have any breathing problems, then it would be wise not to go inside either the Bent Pyramid or the Red Pyramid. The tunnels are long and narrow with poor lighting and no ventilation.

In addition, you need to be in fair physical shape to be able to climb the staircases at sharp angles.

The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid is named for its reddish color that comes from the red limestone that was used for its construction. However, as my tour guide told me, the pyramid was not always red! Actually, its color was white, since it was covered with the most exquisite Tura limestone.

A Quick Read:

What is Tura limestone?

  • Tura was the primary quarry for limestone in ancient Egypt.
  • The limestone from Tura was the finest and whitest of all the Egyptian quarries, so it was used for facing stones for the richest tombs.
  • The Tura limestone was deep underground and instead of open-pit mining, the miners tunneled deep underground to cut large stones out, leaving some limestone behind to support the caverns left behind.

Source: Wikipedia

By the way, you can still see some of these stones at the pyramid’s base. Unfortunately, most of the Tura limestone was taken and used for buildings in Cairo. As a result, the red limestone was revealed.

The Red Pyramid was built at a 43-degree angle. It is at the same angle as the upper portion of the Bent Pyramid was built. If you look at it, you can see that it has a somewhat stumpy appearance compared to the other Egyptian pyramids. However, what is important here, is that it was the first successful construction of a smooth-sided pyramid.

You can go inside the pyramid through the entrance cut high on the north side of the pyramid.

Red Pyramid in Dahshur

Bent Pyramid in Dahshur / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

The opening hours of the Dahshur Archaeological Site are from 9 am till 5 pm and the cost of the entrance ticket is 60 EGP (parking costs 10 EGP).

Also, if you want to use your camera inside the pyramid, then you will need an additional ticket, which costs 300 EGP. However, if you just use your iPhone to take pictures inside the pyramid, then there are no additional charges

The tunnels inside the pyramids are narrow with no ventilation, if you are claustrophobic or have breathing problems, I suggest that you skip going inside.

Red Pyramid Tunnel

Tunnel in Red Pyramid / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

Memphis

The day trip from Cairo continues and after visiting Dahshur, it is time to head to Memphis.

It will take you no more than 20 minutes to reach Memphis traveling by car from Dahshur.

 Image Credit: Map data ©2020 ORION_ME

Memphis is the English name for the present-day site of one of the great ancient capital cities of Egypt. It is believed that the city of Memphis was founded at the time of the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt around 3100 BC by the Pharaoh Narmer, who was the first pharaoh of the first dynasty.

The location of Memphis was very strategic. It sat at the entrance to the Nile River Valley near the Giza plateau. It is believed that it was Egypt’s nucleus of commerce and trade distributing food and merchandise throughout the kingdom.

In addition, Memphis served as an important religious center and a worship place of the god Ptah.

Today, what is left of the ancient city is collected and displayed at the Memphis Open Air Museum.

The Giant Alabaster Sphinx

The giant alabaster sphinx dates back to the New Kingdom and it is still standing at the original spot guarding the entrance to what was once the temple of god Ptah.

It is estimated that it weighs more than 80 tons.

Day trip from Cairo

The Giant Alabaster Sphinx in Memphis / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

The Fallen Colossal Statue of Ramses II

Now, make sure not to miss the indoor museum housing the magnificent fallen colossal limestone statue of Ramses II. I think for me, that was the highlight of the tour of Memphis.

The statue is amazing, and you need to see it to appreciate the sublime details!

My guide told me the statue is 10 m (33 ft) tall. It was discovered by Giovanni Caviglia in 1820 near the entrance to the great temple of god Ptah.

Fallen statue of Ramses II

The Giant Alabaster Sphinx in Memphis / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

The Granite Coffins, Commemorative Tablets, and Statues

Take your time and meander around the Open Air Museum in Memphis.

What caught my attention were very impressive statues of Ramses II.

In addition, my tour guide pointed out to me the statue of the triad of Memphis which includes the great god Ptah, his wife Sekhmet, and their son Nefertum. However, I was told that the sculpture depicting Nefertum was replaced with that of Ramses II.

Also, at the Memphis Open Air Museum, I saw the statues depicting the goddess Hathor. I spotted that same statue many times while touring Egypt.

Goddess Hathor was usually represented as a female figure with the ears of a cow.

A Quick Read:

Hathor was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles.

  • As a sky deity, she was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly representatives, the pharaohs.
  • She was one of several goddesses who acted as the Eye of Ra, Ra’s feminine counterpart, and in this form, she had a vengeful aspect that protected him from his enemies.
  • Her beneficent side represented music, dance, joy, love, sexuality and maternal care, and she acted as the consort of several male deities and the mother of their sons. These two aspects of the goddess exemplified the Egyptian conception of femininity.
  • Hathor crossed boundaries between worlds, helping deceased souls in the transition to the afterlife.

Source: Wikipedia

Guide to visiting Memphis, Egypt

Statue of Ramses II in Memphis / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Guide to visiting Memphis, Egypt

The statue of Triad of Memphis / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

The opening hours of the Memphis Open Air Museum are from 8 am till 4 pm.

The cost of the entrance ticket is 80 EGP. The entrance ticket covers the indoor museum which houses the fallen statue of Ramses II.

Saqqara

Once you are done visiting Memphis, it is time to continue your day trip from Cairo and start heading to Saqqara.

It takes about 20-25 minutes to get to Saqqara from Memphis traveling by car.

 Image Credit: Map data ©2020 ORION_ME

Saqqara, also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English, is the vast necropolis site of the ancient capital city of Memphis. And, this is the place where the building of pyramids first began in Egypt.

There is a lot to see at the Saqqara Archaeological Site, however, I recommend that you start your tour of Saqqara at the Imhotep Museum.

The Imhotep Museum

The Imhotep Museum is named in honor of the Egyptian architect Imhotep who is credited with designing the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser as well as the whole complex around the pyramid.

It is a great starting point for visiting the Saqqara Archaeological Site.

You will be able to see archaeological findings from various excavations in Saqqara.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser

The Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara was constructed by Imhotep. It was the first pyramid ever built in Egypt. In addition, as my guide told me, the Step Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest surviving stone building in the world! It was built in the period from 2630 to 2611 BC.

The Step Pyramid is 60 meters high (204 feet) and consists of six steps.

Day trip from Cairo

The Step Pyramid of Djoser / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

The Step Pyramid Funerary Complex

The Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara was a part of a funerary complex consisting of temples, courtyards, shrines, and living quarters for the priests.

The complex was surrounded by a wall. And, interestingly, as my guide told me, the wall had 13 false doors which were cut into the wall. In addition, there was a trench surrounding the wall. All of this was to protect, defer and discourage any invading intruders.

What remains today of the Step Pyramid Funerary Complex is still well preserved. Make sure to take some cool pictures of the beautiful Hypostyle Hall at the Temple of Djoser.

Day trip from Cairo

The Step Pyramid Funerary Complex / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

The Tomb of Ka-gmni

The tomb of Ka-gmni consists of eight decorated chambers and five storage rooms.

The decorations in the first chamber show scenes depicting fishing and fowling. However, what caught my attention were splendid depictions of birds and animals. Make sure not to miss the beautiful reliefs of offerings bearers.

Tomb of Ka-gmni

The Tomb of Ka-gmni in Saqqara / Day Trip from Cairo – Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara

Day Trip from Cairo

Saqqara site is open daily for visitors. In the summer (May through August), Saqqara is open from 8 am till 5 pm. During the winter months (September through April), it is open from 8 am till 4 pm.

The cost of the entrance ticket is 180 EGP. The entrance ticket covers both, the Saqqara Archaeological Site and the Imhotep Museum.

Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning on visiting Egypt?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

Also, click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process for your trip to Egypt!

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