A guide to visiting Memphis, Egypt

Oct 10, 2019 | Africa, Egypt, Global travel

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(Last updated on: 02/04/2020)

Memphis – your mind may immediately jump to Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, but there is another Memphis. Located in Egypt, this Memphis is an ancient city.

It may not be the most well known area to visit, but it is well worth the trip if you are staying in or near Cairo. Here’s why!

Where is Memphis?

You’ll find Memphis around 12 miles (20 km) south of Giza itself, and 15 miles (24 km) south of Cairo. The city lies on the west bank of the Nile. It was the ancient capital of Egypt, also know as Inebu-hedj. This translates as the white walls. It marked the boundary between upper and lower Egypt, and thus was sometimes referred to us as Ankh-Tawy, which means life of the two lands. 

Various modern towns and cities lie within the administrative borders of the historical city of Memphis, Egypt. These include:

  • Mit Rahina
  • Dahshur
  • Abusir
  • Abu Gorab
  • Zawyet el’Aryan

The city of Memphis, Egypt, is said to have rivalled Thebes at one point – both politically and architecturally. In 1979, Memphis and its necropolis were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Getting to Memphis, Egypt

The museum at Memphis

The nearest big city to Memphis, Egypt is Cairo. To drive from Cairo to Memphis takes around 40 minutes – the suggested route is via Al Wosta. The short journey makes it a relatively easy day trip from Cairo, especially if you have hired a car for your trip.

Read also: 10 fascinating Egyptian pyramid facts

Driving in Egypt, however, isn’t for the faint hearted so I would personally recommend booking an organised tour to take you to Memphis, Egypt. Many, like this one for example, will combine it with a visit to the Sakkara Step Pyramid. The pyramid is just north-west of the city of Memphis.

Things to see in Memphis

Memphis, Egypt is home to a lot of statues. The city is now what is known as an open museum. Visitors can wander around, feeling as though they’re stepping back in time without the confines of glass boxes and harsh lighting. There is an entrance fee of 80 EGP, which is roughly £4 (GBP) or almost $5 (USD).

This short video has clips of Memphis.

Here are some the sites you can see in the ancient city of Memphis, Egypt…

  • Limestone colossus of Ramses II – it’s over 10 metres (33 ft) long, and the king’s feet are missing.
  • Giant alabaster Sphinx – this statue weighs more than 80 tonnes, and once stood outside the temple of the god Ptah.
  • Stone beds – these are where the sacred Apis bulls were mummified before they were placed in the Serapeum at Sakkara, the step pyramid.
  • Various other statues of Ramses II
  • Granite coffins
  • Commemorative tablets

It is often quiet at the museum. Many tourists skip Memphis on their tours and travels, but it is absolutely worth seeing the ancient city.

Other things to do near Memphis

One of the closest landmarks, as mentioned, is the Sakkara Step Pyramid. Its official name is the Pyramid of Djoser, and it lies just north-west of the city of Memphis. This is labelled as must-see when visiting Egypt, and you can easily combine this with a visit to the ancient city of Memphis, Egypt. There are other sites to see and things to do nearby, too…

The step pyramid close to Memphis
  • Imhotep Museum – he was the architect behind the building of the step pyramid, and this museum is dedicated to him. Complete with sarcophagi and a mummy, there are plenty of interesting exhibits.
  • Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep’s Mastaba – this is the tome of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, which looks plain from the outside but is home to hieroglyphs, carvings and paintings inside.
  • Camel rides – many day trips include a camel ride, but it is possible to arrange your own should you be travelling DIY-style.

Places to eat and drink near Memphis, Egypt

While there aren’t many places to eat and drink within walking distance of Memphis, there are some vendors around the ancient city to grab a quick drink or snack. However, go a little further afield and you’ll find plenty of nice places to eat and drink near Memphis, Egypt.

  • Alfi Bek Restaurant is around 3 miles away, and serves traditional Egyptian dishes. The lamb comes highly recommended by previous visitors!
  • Not too far away, just past the Sakkara Step Pyramid, is a restaurant called Roastery. It offers a variety of food for good value, and they do take-out too.
  • Also near the step pyramid is Studio Masr; offering traditional Egyptian food with vegetarian options available, there’s a nice view too.
  • Sedra offers beautiful-looking pastries and cakes, as well as hot drinks – and is highly recommended for breakfast.

Read also: Why you should go to Dahab for your next Egypt holiday

Places to stay near the city

While Cairo is your best bet in terms of hotels and hostels, there are a couple of places to stay that are closer to Memphis, Egypt. Here’s some of them…

Located near 1.2 miles from the Step Pyramid, the aptly named Sakkara View Guest House offers rooms of varying sizes, with free WiFi, an on-site coffee house and live music as well as free parking, an airport shuttle service and more. With traditional decor, beautiful outdoor spaces and stunning views, it’s the perfect choice if you’re looking to be near to Memphis.

Sakkara Inn is also nearby. There’s free parking and each room has a private bathroom; the hotel offers an airport shuttle service and there is plenty of outdoor seating space. Looking out from the terrace as the sun sets behind the Step Pyramid is bound to be a delightful experience, and it’s not far from Memphis either.

Snefru House is a holiday home located in Abu Sir, a few miles away form Memphis, Egypt. It has one bedroom but offers a sofa bed too; there is a large garden and traditional decor, with parking and your own kitchen. The views are amazing, too!

For a full list of accommodation options and availability on your travel dates, use the map below.

Booking.com

So there you have it: plenty of information about visiting Memphis, Egypt. Although there isn’t a lot to see, it’s worth adding it to your sight-seeing list anyway – especially as it’s so easy to get to, and is home to some practically untouched ancient history. Enjoy your trip!

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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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