Home to the ancient pharaohs, Egypt is a destination filled with stunning temples and tombs that amaze all who visit. But it's not all historical treasures and tourist attractions.
With vast expanses of desert for 4WD adventures, world-class coral reefs and wrecks in the Red Sea for divers, and cruises on the famous Nile River, there's plenty to do for all types of travelers.
Beach lovers head to Sinai or the Red Sea coast to soak up the sun, while archeology aficionados will have a ball in Luxor.
Cairo is the unbeatable megalopolis for urbanites, while the oasis of Siwa and the southern city of Aswan offer a slice of the slow pace of the countryside.
With so much to see in Egypt, it offers visitors the ability to create itineraries that combine culture, adventure, and relaxation in one trip.
Plan your visit with our list of the top attractions and places to visit in Egypt.
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1. Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza, the last remaining wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, are one of the most recognized monuments in the world
Guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx, these tombs of the pharaohs Cheops (Khufu), Khafre (Khafre) and Mykerinus (Menkaure), which have awed travelers throughout the centuries, often top the list of must-see tourist attractions in Egypt and are often the first place they go after landing.
Today, sitting on the desert edge of Cairo's sprawl, these megalithic monuments to dead pharaohs remain as wondrous a sight as ever and an undeniable highlight of any trip to Egypt.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Giza
2. Temples and tombs of Luxor
Famous for the Valley of the Kings, the Karnak Temple and the Hatshepsut Memorial Temple, the Nile-side city of Luxor in Upper Egypt has a host of tourist attractions
This is ancient Thebes, power base for the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, and home to more sights than most can see in a single visit.
Spend a few days here exploring the colorful wall art in the tombs and gazing in awe at the colossal columns of the temples, and you'll see why Luxor continues to fascinate historians and archaeologists.
Accommodation: Where to stay near luxor
3. Cruise on the Nile
Egypt is defined by the Nile. For many visitors, a multi-day cruise on this famous waterway that ushered in the Pharaonic era is the highlight of their trip to Egypt.
Cruising the Nile is also the most relaxing way to see the temples that dot the riverbanks en route between Luxor and Aswan, plus the sunrise and sunset over the date palm-studded riverbanks, backed by sand dunes. sand, is one of the most peaceful sights in Egypt.
The two most famous sights on a Nile cruise are the Kom Ombo Temple and the Edfu Temple of Horus, where all the big cruise ships stop.
However, if you prefer a less crowded and slower experience, and don't mind roughing it up a bit, you can also take a Nile cruise by felucca (Egypt's traditional lateen-sailed wooden boats), which also allows you to create your own itinerary
Most cruise ship itineraries depart from Luxor and Aswan, but feluccas can only be chartered for multi-day trips from Aswan.
The calmest city in Egypt is Aswan, situated above the winding curves of the Nile. Backed by the orange dunes, it is the perfect place to stop and relax for a few days and soak up the laid-back atmosphere.
Take the river ferry to the island of Elephantine and stroll through the colorful streets of Nubian villages. Next, ride a camel to the deserted Monastery of Saint Simeon, on the eastern bank of Aswan. Afterward, relax in one of the riverboat restaurants as you watch the lateen-sailing feluccas go by.
Be sure to board a felucca at sunset to cruise around the Aswan islands. This is by far the most popular activity in Aswan and the most relaxing way to take in the local sights.
There are many historical sites and numerous temples nearby, including the Philae temple on its island, but one of the most popular things to do in Aswan is simply to relax and watch the river life go by.
Accommodation: Where to stay in aswan
5. Abu Simbel
Even in a country riddled with temples, Abu Simbel is something special. It is the great temple of Ramses II, adorned with colossal statues that stand guard outside, and with an interior sumptuously decorated with wall paintings.
Justly famous for its megalithic proportions, Abu Simbel is also known for the incredible feat of engineering carried out by UNESCO in the 1960s, in which the entire temple was moved from its original site to prevent it from disappearing under the rising waters. of the aswan dam
Today, exploring Abu Simbel is as much about admiring the triumph of this international effort to save the temple complex as it is about gawping at the impressive construction sites of Ramesses II.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Abu Simbel
6. Diving in the Red Sea
Under the surface of the Red Sea there is another world as fascinating as the temples and tombs of the mainland
The coral reefs of the Red Sea are famous among divers for both the soft corals on display and the wealth of marine life, ranging from colorful reef fish and nudibranchs, to sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays and even dugongs.
For divers, the most famous city to base yourself in is Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, closest to the reefs in Ras Mohammed National Park, as well as the reefs in the Strait of Tiran.
To dive the Gubal Strait sites, head to Hurghada or El Gouna on the Red Sea coast, while advanced divers should head to the resort of Marsa Alam, the closest base for diving the "southern" sites. deep” of Egypt
In addition to the fish and coral life, the Red Sea is a major destination for wreck diving. The most famous wreck is the Thistlegorm, a British World War II freighter that was on its way to resupply Allied troops when it was bombed by the Germans in 1941.
Today, the site is considered by divers to be one of the top five wreck dives in the world, due to the huge cargo of cars, motorcycles and World War II memorabilia that can be seen both scattered on the seabed around the wreck like inside the ship itself
Boat trips to the wreck are organized from both Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.
Read more: Diving in the Red Sea: The best dive sites
7. Explore Islamic Cairo, what to see in Egypt
The atmospheric, narrow lanes of Cairo's Islamic district are lined with mosques, madrasahs (Islamic schools of learning), and monuments dating from Fatimid to Mamluk times.
Here you'll find the labyrinthine shopping souk of Khan el-Khalili, where tinkers and artisans still have their little workshops, and stalls are laden with pottery, textiles, spices, and perfumes.
Surrounding the market is a jumble of streets, home to some of the most beautiful architecture preserved from the ancient Islamic empires.
There is a wealth of history here to explore. Visit the Al-Azhar Mosque and the dazzling Sultan Hassan Mosque, and be sure to climb to the roof of the old medieval gate of Bab Zuweila for the best views of the district, dotted with minarets.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Cairo
8. Life on the beach in South Sinai
Egypt's South Sinai region on the Sinai Peninsula offers a beach for every type of traveler
Sharm el-Sheikh is a European-style resort town packed with luxury hotels, international restaurants, and plenty of entertainment options. It is a favorite for Europeans on their winter sun holidays, and many of the resorts in this city cater to families for their week- or two-week sun and beach getaways.
Dahab is a low-key beach town with a budget traveler's heart, betting as much on excursions and adventures in the desert as on the sea. It is especially known for its cheap deals on diving packages and for its lagoon beach area, where windsurfing and kitesurfing are the main activity.
Everyone has heard of the Giza Pyramids, but they are not the only pyramids Egypt has up its sleeve. A day away from Cairo, Saqqara is a vast necropolis of tombs and pyramids that was used during all eras of pharaonic rule
She is best known for her Old Kingdom Step Pyramid, which shows how Ancient Egyptian architects advanced their engineering knowledge to eventually create a true pyramid shape.
However, there is much more to see beyond the Step Pyramid, as some of the surrounding tombs, such as the Mastaba de Ti, display some of the best funerary paintings you will see in the country.
Nearby, the Dahshur pyramid site is home to the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid, both of which should be included on any visit to Saqqara.
10. Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum of Cairo, treasure of the pharaonic world, is one of the great museum collections of the world. Located in the center of Cairo, this faded pink mansion houses a dazzling array of exhibits
It is a messy place, with little signage and a great lack of chronological order. Instead, every corner you turn here is some wonderful piece of ancient art or statuary, which would be the highlight of any other museum.
The star collection of the museum is the set of gold treasures unearthed from the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings
Travelers should note that the bounty of riches from the Egyptian Museum is in the process of being moved to Giza's new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), near the pyramids, which is scheduled to open (after years of delays) in November 2022.
The GEM will finally provide this world-class collection with a worthy showcase, and the entirety of Tutankhamen's treasures, many of which have been in storage for years, will finally be fully on display.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Cairo
11. White desert
Egypt's spookiest natural wonder is the White Desert National Park, in the Western Desert, just south of the Bahariya Oasis. Here, surreptitiously shaped chalk pinnacles and towering boulders peer out over the desert plateau, creating a scene that looks as if icebergs have been stranded in the middle of a sandy landscape.
This picturesque setting looks like something out of a sci-fi movie and is a favorite destination for 4×4 desert excursions and overnight camping., which are the easiest to arrange in the Bahariya Oasis
For desert buffs and adventure seekers, this is the ultimate weird playground, while anyone sick of temples and tombs will enjoy this spectacular natural setting.
Alexandria has a history that not many others can match.
Founded by Alexander the Great, home to Cleopatra, and a renegade city of the Mediterranean for much of his life, this waterfront city has an alluring old-world atmosphere that can't be beat.
Though little historical remnants of its illustrious past remain today, the long waterfront Alexandria Corniche road leading to its fortress (sitting on the site of its famous ancient lighthouse) remains a favorite summer destination for catch the refreshing sea breeze for both Egyptians and foreign visitors
The underwater archaeological projects of this city have endowed the museums of Alexandria with interesting exhibitions. The modern Library of Alexandria is a contemporary interpretation of Alexandria's famous ancient library, and the city's handful of historical sights include an atmospheric catacomb site
Accommodation: Where to stay in Alexandria
13. Temple of Abydos
The Temple of Osiris at Abydos is one of the most fascinating art treasures of Ancient Egypt.
The temple, started by Seti I, stands in the middle of a vast necropolis where archaeological excavations are underway. There are other temple remains to see here, but for most visitors, the Temple of Osiris is the main reason to visit.
Its hypostyle halls, adorned with papyrus-headed columns, contain some of the best reliefs in Egypt, with various scenes representing the pharaoh and the gods of Ancient Egypt.
As the temple is located north of Luxor, it is not on the main Nile cruise route, so it receives far fewer visitors than the temple sites in Luxor itself and the temples on the Nile bank to the south. This means that you are often lucky enough to wander through the halls of the temple with only a few other visitors on site.
14. Siwa Oasis
Secludedly situated on the western edge of the Western Desert, Siwa is the calm tonic to the hustle and bustle of Egyptian cities. This beautiful little oasis, surrounded by date palm plantations and numerous hot springs, is one of the most picturesque places in the Western Desert.
The city of Siwa is centered around the ruins of a vast mud brick citadel, known as the Shali Fort, which dominates the view, while various temple remains, including the Temple of the Oracle where Alexander the Great is said to have went to receive advice, are scattered throughout the wider area of the oasis
This is an excellent place to relax and spend a few days without rushing, as well as being an excellent base from which to plan adventures in the surrounding desert.
15. Monastery of Santa Catalina
The Monastery of Saint Catherine, one of the oldest in the world, is located at the foot of Mount Sinai, in the middle of the desert mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments
This desert monastery is home to an incredible collection of religious iconography, art and manuscripts (some of which can be seen in the on-site museum), as well as the burning bush
For most visitors to this place, a trip to Santa Catalina also includes a trip to Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise or sunset. Take the camel path for the easy route, or climb the famous Repentance Steps for better views.
Accommodation: Where to stay near Santa Catalina Monastery
16. Red Sea Beaches
The Egyptian coast of the Red Sea offers strips of sand for travelers who want to take a break from contemplating the temples
During the winter, the resorts dotted along the coastline around Hurghada come alive with the arrival of European families on holiday getaways.
The big advantage of choosing a resort on the Red Sea coast rather than one on the Sinai Peninsula is that you are a day away from Luxor, making it the best place to visit the beach if you still want to easily see some of the most famous monuments in Egypt
Hurghada and El Gouna are the two main tourist cities, while the smaller and still developing city of Marsa Alam is much further south.
Read more: The best attractions and things to do in the Red Sea region
17. Coptic Cairo
The district of Cairo known as Coptic Cairo is one of the most important Christian places in the country.
Originally the Fortress of Babylon, dating back to the conquest of Egypt by the Achaemenid Empire in 525 BC, this district is home to the oldest surviving church, synagogue and mosque in Cairo, as well as the excellent Coptic Museum. , which houses the The world's largest collection of Coptic Christian art and antiquities
A part of the walls of the Babylonian Fortress, which were repaired and extended under Roman rule, also still stands and is the entrance to the district
Be sure to visit the Hanging Church, which houses an excellent collection of icons and was half built on top of the water wheel from Roman times (hence the name of the church). Then proceed down the narrow alleyway to the Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus, which according to local tradition was built on the spot where the Holy Family with baby Jesus took refuge after fleeing from King Herod.
Nearby, the Ben Ezra Synagogue is famous for being the location where the cache of Geniza documents was discovered.
A short distance away is the Mosque of Amr Ibn Al As, built by the commander of the Muslim Arab army (and later, Egypt's first governor) after conquering Egypt.
18. Wadi Al Hitan
The Wadi Al-Hitan is located in the Fayoum area, a lush and fertile depression fed by ancient canals and surrounded by desert.
Fayoum itself, with Lake Quran, the Tunis pottery village and pharaonic ruins scattered throughout its interior, is an interesting place to visit, but the main tourist attraction here, in the nearby desert, is the UNESCO World Heritage Site from Wadi Al-Hitan
Amid the orange dunes and jagged rocks of this desert valley, a vast repository of fossils of the oldest prehistoric whales (basilosaurus and dorodontus) has been discovered, greatly aiding human understanding of whale evolution.
Some of the finds have been preserved in situ, with trails leading from the visitor center to the skeletal beds in the middle of the sand
In the visitor center itself, a museum dedicated to the site does an excellent job of explaining the importance of Wadi Al-Hitan, and displays many of the other finds from the site, including a 18-meter-long basilosaurus whale skeleton.
19. Temple of Hathor
The Temple of Hathor at Dendara was built in late Pharaonic times and expanded during the Roman period, although Dendara itself was an important center of worship from the earliest days of Ancient Egypt.
It is worth a day trip from Luxor, as the youth of the temple (compared to other pharaonic temples) makes it one of the most complete surviving in Egypt.
The reliefs and decoration are here in an excellent state of preservation. In particular, in the hypostyle hall, which was built by the Roman emperor Tiberius, note the columns topped with the heads of the Egyptian god Hathor, and the wall reliefs of the emperor paying tribute to the Egyptian gods
Dendara is on the outskirts of the city of Qena, 80 kilometers north of Luxor
20. Monastery of San Antonio
Hidden among the rugged mountains on the northern Red Sea coast, St Anthony's Monastery has been a working monastery since the 4th century, and today it is still home to around 120 monks.
The church of San Antonio, inside the enclosure that looks like a fortress, has an interior of dry wall paintings that are considered one of the most important collections of Egyptian Coptic art in the world and date from the 11th and 12th centuries approximately. The church also houses the tomb of Saint Anthony (father of monasticism) and is an important pilgrimage destination for Egyptian Coptic Christians
The monks organize tours of the monastery that include a visit to the church and some of the monastery gardens, as well as allowing you to climb and walk on top of the monastery walls.
The Monastery of San Antonio is very isolated. If you don't have your own transport, the easiest way to get here is to hire a driver from Cairo or Hurghada.
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I am a passionate traveler with an innate desire to discover the world. To date, I have had the privilege of visiting 31 countries and most of them have left an indelible mark.
During my travels, I have gained valuable knowledge on how to travel efficiently. I have perfected itinerary planning, accommodation selection, and making the most of each experience. I am proud to share my tips and tricks with you so that you can enjoy hassle-free and unforgettable trips.
On this blog, you'll find a carefully curated selection of destinations, practical tips, and honest reviews of hotels and tourist attractions. My goal is to inspire you and provide you with useful resources so that you can plan your own adventures with confidence and peace of mind.
May travel fill you with joy and open you up to new possibilities!