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Best Places to Visit in Egypt

Best places to visit in Egypt. Egypt is full of wonders and is an affordable destination with great food, beaches, diving, and of course, sights to see. From July 1 st 2020, Egypt is starting to re-open. Beach areas and resorts opened first. International airlines are flying to Egypt and hotels are starting to re-open at reduced capacity. Luxor is due to open to tourists this week. Please fully check entry requirements for tourists for yourself. For now, take a look at some incredible places to see in Egypt and start planning your trip.

Spending almost a month in Egypt allowed us to see the best of Egypt’s tourist attractions and historic sites at a more relaxed pace that our first 1-week tour of Egypt 20 years ago. It’s a fabulous country to explore boasting some of the world’s greatest treasures. Prices are low for foreign tourists but travelling around Egypt independently can be a little challenging. Know that, maybe read more of our Egypt posts to help you get the most out of your Egypt trip. Here are some of the best places to visit in Egypt, checked out during our trip along with a brief mention of where to stay and how to get to them.

Egypt best places

Incredible Places to Visit in Egypt

The Cairo Museum

Are you my mummy?

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is vast, I’ve already given it a post of its own if you’d like to click-through. Briefly, it’s incredible, take a guide or you will miss some of its less-obvious highlights. It’s in downtown Cairo, on Tahir Square and is a short walk from the Nile. There are plenty of cheap hotels, hostels and guest houses nearby, or, on the river, luxury hotels like the 5 star  InterContinental hotel, we flew by for a superb dinner in their top-rated Middle-Eastern restaurant. Take a look at top end hotels in Egypt even if it’s not your usual style, prices are amazingly low.

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The Great Pyramid

Going inside the great pyramid
Going inside the Great Pyramid, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders

The Seven Wonders of the World hold strong appeal in our family and The Great Pyramid, the biggest and oldest of the three huge pyramids at Giza, is the most intact today. The whole pyramid and sphinx mortuary complex is covered by one modest admission fee, but specifics within the complex, such as going inside the Great Pyramid, require an extra ticket. What a thrill for the kids. What an amazing place. Look at the size of those stone blocks, they were floated to the construction site from quarries on the other side of the Nile, it defies imagination. Every morning we woke up to our view of the pyramids, every evening we watched the sound and light show and heard the sphinx talk, it never got old.

The Great Pyramid belonged to the Pharoah Kufu or Cheops, he ruled Egypt some four and a half thousand years ago.

The Sphinx and the Pyramid of Khefren

the sphinx, the face of khefren egypt with guide abdulla
It looks tiny here, it’s not, it’s huge. With our guide at the sphinx. Khefren’s pyramid is behind.

Khefren’s pyramid is the one in the middle. It’s smaller that his father, Cheops’s tomb and its guardian, The Great Sphinx rests before it. The Sphinx was given Khefren’s face, but the original statue possibly pre-dates the pyramids. The owner of our hotel and his father before him, worked on the excavations and as an 8-year-old clambered all over the mighty sphinx. He remembers an archeologist discovering a secret tunnel near the great beast’s tail, now hidden, but it’s there. Old photos of the site, with the Nile’s flood waters lapping at the complex, are incredible, this area is far from the Nile’s modern banks as the flood waters are now controlled at Aswan. The village we stayed in has been there forever and Gouda grew up with the pyramids as his playground. It was a real pleasure staying with him at The Spinx Guest House and being shown around by his friend, now our friend, Abdulla, above.

Ancient Memphis

The Memphis Spinx Egypt.
The Memphis Sphinx, unlike the sphinx at the Giza Plateau, still has her, or his, symbolic beard. It’s thought it could be a likeness of Queen Hatshepsut.

Ancient Memphis is a taxi ride south of Giza and near the older pyramids mentioned below. There’s not a whole lot to see there but the Memphis sphinx and giant Rameses statues are great to see. Don’t make a special trip, but visit if you go to Saqqara.

The Saqqara Step Pyramid

The Saqqara Step Pyramid
A lonely camel without any tourists. We loved Saqqara.

The Saqqara step pyramid is part of the mortuary site of Ancient Memphis, south of Giza, it, and the two pyramids mentioned below, represent early designs in pyramid construction, almost prototypes before the triumph of Cheops. The Saqqara complex is fascinating and almost devoid of tourists, visitors can enter tombs freely, and the wall paintings are magnificent and almost intact. You’ll find yourself almost tripping over antiquity here as the site is largely unexcavated. This was my personal favourite of all the sites we visited, don’t skip it. It’s also known as the pyramid of Djoser as it was the Pharaoh Djoser’s tomb.

The Red Pyramid

The red pyramid at Dahshur
Arriving at the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, that of Sneferu, in Ibrahim’s taxi. The boys loved going inside this one for a Tomb Raider moment.

The Red Pyramid is the largest pyramid at Dahshur, south of Giza and was built for Pharaoh Snefru. He also built the Broken or Bent Pyramid, which is nearby. Visitors can enter the Red Pyramid, there are some great wall decorations to see inside but it’s quite a climb.

Coptic Cairo

Coptic Cairo
Yes, we felt safe. It was just a few days after the bombings of Coptic Churches in Egypt. Security was good and Coptic Cairo was absolutely fascinating, far more than I expected.

Arriving in Cairo just days after the Coptic Church bombings, we assumed Coptic Cairo would have to be scratched from our list. Once we were on the ground surrounded by Egyptian families it seemed ridiculous to worry so we grabbed the chance to explore. Security was good and let’s just say that we all learned a lot. Be it fact or fiction, the story of Jesus staying in Cairo as an infant is a compelling one. This complex of churches, winding streets, synagogues and secret cellars is hugely popular with Christian tourists.

The Old Bazaar in Cairo

The Old Bazaar in Cairo
A labyrinth of shops and ancient buildings within fortified walls. Well worth a look.

You have to see the Khan el-Khalili bazaar in Cairo. It’s on the far side of downtown, towards the airport, so a fair hike from Giza. This site had a shooting a few years ago. Visiting in 2017 this seemed unthinkable as we mingled with mothers and children buying fabrics, merchants manufacturing their wares, fez makers, bread stalls and coffee shops. The area is architecturally fascinating and of great historic significance. This bazaar does not feel in any way like a tourist souk and the hassle factor was almost zero. Maybe because tourists just don’t come here any more. You can pay a small fee to climb the original walls and into the high minarets.

The Mosque and Tomb of Mohammed Ali Inside Cairo’s Citadel

Mosque Courtyard Cairo
The citadel built by Turkish occupiers houses the magnificent Mosque and tomb of Mohammed Ali.

The Valley of the Kings

The Valley of The Kings
It’s a Valley and it was full of dead Pharaohs. The moonscape scenery over here is quite spectacular.

No photography is allowed inside The Valley of The Kings. Visitors are asked to leave their cameras at the gate, although this rule wasn’t inforced. I took this photo, my only one, from the gate. The valley is on the west side of the Nile at Luxor, near Hatshepsut’s Temple and The Colossi. As you can see it is what it says, a valley filled with tombs. It’s an incredible site. Get their early before the heat builds up, we arrived around 6am and skipped the crowds. People with mobility issues could struggle here and not find anything to see, all tomb entrances are fairly steep.

Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple

Goddess Hathor at Hatshepsut's Temple
Hatsepsut rocking te Pharaonic breard. What a woman! You can see remnants of the original paint here, most of Egypts monuments were brightly painted and much remains in protected areas.

The Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon King Akhenaten
They’re Colossal and on the way to The Valley of the Kings at Luxor.

Luxor Temple

luxor temple
Luxor temple by night from a rooftop restaurant above the tourist souk. The avenue of sphinxs starts just here, bottom right.

The Avenue of Sphinxes

avenue of spinxes luxor egypt
Luxor to Karnak, an avenue of sphinxes, some excavated, some, magnificently, not.

I must share more about Luxor’s Avenue of Sphinxes because it blew me away. Not the excavated parts, but the sphinxes that are still semi buried at the roadside, the heads that emerge from dust sidewalks and the crumbling faces emerging from wasteland.  Luxor’s people have history beneath their feet, children grow up clambering on antiquity. I find it amazing.

Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple Egypt
The Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, famous from the James Bond movie and created to resemble a primordial papyrus swamp.

Aswan’s Cataracts

Sunset sailing on the Nile Aswan Egypt
Take a Felucca ride on the Nile, sail into the sunset and admire the views, just don’t make our mistakes!

The Unfinished Obelisk

The unfinished obelisk, how it was made.
Just outside Aswan, on the East bank, is a quarry, in that quarry is an unfinished obelisk. The boys trying their hands at stone quarrying just as the ancient Egyptian slaves did, with rocks.

The Old Cataract Hotel Aswan

Agatha Christie Hotel Egypt
You can still imagine Agatha Christie staying here, enjoying dinner on the terrace overlooking the cataracts at Aswan. It’s a magnificent hotel, we popped in for a look and a drink. Next time we’re staying here!

Smetimes it’s worth splurging on a special place and this hotel is well worth the price tag. Check out the Old Cataract Hotel here. This beautiful hotel also has the best rated restaurant in Aswan, we checked out the #2 restaurant, that was superb and hugely affordable.

Philae Temple Aswan

The Egyptial God Bes at Philai Temple
The dwarf god,Bes, the god of beer and having a good time. I like Bes, we rarely see him, Philae is notable for that.

A neat temple to the Goddess Isis. It’s great, it’s on an island,you get there by boat, go!

High Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser

aswan dam lake nasser
Dams don’t do it for me, but Lake Nasser….WOW!

I’m not the sort to be impressed by modern man-made structures and I was very “meh” about visiting the low and High Aswan Dams, but once we read up on them and watched the video my boys shared on their page about what they learned in Egypt, it took on a whole new appeal. We all found it really interesting and Lake Nasser, is HUGE! It’s full of crocodiles and you can board a boat right there that in 3 days will take you to Sudan. How I longed to get on that boat!

I’m not wearing a turban, my hair was blowing in my eyes so I tied my scarf round my head.. whatever!

Abu Simbel

ancient graffitti at abu simbel egypt salvatore pace
Who was Salvatore Pace?

I’ll bet you all know what Abu Simbel looks like and that the great temple was moved to higher ground to escpe the rising waters of Lake Nasser, so a more interesting shot. Ancient graffiti is common on all of Egypt’s monuments, be it Coptic, Roman or relatively modern, but who was Salvatore Pace and how did he come to be standing at Abu Simbel in 1878? What did he see? Did he travel there along the Nile and come accross these vast statues standing on its banks? Was the temple half buried in sand? Why did he leave his name on the huge ankle of Ramses the great. I’d love to step back in time and find out.

It’s quite a trek to Abu Simbel, we got there by minibus on race treack roads accross endless desert, from Aswan. It’s an 8 hour round trip, but very worth it. Find our post on how to get to Abu Simbel here.

The Red Sea

The Marina Hurghada. Restaurants Egypt
Leave ancient Egypt behind at Hurghada. The marina has some nice restaurants and is a pleasant spot for an evening stroll.

As seas go, it’s a good one, popular with scuba divers and snorkellers. If you like beaches you’ll like to go here. Expect modern resort hotels, good standards and purpose-built tourist facilities. We stayed at The Hurghda Marriott Beach Resort which was insanely cheap and we highly recommend it. The marina, above, was pleasant and we enjoyed one of the best meals of the trip at The Nubian Restaurant, ordering well-prepared local speciality dishes to taste and photograph for our post on Egyptian food while building Chef’s professional knowledge. We take our food very seriously.

We caught a luxury bus from Luxor to reach Hurghada, a long drive at about 8 hours, but pleasant.

Alexandria

By the time we got to Alexandria, I was done. We drove past the new, modern Great Library and the ancient Roman ruins, we saw the corniche, The Mediterranean and the hellish traffic. We dined in a restaurant once visited by Omar Sheriff. I took no photos, I got no sleep in a clean, but noise-filled hotel, and just wanted to get back to Cairo and our village beneath the pyramids. It was one heck of a trip but it took it’s toll on me.

We have a whole bunch of Egypt Pinterest pins for you, if you visit our Egypt Board, you’ll find more there, for now, pin this one and dream of your turn visiting the Pharaohs.

Egypt 23 Must See Places

So that’s it, our big round up on the highlights of Egypt and I hope I’ve given you some ideas for things to see and do during your trip. It was incredible, magnificent and absolutely a global must-do, the kids learned so much and got to see some of the most spectacular places on the planet. What do you think, is Egypt for you? It’s very different, nothing like travelling in most parts of the world. Did I tell you that we are soon to return to the comfortable familiarity of Asia? Not a new country, but one that we haven’t yet featured on the website. I’m excited about what’s coming next for us in terms of travel and business. I love how everything is coming together. I love our life, sign up to follow in the side bar.

Back to our main Egypt Travel Page.

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Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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goldenegypttours

Thursday 19th of March 2020

I have many questions regarding tour of Egypt after reading your blog it cleared all my doubts. Thank you so much for sharing such a nice blog.

Nicola

Monday 16th of December 2019

Hi. Glad you enjoyed your trip. I went as a child, and am now planning a return trip to see more. I just wanted to suggest an edit regarding what you said about slaves. Scholars have actually believed for a long while that they weren't slaves at all. We have a lot of evidence to show they weren't slaves at all, so it'd be great if you maybe update that little section to reflect the real story of the workers involved. If you have a read it's actually fascinating. Thanks

Alyson for World Travel Family

Monday 16th of December 2019

I'll have a look when I get 5 thanks.

Crystal

Friday 9th of June 2017

What an excellent post. My only criticism is that now I want to add Egypt to my ever growing itinerary. Thanks for posting.

Stephanie LANGLET

Sunday 4th of June 2017

It was nice to discover Cairo through your article. I haven't been there during my trip in 2008. I was so captivated by Luxor that I spent 2 weeks there and have been to Assuan and Abu Simbel. Just like you, I felt totally safe and even walked a lot around. That was funny as I often met and chat with the same policemen and soldiers. Once we listen to the recommendations, there shouldn't be any issue. I regularly go in a naxal-affected area in Central India and also feel safe there.

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Monday 5th of June 2017

Yes, I also felt safe as a woman wandering around alone in Egypt

Lindsay Nieminen

Thursday 1st of June 2017

the photos are amazing!! I can't wait to visit ( despite the challenges!!!! which makes me think I might book a few tours because hassles with the kids drive me insane)

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Thursday 1st of June 2017

You can do it all with taxi drivers Lindsay.Our guest house owner ( lovely Gouda) sorted us out up there, then the guy who ran our AirBnB drove us around. The hotel owner in Aswan booked our Abu Simbel trip. It's not too hard to do the local stuff, but the trains are a pain in the butt!!

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