House of the ancient Pharaohs, Egypt is a stunning destination with temples and tombs wowing anyone who visits. Planning your Egypt vacation is one decision you’ll never regret. Nevertheless, these are not just architectural gems. There’s plenty for all here with vast stretches of land, excellent scuba diving, and the famous Nile River.
Beach lovers go to the Sinai to soak up the heat, while followers of archaeology in Luxor will have a day on the beach. Cairo is the sprawling metropolis you can’t beat for city slickers while Siwa Oasis and Aswan’s southern town deliver a taste of the countryside’s sluggish pace. Egypt has so much to see and do for travelers; it’s the perfect country for a mix of activities that combine cultural heritage, thrill ride, and enjoyment.
Let’s take you on an imaginary tour through the walls and cities of Egypt.
- THE PYRAMIDS OF GIZA
One of the world’s most famous landmarks is the only standing of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza. Built as tombs for the fearsome Pharaohs and guarded by the mysterious Sphinx, the pyramid complex of Giza has fascinated visitors through the years and made archeologists (and also a few conspiracy theorists) scratch their heads at how they were constructed for decades.
Such megalithic memorials to dead kings today are still as wondrous a sight as ever. The undeniable highlight while planning your Egypt vacation shouldn’t skip the pyramids of Giza.
- VALLEY OF KINGS
Popular for the Kings’ Gorge, Karnak Shrine, and Hatshepsut’s Memorial Shrine, Upper Egypt’s Nile-side town of Luxor has an abundance of tourist sights. This is ancient Thebes, New Kingdom pharaohs’ power base, and home to more sights than you could see on one visit.
Although the East Bank brims with lively souk activity; the quieter West Bank houses a collection of tombs and temples and has been dubbed the world’s largest open-air museum. Explore the vivid wall art of the tombs for a few days and gaze in wonder at the monumental columns in the temples, and see why Luxor continues to fascinate historians and archeologists.
- OLD AND COPTIC CAIRO
Coptic Cairo is a component of Old Cairo that features the Babylon Castle, the Coptic Museum, the Hanging Cathedral, St. George’s Greek Cathedral and numerous other Coptic churches and historic sites.
In Christian tradition it is believed that the Holy Family visited this area and stayed at the site of Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church (Abu Serga). Coptic Cairo was a Christian sanctuary in Egypt both before and after the Islamic period, but most of its churches were built during the 7th-century Muslim invasion of Egypt.
The quietest town in Egypt is Aswan, located on the Nile’s winding curves. Supported by orange-hued dunes, this is the ideal destination for a few days to rest and unwind and soak up the chilled-out atmosphere. Take the river ferry to Elephantine Island and stroll along the Nubian villages’ colorful streets.
Ride a camel over to St. Simeon’s desert monastery on the West Bank. While thinking your Egypt vacation, don’t forget to make a mental note to enjoy countless cups of tea at one of the restaurants on the riverboat, while watching the feluccas float by.
- ROCK TEMPLES OF ABU SIMBEL
Abu Simbel is something unique even in a land festive of temples. It is the magnificent temple of Ramses II, crowned outside with a monumental statuary standing guard and with a sumptuously decorated interior with paintings on the wall. Renowned for its megalithic dimensions, Abu Simbel is also known for the remarkable feat that saw the entire temple relocated from its initial setting — set to vanish underwater due to the Aswan Dam — in a major four-year UNESCO project during the 1960s.
- GRAND EGYPTIAN MUSEUM
A treasure chest of the Pharaonic period, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is one of the largest collections of museums in the world. The fading pink mansion is host to a surprising amount of exhibits. Upstairs is King Tutankhamen ‘s glorious glory and the amazing collections of royal mummies, but almost any corner you turn here is home to a beautiful piece of ancient art or statuary that would be a highlight at any other museum.
- WHITE DESERT
The kookiest natural wonder in Egypt is the White Desert, where surreally formed chalk mountains have produced what looks like a snowy wonderland amidst the arid plains. Here the landscapes look like something out of a science fiction film, with dazzling white boulders and iceberg-looking pinnacles. It is the ultimate strange sandbox for desert lovers and explorers, while anyone who has had their fill of temples and graves will love its stunning natural scenery.
Planning your Egypt vacation without a trip to Siwais like eating a Pizza without toppings. Siwa is the calm tonic to the hustle of the cities of Egypt. Surrounded by date palm plantations and several freshwater sources, this beautiful little oasis is one of the most picturesque locations in the Western Desert. The town is built around the remains of an immense mud-brick citadel overwhelming the view. It is a great spot for slowing down and going easy for a couple of days, as well as being an ideal foundation on which to prepare trips into the mountains.
- KARNAK AND LUXOR TEMPLES
The Temple of Karnak is situated in present-day Luxor, which was known as Waset to the Ancient Egyptians and Thebes, to the Ancient Greeks. More than 40,000 inhabitants named the city home, and it acted as Egypt’s capital during the Middle and New Kingdoms. Thebes experienced a variety of cultural and religious transitions, and Karnak represents the waves of changes when you look at the architecture, the structure, and even the devastation that can still be easily seen today.
Hurghada is Egypt’s oldest and most popular spa. Offshore is the vibrant and mysterious Red Sea world of coral and fish life that first brought Hurghada to worldwide notice, while back on solid land, the once tiny fishing village has mushroomed into a resort city catering directly to tourists.
- ISLAMIC CAIRO
The Islamic Cairo district in the capital of Egypt is packed with ancient mosques, temples, and madrassas, and is one of the leading Egypt tourist attractions. The Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan is an outstanding example and a noticeable reminder of the Islamic history of this magnificent region. When you dive deep into the section of the walled city, you will also find factories and artisan families who have worked there for millennia, making it one of the best places to visit in Egypt 2020.
- CITADEL OF SALADIN
One of the many locations in ancient Egypt to be designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the citadel was built by the prominent Ayyubid emperor Saladin to defend Cairo and Fustat (the first Egyptian capital under the Caliphate) against Crusaders. The massive fortification is lined by many watchtowers and houses many beautiful mosques and the Well of Joseph inside.
This town is yet another true open-air museum and one of Egypt’s best places to visit. The Mother of Pots, also called the Umm el-Qa’ab, is a complex necropolis where the first pharaohs are buried. The region is named so because of excavations that uncovered thousands of fragments of pots that were scattered in memory of the kings. Abydos is also where the temple of Seti I was located, which contains the famous hieroglyphic inscription called the Abydos List.
The most Western of Egypt’s cities, Alexandria has a history that not many others can equal. Founded by Alexander the Great, birthplace of Cleopatra, and razzmatazz renegade capital of the Mediterranean for most of its history, this seaside capital has an enticing days-gone-by feel that can’t be beaten. While today, there are few historic relics of its glorious history — feted in songs and books — this is a spot perfect for aimless strolling along the seashore Corniche, café-hopping, and souk browsing.
- BAHARIYA OASIS
For adventure seekers, Bahariya Oasis offers large duns to practice sand sailing, then entertain your eyes with the gleaming sites of Graeco-Roman sites like the Tomb of Banentiu, discover the Bedouins lifestyle, encounter biodiversity of Egyptian Desert, or chill in the hot waters of the BirSigam hot spring. Your choices in Bahariya are broader than you would imagine.
There are several items one can learn by visiting different locations. The list includes gaining new friends, new stories, and new experiences.
You get a deeper view of the people living there, including their customs, history, and context, as you start visiting new areas.
Research suggests that your physical wellbeing can be increased and your imagination boosted. Therefore, at least once in a year, you need to take time out of your everyday duties, workplace obligations, hectic lifestyle, and regular stresses. Book a trip into Egypt with a flexible schedule and let the various possibilities bring life to you.
Are your bags packed yet?