If you are looking for a meaningful getaway or an adventure that includes scenic natural wonders and landscapes. In that case, Egypt will give you the travel experience you are looking for. I was lucky enough to spend a week in Egypt and barely even scratched the surface of discovering all that it has to offer. From seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to immersing yourself in the rich Egyptian culture and history. You will have plenty to keep you entertained the entire trip.
SOME GENERAL TIPS ON THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO EGYPT
- Get a sim card at the airport, it will cost about 35$ for a tourist pack. Change money at the airport as well. It’s much easier and cheaper than trying to do it at the hotel.
- English is widely spoken in touristy places, but many people, including taxi drivers, do not speak English. If you take a taxi, negotiate the price in advance or get an Uber.
- If you are wondering whether it is safe to visit Egypt as a solo traveller, the answer is yes. Egyptians are very welcoming. While it is helpful to get a guide, you can get by with ample research and easily book attractions directly at the sites or with the hotels.
- Egypt is quite conservative, but you can wear anything you want. But be modest; daisy dukes and miniskirts are bound to get you some stares and negative attention.
- The stereotype of women getting catcalls and hassled in Egypt is accurate. Use your judgement and be polite in dealing with these situations.
- Have small change for tips; this is highly appreciated.
- Alcohol does not come easy in Egypt. You will get some local wine in hotels and high-end restaurants, but lower your expectations.
My in-depth six-day guide on how to spend the perfect vacation in Egypt breaks down travel tips, what to see, where to stay and how to get around Egypt’s main cities, Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and Alexandria. In this post, I take you through the highlights of my top 20 things to do in Egypt.
THINGS TO DO IN CAIRO
1) Visit the Great Pyramids of Giza
The Great Pyramids of Egypt are one of the most iconic landmarks worldwide. They are the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and remain a bucket list item for most travellers to see in person. The Egyptian pyramids are a site of three ancient pyramids – the tallest is almost 500 feet tall – used as burial tombs. Pre-pandemic, more than 15 million people visited Egypt, primarily to see the pyramids
Pro Tip: Make sure to book a guide – you find plenty onsite. You will gain valuable insight into historical information about the structures and what makes them so enchanting even today.
2) Stroll around the serene Al Azhar Park
As you would imagine, Cairo is a chaotic city, and the hustle and bustle are genuinely one of a kind. But if you need a break from the action, visit Al Azhar Park. It is the largest urban park in Cairo and is considered one of the most beautiful globally.
Al Azhar Park is carefully manicured with lush greenery that contrasts the desert and city landscape of the rest of Egypt. It is the perfect place to go for a leisure afternoon in Cairo to enjoy a picnic on the lawn or go for a leisure stroll.
Pro Tip: Do not miss visiting the restaurant at the park that serves some of the best local dishes.
The best time to visit is for a picturesque sunset over Cairo.
3) Sail away on the Nile River Cruise
There are lots of ways you can get around Egypt. Knowing how terrible the traffic is, the best way to experience Egypt is on a Nile River cruise. You will sail on a traditional dahabiya boat to get a glimpse of how Egyptians travelled in the past.
The Nile River is the lifeline in Egypt, and most of its major cities are established along the river route. Nile River Cruises last anywhere from a couple of days to week-long excursions that take you from Cairo to Aswan.
You will visit famous landmarks, shop in major markets, visit tiny villages, and eat authentic food along the way.
4) Savour the local flavours of the famous Khan el Khalili Bazaar
Shop at the Khan el Khalili Bazaar, and you are bound to find a surprise. It is a famous open-air souk (marketplace) that has been around since the 14th Century. A long-running market is still a go-to place for shopping. Vendors sell everything from spices, clothing, perfume, and souvenirs.
Visiting the Khan el Khalili Bazaar is a treat for all your senses. Hear the chanting of updated prices and smell the scent of rich perfume. The marketplace is a fun destination, and shopping is only part of it. And do not forget to haggle for some great deals.
5) Walk down history lane at the City of the Dead
Take a walk-through Egypt’s past by visiting the City of the Dead. Located right outside Cairo, the city transformed a large stretch of land into a cemetery. It is also a residential area rife with old mosques, ancient buildings, and crafty artisanal shops.
City of the Dead covers over 3-miles and holds over half a million bodies. It is an ancient site with bodies dating as far back as the 7th Century.
Unlike your typical cemetery, these large tombs and burial sites turn the cemetery into its own city with paved paths around it. Up until a few years ago, it was pretty unsafe. Still, it is pretty safe to visit in recent years with some rehabilitation. The restoration work going there includes guided tours and even international festivals.
THINGS TO DO IN ALEXANDRIA
6) Day trip to Alexandria
Egypt is much too large to spend it all in just one place. Instead, experience the diverse country with a day trip to Alexandria. It is a popular day-trip destination only a couple of hours away from Cairo. You can even get there by train.
Wake up early to travel to the oasis on the coast. Alexandria is famous for its lighthouse well-known libraries, including the famous Bibliotheca Alexandrina and ancient archaeological ruins. Take a tour of these fantastic sites to learn their history as you cruise along with this Egyptian seaside city. Grab food on the corniche before heading back to Cairo.
7) The Citadel of Qaitbay
It is hard to miss the Citadel of Qaitbay while visiting Alexandria. This historic fortress is a recognized structure formerly used for protection.
The Citadel of Qaitbay was built in the 15th Century. It was used as protection on the Mediterranean Sea from intruders. It was very instrumental in wars and was severely damaged multiple times. Today, the Citadel of Qaitbay is open as a museum. You will get to walk the barren walls of the citadel remains before seeing the naval artefacts displayed in the exhibition.
8) Step back in time at the Catacombs of Kim El Shoqafa
The Catacombs of Kim El Shoqafa were discovered much later due to their hidden nature. Now that the hidden tomb is revealed, it gives evidence of Egypt’s largest Roman burial site. The catacombs were initially built for one family. It expanded to cover three levels with long halls on each.
Visitors can take tours into the catacombs. The adventure begins with the descent underground to the different levels of the tombs to see how elaborate the detail is in designing it. It is still standing because of its practical design and can still stand for centuries more.
9) Experience lifelike Egyptian royalty at the Montazah Royal Gardens and Palaces
Montazah Royal Palaces are the former royal summer palace and a must-see attraction in Egypt. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Alexandria. Montazah Palace was built in the 19th Century as the summer residence for the royal family. It has the best location on a hilltop overlooking Alexandria and the Mediterranean Sea.
Now unused by the royal family, the palace and gardens are open to the public as a museum showcasing a fine collection of paintings and decorative furnishing. The gardens lead to the beach on the sea.
Go for a leisure stroll around the seafront palace to take in the scenic views. The garden covers 150 acres of well-manicured landscape and decorative flowers. It is a serene environment to spend an afternoon under the trees blocking the Egyptian sun.
THINGS TO DO IN ASWAN
10) Visit the magnificent Abu Simbel Temples
Abu Simbel Temples are perhaps the most famous and breathtaking of all the temples you will see in Egypt. Commissioned by the great king Ramesses II, the temples comprise two giant artefacts carved into the rocks. The inner rooms house statutes and ancient hieroglyphic symbols drawn on the walls. Many of the statues are well-preserved, depicting Ramesses and other royalty sitting amongst Egyptian Gods. Visitors are welcome to enter inside the temples.
11) Immerse yourself in the colourful Nubian Village
Have you ever wondered what Aswan is known for? The Aswan Nubian Village is one of the main attractions in the city. The riverside village is a vibrant gem in the desert full of colour. It really comes to life, especially in the evening. The iconic coloured houses make it an excellent photoshoot backdrop – not to mention the incredible views overlooking the Nile River.
The village is more than welcoming to tourists. It is fun to interact with locals, shop in local boutiques, and dine in charming little cafes.
While visiting, take the time to learn about the history of the Nubian people; it is not just a pretty village.
12) Experience the incredible temple of Philae
The enchanting Philae Temple is very captivating; it looks like it would be the perfect location for an epic film. The temple is located on an island in the middle of the Nile River – it is only accessible via boat. It was initially on Philae Island before flooding and was relocated to another island.
Philae Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Isis. Most of the temple is intact, with large-scale engravings on the walls. You will have incredible views of the temple from the water as you arrive and depart.
If you have time, make sure you visit in the evenings for the sound and light show that take you through a journey of discovery of this magnificent temple.
THINGS TO DO IN LUXOR
13) Roam around the Valley of the Kings
Explore the ancient tombs in the Valley of the Kings of Egypt’s most prominent figures – from King Ramesses to King Tut. It is an archaeological site and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Museum.
Visitors can enter the Valley of the Kings tombs, but photography with DSLR cameras is forbidden. It is mind-blowing to see the elaborate tomb design and decorations. Look at the walls to see colourful tomb art preserved from when the tombs were created.
The only mummy remaining is King Tut. Excavations removed much of the other tombs and burial gifts.
14) Fly over Luxor on a hot air balloon ride
Give yourself a bird’s eye view of Luxor with a hot air balloon ride. Luxor is well known for having hot air balloon tours. The balloons take passengers high into the sky for a 45-minute ride soaring above the city.
Hot air balloon rides are inclusive tours that include transfers to and from your hotel. It is a surreal experience climbing into the basket in the dark and seeing the first break of sunlight from the hot air balloon. The flight is the perfect way to start your incredible sightseeing of some of Egypt’s most iconic sites.
15) Get mesmerized at the Luxor Temple
The Luxor Temple is one of Egypt’s largest and most impressive temples. It took hundreds of years before finally achieving its monumental size. The temple remains preserved right at the centre of Luxor city.
Walk the grounds of the Luxor Temple to see why it was so special. It is a massive temple with giant statues and hieroglyphics inscribed on the walls. And you can visit it during the day and night.
16) Stay at the Sofitel Hotel in Luxor
Sofitel Hotel in Luxor is one of the most elegant hotels you will find in Egypt and elsewhere, for that matter. It is a 5-star hotel that accommodates royalty and celebrities who visit Egypt.
The colonial-style hotel, where every chandelier, scent and furniture piece has been curated,
is a historical landmark. Built in 1886, it maintains its traditional luxury décor while offering modern amenities for a recent stay.
Relax in your cosy suite or take a stroll through the hotel garden with views of the Nile River. You’ll have everything you need onsite with excellent hospitality.
The Sofitel is located within walking distance of the Luxor Temple.
17) Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is located at the Valley of the Kings entrance. Do not miss out on the landmark as you enter the Valley. It is one of the most striking temples designed with a long walkway to reach the entrance.
The unique architecture is the most prominent feature of the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. It was strategically built into the cliffs and used for a mortuary. It is one of the Queen’s best accomplishments that she often used during her lifetime. Now, it’s open to the public to explore inside and even has tours available to learn about its history.
OTHER MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN EGYPT
18) Desert Tour in the White Desert
The majority of Egypt is covered in a desert landscape. You cannot say that you have experienced all of Egypt until you have ventured into the desert! Luckily, there are organized desert tours that provide a hospitable experience.
The White Desert is a popular place for a desert tour. It is located near Farafra, where tour guides take you on an excursion to a remote part of the desert for a camping experience. You will get to admire the unique rock formations found in the distinct, white-coloured sand dunes. Guests stay overnight in the campsites with authentic food, music, and dancing.
19) Dahab Beach
The city of Dahab is one of the hidden gems in Egypt. It is located on the Sinai Peninsula, where you will find Egypt’s most beautiful stretch of coastline. It is renowned for its sparkling turquoise sea, unspoilt beaches, and blissfully relaxed lifestyle. A paradise waiting to be explored and is a trendy tourist destination.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy outdoor recreation in Dahab. It is a world-famous diving and windsurfing destination.
The Gulf of Aqaba has the perfect conditions for enjoying a day at the beach. Hang out on the promenade or go for a camel ride along the coast.
Have you been to Egypt, or are you planning a trip soon? Let me know in the comments your favourite things to do in Egypt!