Egypt travel guide
Egypt, the land of pharaohs, pyramids, and ancient mysteries, has captivated the imagination of people for thousands of years. Egypt offers a rich history, culture, and natural beauty, from the impressive Nile River to the vast deserts and stunning Red Sea coastline. But beyond the tourist brochures and postcards lies a country with a complex and fascinating story. So, let’s delve into the land of the pharaohs and discover what makes Egypt one of the most intriguing and captivating destinations. Are you ready to embark on an adventure that will take you through time and space, exploring the wonders of Egypt’s ancient past and modern-day present? Then we’ll discover what makes Egypt truly unique.
Cairo, the bustling metropolis of Egypt, is a city that never sleeps. From the colorful bazaars and lively streets to the ancient mosques and grand palaces, Cairo is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a culture vulture, it will leave you spellbound with its energy, vibrancy, and diversity. So, let’s journey through the heart of Egypt and discover why this destination should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
Have you ever dreamed of wandering through narrow streets filled with spices, bargaining with vendors for the best deals, or getting lost in a labyrinth of ancient buildings? Then Cairo is the perfect city for you. It’s a place where time stands still, where the old and the new come together in a beautiful fusion of sights, sounds, and smells.
As soon as you step out into the streets of Cairo, you’ll be hit by the hustle and bustle of the city. The sounds of honking cars, the smells of delicious street food, and the constant movement of people going about their day will overwhelm your senses in the best way possible.
Situated on the outskirts of Cairo, the Giza plateau is home to one of the most iconic sights – the stunning Great Pyramid of Giza. The pyramid is a true testament to the ingenuity of the ancient Egyptians, and it remains one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You can tour the pyramid and even go inside to explore its many chambers and passages. But that’s not all – the Giza Plateau is also home to other fascinating archaeological wonders, including the Sphinx, temples, tombs, and other structures that offer a glimpse into the ancient Egyptian civilization.
If you’re a history buff, you won’t miss the opportunity to visit the Egyptian Museum, the oldest archaeological museum in the Middle East. It’s home to an incredible collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt, including the treasures of King Tutankhamun. You’ll be amazed at the intricacy and detail of these objects, and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the fascinating history of Egypt.
Moving on to Tahrir Square, it is considered the heart of Cairo and the center of all the major events in the city. The square has witnessed many historical events, including the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
But Cairo isn’t just about ancient history. It’s also a modern city with a thriving cultural scene. The Cairo Opera House is a beautiful venue to catch a ballet, opera, or classical music performance. And for a more contemporary experience, head to the Zamalek district, filled with art galleries, cafes, and trendy shops.
Zamalek is a district of western Cairo located on Gezira Island in the Nile River. The island is connected to the riverbanks with three bridges, and it’s a popular residential area for expats and locals. Zamalek is also home to the iconic Cairo Tower, the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa, standing at 187 meters. The tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Egyptian capital and is the perfect place to capture unforgettable city photos.
If you’re looking for a traditional shopping experience, visit the Khan El-Khalili market, one of the most popular markets in Egypt. The area is featured in many movies and novels and is a vibrant hub for traditional goods such as spices, jewelry, and textiles. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore one of the most photographed streets in Cairo, Muizz Street.
To taste Cairo’s history, visit El-Fishawi, an iconic café established in 1797, where you can sip on traditional Egyptian drinks and soak up the atmosphere. This charming place was a favorite spot for many intellectuals and writers, including Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz.
Cairo is known for its beautiful mosques that reflect historic and modern Islamic architecture. The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, also known as the Alabaster Mosque, is an iconic landmark with stunning domes and minarets. The Sultan Hassan Mosque, built in the 14th century, is known for its massive size and intricate decoration. At the same time, Al-Hussein Mosque is located in the heart of the historic Islamic district and is surrounded by a vibrant marketplace. Finally, the Al-Azhar Mosque, founded in the 10th century, is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities and features a serene atmosphere, a large central courtyard, and intricate calligraphy and tile work.
As you stroll through the bustling streets of Cairo amidst the sounds of adhan (Islamic call to prayer) and the aromas of traditional street food, you may stumble upon an unexpected gem – Coptic Cairo. Tucked away in the heart of the city, this historic district is home to some of the world’s oldest and most ornate Christian churches. With a rich history spanning over 2,000 years, Coptic Cairo offers a glimpse into Egypt’s fascinating religious and cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler.
Step into a world of ancient beauty and stunning architecture at the Hanging Church in Cairo, the city’s most famous Coptic Christian church. With its unique hanging structure and rich history, this church is a must-see destination for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in Egypt’s religious and cultural heritage. Let yourself be transported back in time as you explore this remarkable site, marvel at the intricate details of its design, and discover the stories of the Coptic Christian community that has worshipped here for centuries.
Of course, no visit to Cairo would be complete without sampling the delicious Egyptian cuisine. You’ll be spoiled for choice, from famous street food like falafel and koshary to the more upscale restaurants serving traditional dishes like a stuffed pigeon and lamb tagine. And if you have a sweet tooth, try the baklava and kunafa, two of the most popular desserts in Egypt.
Saqqara, Dashur and Memphis
Discover the wonders of Egypt’s rich archaeological sites at Saqqara, Dahshur, and Memphis. Saqqara, the necropolis for Memphis’s ancient capital, boasts numerous pyramids, including the impressive Step Pyramid of Djoser. Meanwhile, Dahshur, located south of Saqqara on the west bank of the Nile River, reveals the remains of seven pyramids, including the famous Bent and Red pyramids. Finally, head to Mit Rahina, a modern village built around the north end of the ancient site of Memphis, where an open-air museum showcases a fallen colossal limestone statue of Ramses II and the stunning alabaster sphinx of the New Kingdom.
The stunning city of Alexandria is situated on the Mediterranean coast, home to the legendary Pharos Lighthouse and the Great Library of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. As a city of contrasts, Alexandria is lovely but rough, with much of its architecture heavily damaged, yet it remains a must-visit destination on every traveler’s bucket list.
One of the city’s most important contemporary landmarks is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, whose giant sun disk overlooks the waterfront Corniche. The main library can hold up to eight million volumes, and its museums provide insight into Alexandria’s rich history and heritage. However, with a capacity of only 500 readers, it’s best to get there early in the morning.
Another must-see attraction in Alexandria is Fort Qaitbey, where the iconic Pharos Lighthouse once stood. Although the lighthouse was destroyed in an earthquake, the fort was built by Mamluke Sultan Qaitbey to protect the port from attack. Climb up to the roof for a magnificent view of the Mediterranean.
Other places worth visiting in Alexandria include the Catacombs of Kom el-Shuqqafa, Kom el-Dikka, Pompey’s Pillar, Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque, and the Montazah Gardens. Don’t forget to have lunch in one of the many fish restaurants and explore Alexandria’s main souq for a unique shopping experience.
Diving enthusiasts can explore the ancient city’s submerged ruins, while those with more time can visit the El Alameinwar memorial about 112 kilometers west of Alexandria. Alexandria is truly a city that has something for everyone, with its rich history, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine.
Aswan is a rich history and culture city located along the Nile River in Egypt. This administrative and industrial center was crucial in ancient Egypt, particularly as a military base and home to some of the most famous granite quarries. The granite mined from Aswan was used to construct thousands of statues, obelisks, shrines, and even pyramids that still stand today.
Aswan is ideal for those exploring nearby attractions such as Abu Simbel, the Aswan High Dam, Philae Temple, Elephantine Island, and Old Cataract Hotel. Abu Simbel, built by the legendary Egyptian king Ramses II, is a must-visit temple relocated due to the threat of flooding from the Nile River.
The Unfinished Obelisk is another incredible site to see in Aswan. Though it was never finished, it would have been the heaviest single-stone monument ever created by the Egyptians. The best way to see it is to combine your tour with a visit to nearby sites like Philae Temple and the Aswan High Dam.
The Aswan High Dam is the world’s largest embankment dam and a primary power source for Egypt. It protects against the annual Nile floods and even helped provide electricity to many villages for the first time.
Philae Temple is a beautiful ancient temple on a tiny island dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus. Its walls are adorned with scenes from Egyptian mythology, making it a fascinating place to visit for history buffs.
A stunning blend of history, elegance, and style and breathtaking views of the Nile River and Elephantine Island are only a few things that make the iconic Old Cataract Hotel legendary. Built by Thomas Cook, Old Cataract was meant to be an exclusive holiday retreat for wealthy travelers interested in traveling by local cruise ships and exploring the Nile Delta and the rest of Egypt. The historical significance of Old Cataract is enormous, partly because of all the legendary guests that stayed in over the years. Don’t miss a chance to taste a high tea or spend a few nights in this stunning hotel.
Elephantine Island, named after its elephant-tusk-like appearance from above, was once an important border town between Nubian land and Egypt. It’s home to many temple ruins, two nilometers, and the colorful Nubian villages of Koti and Siou that are worth exploring.
Finally, don’t forget to visit the many Nubian villages surrounding Aswan. These villages offer a unique glimpse into the Nubian culture and are a great way to experience the local way of life. With so much to see and explore, Aswan is a city that should be on your bucket list.
Luxor, the ancient capital of the Pharaohs, holds a unique place in the history and culture of Egypt. Nowadays, it is a treasure trove of temples, tombs, and monuments, making it the world’s greatest open-air museum. If you want to experience the grandeur and magnificence of Luxor fully, you’ll need at least two days here, as there are so many must-see places to explore. From the Valley of the Kings to the Temple of Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Queens, each site is steeped in history and has a story to tell.
You also cannot miss the magnificent Karnak Temple Complex. The sprawling complex was the epicenter of the ancient Egyptian religion during the New Kingdom and has been developed for over 1,000 years. The Temple of Amun-Ra stands out as the largest religious building ever constructed among the many temples and chapels. Marvel at the grandeur of the sandstone columns that have withstood the test of time. But Karnak is not the only attraction in Luxor; the well-preserved Temple of Luxor, built in dedication to the rejuvenation of kingship, and the awe-inspiring Colossi of Memnon are also must-visit sites. And after a day of sightseeing, head to Luxor market for some traditional cuisine at a local restaurant.
But one experience stands out – a hot air balloon flight over Luxor. Imagine watching the sun gradually rise and gazing down upon these ancient wonders from the air. It’s an awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience and, together with above mentioned, it will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Cruise along the Nile River
Imagine cruising along the Nile River, watching the picturesque farmlands and colorful villages pass you by, while soaking in the warmth of the Egyptian sun. That was my experience during my trip to Egypt, where the highlight was undoubtedly the four-day cruise along the majestic Nile River. The cruise offered the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, with opportunities to explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites, dine at exquisite restaurants, and dip in the ship’s swimming pool. The best part was the flexibility to choose the direction of the cruise, either from Luxor to Aswan or Aswan to Luxor. A Nile cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Egypt.
Hurghada, once a small fishing village, has now transformed into a world-renowned Red Sea resort that offers an abundance of activities to its visitors. Whether you’re interested in exploring the vibrant town, indulging in water sports, embarking on a desert safari, snorkeling, diving, or even swimming with dolphins, Hurghada has something for everyone.
And if you’re in the mood for some shopping, the area is home to numerous malls and souvenir shops, where you can find the perfect keepsake to remember your trip.
But what truly sets Hurghada apart is the ability to take exciting day trips to nearby destinations, such as Cairo, Luxor, El Gouna, and Safaga. And for those looking for a luxurious stay, the award-winning Steigenberger Al Dau Beach resort offers an oasis in the heart of Hurghada, complete with a private beach, wellness facilities, a water sports and diving center, and multiple dining and bar options. It’s the perfect location for your next dream vacation.
Overall, Egypt is a destination like not many others, a country that has captivated travelers for centuries with its ancient history, culture, and traditions. From the majestic pyramids of Giza to the stunning temples of Luxor and the bustling streets of Cairo, Egypt offers a wealth of experiences and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether seeking adventure, relaxation or simply a glimpse into one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egypt has it all. So pack your bags, book your tickets, and prepare for an unforgettable journey to this incredible country. Egypt awaits you with open arms!
When in Egypt
- Respect the local customs and dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
- Stay hydrated, as Egypt can be very hot and dry.
- Negotiate prices when shopping or taking taxis, as it’s part of the local culture.
- Be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid pickpocketing and scams.
- Consider hiring a local guide to enhance your experience and get insider tips.
- Try the local cuisine, but be cautious with street food and drink bottled water.
- Respect the historical sites and monuments by not touching or climbing on them.
- Bring appropriate clothing and gear for the activities you plan to do, such as comfortable walking shoes and sun protection.
- Check for travel advisories and security alerts before your trip.
- Enjoy the diverse culture and hospitality of Egypt!
Safety tips when visiting Egypt
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when visiting Egypt:
Research before you go: It’s essential to do your research before traveling to any foreign country. Stay updated with the latest travel advisories from your country’s foreign office.
Dress appropriately: Egypt is a conservative Muslim country, so it’s essential to dress modestly. Women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and men should avoid shorts.
Be cautious in crowded areas: Crowded areas, such as markets and tourist attractions, are prime targets for pickpockets and scammers. Keep your belongings close to you and be aware of your surroundings.
Use licensed tour guides: When visiting historical sites, it’s important to use them. They can provide you with valuable information and ensure your safety.
Respect local customs: Egyptians are proud of their culture and traditions, so respecting their customs is essential. For example, removing your shoes before entering a mosque or someone’s home is customary.
Avoid protests and demonstrations: Protests and demonstrations can quickly turn violent in Egypt. Stay away from these events and avoid areas where large crowds are gathering.
Use reputable transportation: Only use reputable transportation, such as taxis, buses, and trains. Avoid using unlicensed taxis or any form of transportation that seems unsafe.
By following these safety tips, you can enjoy your trip to Egypt while staying safe and secure.
To read more about this amazing country, click HERE.