Other Pyramids Near Cairo. Saqqara and Djoser

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Just a little south of Cairo is a tourist attraction that most tourists don’t see. That’s a great shame because this ancient necropolis on the west bank of the Nile turned out to be one of my favourites of our whole month in Egypt. Maybe it was partly because we hadn’t been here before (if you’re new, Chef and I met in Egypt some 17 years ago), but also, there was a sense of being somewhere remote and partly untouched by tourism. This post is about the various pyramids, in, and near Cairo Egypt.

Pyramids Near Cairo
There are actually quite a lot of pyramids near Cairo, read our post to learn more.

We saw very few foreign visitors on our day at Saqqara (Sakkara), Djoser and Ancient Memphis. Admittedly, there are very few tourists in Egypt currently, but these ancient pyramids and tombs, some of the oldest in Egypt, were deserted.

We also learned a lot, stuff we didn’t know we didn’t know, so let’s share some words and images about the step pyramid, red pyramid, the bent or broken pyramid, and the giant Ramesses statue unearthed on the site of Memphis.

We had an incredible time in Egypt although, at times, it was challenging. I’d encourage all of you to go now if you’ve been dreaming of pyramids and papyrus for years, wondering if it will ever be safe. We felt absolutely fine there.

Words and photos about the various pyramids near Cairo.

What Are The Pyramids Near Cairo?

The pyramid complex at Giza, on the west bank of the River Nile, is adjacent to Cairo. Giza is a Governorate to the west of Cairo, a city in its own right, but these pyramids are right on the outskirts of modern Cairo. The three main pyramids at this complex are The Great Pyramid (The pyramid of the pharaoh Kufu or Chiops), one of the original seven wonders of the world, Khafre (Kufu’s son), and Menkiure (Khafre’s son, Kufu’s grandson). These are the nearest pyramids to Cairo.

At this complex there are also multiple smaller pyramids, and, of course, the Great Sphinx. The new GEM museum will also be at Giza.

This post is about another set of pyramids, fairly close to Cairo, on the west bank of The Nile at Ancient Memphis, including the Sakkara Pyramid and complex (the step pyramid) and Djoser. Read on to discover more!

Sakkara, Djoser and Memphis Day Tour From Cairo

The bent or broken pyramid near Cairo Egypt
The bent or broken pyramid, here seen from Ibrahim’s taxi, was an early unsuccessful pyramid building prototype.
Driving with Ibrahim Cairo driver taxi
Arriving at the deserted red pyramid site by taxi.
The red pyramid at Dahshur
Yes, we were the only visitors for most of our time there.
pyramid near Cairo - red pyramid
The scale is immense, the red dot is my son, on his way up to the pyramid’s entrance.
pyramid Cairo Egypt
In case you needed more convincing as to how big these things are. Some more tourists showed up, those tiny mini-figures to the left.
Pyramid you can go inside near CCairo Egypt
Chef and the boys descend into the heart of the tomb. I didn’t get far before claustrophobia got the better of me.
emerging from the red pyramid of djoser
Chef emerges with photos of the hieroglyphs inside to let me share. Of course, there is an attendant, there is always an attendant and they always ask for a tip.
The Saqqara Step Pyramid
A lonely camel at the all but deserted Saqqara (Sakkara) step pyramid
Mortuary complex step pyramid near cairo
The mortuary complex at the Saqqara complex. It’s a huge site, mostly unexcavated, you are literally tripping over tombs and immaculate hieroglyphs.
Giant Rameses Statue Cairo
The giant Ramesses statue at Ancient Memphis on the east side of the Nile no distance at all from the step, red and broken pyramids.
Egyptian heiroglyphics Djoser
Hieroglyphs inside one of the Saqqara tombs, still with traces of original paint. I so wish I’d taken a photo of the series showing a hippo giving birth!
Driver in Egypt with shisha
A stop at ancient Memphis for shisha and sweet mint tea. D, my dorky-hatted almost teen, this trip was his 13th birthday gift, hung out with the dude making papyrus in the shop behind. Once we could tear him away from Rick Riordan’s Ancient Egyptian stories on his Kindle.
Making papyrus in Egypt
Ok, so we’ve done school today. In spades.

The History of The Saqqara, Step and Red Pyramids, Briefly!

The Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara was the largest building of its time and illustrates the evolution from flat-roofed mastaba, to stacked mastabas, to pyramids. It is 126m high and dates from around 2500-2600 BC. The entire step pyramid complex is huge and includes temples, tombs, and other structures, many can be entered today.

The Red Pyramid is the largest of the three Dahshur necropolis pyramids south of Cairo on the site of Ancient Memphis. It is 105m tall. The narrow passageway to the central tomb is over 61m deep. It may never have been used by its creator, the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu. It is thought to be Egypt’s first true pyramid.

The broken or bent pyramid was also constructed by Pharoah Sneferu and was an earlier, failed, prototype.

The Dahshur pyramids were closed to the public for many years because of nearby army camps and activity

For you, for Pinterest.

Egypt's Other Pyramids Saqqara, Djoser Red and Step an Dahab

How to Get to The Step Pyramid, Djoser and Memphis from Cairo

We had a driver and car arranged through our guest house owner and minder in Cairo. For those of you not lucky to have a trusted contact , I would strongly recommend booking a tour with pick up from your Cairo accommodation and set price and itinerary. Arranging tours in Egypt is troublesome and rip offs are plentiful. If you book through a trusted company you have a fixed, date, time and price and come-back if anything goes wrong. Get your guide also have a best price or money back guarantee, you can find a tour to the step pyramid at Djoser and the whole Sakkara complex, here. This tour includes the Giza pyramids. Try to get to these other pyramids near Cairo if you can, you’ll find more ideas in our Things to Do in Cairo post.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

16 thoughts on “Other Pyramids Near Cairo. Saqqara and Djoser”

  1. I am so fascinated by the history and architecture of Egypt. This post highlights the magnitude of their structures…specially the picture where your son is walking up the pyramid. Wow! That Rameses statue is mammoth!

  2. I looks like you guys really dived right in to the culture there! That giant statue is totally incredible and the whole experience truly looks incredible!

  3. That’s quite an awesome birthday gift for your son! : ) Every time I see pictures of the pyramids I am still amazed at how enormous they are. It must have been a fascinating place to see.

  4. Oh wow, yes definitely worth visiting and how wonderful to share it with so few fellow visitors, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with lots of people going to see a sight, but of course it would be more impressive without the crowds!!! Love the photos with people for scale!

  5. Very interesting- isn’t is so often worth it to go to the lesser known site. They are always less crowded and just as interesting

  6. This is an amazing spot that I had no idea existed. Im with you on the claustrophobia though. No way I’d go down that rabbit hole. You’re so lucky to have seen this!

  7. These pyramids look really impressive! As all the pyramids:) The statue of Ramses is enormous! It looks like a trip worthy to be taken!

  8. Wow that place looks amazing! I can’t wait to go, although I’m not sure I’d make it too far down that tunnel inside the pyramid either.

  9. Wow, beautiful pictures! This area definitely looks like a “must see” for Egypt, especially for the lack of crowds!
    How does D feel about you calling his hat dorky? I had that same thought when I looked at the picture, and then laughed out loud when I saw the caption.

  10. Egypt is in my second’s bucket list! I’m hoping that the world doesn’t change much within the next year or so so we can get there! Thanks for sharing!

  11. How DO you do school? Is it in another post somewhere – I’m sure I’ve missed it! :). Thanks for all the posts – looking forward to Romania??

    • The word ” school” in the caption is a link Ann, click that. Or select ” worldschooling” it used to be called homeschol & travel but I had to shorten it to fit, from the very topmenu. Cheers. We ‘re in Romania now and it’s lovely, getting ready to head to London then Vietnam and Langkawi .


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