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10 Things to Do in Cairo in December

Traveling to Cairo in December is always a good idea. The good temperatures and the plans we can make make it one of the best months to visit the capital of Egypt.

Carlos Bleda

Carlos Bleda

8 min read

10 Things to Do in Cairo in December

Cairo | ©Sherif Moharram

Along with January, December is the coldest month of the year in Egypt. Although the cold in this country is relative and in this case the thermometers do not fall below 10 degrees. Rather than cold, what we find is a mild climate much more pleasant to see everything Cairo has to offer without the soporific heat that plagues the city much of the year.

What other advantages does visiting Cairo in December have? Well that's what you'll find out in this post although it should be noted that it's a busy tourist season.

1. Don't miss the Egyptian museum

Outside the Museum, start of the Tour| ©a rancid amoeba
Outside the Museum, start of the Tour| ©a rancid amoeba

December 25th has had many meanings throughout history and in Egyptian history as well. The ancient Egyptians celebrated on this day the birth of some of their gods, especially the god Osiris. Also at the end of December that of Horus.

Taking advantage of these dates the Egyptian Museum in Cairo makes special exhibitions explaining the meaning of these dates. It is a unique opportunity to visit this museum that houses some of the most important Egyptian pieces such as the treasure of Tutankhamun.

Book an excursion to the Egyptian Museum

2. Take a cruise on the Nile at the best time of the year

Nile River Cruise| ©Ana Paula Hirama
Nile River Cruise| ©Ana Paula Hirama

One of the most requested activities to do from Cairo is a cruise on the Nile River. It is the largest river in Africa and the second largest in the world. On its banks are the most important archaeological sites and cities of the country being Cairo its main port.

Therefore cruises depart from Cairo daily and it is in December when they are most in demand. This is mainly due to the good temperatures and Christmas vacations in Europe. If you travel to Cairo and have days to spare, do not miss the opportunity to ply the waters of the Nile as did the pharaohs of old.

Book a cruise on the Nile

3. Enjoy a camel ride through the pyramids.

Sunset at the pyramids of Giza| ©Kyle Taylor
Sunset at the pyramids of Giza| ©Kyle Taylor

In summer or spring the heat is usually unbearable which deprives us of enjoying some experiences. For example, taking a camel ride through the pyramids. Since in December we have one of the periods with the best temperatures of the year, it is a good time to do it. It is a very popular and fun activity that is usually done as part of a tour at the foot of the pyramids of Giza at sunset.

From about 30 euros approximately you can do it and add this unique experience to your trip. There are tours of up to 4 hours, but there are several options to choose from. Also the temperatures and sunsets in December are ideal for a camel ride.

Book a camel ride

4. Enjoy the nightly light show of the pyramids.

Pyramids Night Light Show| ©Carmen
Pyramids Night Light Show| ©Carmen

There are many ways to enjoy the pyramids of Giza and one of them is through the night show that takes place over the pyramids. In December, given the high influx of tourists, it is done almost every night so you will have plenty of opportunities to see it.

The show consists of projecting on the pyramids of Giza a combination of lights and sounds to the delight of the audience. See them at the very foot of the contractions is usually expensive but can also be seen from afar from some parts of the city. It is a visual experience that I recommend 100% and almost mandatory to live a night in Cairo.

Book tickets to the Pyramids show

5. Visit the Coptic quarter in the best month of the year

Coptic cemetery in Cairo| ©Stefan Geens
Coptic cemetery in Cairo| ©Stefan Geens

Only 10% of Cairo's population is Christian so Christmas celebrations in Cairo are rare. But there is one neighborhood in particular where Christmas has a special meaning. It is the Coptic neighborhood, a place where, according to the Bible, the family of Jesus took refuge when they were forced to go into exile in Egypt. That is why in this neighborhood there are certain celebrations at Christmas.

It is a perfect month to walk through its streets where various cultures and religions coexist as the Coptic Christian, Jewish and Islamic. Since it is Christmas time, it is a good time to visit some of its churches whose stories are related to these dates. The most important ones you will learn about below.

6. Discover the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus

Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus| ©fusion-of-horizons
Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus| ©fusion-of-horizons

With the religious background of Christmas, it is interesting to know the places linked to its protagonists. The first of these is the church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, which, according to tradition, was built on the site where the holy family lived during their stay in Egypt. However, its name is due to two holy martyrs who were Roman soldiers and whose relics are kept in the church.

Beyond religion and history, the church is worth a visit for its particular architecture and beauty. In addition, in December there are special celebrations of Coptic Christians and that are, to say the least, worth seeing in an almost completely Islamic city. Next to the church is also the Coptic museum where you can learn about the particularities of this religious movement.

7. Meet the hanging church, the most curious church in Cairo

The Hanging Church| ©FalafelandChips
The Hanging Church| ©FalafelandChips

Continuing with the tour of places of worship for Coptic Christians we find the hanging church. This is the oldest and most curious church in Cairo, as it is built on one of the towers that gave access to the fortress. That is why to access it you have to climb a long staircase.

The temple is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, because according to the legends this appeared in the same place where the church was built. That is why it is a place of pilgrimage for Coptic Christians and special celebrations are held in the month of December in the pre-Christmas festivities of the Copts.

8. Christmas shopping in the bazaars and markets of Cairo

Khan el Khalili at night| ©jing0423
Khan el Khalili at night| ©jing0423

Although Cairo does not celebrate Christmas there are many ways to take advantage of what the city has to offer to celebrate the holiday season. One of them is to take advantage of your stay in the capital to go to the markets and bazaars where you can find very original gifts for these dates.

The main market is Khan El Khalili. This market is considered the most important of Cairo and the East for its size and variety. You can find gifts such as jewelry, handicrafts, perfumes and many other things characteristic of Egypt. Surely you leave here with a perfect gift for your friends or family at Christmas. Of course, you should be prepared to haggle with the merchants.

9. Attend the Cairo International Film Festival

Enjoying the Film Festival| ©Tima Miroshnichenko
Enjoying the Film Festival| ©Tima Miroshnichenko

The Cairo International Film Festival is one of those events that is best not to miss if you can. It is held only in the month of December every year since 1976, being the first of its kind in the Middle East. Thanks to that and with the passing of the years it became a cultural reference and today it has international relevance.

It is held in early December and for more than 10 days, screenings and events related to cinema are organized. Most of the festival is open to all audiences and it is worth signing up for some of the activities or just experience the atmosphere around this film festival.

10. Taste the typical Christmas gastronomy of the Coptic Christians

Ghryba cookie| ©BakeitFun Company
Ghryba cookie| ©BakeitFun Company

The Coptic community has its own Christmas traditions. For example, they have their own Santa Claus called Baba Noel and Christmas Day for them is January 7. But undoubtedly the most characteristic is their gastronomy. Throughout December the Copts celebrate a fast but the restaurants in the Coptic quarter take the opportunity to offer visitors their typical Coptic Christmas dishes.

Tasting these and other dishes is an activity that can only be enjoyed on those dates and is very worthwhile. The classic menu is composed of two dishes:

  • A sweet one called Kahk el Eid which is made up of circular cookies covered with powdered sugar and filled with nuts, pistachios or dates that are usually accompanied with tea.
  • And another savory Christmas dish known as Fatteh made of rice, bread, meat and stuffed grape leaves.

Cairo temperatures in December

Sunset on the Nile| ©Ennio
Sunset on the Nile| ©Ennio

Although December is the second coldest month of the entire year after January, what we mean by cold does not fit Cairo's winter. In fact, temperatures in this month are similar to spring in some European countries. Highs rarely exceed 25 degrees Celsius and lows rarely drop below 10 degrees Celsius**. Within this range, it is at the end of December when temperatures are cooler.

As for the skies, they are clear almost every day and it is quite rare for rain to make an appearance even though December is the rainiest month of the year. But let's not forget that we are in Egypt. All in all it is clear that the weather in December is very pleasant and I would say perfect to visit the city of Cairo.

The influx of tourists and prices in Cairo in December

Streets of Cairo| ©ASaber91
Streets of Cairo| ©ASaber91

December is fully into the high tourist season in Cairo. This is mainly due to the weather and the Christmas vacations in European countries. Put both elements together and what we have is a city full of tourism, with long queues at monuments and points of interest and hotel reservations almost full. This is especially noticeable in the most touristy spots such as the pyramids of Giza.

The high demand also translates into higher prices. Hotels charge high season rates and it is more difficult to find accommodation. This is why I always advise planning and booking your trip to Cairo in December as soon as possible. The high influx of tourists is the downside of visiting the city at this time but it is compensated by perfect temperatures and a wonderful festive atmosphere.

What to bring in your suitcase to visit Cairo in December

Luggage| ©nappy
Luggage| ©nappy

One of the biggest concerns when traveling to Cairo is what to pack in your suitcase in a month like December. Although this post we have already solved the question of whether it is hot or cold, then I leave you a review of what you should put in your luggage to travel to Cairo in December:

  • Temperatures are mild without being hot so it is best to bring thin and light clothing.
  • At night the thermometer drops quite a bit so do not forget to take a jacket and clothes a little warmer.
  • Since Cairo is a largely Islamic city and there are many mosques you will want to visit, avoid tank tops or skirts. For women it is advisable to bring a scarf to cover your hair.
  • It is essential to carry your passport with you at all times as you may be asked for it at various security checkpoints.
  • Footwear is important as you will spend many hours walking. So prioritize comfort. At this time of the year sandals are not mandatory.