19/07/2021 by Alyson for World Travel Family
Welcome to our Egypt Travel Blog page. It’s hard to find up to date information or travel guides for Egypt because the travellers and holiday-makers all but stopped coming quite a few years ago. I haven’t been able to find any other travel blogs that cover Egypt in any depth, so I decided to make ours as comprehensive and information-packed as possible.
There aren’t many tourists visiting Egypt, fewer still backpacking, but those that do need good information and I know we’ve found that hard to find.
This is just the beginning of our Egypt travel content, I’ll be adding a lot more over the coming weeks as we finish exploring the Nile and move across to the Red Sea and Alexandria.
We’re covering as much of Egypt as we can ( with kids- but that’s irrelevant really) in just under a month. We have a particular focus on historic sites, learning, culture, history, and food.
Egypt Travel Blog
The most important part of travel in Egypt is how to get around. This is the hardest part of Egypt travel and we’ve found little accurate information on trains, buses and planes online. We’ll tell you everything we know here and in linked posts.
During this trip, we spent almost a month in Egypt visiting Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel, the Red Sea, and Alexandria. We did not take a Nile cruise of any sort, however the boats are running.
This is independent travel, arranging transport and accommodation as we go. You could, of course, book a lot of this in advance and we have taken a 10 and 15 day Egypt tour previously ( more on that further down the page), but on this trip we preferred to stay flexible and it’s worked in our favour when we’ve needed to take a break.
Egypt is hard work, it’s no vacation, but it’s absolutely fantastic. So far it’s been one of our best trips but we have most certainly had our share of problems and disasters.
We have now completed almost a dozen blogs about Egypt and travel in Egypt, I’ll put the links at the end of this post for you.
Costs of Travelling in Egypt
Egypt is currently incredibly cheap, we feel it’s working out cheaper than most of Asia.
Trains, buses, taxis, hotels, admissions to top attractions, everything is extremely affordable in comparison to the other 50+ countries we’ve visited. I’ll give admission prices, train costs, hotel prices etc. in the relevant sections or blog posts below.
That affordability is right across the board, from budget to luxury. A luxury resort hotel on the Red Sea cost us under $40/ night for 4 people. Tours and cruises in Egypt are similarly affordable.
Food in Egypt (With Kids Too)
We like Egyptian food a lot but it’s not always easy to find. Your best bet is usually to ask your driver or hotel owner where the best Egyptian food is to be found. If the locals eat there, you can bet it’s good. If you look at sites like Trip Advisor you’ll often see big hotels coming up as the best dining options, sure they’ll be nice, but try the local food too.
Egyptian food isn’t very spicy, its typical Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern food with influences from Rome, India and Africa. There are abundant vegetarian options and prices are low. We have a full post on food in Egypt.
If you get stuck, all of the usual fast-food restaurants are represented and can be a good choice for a quick air-con, wi-fi and coffee fix. We’ve also sampled hotel buffet breakfasts in Egypt, expect all of your usual favourites plus lots of sweet things, falafels, brown beans, tahini and olives.
Negatives, Cruelty, Dirt, Filth, Dust and Litter
We’re in agreement that we’ve never been to a place with more litter. You’ll find trash everywhere and sadly it’s mostly plastics.
There’s dust too, but there’s not much to be done about that, you’re sandwiched between deserts.
Some of the trains, even in 1st class, are so filthy you feel dirty just looking at them, others are immaculate. We’ll help you figure that out. Some hotels are filthy too.
The roads and the driving are hair raising, the exhaust fumes thick.
While we’re talking negatives I’ll mention that the ubiquitous donkeys and horses are often terribly treated, the camels fare little better.
None of us had any food-related sickness in Egypt, but we did have respiratory viruses, probably picked up on the plane. Egypt is, we think, the hardest country we’ve ever been to in terms of organising transportation.
Hassle and Avoiding Touts
I’ve seen so many people, regular holiday-makers, long-term travellers and travel bloggers, complain about being harassed in Egypt. We’ve been fine, but I think I need to qualify that.
Luxor is billed as ” Hassle Capital of the World” and that’s pretty fair. Everyone wants you to take their felucca, hire their horse and cart, buy their scarf or figure of Ramesses. It’s interminable and some will find it deeply irritating.
We have a saying in our family, stolen from a well-known kids’ movie, smile and wave boys, just smile and wave. Keep your sense of humour, chat, laugh, interact, and it will be fine.
If you’ve never travelled in Asia this level of touting will be a shock but it’s no worse than India. We were here almost 20 years ago, some say the hassle has got worse, we think it’s about the same. Of course, there are far fewer tourists to go round now and everyone needs to make a buck. Treat them kindly.
I lost it with one guy, he kept following us, kept asking us to take his horse and cart over two days of our Luxor stay. I gave him a mouthful and he slunk off. I felt bad, he caught me at the wrong time, hungry, tired, hot and humourless.
At the Saqqara pyramid of Djoser a young vendor followed me, trying to sell me a souvenir that I didn’t want. I’d lost Chef and Boo, D and I were wandering around looking for them. This young man was so helpful, he took us to high points to search so I bought his hieroglyph ruler for a whole $1. Thank you Abdulla.
At the historic sites, men will try to be your guide. Sometimes it’s worth giving them 20LE, they can show you really interesting things that you’d otherwise miss. Sometimes it’s best to ignore them, smile and keep walking, it’s up to you.
Tipping is another irritation. Almost everyone will try their luck and ask for a tip, even after you’ve paid them the agreed price. We don’t tip unless we want to. Certainly not if we’ve agreed a good price in advance or paid up-front for a day’s service. It’s not a problem, nobody will get angry or try to beat you up. They’re just trying to see how gullible you are.
Some tourists are extremely lacking in savvy, we met a guy who paid $100 for a few photos on a camel. That was entirely his own fault ( he was a lovely guy, but didn’t have the right tools for Egyptian travel), don’t get on a camel without agreeing on a price first. If you read our post about feluccas ( link at end of post) you’ll see more of what I mean about not getting ripped off.
Egypt Tours, Cruises and More
As I mentioned up top, my husband ( we call him Chef) and I, have taken group tours in Egypt. Actually, that’s how we met, it was on the Nile 20 years ago. We’re big fans of tours. You will be fully looked after, there will be less hassle and you will see a lot more, faster, than you ever will through independent travel.
You could book a group tour including flights from your home country, a land only tour that you pick up after arrival, single day or multi-day private tours, cruises, felucca treks and more. Holiday-makers to Sharm-el-Sheikh and Hurghada also regularly book tours to Cairo, the pyramids and more. Your options are endless and I just want you to be aware of possibilities. Booking tours like this in advance will undoubtedly make your life easier in Egypt.
Consider some of the following choices, all of the tours below are from large, reliable companies that we trust and use ourselves:
Pick Up From Cairo, Return to Cairo, 4 Night Nile Cruise
A perfect no-hassle trip, taking you from your Cairo hotel to Aswan and Luxor. You will see the Valley of the Kings, Luxor Temple, the Colossi of Memnon and more, plus, enjoy the mystery and beauty of the Nile, prices are incredibly low. Find information here
A One Day Tour of Ancient Egypt, From Cairo
The Sphinx, Pyramids, Egyptian Museum and ” Old Bazaar in Cairo” Khan El Khalili, Highlights of Egypt in a well organised, guided tour. We would highly recommend you have a guide at the Egyptian museum to find you the highlights, it’s a huge place. See such a tour to book here.
A One Day Tour of Ancient Egypt From Hurghada by Bus or by Plane.
Visit the world-famous antiquities of Cairo from your beach resort in Hurghada, there is a huge price difference between the bus and plane options, but honestly, it’s not expensive by plane and we’ve done this bus journey, it’s a long way. See here for bus, See here for plane. This company has a best price or refund the difference guarantee.
A One Day Tour of Ancient Egypt From Sharm El Sheikh
Get yourself from the beaches and diving of Sharm to the antiquities of Cairo at an incredibly low price, by bus. ( This company offers a best price or refund the difference guarantee) here.
Getting to Abu Simbel From Aswan or Cairo
You don’t need a huge amount of time at Abu Simbel as it’s a stand-alone attraction but we can’t stress too strongly that you MUST go, it’s mind-blowing. We have a full post on how to get there and what it’s like towards the end of this post.
You can go by plane or bus from Aswan and we’ve done it both ways, both were fine. The bus ride is long and they drive fast, but there is hardly any traffic on this road so we didn’t feel too unsafe. See the bus trip here, the plane trip with Egypt Air here.
Both involve a very early start as you need to, ideally, be there around dawn. There is also the option of going to Aswan by private car with driver here. If you’re only getting as far as Cairo, you can take a trip to Abu Simbel by plane, here. Be aware that some prices are each and some per vehicle, please check your details carefully and be sure of what private means.
Egypt Travel and Transportation – Getting Around Egypt Independently
We did the following.
- Taxi pick up from the airport in Cairo to our Luxor hotel by people carrier ( much less hair raising than taxis)
- Day trips in and around Cairo by taxi. ( easy but the traffic and fumes are bad)
- 1st class VIP train to Luxor. ( excellent)
- 1st class non-VIP train to Aswan. (terrible)
- Minibus to Abu Simbel ( OK)
- 1st class VIP train back to Luxor. ( excellent)
- Bus/ coach to Hurghada ( good)
- Bus/ coach to Cairo.(excellent)
- Train to Alexandria ( terrible)
- Bus to Cairo. ( excellent)
Getting around Egypt has been incredibly cheap and mostly a good experience. The 1st class VIP trains are fantastic, the non-VIP train was gross. The coaches and minibuses were of a good standard. Traffic congestion in Cairo is horrendous and driving can be crazy, we were lucky to find an older, steady driver and stuck with him. On the long, straight desert roads buses zip along at breakneck speed. It can be hair raising.
Heat, Dust, Sand, and Weather in Egypt
We were in Egypt at the start of summer, April into May. Cairo and the Red Sea Coast were bearable, Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel were inferno hot. Some days would reach 42ºC, that’s 107ºF.
It’s best to get to the big attractions early and enjoy them in the cool of the morning. We weren’t hot at all at the Valley of the Kings or Karnak Temple and the 6 am starts meant we had them to ourselves. Arrange a taxi pick up the night before. In the desert, the temperatures dip pleasantly at night, but on a previous visit in February I remember being really cold from around sunset.
What to Wear in Egypt
Stay covered, to show respect and to keep the sun off your skin. You’ll need a hat or large scarf to protect your head, maybe face, from sun, dust and sometimes flies. On the Red Sea in big hotels, normal holiday wear is fine.
Can You Get Alcohol, Wine & Beer in Egypt?
Egypt produces it’s own beers and wines and is by no means dry. Restaurants that will give you a beer or glass of wine with dinner are hard to find but do exist, they are normally Christian run. The higher the ratio of Christians: Muslims in an area, the better your chances. There are off-licenses to buy your own. Look for the Drinkies chain of bottle shops. Big hotels serve alcohol.
Finding Hotels, Hostels, Apartments or Guest Houses in Egypt
All the usual methods of finding accommodation work in Egypt.Use Hotels Combined, Agoda and Booking.com , whichever you prefer. Hotels Combined is a comparison site, they check multiple booking sites for you at once. You would be wise to always pre-book for Egypt or else fall victim to the touts.
We’d particularly recommend AirBnb, we rarely use them, but for Egypt, it works. We rented a spacious, cool, well-equipped apartment in Luxor to take a break, relax and catch up with laundry and work.
We had great deals with Marriott, you can get 30% off Red Sea and Egypt hotels with Marriott rewards currently. We used Marriott Hurghada ( click through to see more) and can give it a big thumbs up.
The Red Sea, a True Holiday in Egypt
The Red Sea is a paradise for divers and snorkellers. This is our first time on Egypt’s coast and we’re impressed by the cool clear waters, marine life and excellent hotels. We’re delighted by the low prices ( see above 30% off deal). More on holidaying in Egypt coming soon and we now have a post on Egyptian beaches, see below.
We have absolutely loved our time in Egypt, give or take a few difficult days. Chef and I visited many years ago on a small group adventure tour and that was a great experience too, but this time, as independent travellers, backpacking, if you prefer, it’s been better. We’ve seen more, we’ve been able to adjust our trip to suit us and our needs and we’ve got in touch with the real Egypt instead of just seeing the tourist sites.
We’ve felt safe ( other than the time we were almost hit by a run-away tanker…long story) and it’s been an incredible educational opportunity for the kids. We hope you can encourage you to visit Egypt, these guys are great and they need their western tourists back.
To bookmark to Pinterest
Other Egypt Travel Blog Posts
More Egypt content from our website, for you, below.
- Arriving in Cairo and Visiting the Pyramids
- Places to Visit in Egypt. A long post!
- The OTHER pyramids near Cairo
- The Cairo Egyptian Museum
- Getting from Cairo to Luxor
- Problems with Feluccas
- Danger, Dirt and Disappointments, Problems of Travelling in Egypt ( the runaway tanker story and more – don’t be put off!)
- Learning About Egypt (world schooling with free printable worksheets)
Learn About Egypt Before You Travel
We highly recommend the Lonely Planet guide books for learning about the history and culture of a country before you leave home. You can use it to figure out where in Egypt you want to go and learn the basics of the language, a few pleases and thank yous are always welcome. It’s also a good idea to learn numbers 1-10 in Arabic, we’ve found this very useful. Also, read the educational post my kids wrote about Egypt here, their own Egypt travel blog. Have a great trip!