Suddenly, behind apartment buildings, there are the pyramids! We had private guide from Ramses and he was terrific. It was over 120 degrees and he had the air-conditioned car picking us up and moving us all around the site. He had water for us and we really needed it!
Use sunscreen, a hat, and bring LOTS OF DOLLAR BILLS. You need to give a dollar to the child who pulls your camel,(DO take a ride! It is a HOOT!), to the woman who hands you toilet paper, etc. The word for tip is :BAKSHEESH and you will hear it often.
The Sphinx is unbelievable. There is just nothing like it. This was the most exciting site we have been to yet. Spend time there. The people on the ship's excursion were herded through very quickly and that was a shame.
We went to the Antiquities Museum and the King Tut exhibit and the Mummy Room. It was quite a memorable trip. We were going to the Bazaar but we were cutting it too close to the ship's leaving time so we skipped it. Cairo traffic is unbelievable: imagine three lanes that become five or six at any given moment, with no lights or stop signs, and people walking in front of speeding cars everywhere- and trucks with 6 men and young boys hanging onto the rear wall.
It took over 3 1/2 hours to return to the ship.
Warning: we brought sandwiches to eat in the car for this one port;we did not do an overnight. We met several people who did and got very very sick from the food.
Have a lunch, a gelato (really great gelato there, shop, walk the wall for wonderful views and photos, stroll the ancient walled city and just enjoy. There are ship excursions to escort you around the city- you do not need it. You will be FINE on your own. You might see lacemaking, people in period costumes, and resting artwork.
Ba'Hai Gardens, Safed (Tsafat)an artist colony, Acre (the crusader's fortress) Rosh Pina, and went up to Tiberious to see the views.
Acre was very interesting, and we could have spent even longer there. The problem is, the more sights you go to, the less time you have to spend in them. It is a hard choice.
We have been there 3 times and still have not scratched the surface. Wonderful city!
You do not need an excursion. The only advantage that I can see would be to avoid the long entrance lines to sights, (but then your time is not your own and you must move with a large group at someone else's pace and interests), but you can also buy tickets in advance online.