Getting to know Egypt
Egypt, the land of the ancient Pharaohs, is a wonderland of awe-inspiring temples and tombs. Although there are many historic sites and tourist attractions, it’s not all about that.
Whether you’re a 4WD enthusiast looking to explore vast stretches of desert or a scuba diver exploring the Red Sea’s famed coral reefs and wrecks, Egypt has something for everyone.
The Red Sea Coast and the Sinai are popular destinations for beachgoers, while Luxor is a treasure trove for archaeology enthusiasts.
Aswan and Siwa offer a taste of rural life, while Cairo is a bustling metropolis that can’t be beaten for city slickers.
With so much to see and do, a trip to Egypt can include cultural experiences, outdoor activities, and downtime.
Great Pyramids of Giza
For many people, the Pyramids of Giza are one of the most recognizable landmarks on this planet.
Tourists flock to these tombs of the Pharaohs Cheops (Khufu), Chephren (Khafre), and Mycerinus (Menkaure), which are guarded by the mysterious Sphinx, on their first visit to Egypt.
Megalithic monuments to pharaohs are still awe-inspiring sights in the desert outside of Cairo today, and they’re an undeniable highlight of every Egyptian vacation.
Luxor's Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings
Luxor, located on the banks of the Nile in Upper Egypt, is known for its numerous tourist attractions, including the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut.
There are more attractions here in ancient Thebes than most people can see in a single trip, and it was the capital of the New Kingdom pharaohs at the time.
In contrast to Luxor’s East Bank, which houses the modern city, the two temples of Karnak and Luxor, and the museum, Luxor’s West Bank is home to the vast majority of its tourist attractions, with so many tomb and temple sights that it has been dubbed the world’s largest open-air museum.
Luxor has fascinated historians and archaeologists for centuries, and it’s easy to see why after a few days of exploring the tombs and temples, you’ll understand why.
Even in Egypt, where there are numerous temples, Abu Simbel stands out. The great temple of Ramses II, guarded by colossal statues on the outside and lavishly painted on the inside, is on display here.
Abu Simbel is well-known for its megalithic proportions, but it is also known for the engineering feat that UNESCO performed in the 1960s to save the temple from the rising waters of the Aswan dam.
Explore Abu Simbel today and marvel at the international effort to save this temple complex as much as you marvel at Ramses II’s awe-inspiring construction works.
Taking a Nile Cruise
The Nile is a defining feature of Egypt. A multi-day cruise along this historic waterway, which witnessed the rise of the Pharaonic era, is often considered a highlight of visitors’ trips to Egypt.
On the route between Luxor and Aswan, cruising the Nile is the most relaxing way to see the temples that line its banks, as well as sunrise and sunset over the date-palm-studded riverbanks, backed by desert sand dunes.
All of the big cruise ships dock at the Temple of Kom Ombo and Edfu’s Temple of Horus, two of the most well-known sights along a Nile Cruise..
The felucca (Egypt’s traditional lateen-sailed wooden boats) are also an option if you prefer a less crowded and slower experience and don’t mind “roughing it” a little.
Luxor and Aswan are the two most popular destinations for cruises, but feluccas can only be rented for multi-day trips from Aswan.
Red Sea scuba diving.
As intriguing as the temples and tombs on land, there is a whole other world beneath the Red Sea.
Reef fish and sea creatures of all shapes and sizes can be found in abundance in the Red Sea, which is a popular destination for scuba divers because of the variety and abundance of marine life that can be found in the waters.
Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula is the most popular diving destination because it is the closest town to the reefs of Ras Mohammed National Park and the Straits of Tiran.
Hurghada or El Gouna on the Red Sea coast are the best places to dive the Straits of Gubal, while Marsa Alam is the best place to dive Egypt’s “deep south” dive sites.
The Red Sea is also a popular wreck-diving destination, thanks to its abundance of marine life and coral reefs. As a British WWII cargo ship on its way to resupply Allied troops in 1941, the Thistlegorm was bombed by the Nazis.
Aswan, Egypt’s most serene city, lies along the Nile’s meandering bends. For a few days of rest and relaxation, this is a great place to stop and enjoy the laid-back vibe of the area’s orange-hued dunes.
Visit Elephantine Island by river ferry and take a stroll through the vibrant streets of the Nubian villages.
To get to the desert monastery of St. Simeon, ride a camel. Or you could just sit on a riverboat restaurant and sip tea all day while watching the feluccas with their lateen sails drift by.
Check out Aswan’s islands from the deck of a felucca at sunset. Aswan’s most popular pastime and the most relaxing way to see the city’s sights is by far the scuba diving.
There are many historical landmarks in the area, as well as numerous temples, such as the island’s own Philae Temple, but one of the most popular pastimes in Aswan is simply relaxing and taking in the city’s riverside life.
Discover the Islamic Cairo
Mosques, madrassas (Islamic schools of learning), and monuments from the Fatimid to the Mameluke eras line the atmospheric, winding streets of Cairo’s Islamic Cairo district.
There are still small workshops where coppersmiths and artisans work, as well as stalls filled with ceramics, textiles, spices, and perfume in the labyrinthine Khan el-Khalili market.
The market is surrounded by a maze of roads, which are home to some of the best-preserved Islamic architecture.
There is a lot to see and do here. Visit the magnificent Sultan Hassan Mosque and Al-Azhar Mosque, and don’t forget to scale the ancient medieval gate of Bab Zuweila to get the best views of the neighborhood’s minaret-studded skyline.
South Sinai's Beach
On Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the South Sinai region has a beach for everyone.
European-style resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh is full of luxury hotels, restaurants from around the world and plenty of entertainment options. Many of the resorts in the area cater to families on one- or two-week vacations in the sun and sand.
This sleepy resort town on the Red Sea is as much about desert excursions and adventures as it is about relaxing on the sands. The lagoon beach area, where windsurfing and kitesurfing are popular activities, and the low cost of the dive packages are two of its most notable features.
The bamboo hut retreats between Nuweiba and the border town of Taba offer complete get-away-from-it-all respites from life and back-to-basics beach life up the coast.
The Egyptian Museum.
One of the world’s most important museum collections, Cairo’s Egyptian Museum holds treasures from the Pharaonic era. Exhibits abound in this faded pink mansion in downtown Cairo.
Half of the old-school charm is in the disarray, as there are few labels and no chronological order to be found.
Tutankhamen’s treasures from the Valley of the Kings and the fascinating Royal Mummies exhibit room are the museum’s two most notable collections.
This museum, on the other hand, is a treasure trove of ancient art and statuary that would make any other museum’s exhibits stand out.
Giza’s Pyramids are well-known, but they aren’t Egypt’s only pyramids.
Saqqara is a vast necropolis of tombs and pyramids that was used throughout the pharaonic eras. It is a day-trip from Cairo.
This region is best known for its Old Kingdom Step Pyramid, which demonstrates how Ancient Egyptian engineers improved their engineering knowledge to create a true pyramid shape.
Some of Egypt’s best tomb paintings, such as those found in the Mastaba of Ti, can be found in other nearby tombs, including the Step Pyramid.
The Red and Bent Pyramids of Dahshur are located nearby and should be included in any visit to Saqqara.