Best Museums to Visit in Cairo
From Islamic and Coptic culture to the history of its ancient ancestors, Egypt has one of the richest cultures in the world. As the capital, Cairo is home to some excellent museums that protect and showcase its unique past. Here are a few that our local insiders say you really shouldn’t miss.
The Egyptian Museum by night
Millions of tourists head to the Egyptian Museum every year to look at the world’s most extensive collection of pharaonic antiquities. The museum extends over two floors: the ground floor features a chronological journey through Egypt’s 5,000-year history with 160,000 objects, while the upper floor is home to changing exhibitions. These have previously included Tutankhamun’s tomb, divinity statues and implements from everyday life. Mix it up and go for the night-time viewings.
Abdeen Palace Museum
Building, History Museum
Located in the Old Cairo district of Abdeen, the grand Abdeen Palace used to serve as the principal workplace of the president of Egypt. Today it is a museum and home to many sumptuous adornments and paintings. Explore the Silver Museum, Arms Museum, Royal Family Museum and Presidential Gifts Museum. Keep an eye out for audaciously gold-painted ornaments.
Manial Palace Museum
Dating back to the Ottoman dynasty, the Manial Palace Museum is located in the El-Manial district of southern Cairo. It is also known as Prince Mohammed Ali Tawfik Palace, who had it built. The beautiful palace is a mix of European, Ottoman, Persian and Moorish styles. The sumptuous furniture and interiors showcase the lifestyle of the Egyptian prince.
The Coptic Museum
Art Museum, History Museum
Much of Cairo’s charm derives from its mish-mash of different religions and cultures. This museum represents the city’s multiculturalism. Founded in 1908, it houses Coptic art from the earliest days of Christianity in Egypt. There’s an elaborate wood-carving section, sculptures from the Ptolemaic period, rich textiles and monastery frescoes. On the first floor, you can find the world’s oldest book of psalms – the Psalms of David – with two original wooden covers.
Museum of Islamic Art
Located in central Cairo and built on the site of an old Fatimid mosque, the Museum of Islamic Art is one of the largest museums in the world specialising in Islamic art, comprising 100,000 artefacts from various periods of Islamic history. Jewellery, weapons, wood and ivory objects, textiles and carpets showcasing fine Islamic workmanship sit alongside rare manuscripts of the Quran and calligraphy from all over the world. It also houses manuscripts from diverse Islamic sciences including medicine, engineering, astronomy and more. Recommended by our local insider Engy Haggag Mohamed
Egyptian Textile Museum
Moez Ldin Street is one of Cairo’s oldest streets, dating back to the Fatimid dynasty (10th to 12th centuries). Located here is the Egyptian Textile Museum, and the building is an architectural wonder from the Ottoman period. The textiles within come from the Pharaonic, Roman, Islamic and Coptic periods and cultures, and include clothes, bedsheets, mummy covers, cushions and even diapers.
Art Museum, History Museum
The Gayer-Anderson Museum was one of the two Cairo homes of British officer, physician and Egyptophile Gayer Anderson. Located in the Sayyida Zeinab neighbourhood, facing the famous Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the museum displays furniture, carpets, textiles and other objects, exemplifying the beautiful domestic architecture of Cairo.
October War Panorama
The October War Panorama Museum is dedicated in the memory of the 1973 October War, also known as the Arab-Israeli war. The museum displays military vehicles, tanks, aircraft and weapons used during the war. There are also two documentaries about the war; one of them is screened on a 360-degree rotating platform and depicts Egyptian soldiers storming the Bar Lev Line on the Suez Canal.
Umm Kulthum Museum
This biographical museum is dedicated to one of Egypt’s most famous musicians. Umm Kulthum, given the honorary title Kawkab Al-Sharq, meaning Star of the Orient, is one of Egypt’s most-loved figures. Iconic outfits, instruments and even her letters to politicians are on full display. A short documentary of her life, concerts and contribution to Arabic music plays in the cinema hall, with another section featuring all her music. Take a trip into the golden age of Arab music.
The Grand Egyptian Museum
Long-awaited and much delayed, the Grand Egyptian Museum has high expectations to meet when it opens in 2021. On arrival, your first sight will be the 30ft (9m) statue of Ramses II looming above and weighing in at 83 tonnes, it certainly sets the tone of the museum. Relics, never seen before, of Egypt’s past and the world’s largest collection of pharaonic antiquities will be available for your adventure through Egyptian history.
Rokn Farouk Museum
Located in Helwan, the Rokn Farouk museum was originally the rest house King Farouk used when travelling the Nile. It was turned into a museum in 1976. Browse the personal belongings of King Farouk and the original features of the house. It’s a peaceful spot in Helwan.