Imagine being 10 years old and getting to see pyramids, real mummies, mammoth statues, dusty tombs, ornate temples and bustling bazaars? Egypt is simply one big adventure playground for children and there are plenty of things you can do with your kids that they will enjoy. It is also a fantastic educational experience and perfect for school reports or assignments about ancient Egypt.
While this list is by no means definitive, here are five family friendly things to see and do which may also give you ideas for other activities. We’ve kept this list a little different from our top 10 sights and 24 hours in Cairo, as those activities should be of interest to children also as they will probably love exploring the tombs and pyramids as much as you will. Teach or show them some of the hieroglyphics and they’ll probably keep recognizing them everywhere and develop their favorites.
Donkey, Horse and Camel Rides
There are plenty of options for riding donkeys, camels or horses around Egypt. One of the most touristy places to do this is by the Pyramids of Giza, although the kids might think this is downright awesome. However there are plenty of other places in Egypt to do this that might be more authentic and less tacky. For example you could take a caleche (horse carriage) in Luxor creaking and clip clopping around town or as far as the Karnak Temple. A popular donkey ride with kids are the trails above the Valley of the Kings. The donkeys are sure footed and are perfectly kid-sized.
Children will love river trips on the Nile. You could make these as short or as long as you think your kids can handle. For example you could pick up a river taxi down at the Maspero dock in Cairo and do a day trip to the island of Qanatar about 1.5 hours away. Qanatar has a number of amusement parks, Victorian bridges and rides.
If you’ve made it to Luxor, this is probably a more interesting place to do river trips. Here you can rent motor launches or feluccas (sailing boats) by the hour. Felucca’s are very atmospheric but can be rather slow, while the motor launch will go anywhere you please and the kids might be allowed to help pilot the boat. Food or refreshments are normally served on board. One popular ride is the sunset felucca trip to Banana Island 4km upriver. There are often birds to see on the way and of course lots of bananas to eat on the island. You could also take a boat down the Nile from Luxor to the Karnak Temple so the kids can arrive the way the pharaoh used to.
Egyptian marketplaces are like a treasure trove for kids. Here in the winding, teeming alleyways you might find scarabs, small pyramids, carved stone cats, miniature canopic jars and obelisks or gold and silver jewelry. The kids might like having their names written in Egyptian hieroglyphics on their own roll of papyrus. And thanks to the exchange rate and price of goods, most parents will probably find the costs won’t break the bank. It might also be fun for older children to have a go at the bargaining process. When they get tired simply sit in a café, get drinks and snacks and people watch. The Khan al Khalili bazaar is the main one in Cairo, however every major town and city will have an interesting marketplace.
Children will love connecting with local people and particularly children their own age. There are often groups of children in places like the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or you could try visiting some local schools or go to parks where other children are playing. You could even organize a tour whereby you get to meet families or people, one example might be a culinary class inside a family home.
As most family trips to Egypt will include Cairo, here are a few insider tips to fun kid places. You could take the kids in an elevator up the Cairo Tower. At the top is an observation deck with views of the Nile, Cairo and the desert and a revolving restaurant. Kids will love the Egyptian Museum which brims with golden artifacts, cool or scary mummies (depending on how they see it), must-have cobra earrings and various funerary jewelry items. The crumbling fortress of the Citadel is also fun to explore with its massive chandelier, clock and impressive mosque. Taking the kids to the mosque could be an educational way of dispelling any frightening notions they have of other religions. The Cairo Zoo contains animals that are native to Africa that children may have never seen. Or you could take the kids along to a football game at the International Stadium.