In this itinerary, we combine the best of two worlds: luxury and culture. We relax in the most beautiful resorts after we explore the cultural heritage of old Egypt. This 10-day schedule brings us to the pyramids of Giza in the north to Abu Simbel in the south. All hotels are known for their luxury and have outstanding reviews.
We decided to opt for a ten-day itinerary that starts from Cairo and brings us to Egypt’s main highlights. We will also hop on a Nile River Cruise that brings us from Aswan to Luxor. This program leaves us with enough time to enjoy Cairo, do an excursion to Alexandria and enjoy everything both Aswan and Luxor have to offer.
We will also make one over land excursion as we want to explore Abu Simbel while we are in Aswan. Below you can find our itinerary including hotel and flights. We don’t disclose our actual travel dates, but we can say we plan to do this in autumn; the best time to visit Egypt.
Day 0 – Flight to Cairo
Unfortunately, our first day in Cairo doesn’t count. We will arrive in the middle of the night, just after 2 AM. By then we will be exhausted. That is why we didn’t look too far from the airport to find a place to stay. In fact, we didn’t look outside Cairo Airport or even our arrival terminal.
To make our arrival as relaxing as possible, we don’t want to go through the hassle of finding our airport transfer to the hotel or to try to find a cab. Fortunately, the airport is home to a hotel. Le Meridien Airport hotel is directly connected to Terminal 3 at which we will arrive.
Hotel: Le Meridien Cairo Airport
Le Meridien Cairo Airport hotel is linked to Cairo Airport Terminal 3 and has a heated outdoor pool and is highly rated on the different platforms we checked. We aren’t going to make use of most of the facilities. We have booked the hotel to make our arrival in Egypt as comfortable as possible.
Day 1 – Cairo
While we will wake up at Le Meridien Cairo, we will leave the hotel soon after breakfast. Our first day in Cairo awaits. The second thing on our itinerary will be the Giza Pyramid complex while the first thing on our itinerary will be moving hotels.
We will simply drop off our bags for our later check in and go on to explore the Giza Pyramid Complex. Although we haven’t planned any excursions or exact plans yet, we will opt for an organized excursion. We will either do this through our new hotel, and thereby streamlining our luggage drop off, or book a third-party excursion through GetYourGuide.
Organized excursions allow you to experience the destination just a bit more than when you do it on your own. At least, if you book a good one. We always review excursions extensively, book them well in advance and never book an excursion at the gate of the attraction.
At Giza, we want to explore it all. It is not every day that you can visit the last remaining wonder of the Seven Wonders of the old World.
We hope that the autumn weather makes it a bit cooler, and it allows us to do stay out there a bit longer than would be possible in the summer. We plan to see the Great Pyramid of Giza (Pyramid of Kufu), the Sphinx and even go inside one of the pyramids. We aren’t that interested in most of the side activities such as riding a camel or the sound and light show. Although we read that the camel ride does get you away from the crowds, we believe using animals as a tourist attraction is wrong.
Hotel: Marriott Mena House Cairo
The Marriott Mena House Cairo is the first hotel that we have chosen because of its location, luxury and amenities is the Marriott Mena House. This resort is basically situated within the Giza complex. Pictures from both travelers and hotel management, show that you can see the pyramids from the hotel pool, restaurant, and even some of the rooms. It seems to be the best-situated hotel in all of Cairo!
Day 2 – Cairo
On our second day in Cairo, we will focus on the highlights of the Egyptian capital, except the Pyramids of Giza. That is because we have reserved this day to see all the other things that Cairo has to offer. Top of our list: The Grand Egyptian Museum. Well, maybe.
Unfortunately, an autumn itinerary to Cairo in 2022 comes with some uncertainty. What we don’t know about our travel dates is whether we can visit The Egyptian Museum or the soon to be opened Grand Egyptian Museum. Or perhaps, the worst case scenario; neither. For years, the Egyptian government has been building a grand museum that is big enough to host all the relevant artefacts. The building, which is 99 percent complete is schedule to open in November. But that date has already moved a few times before. Also, the Egyptian government isn’t planning on a quiet opening. It will invite foreign heads of state, royalty and celebrities once the museum opens it doors. And our guess is, that when the VIPs walk through the doors, the doors are shut for us. So that brings us some uncertainty.
Exactly because of that reason, we have built some flexibility into our schedule. We will either visit the museum at the beginning, or we wait for the end. Depending on whether the museum can be visited, we will visit it either on Day 2 or towards the end of our ten-day itinerary.
As a result of this museum uncertainty, we are leaving the second day of our itinerary open. We will plan our activities closer to the day of our arrival. Meanwhile, we will stay at the Marriott Mena House. Not only is the resort next door to the Grand Egyptian Museum it is also a destination by itself. This Marriott is probably one of the most picture-perfect resorts in the world. From the pool, breakfast area – and if you’re lucky your balcony, you can see the great pyramid of Giza.
Day 3 – Excursion to Alexandria (from Cairo)
Just north of Cairo, you can find Alexandria. While Alexandria was home to one of the now-destroyed original seven wonders of the world, there is much more to see than a lighthouse. We will visit the famous library and visit all the Roman ruins such as the amphitheater.
We plan to join an organized full-day excursion. We will reach Alexandria by car. The drive to the Mediterranean coastal town will take about three hours. This means that we will spend a considerable amount of time on the road. The total excursion length of the excursion, including all the driving, will be about 10-11 hours.
Within the ancient city of Alexandria, we will visit the marble-stone Roman amphitheater of Kom El-Deka, and enjoy the sights of its pleasure garden and mosaic floored Roman baths and villas. After the amphitheater, we will visit the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa ‘where you can feel the aura of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architectural excellence’.
We will also visit Pompey’s Pillar, the significant Roman triumphal column in Alexandria, the Library of Alexandria, and the Citadel of Qaitbay, built above the ruined Alexandria lighthouse. After the tour of Alexandria, we will return to our hotel in Giza which will take about three hours.
Day 4 – Aswan
On our fourth day in Egypt, it is time to leave the capital behind us and fly south. We will hop on an early morning flight to Aswan. Our flight departs at about 7 AM and with a one-hour drive and the same amount of time to check-in and wait at the airport we will need to wake up at around 4 AM.
After arrival in Aswan, we will start exploring the ancient southern Egyptian town. We will stay at the beautiful Mövenpick resort that is situated on the island in the middle of the Nile. We will use the day to walk around town and perhaps also do a short, organized tour. We will end our day relaxing at our beautiful resort enjoying all the hustle and bustle of the Nile River from our resort.
Hotel: Mövenpick Aswan
The Mövenpick Aswan is situated on an island in the middle of the Nile. From the resort, we will have beautiful views of the Nile and its riverbanks. The hotel itself is very luxurious and Egyptian temples and ruins are within walking distance.
We have chosen this hotel over other superb Aswan options due to its unique position on the island. The hotel has rooms with a panoramic view to enjoy the scenery to the fullest.
Day 5,6,7 – Nile River Cruise: Aswan to Luxor
For those of you that know Egypt, you might have noticed that we flew a bit further south than Luxor. We flew to Aswan and not Luxor because we found a river cruise that exactly fitted our agenda. We will board the Steigenberger Minerva Nile River Cruise Ship and will go on a four-day, three-night Nile River Cruise from Aswan to Luxor. On its website, Steigenberger promises us the following:
On board, the expansive sun deck with pool is perfect for sun-bathing, while you can complete your usual workout in the ship’s own gym. Take a culinary trip to the Middle East in the ship’s restaurant and savor the chef’s numerous Arabic and international specialties. The crew of the Steigenberger Minerva will make your luxury cruise on the Nile an unforgettable vacation experience. From the ship, you can discover the former glory of the Pharaohs on excursions to Karnak and Luxor.
On the first day of our cruise, we will make an excursion to Abu Simbel. We are arranging the excursion through the cruise company to make sure no hick-ups make us miss the boat ship. On the first day and night, the ship stays in Aswan. That allows people to go to Abu Simbel. We will join the group and see the desert wonder.
On the following days, we will sail from Aswan to Luxor. We will join all the excursions possible while relaxing on the boat in the evenings. We are joining the boat during an original 7 night / 8 day round trip from Luxor to Aswan. This means we are sailing the return trip. The ship has the following itinerary which we join from day 5 onwards.
Nile River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1: Embarkation in Aswan: An optional visit to Abu simbel. A visit the botanical garden by felucca. Overnight in Aswan.
Day 2: Kom Ombo / Luxor In the early morning, the ship will sail to Kom Ombo, where guests will visit the unusual double temple dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the god Haroeris. Lunch on board while sailing to Luxor.
Day 3: Luxor After breakfast it is time to focus on the West Bank of Luxor: guests will explore the great valleys of the Kings & Queens where generations of Pharaohs and Nobles were buried in crypts carved into the cliffs and guarded by the two huge Colossi of Memnon. You will then visit the temple of Queen Hatchepsut. Guests will enjoy lunch and afternoon free on board. Dinner and overnight in Luxor.
Day 4: Luxor Check out after breakfast.
Nile River Cruise: Steigenberger Minerva
We chose the Steigenberger Minerva because it perfectly fitted our schedule. There are however lots of different ships to choose from. The easiest way of booking Nile River Cruises is through our partner GetYourGuide.
GetYourGuide has lots of different Nile River Cruise options and comes with superb cancellation terms. These terms are always better than those offered by cruise companies.
Day 8 – Luxor
On the morning of day 8, we will disembark our cruise. Based on our experience with ocean cruisers, this probably means we are on the streets of Luxor early in the morning. Luckily our hotel isn’t far away. In Luxor we plan to have another day of relaxation on the river Nile while doing an excursion in the evening.
As we have seen the valleys of the Kings and Queens already the day before, we are keeping our options open on day 8. We have no plans or itinerary yet. We will plan this closer to the date. Most likely we will book a shorter excursion of about 4-5 hours and take advantage of everything the hotel has to offer on the other days.
Hotel: Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa
For our last night in the south of Egypt, we have chosen for the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa. This hotel has a perfect location. It is situated on the East Bank of the River Nile in the more northern part of Luxor. Here we hope to find some rest and if the pictures that we saw are correct, we will have an infinity pool that has a view over the river Nile.
Day 9 – Luxor/Cairo
Will take an early morning flight back to Cairo and then we have no plans. But we planned to have no plans ;).
As explained previously, while writing this blog it is yet unclear when the Grand Egyptian Museum will open. The chance is that will not yet be opened in November. We also have the risk that the museum is closed. That means that we need to build in some flexibility in our Cairo schedule. To do so, we have decided to return to Cairo for one last day and night.
We will take an early morning flight back to Cairo and check-in to yet another hotel on the Nile River: The St. Regis Cairo. The St. Regis is Cairo’s newest top-end luxury hotel. It is centrally located and will allow us to relax on the last day, regardless of us seeing the museum or not.
Hotel: St.Regis Cairo
There are multiple ultra-luxury hotels in Cairo. We have chosen the St. Regis because of its proximity to the city center and the fact that it is the newest high-end hotel in the city.
The hotel is a major high rise building on the River Nile and overseas large parts of Cairo’s city center. Here we hope to have a room with a good view of the city.
Day 10 – Return flight
Day ten is our last day. We will make use of a late check-out in our luxurious hotel and perhaps try the spa before we go. That way we come back relaxed after a vacation that is full of culture and luxury.
What do you think?
Now you know our plans. We hope it is an action-packed, high on culture but relaxing vacation. Of course, everything is booked flexibly. Since the pandemic, we have learned that flexibility is important as events outside of our control make things impossible at the very last moment.
That is why we need to be able to change our plans on short notice. Most of the hotels are cancellable the day before arrival. The flight tickets are flexible with a cancellation fee of 50 EUR. The Nile River Cruise is the least flexible part of the vacation and can only be canceled for free two weeks in advance. Alternatively, you can also book a cruise through GetYourGuide.com where the Nile River cruises are cancellable up to 24 hours before departure.
How to get to Egypt?
The easiest way, perhaps the only way given the tricky political situation in neighboring countries, is flying into Egypt. You can fly into Egypt’s capital Cairo or opt for one of the airports near Red Sea resort towns like Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh.
Most international carriers will have flights into Cairo or will partner with European airlines to have easy connections. Egypt Air, the state-owned flag carrier airline, is part of the Star Alliance network and partners with United, Air Canada, Lufthansa and many others. Middle East operators like Emirates and Qatar Airways also fly to Cairo. Meanwhile, the Red Sea resort towns are operated by European budget airlines (easyJet, Transavia etc) and vacation operators such as Tui or Thomas Cook.
With so many options, flying into Egypt from Europe is relatively cheap. For those traveling a bit longer, you can easily combine a trip to Egypt with a city trip, or a longer stay, in one of Europe’s capitals.
Why did we skip the Red Sea in our Egypt itinerary?
The reasons we will skip Hurghada or Sharm El-Sheik are that the itinerary became too dense. We would have to rush to Cairo and Luxor to still have some days at the Red Sea. Not only that, we found that there are lots of luxury hotels amongst the Nile where you might not be able to snorkel or dive, but you can still relax at the pool and soak up some autumn sun. The alternative of focusing on the seaside vacation while doing excursions to for example Luxor also wasn’t tempting for us as these would leave us too little time to truly enjoy the historic sights.