For a long time, people have been talking a lot about the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It’s a museum that’s been under construction for many years and will become the biggest archaeological museum in the world once it’s done. This museum will keep more than 100,000 Ancient Egyptian objects safe, and it’s going to be where the entire collection of King Tut’s treasures is displayed permanently, which is a first.
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1. Has the Grand Egyptian Museum been opened yet?
If you book a guided mini tour, you can see the Grand Hall, the commercial area, and the outside gardens, but we’ll discuss those tours in more detail below.
According to museum officials, the Grand Egyptian Museum is set to officially open in late 2023. However, the opening date has been delayed several times in the past, so we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll keep updating this article as soon as we get the confirmed opening date. It’s likely to be in 2024 if not late 2023, so it’s less than a year away from now, hopefully.
It’s anticipated that once it’s open, the Grand Egyptian Museum will have around 15,000 daily visitors, which adds up to 5 million visitors in a year.
2. Is it possible to reserve a tour of the Grand Egyptian Museum before its official opening?
So first things first: we want to be super clear when we say that this guided mini tour is NOT a full museum tour; in fact, you won’t be seeing any proper Grand Egyptian Museum exhibitions or galleries at all. The guided mini tour is mainly to give visitors a peek into the incredible architecture of the museum, to share history and context, and to give both tourists and locals alike a toe dip into what will soon be one of the most impressive museums in the world. The guides are incredibly well-versed in not only the history of the museum, but the history of Egypt as a whole. Not only will they explain clearly to you everything you’re looking at, but also will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Let’s start with the most important point: we want to be absolutely clear that the guided mini tour we’re discussing is not a complete tour of the museum! In fact, you won’t have the chance to explore the full exhibitions or galleries of the Grand Egyptian Museum during this tour.
Here’s the important stuff you need to know when you want to book your tour:
- You can reserve and pay for a mini tour through the Grand Egyptian Museum’s booking site: www.visit-gem.com (Don’t worry if the website looks a bit old-fashioned; it’s totally real and safe to use).
- There are four guided tour times available each day at the Grand Egyptian Museum: 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm (The museum opens at 9 am and closes at 6 pm).
- Each tour takes about 45 minutes.
- The guided tours are offered in either English or Arabic. You can choose your preferred language when you buy your ticket.
- You need to book your tour ticket online in advance. You can’t buy tickets at the museum !
- To enter the Grand Egyptian Museum’s parking lot, you must have your ticket and QR code with you. You’ll get the QR code via email after you buy your ticket online.
- Kids under 6 years old get free entry to the museum.
- There’s a special Children Museum Tour for kids aged 6-12, with its own activities and tickets (We’ll tell you more about this below).
- You can’t bring food or drinks into the museum. But no worries – you can buy food and drinks from the Grand Egyptian Museum’s restaurants and cafes (We’ve listed the different restaurants they have for you).
- You’re allowed to take pictures with your phone or a small handheld camera. However, you can’t use professional cameras or bring in things like tripods (Also, there are places where you can’t take pictures at all, but the museum staff will let you know about those spots).
3. What can you expect to see during the Grand Egyptian Museum mini tour?
Here’s a summary of what you’ll get to see at the Grand Egyptian Museum:
- Outer Gardens: These are the beautiful gardens surrounding the museum. You can enjoy the museum’s impressive architecture and the courtyard. There’s even a hanging obelisk to see.
- Inner Grand Hall: Inside this hall, you’ll find a 3,200-year-old statue of Ramses II, a column from King Merneptah’s time, and two other Ancient Egyptian Ptolemaic statues.
- Grand Staircase: While you can’t go up the Grand Staircase or take pictures there, you can stand at the bottom and admire the ancient statues on both sides. However, you’re allowed to take pictures in the Grand Hall and outer areas.
- Food Court/Dining: There’s a food court where you can grab something to eat or drink while at the museum.
- Gift Shop and Stores: You can explore the gift shop and stores that offer curated Egyptian goods. Here, you can buy a variety of items, from Egyptian cookbooks to souvenirs and even locally made clothing and bags.
4. What to expect on Grand Egyptian Museum Children’s Tour
GEM offers special tours and programs for kids aged 6 to 12. These programs are not available daily, so check the website for upcoming children’s tours and activities. Programs have different themes based on kids’ ages:
- For ages 6-9, there’s a program about Pyramid engineering where kids learn and build their own pyramid models with blocks.
- Ages 9-12 can participate in a program focused on using functional robots to explore archaeological sites.
- Other programs have covered topics like chariot making and Ancient Egyptian gaming.
NOTE: Each program includes a dedicated guided museum tour for kids and their guardians. Keep in mind that these kids’ programs change, so check GEM’s website for the current offerings.
5. Where to eat ?
Your purchased tour ticket grants you access to GEM’s commercial area, where you’ll find a variety of small restaurants, cafes, and shops. This is a great place to relax, grab a bite to eat or a drink, and shop for souvenirs.
Here’s a list of the restaurants at GEM:
- Zooba (offering great Egyptian street food)
- 30 North (a cafe)
- Beano’s (another cafe)
- Starbucks (known worldwide)
- Dolato (serving ice cream)
- Bittersweet (a combined restaurant and cafe)
- Ratios Bakery
- Ladurée (a renowned pâtisserie)