Where to go in Egypt
Where to go in Egypt
Our Guide on Where to Visit in Egypt
Just about every trip to Egypt starts in Cairo, the perfect place to begin exploring the wonders of the ancient world, following the footsteps of the pharaohs. The Great Pyramids of Giza are on the city’s outskirts, providing a fascinating look at thousands of years of history, but this is a place of ancient and modern. There are trendy bars, world-class museums, and centuries-old bazaars, like the Han El-Halili bazaar, one of the largest in the Middle East, which has served as the shopping and commercial hub since the 14th century. From here, many head to the Nile River, popular for cruises, but thousands of years ago it was essential for life in the desert, leading to the rise of the ancient Egyptians, one of the world’s earliest great civilizations. Many sights can be seen right along the river with excursions that can bring you to exciting destinations from Luxor and the Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple to Aswan and the Philae temple complex on Agilkia Island. The Red Sea coast is a popular destination too, with Hurghada a top beach resort town, drawing many to enjoy the sun-soaked sands and dive among abundant marine life in crystal-clear blue waters.
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Best places to go in Egypt
Egypt has so much to offer, historic cities, deserts, mountains, and coasts. Here is a summary of some of the best and most popular areas to visit.
Cairo is the sprawling capital of Egypt, a striking mix of ancient and modern, with gold-rimmed luxury vehicles, motorcycles, and busses whizzing around the Tahrir Square roundabout overlooked by the towering Ramses II obelisk while donkey carts travel dusty lanes. There is a smorgasbord of souks (markets) and bazaars where one can get a glimpse of daily life and a look at centuries past at places like Khan El Khalili that dates all the way back to 1382. Of course, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, the Pyramids of Giza that have stood outside the city for over 4,600 years, is what draws most visitors. One can also delve into this rich ancient history at the Egyptian Museum, one of the world’s best with a collection of more than 120,000 items, including mummies and a wide range of artifacts.
The world’s longest river, the Nile River stretches for 4,100 miles, flowing about 600 miles in Egypt. One of the world’s most important waterways, the ancient Egyptians built many of the main settlements along its banks and many of the most famous temples are within walking distance. The best way to see them is on a tour or a river cruise which starts in Aswan and continues north to one of the country’s premier archaeological sites, Luxor. On the river’s west bank not far from Thebes (modern-day Luxor), is the site of the Valley of the Kings. Over 60 different tombs have been uncovered here, including the Boy King Tutankhamun, discovered in 1922. The Valley of the Queens is equally impressive and within close range, featuring more than 80 tombs, including queen Nefatari’s.
Sail along the Nile on our 9-Night Egypt in Style Tour.
Aswan sits at the northern end of the First Cataract at the edge of ancient Egypt’s southern frontier along the Nile River. Life here moves at a slower pace, allowing travelers to de-stress from the busyness of Cairo. The river is wide here and gently flows from Lake Nasser, dotted with palm tree-filled islands and granite boulders while colorful villages stand out against the backdrop of the desert. It’s jam-packed with history and significant archaeological sites like the Philae temple complex on Agilkia Island which includes the 4th-century BC Temple of Isis. Aswan’s quarries were used to produce many of the temples and statues here, including Philae. Elephantine Island downriver is home to the Temple of Khnum from the Third Dynasty and two Nubian villages, Koti and Siou. The Nubians originate from the central Nile Valley’s early inhabitants and are believed to be one of the earliest cradles of civilization.
Explore Aswan on our 7-Night Essence of Egypt Tour.
Luxor is an ancient city that sits along the east bank of the Nile River on the site that was the pharaoh’s capital of Thebes from the 16th through the 11th centuries BC. Dating from 1392, it’s a treasure trove of ancient statues, buildings, and temples, with the feel of an open-air museum. The modern-day city surrounds two massive surviving monuments, that sit a mile north, Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple. Karnak Temple is the world’s second-largest temple complex with four main sections, including the Precinct of Amu-Ra which is open to the public. It also includes a museum with reconstructed shrines and blocks from other parts of the complex. Highlights include the numerous blocks with intricate carvings, statues of the goddess Sekhmet and the calcite shrine of Amenhotep II. The Luxor Temple is believed to be the place many kings of ancient Egypt were crowned, built in 1400 BC.
Discover Luxor on our 7-Night Highlights of Egypt Tour.
Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, today Alexandria is one of the largest cities in Egypt and the principal seaport, lying along the Mediterranean Sea at the western edge of the Nile River delta. The towering Pharos lighthouse that marked the entrance to the ancient harbor was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, though it crumbled during an earthquake. Much of the rest of the ancient city disappeared beneath the sea or was covered by modern Alexandria but visitors can still find plenty of fascinating sites to explore. That includes the Citadel of Qaitbay, a 15th-century fortress, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina library which pays homage to the ancient Library of Alexandria that was lost to time. The Royal Montazah Palace and its stunning gardens set on some 46 hectares surrounded by walls to the west, east, and south, extending to the Alexandrian beach to the north, is well worth exploring too.
Located along the Red Sea coast, Hurghada is a beach resort town and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Egypt, with beautiful, long stretches of sand and crystal-clear water for diving and snorkeling. It includes the city of Hurghada and the surrounding resort towns of El Gouna, Sah Hasheesh, Makadi Bay, and Soma Bay, which are all sandwiched between the sea and Egypt’s eastern desert and mountains. Many dive schools are found here as well, catering to divers that arrive from across the globe, and boat trips to snorkel in some of the best spots can be arranged as well. A wide range of other watersports, including sailing, fishing, parasailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing are available and desert activities like dirt biking, horseback riding, and ATV excursions are possible too. The 5-star all-inclusive beach resorts are a popular pick for accommodations, many of which include their own waterparks.
Visit Alexandria and Hurghada on our 10-Night Egyptian Discovery Tour.
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