Skip to Content

The Pyramids Are Overrated (But You Should Still Go)

The Pyramids of Giza is one site that is on everyone’s bucket list. It’s the last surviving ancient wonder of the world. Are they worth the trip to visit? 

Personally, I think the pyramids are a bit overrated. The pyramids themselves are pretty cool. The problem is that the experience of visiting is poor because there are so many scams and annoyances that you have to deal with. The Egyptian government is also doing a pretty bad job of managing the site. I was disappointed after my visit.

Having said that, I still recommend you go to see them for yourself. The pyramids are worth visiting. At least to say you’ve been. They are one of the most significant tourist sites on earth. Most people I’ve spoken to who have visited love the pyramids. I know that I am in the minority. 

I did love the rest of Egypt. The Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Abu Simbel, and the Sinai were all spectacular. I highly recommend Egypt as a travel destination. It’s affordable. The history is incredible. The food is great. There are beautiful beaches on the Red Sea. If you’re on the fence about visiting Egypt, you should go. Just don’t expect much at the pyramids.

The Pyramids of Giza
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Why I Think the Pyramids Are Overrated

To start, the pyramids were not as big and impressive as I expected. While you’re visiting, there are also loads of scams you have to look out for. The site itself is also not very well set up. Overall, it’s a pretty poor experience. In the following sections, I’ll explain exactly why.


You may think that you’re safe from scammers when you’re at a major tourist site like the pyramids but that’s not the case. The site is crawling with scammers. The scams start from the moment you arrive. 

Outside the ticket gate, you’ll be swarmed by guides and touts trying to sell you overpriced tours, tickets, and souvenirs. It’s overwhelming. I had like 6 guys swarming around me trying to tell me where to go while I was looking for the entrance. 

When you go to buy tickets, someone may try to lead you to an unofficial ticket counter where they can overcharge you. You have to make sure you’re at the actual ticket counter so you don’t get ripped off. It’s very confusing because there are so many people around trying to hassle you.

Once you’re in the complex, you would expect that you would be safe from scammers. You’re not. There are aggressive touts roaming all over the complex. It’s incredibly annoying. 

People will approach you trying to sell you guide services. They try to tell you that you need a guide by law. You don’t. This is a lie. 

Someone may approach you and demand to see your ticket stub. They may be dressed like an official with a lanyard and some kind of fake ID. These are scammers. I don’t know exactly what the scam is. I think they just take the ticket and then demand money for you to get it back or they tell you that there’s a problem with your ticket and ask for money to fix it.

While you’re walking around, people will constantly approach you. Vendors will try to sell you overpriced souvenirs. Guys will try to sell you camel rides or horseback rides. Unfortunately, many of the animals appear to be neglected or abused. You’ll deal with this all day long.

At some point, someone may come up to you and ask if you can change some money for them. I don’t know how this scam even works. I guess they just shortchange you or give you counterfeit currency or something. 

While you’re wandering around, someone may approach you and tell you that you’re in an area that is closed. They will then try to lead you to a viewpoint and then demand a tip. This scam is common at all of the tourist sites in Egypt. 

Someone may simply start acting as your guide. They may point out something that you’re already looking at and start telling you about it. They will then demand money for their guide services. 

A scammer may approach you and hand you a free souvenir or offer to take a photo for you. They will then demand money. Sexual harassment can also be an issue for female travelers. 

You can also get scammed going to and from the pyramids. Your taxi driver could overcharge you if you’re not careful. 

Basically, whenever anyone approaches you, you can assume that they are trying to scam you or rip you off. The scams really take away from the experience. You have to always stay alert so you don’t fall victim. You can’t relax and enjoy yourself while you’re there. There is always somebody trying to separate you from your hard-earned money. 

The Great Sphinx and the pyramids in Egypt

They Aren’t as Big as You’re Expecting

The pyramids themselves are very cool. They are worth going to see. I must say that they aren’t as big as I expected them to be. They’re massive. I guess in my mind I pictured them as mountains but they’re not that big. The Sphinx was much smaller than I expected.  This is just my opinion. I know most people will disagree with me on this. That’s fine.

Another thing that bothered me was that part of the Sphinx has been restored. It’s not completely original. I don’t know who decided that was a good idea but I think it was a mistake. You can clearly see the new stones near the rear. I understand that some work needs to be done to preserve it but it looks like they went too far. This is a common issue at may of the temples in Egypt. A lot of restoration has been done. In some cases, it’s too much.

The site itself also isn’t that beautiful. It’s pretty flat. It’s also right on the edge of one of the world’s biggest cities. You can see Cairo from the pyramids. Once you leave the complex, you’re in a massive city. There’s nothing wrong with this. It just doesn’t feel all that adventurous. You’re just in a big city.

It is extremely impressive that humans built such massive structures out of stone over 5,000 years ago. Cairo is also a cool city to visit. It’s chaotic, loud, and dirty but it’s also a fun and exotic city to explore. The Egyptian Museum is also great. The food is good too.

The Pyramids Complex is Set Up Poorly

I think part of the reason that the pyramids are so underwhelming is the way the complex is set up. When you arrive, it can be a challenge to find the ticket window. The office is pretty small and not that well-marked. It’s also extremely disorganized. The line can be long. People just crowd in. It’s hectic. The pricing also isn’t that clear. The sign with the prices is really small.  

There are also large paved roads running throughout the complex. There are large parking lots full of tour buses. You can see the parking lots from the pyramids. They tried to hide them a little bit but they are still visible.

The roads kind of ruin the atmosphere and make the site less beautiful. They also make it harder to get good photos. I don’t want a photo of the pyramids with a massive tarmac road running through it. The site is not beautiful. 

I think they could improve this by removing the roads and parking lots and using 4×4 vehicles to transport tourists around. It would make the site feel a bit more exotic.

The area is also pretty much a free-for-all. People are climbing the pyramids, even though it’s against the rules. Once in a while, someone will come over and tell them to get down. You’ll also see stones where people have carved their initials. It is nice being able to wander freely all over the site but the pyramids aren’t being protected all that well. 

There also aren’t any signs or plaques with information. There are some directional signs but that’s about it. It would be nice if they gave us a little bit of information about the pyramids. I guess that’s what a guide is for. After I got back to my hotel, I read about the pyramids online to get a little more information.

A pyramid with Cairo in the background


One of the worst parts of visiting the pyramids is that souvenir salesmen and guys offering camel rides will constantly pester you. Everywhere you go, some guy with a camel will walk up and offer you a ride. Sometimes they will follow you around.

You can just ignore them or tell them no thanks and they will go away. It is very annoying. In some parts of the complex, it’s hard to get a moment of peace to actually enjoy the pyramids. Once you get away from the main area, it’s not quite as bad. 

The camel and horseback rides are cool and souvenirs should be available. I just don’t want to be approached by these creeps every two minutes. I get that they’re just trying to make a buck but they are so annoying. It also annoys me knowing that they’re making a living from ripping off other tourists.

I wanted to take a camel ride but I didn’t out of spite because I didn’t want to give the guys any business. I ended up taking a camel ride in Jordan, later in my trip.

Are the Pyramids Overrated? #Pyramids #Cairo #Egypt
I also made this short YouTube video about my experience at the pyramids

How Could It Be Improved?

There are a few ways the experience could easily be improved. First, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism could improve the ticketing system. They could sell tickets online. It would eliminate a lot of scams and make things much smoother for tourists. 

They could also crack down on scammers, guides, and touts in and around the pyramids complex. Particularly around the entrance area. They could easily do this with a few tourism police. This alone would make the experience so much more enjoyable.

It would also help if the staff were better trained to deal with tourists. There is zero hospitality. They just seem to treat tourists like walking ATMs. 

Egypt has developed a bad reputation for scams and annoyances. If you go on Reddit, you’ll find dozens of reports from people who did not enjoy their time in Egypt because of all the scammers and con men. For example, check out this thread. Egypt could easily improve its reputation by cracking down on all scams around the pyramids. 

It would also be nice if they expanded the metro to the Pyramids complex or if there was a shuttle bus. As it is now, you have to take a taxi, public bus, or Uber to get there. The closest metro station is Giza station, which is about 10-15 minutes away by car. It’s easy to get to the pyramids from Cairo but it’s also easy to get scammed while you’re in transit. Cairo taxi drivers are notorious for scamming tourists.

Near Khan el-Khalili in Cairo

Consider Taking a Tour

One way to reduce the scams and hassles is to take a tour. I have found that most people who visit on a tour have a positive experience. For those who visit independently, it’s hit or miss. There are a few reasons for this.

When you’re on a tour, the guide will keep the scammers away. They will see that you have a guide and they will leave you alone, for the most part. The guide will tell them off if they approach their clients. 

The guide can also help you negotiate for camel rides and souvenirs so you don’t get ripped off too badly. They know the prices. 

Your guide will also help you buy your ticket. Some tours include tickets. This also saves you some stress.

In addition, most tours also include transport to and from the pyramids from your hotel. You don’t have to deal with taxis. This removes a lot of stress. 

Of course, when you take a tour, you’ll have a guide to give you some information about the site. The certified guides in Egypt are very good. Most are college-educated in Egyptology. They know the history very well.

The tours are overpriced. I think they cost around $60-$80 for a day tour. If you don’t want to deal with scams, it may be worth it. 

I visited independently to save money. Looking back, maybe I should have taken a tour instead. 

At the Sphinx, slightly disappointed

My Experience

I took the metro from Central Cairo to the Giza metro station. When I arrived at the station, a guy with a young kid approached. He asked if I wanted to split a taxi to the pyramids. He told me that he was taking his son for the first time and that he was from Libya but lived in Alexandria. I agreed to split a cab with him.

While we were in the cab, he started talking about how we were going to enter through the side gate and ride horses to the pyramids ‘like the Egyptians.’ At this point, I knew he was a scammer. The kid was just there to make him look more legit. The kid couldn’t care less about the pyramids. He fell asleep in the cab. 

When we arrived, I told him that I just wanted to walk to the pyramids by myself. He tried to tell me that I would have to walk 6km through the desert to get there. This was ridiculous because I could see the pyramids from where I was standing. They were like 200m away. I walked about 2 blocks to the main gate. At least I got a cheap taxi ride there.

Once I got to the gate, some guys tried to sell me their guide services and offered to buy my tickets for me. Guides were swarming me. Some other guys were trying to direct me someplace else.

I found the main ticket office, bought my ticket, and entered the site. It was pretty overwhelming because there were so many guys swarming around. The ticket office wasn’t busy because I got a bit of a late start. Most of the other tourists were already inside.

Inside near the entrance, there were more guides and a bunch of guys with camel and horse offering rides. I just ignored them and walked straight up the main path to the pyramids. I was probably approached 5 or 6 times by guys offering guide service and camel rides. Some guys were trying to tell me that I needed a guide to visit.

As I was walking around, I was approached every once in a while by some type of scammer or salesperson. Once, a guy asked me to change some money for him. Some guy tried to put a scarf on my head. I was approached by loads of guides and guys with camels and horses. It was mostly just an annoyance. 

I ignored them all and they went away. I found that if you say ‘no thank you’, they will just bother you more and follow you. If you just ignore them as if they don’t exist, they go away faster. It feels rude but it works.

I realize that this post has been really negative. That’s because I’m a pessimist. I see the downsides of everything. I’m also a realist. There are plenty of good reasons to visit the pyramids. They are some of the oldest surviving structures on earth.

It is worth going to the pyramids. You shouldn’t skip them if you’re going to Egypt. Visiting just isn’t the most pleasant experience. There are some hassles to deal with. If you know what to expect, you can avoid all of the scams. Hopefully, this guide makes your visit a little bit smoother and less stressful.

Have you visited the Pyramids of Giza? Did you think they were overrated? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Pin it for later!

More from Where The Road Forks

Sharing is caring!


Friday 22nd of March 2024

Totally agree with this except i just don’t think it’s worth visiting Egypt because of the hassle factor. Sad to say that Egypt does not care about its history. Egyptians seem to only view tourists as targets. Woman are especially at risk. So many other places to visit.

Zachary Friedman

Saturday 23rd of March 2024

Yeah, it is a hassle. I'm glad I went but I probably wouldn't go back.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, including links from the Amazon Serivices LLC Associates Program. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. I only recommend products and services that I use and know. Thank you for reading!