The first challenge is beating traffic on the way to Giza Plateau; the second is enjoying the Pyramids and Sphinx. Plan to leave the hotel no later than 7 a.m. to avoid morning rush hour. Traffic is lightest and tour-bus activity heaviest Friday morning before noon prayers. To appreciate the vast site in relative solitude, go Sunday through Thursday, but you may want to hire a guide through the hotel to serve as a buffer. Unless you are visiting a pyramid interior or the Solar Boat museum, either of which requires a separate ticket, there is no need to show your general-admission ticket once through the entrance kiosk; demanding to see a ticket is a frequent scam by would-be guides.
Exploring the interior of the Great Pyramid of Cheops is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that travelers who are claustrophobic may want to skip, as it involves stooped-over, single-file climbing narrow wooden ramps; as an alternative, go inside smaller, and more decorated, royal pyramids of Cheops’. Housed inside its own air-conditioned museum, the Solar Boat of Cheops, intended to transport the pharaoh’s soul in the afterlife, was reconstructed from more than 1,200 parts in 1968. Before heading downhill to the Sphinx, visit the panoramic viewpoint on a hill west of the three main pyramids. Use the bathroom at the Mena House hotel, then grab delicious take-out pita and taamaya (Egyptian falafel, made with fava beans and coriander) sandwiches at the Felfella branch not far from the Great Pyramid entrance.
The Giza Plateau is easy to find. Follow Pyramids Rd to the westernmost end. Mena House is just slightly downhill from the Giza Plateau entrance. Felfella is on El Remaya Square. It has a brown wooden exterior with a gold sign.
GIZA PLATEAU: Western end of Pyramids Rd.; sca-egypt.org
MENA HOUSE: Pyramids Rd., just downhill from the main Giza Plateau entrance
FELFELLA: El Remaya Square next to the Meridien Hotel; 16561 mobile order line