Since you are reading this post, you are most likely attracted by Egypt’s rich history and natural beauty. We want to see, feel, and smell Egypt. We are already fantasizing about laying our eyes on the great pyramid of Giza for the first time. We are already looking forward to hearing the engine start of our Nile River cruise. We cannot wait to drive or walk into the impressive Valley of Kings in Luxor. And not that we are going, but we would also love to soak in some autumn sun or dive into the majestic underwater world of the Red Sea.
These are all the places we would consider putting on our itinerary. But there are some hard choices to make if you don’t have all the time. Do you want to go on a cultural vacation and explore ancient Egypt? Or do you want to relax on the beach? There are some things to consider when you make your itinerary for Egypt.
First stop in Egypt: Cairo. Things to see in Cairo
Cairo by itself is a destination worth a visit. The main highlights are the Pyramids of Giza. The Grand Pyramid of this complex is the last remaining original Wonder of the World and is probably on 99 out of 100 traveler bucket lists. The site is situated on the outskirts of the city of Cairo and can quickly be done in a day excursions. There are even some hotels where you can see the pyramids from your pool!
In Cairo, other things to explore would include the Egyptian Museum, the Salah El Din Citadel, and Cairo’s old city center, with the al-Muizz street as the focal point. You can also visit many mosques and churches or hop on a local diner cruise. There is enough to do in Egypt to spend three days or more. You can also combine it with a visit to nearby Alexandria.
Going south on the Nile: Things to see in Luxor
Luxor lies in the heart of Egypt on the Nile River and is home to the site of the old Egyptian city of Thebes. Many travel blogs refer to Luxor as ‘the World’s largest open-Air Museum.’ Inside Luxor, you can find the Karnak Temple Complex, the Luxor Temple, and the beautiful East Bank of the river, from which you can enjoy a beautiful sunset.
On the other side of the river, the west bank, you can visit one of Egypt’s leading tourist destinations: the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis. The area was used for ritual burials and is home to the Valley of Kings (Wadi el-Muluk) and the Valley of the Queens (Biban el-Harim). The Valley of Kings hosts the tomb of Tutankhamun and is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites.
Meanwhile, Luxor is home to so much more. You can hop on a hot air balloon and fly over the area, including the Valley of the Kings. Suppose you prefer staying on the water, instead of taking it to the air. In that case, you can decide to join one of the seemingly hundreds of river cruises that sail up and down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan.
Things to see in Aswan & Abu Simbel
A bit further south of Luxor, you can find the ancient city of Aswan. In Aswan, you can find luxury hotels on the riverbanks of the Nile and several archeological sites such as the unfinished Obelix, the Philae Temple, and multiple museums. The main highlight of Aswan is the Nile itself, where Feluccas sail on the river while the Aswan Dam stops the northern Nile from flooding.
From Aswan, you can visit the famous archeological site of Abu Simbel. At Abu Simbel, near the Sudan border, you can find prominent temples that have been carved out of the mountainside. These majestic temples serve as monuments to Pharaoh Ramesses II. The historic site is featured in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, which was recently made into a movie (again) featuring Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman, and others.
Beach vacation on the Red Sea
Egypt is also a perfect vacation destination if you just want to relax and soak in some sun. You can go on a relaxing (all-inclusive) resort vacation or explore the (under)water world. The Red Sea is home to multiple towns that are a magnet for sun-seekers and lovers of the (under)water world. Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh are the two most well-known resort towns and feature large seaside resorts. From here you can go snorkeling or go diving.
If you want to avoid crowds, there are alternatives to these two major resort towns. Avoid crowds by opting for a smaller destination just outside Hurghada. El Gouna or Dahab are two good alternatives to get away from the crowds.
El Gouna can easily be reached from Hurghada’s airport but isn’t as crowded as its neighboring town. Although still touristic, it offers a more laid-back vibe and simply sees fewer tourists.
Wrapping it up: where to go in Egypt?
In the end, it is a very personal choice. It doesn’t matter where you go in Egypt. You will enjoy it! We did write a larger post with things to consider when you are making an itinerary for Egypt. It includes everything you need to know about going to either the beach or opt for a culture-rich Egyptian vacation.