Most journeys to Egypt begin and end in Cairo, but a mere 3-hour drive from the capital will bring you to Egypt’s second largest city—Alexandria. Here’s how to visit this culturally rich seaside metropolis, at once both ancient and modern that could not feel more different from the nation’s capital.
Colossus of Ramses II at Memphis
Mit Rahinah, Al Badrashin, Giza Governorate
The Memphis Museum usually features on full-day tours from Cairo that cover the Giza pyramids and other antiquities scattered just outside Egypt’s capital. Once at the museum, the highlight for most visitors is the statue—a 33-foot-tall (10-meter-tall) limestone depiction of Ramses II, one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.
Most tours that call at Memphis are private and offer the bonuses of private round-trip transport and a personal Egyptologist guide to provide historical background. Nearly all fit Memphis in between stops at Giza and the pyramid fields of Sakkara—home to the Step Pyramid—and Dahshur. As Cairo and Egypt have so much to see, many travelers opt for multi-day tours that cover Memphis, Giza, and Sakkara on one day and Cairo’s highlights, plus Alexandria and Luxor, on others.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Colossus of Ramses II is a star attraction for history buffs and sightseers.
Opt to visit the museum on a private tour for a deeper understanding of the statue.
Bring sunscreen and a hat: There’s little shade on the museum grounds.
The museum is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible—while the paths are gravel, they are relatively smooth.
How to Get There
The Memphis Museum lies on the edges of modern Mit Rahinah, 18 miles (30 kilometers) south of Cairo. No public transport runs to the town, so without a car, the only way to visit the museum is by private tour or cab. Most tours visit Memphis from Giza—about 45 minutes away—and take in nearby Sakkara and Dahshur, around 15–20 minutes away.
When to Get There
The museum is open daily from morning until afternoon, apart from during Ramadan, when it closes midafternoon. The museum hardly ever gets crowded, although visitors on most tours from Cairo will arrive in the late morning or early afternoon.
Things to See on the Colossus of Ramses II
Be sure to take a close look at the Ramses colossus to spot some fascinating detail. See where its feet and base once were—their absence explains why it’s displayed horizontally. Plus, inspect the cartouches carved on the body, and check out Ramses’ smiling face—designed to depict him as merciful.
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- Ramses II Statue at Giza
- Pyramid of Djoser (Step Pyramid)
- Pharaonic Village
- Hanging Church (Al-Muallaqa)
- Coptic Museum
- Old Cairo (Misr Al-Qadima)
- Ben Ezra Synagogue
- Babylon Fortress
- Church of St. George (Mar Girgis)
- Abu Serga (Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus)
- Church of St. Barbara
- Sphinx (Great Sphinx of Giza)
- Mosque of Amr ibn Al-As