Metropolis almost gone
Memphis was the first imperial capital of Egypt, beginning late in the 4th millennium BCE, when King Menes united Upper and Lower Egypt under one king. Memphis was the capital of Egypt throughout the major period of pyramid builders, and would remain a great city for almost 4000 years, until the Muslim establishment of Cairo took away its regional importance.
Its extent was enormous by the standards of its time, housing perhaps several hundred thousand inhabitants. But what is there to see today? Close to nothing!
Centuries of plundering added to by millennia of silting up by the Nile inundations have left very little visible to visitors. The visitor area is small and there are really just two attractions, a limestone colossus of Ramses 2 and an 80 ton alabaster sphinx. The colossus is exhibited in lying position, while it was built to stand in front of the great Temple of Ptah. This presentation is highly effective, the size of the statue appears more dramatic than with many of the standing ones. Also it allows easier views to the higher parts, like the face and head decorations.
It is believed that much of ancient Memphis has not disappeared, but that lies well beneath the farms that dominate here now.
Eat and Sleep
No immediate hotels or restaurants, but there is a cafe next to the visitors area. There are options in Saqqara, but for practically all visitors to Memphis, the facilities of Cairo are the natural choice.
The wise choice coming out to Memphis is to join a tour, or to get a taxi from Cairo. In either option it is common to throw in visits to the pyramid grounds of Saqqara and Dahshur. This quickly fills a full day. In 2004 prices for a taxi for the day was something like EŁ80-100 (for the whole car, not per person).
Using public transportation to visit Memphis is not recommded, it is difficult and very time consuming.
5 km west: Saqqara
15 km south: Dahshur
30 km north: Cairo
25 km north: Giza
20 km north: Pyramids of Giza