The top 10 places to visit in Egypt
Egypt – An ancient and mystical land, a country with two of the world’s seven wonders, the oldest civilization on earth. The Sahara Desert, the Nile River, the Pyramids of Giza, pristine waters, world class coral reefs, dazzling temples and tombs and a rich history and mesmerizing culture is what draws tourists to Egypt. It is a transcontinental country, located in North Africa and extending towards the Middle East through the Sinai Peninsula. History, mystery, romance and culture, you find it all here! Plus, Egypt it is also the place to tick off bucket list experiences.
The top 10 places to visit in Egypt
Top travel tips | When to go | Visa and entry regulations | How to get there | How to get around | The top 10 places to visit in Egypt | Pyramids of Giza | Luxor´s Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings | Cruising the Nile | Aswan | Abu Simbel | Sinai Peninsula and diving in the Red Sea | The Egyptian Museum | The White Desert | Alexandria | Abydos Temple
Top travel tips
1. Do not drink the tap water. It is not made for drinking and if you are very sensitive, I suggest that you even use bottled water to brush your teeth.
2. The bathrooms are rarely a pleasant surprise and yet, be prepared to tip the bathroom attendant. Bring your own toilet paper though, because there is no guarantee it will be available, with or without the tip.
3. Speaking of tipping, be prepared to tip everyone and everywhere. Of course, this is up to you, but at least be prepared that it is expected to tip if you take photos of a camel, ride a felucca or at the end of any experience. 5-10% of the price is expected and if there is no price, the tip is still expected, so give whatever you feel is appropriate.
4. Egypt is the country of cash. Don´t expect to be able to use your credit card anywhere else than in the ATMs.
When to go
October to April is usually the best time to visit due to mild weather but in my opinion, the crowds and the increase in price might ruin it for you. I would recommend shoulder seasons like June or September where you will have the best of both worlds, with fewer people, ok weather, and not too expensive.
The best time to visit Egypt is during winter and spring, from October to April. The weather is more pleasant and that also makes the experience more pleasant. However, this is no secret, which means there will be more tourists during this time. More tourists also means higher prices. If you want to avoid the tourist crowds and increased prices I recommend you to go in June or September. July and August are extremely hot and you´ll want to avoid all non-air-conditioned activities, making it a pretty pointless trip.
Visa and entry regulations
All people travelling to Egypt must process their visa application. Depending on your nationality, you can do this online or in-person through the Egyptian embassy of your home country. The only nationalities exempted from applying for a visa to travel to Egypt are Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All other nationalities must apply for a visa to travel to Egypt, regardless of the reason for their visit. You can check the eligibility of your nationality here.
The Egypt eVisa is valid for 90 days from the day of issue until entry. It allows you to stay for a maximum of 30 days in the country. You can apply for a single or multiple entry visa.
How to get there
The smoothest way to get to Egypt is flying into Cairo. Cario is a big city and there are plenty of flights from all over the world. If you´re coming from one of the neighboring countries it is also possible to enter Egypt by land. If you are coming from Israel you do not always get the warmest welcome at the border control, be prepared that it might take some time.
How to get around
In all the big cities, as well as in smaller touristic cities, trains and buses are both well-connected and the best as well as the cheapest option. The cheapest way to travel between cities is definitely buses. They are comfortable and air-conditioned. If you´re traveling by bus for a few hours make sure to bring enough clothes as it tends to get freezing.
In Cairo I would recommend using taxis and metros. Metros are only accessible within the main city so you might be required to take a taxi to go further, say from Cairo to the pyramids of Giza. If you are taking a taxi, hail it from the street and don’t ever get on until you verify that their meter is not “broken”. If you don’t have much choice, say coming back from the pyramid. Bargain hard and don’t ever get in a taxi until you and the driver agree upon a price.
Now when you know all of this its time to move on to my travel guide to the top 9 places to visit in Egypy.
The top 10 places to visit in Egypt
1. Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza are one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still standing. If this alone doesn´t make it worth a visit, I don´t know what does. The Pyramids of Giza is part of an area known as the Giza Complex. The Giza Complex includes the Giza Necropolis, the Sphynx, Pyramids, and Valley Temple of Khafre.
Having seen photos of the Pyramids, you would think that they´re located somewhere in a distant desert. In fact, they are located 15 miles/24 kilometres outside of Cairo and therefore your best way to get to the Pyramids is by bus or tour bus from Cairo. As Cairo is a highly polluted city I wouldn’t recommend going there the first thing in the morning. However, you definitely do want a full day there, so arriving at 8 am and starting off with the museum to then continue to the Pyramids is your best option if you want to maximize the experience.
The Giza Plateau is open from 8 am to 4 pm daily (during the summer the opening hours are prolonged until 5 pm).
There are two points of entry into the Giza Complex, one is near the Great Pyramid of Giza and the other is beside The Sphinx. If you’re taking the bus, your preferred entry/exit point is the one next to the Great Pyramid, as that is where the buses stop.
Expect it to be crowded, so unless your part of an organized tour.
, which I would say isn’t necessary when visiting the pyramids, just walk off the main path and the crowds won’t bother you.
Entry tickets are 120 LE (about $7.40 USD) and if you want to explore inside of the Great Pyramid, you will have to pay an additional 300 LE (about $18.50 USD). Entering the Great Pyramid is definitely worth it. Unless you´re claustrophobic, in which case I would think twice about it.
2. Luxor´s Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings
Located on the ancient site of Thebes, on Luxor’s West Bank, the Valley of Kings is the ancient burial ground of many Egyptian kings. It is truly an impressive site with both the almost intact tomb of Tutankhamen as well as the tomb of Ramses IV among many others. The site holds 63 different tombs. One ticket (10 USD) will allow you entry to visit 3 of the tombs on site. If you wish to visit the tomb of King Tutankhamun as well, you will have to purchase an additional ticket for around 12 USD. However, the treasures found in the tomb have been moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The vividly painted tombs of the pharaohs allow visitors a glimpse of the burial rites and death rituals of Ancient Egypt and it truly was one of the highlights of my trip.
The Valley of Kings is open between 9 am to 5 pm. Easiest way to get to the Valley of Kings as a solo traveler is to grab a taxi/Uber from Luxor.
3. Cruising the Nile
OK, I can´t stress this enough. Cruising the Nile is a must. It is one of the best experiences of my life and anyone who gets the chance to do it, should. Not only because of the amazing views of the palm studded riverbank and sand dunes, but it also gives you the best views of all the temples between Luxor and Aswan. The two most famous sights while cruising the Nile are the Temple of Kom Ombo and Edfu’s Temple of Horus.
The vast amount of cruise boats departs from either Luxor or Aswan. The prices vary, and your best way to get a low price is to be flexible on your departure. Head down to the marina and hope that there is a cruise boat leaving within a few days that isn´t fully booked. This way you can cut the price of the ticket almost in half.
Aswan oh Aswan. Aswan is the Egyptian paradise with its orange sand dunes and relaxing atmosphere. Ride a camel to the desert monastery of St. Simeon or take the river ferry across to Elephantine Island and stroll the colorful streets on a tour of the Nubian villages.
Make sure to jump aboard a felucca at sunset to sail around Aswan’s islands. This is by far, Aswan’s most popular activity and the most relaxing way to take in the local sights.
Even if there are plenty of sights in Aswan, the main attraction is to chill and enjoy the local and laid-back atmosphere.
5. Abu Simbel
Even if Egypt is a country where the number of temples grow dense, there are some more magnificent than others, one of them being Abu Simbel. This is Ramses II’s great temple. It is adorned with colossal statues outside and a breathtaking interior with the most exquisite wall paintings. Abu Simbel is mostly, and rightly so, famous for its megalithic proportions. I would say that the twin temples of Abu Simbel is one of Egypt’s most striking monuments. To get here, you can plan a day trip from either Aswan or Cairo. Traveling by land the traveling hours can get long, traveling by air, the prices can get high. Regardless of which way you choose, I promise you it will be worth it and the temples truly is some of the most amazing ones I´ve ever seen.
6. Sinai Peninsula and diving in the Red Sea
Egypt is not only fascinating and breathtaking on land, under the surface of the sea hides yet another fascinating and breathtaking world. The coral reefs of the Red Sea around Egypt’s South Sinai region, on the Sinai Peninsula, are well known among scuba divers for the vast amount of sea life and the beautiful reef. The Red Sea offers everything from sharks to dolphins, turtles, rays, colorful reef fish and nudibranchs.
Regardless of if you´re looking to scuba dive, snorkel or just have a lazy vacation on the beach your best option is to head to Sharm el-Sheikh which is closest to the reefs of Ras Mohammed National Park, as well as the reefs of the Straits of Tiran. Another option is to head to Hurghada or El Gouna. For advanced divers and deep-sea diving, head straight to Marsa Alam.
The Red Sea does not only hold amazing marine life, it is also one of the top five wreck dive destinations in the world. The most famous wreck is the Thistlegorm, a British WWII cargo ship that was on its way to resupply Allied troops when it was bombed by the Germans in 1941.
7. The Egyptian Museum
In a faded pink mansion in Tahir Square downtown Cairo hides a dazzling amount of exhibits such as golden treasures unearthed from Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings and the fascinating Royal Mummies exhibit room. The Egyptian Museum is the oldest archaeological museum in the Middle East, and it houses the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities in the world.
The attraction is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and general admission tickets cost 75 Egyptian pounds (8 USD) per person. There are also tickets to skip the line if waiting is not your thing.
8. The White Desert
Out in the Western Desert, just south of Bahariya Oasis you´ll find one of the world’s most quirky and bizarre natural wonders. The White Desert. It covers more than 2.8 million square kilometers and contains five oases Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra, Bahariyya and Siwa. The desert itself is made up out of magnificent rock formations that were formed through wind erosions over massive amounts of time, and it is white! Completely white.
The scenery is like something taken out of a science fiction movie and it´s the perfect destination for overnight camping and 4WD desert trips. All trips are organized in Bahariya Oasis and there is really no right or wrong here. Most of the companies offer a unique experience and I would recommend going with your gut feeling.
I did an overnight tour with Desert Safari Home, run by a local Bedouin family. They have been living n the White Desert for generations and really gives you a tour of a lifetime. Camping under the stars of the White Desert is something I´ll never forget. A 2-day tour, all-inclusive, is about 300 USD so it does not come cheap, but it is well worth it!
The Magic of Alexandria is something I always dreamt of. Founded by Alexander the Great, home of Cleopatra, the home of intellectuals, writers, poets and artists of ancient Egypt. It has a history, relaxing vibes and an unbeatable view over the Mediterranean Sea. It is often referred to as “The Jewel of the Mediterranean” because of its beauty and rich culture. It is the largest city on the Mediterranean Sea and the second-largest city in Egypt and there is plenty to do here. I would suggest spending at least 2-3 days in Alexandria, in order to fully be able to soak up the culture and history as well as the relaxing atmosphere here. Alexandria was the home of 3 of the wonders of the ancient world and the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, two of them were destroyed, but the third one, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, also known as Pharos shouldn´t be missed on your visit here! Other places not to miss while in Alexandria is another one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and Middle Ages – the Necropolis or Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa. It consists of a series of Alexandrian tombs with a mixture of Roman, Hellenistic, and Ancient Egyptian decorative art, elements that were common at this period in Alexandria, its design is similar to the Christian catacombs of Rome. Unfortunately, a lot has been destroyed, but it is still worth a visit.
10. Abydos Temple
The Temple of Osiris in Abydos is one of Ancient Egypt’s most fascinating artistic treasures. Abydos is located north of Luxor and can easily be visited in a day trip from the city. The temple is less visited than the temples of Luxor and the Nile temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo further south. But I really fell in love with the vibrantly colored wall and ceiling paintings and the artistic side of the Pharaonic era.
How do you like our list of top 10 places to visit in Egypt? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
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