7 Best Places to Visit in Egypt
Published on: August 2nd, 2023
Last modified: November 7th, 2023
Sweeping dunes, ancient artefacts, bustling bazaars and shimmering seas… You’ll find all this and more in Egypt, home to one of the world’s oldest and most fascinating civilizations. From the storied streets of Cairo and Alexandria to the natural wonders of the Nile and Sahara, this country is brimming with intriguing destinations.
No list of the best places to visit in Egypt would be complete without mentioning the Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza. But this country’s appeal extends far beyond its most iconic sites – there are so many incredible reasons to visit and things to do - all the way from the temples of Luxor and Abu Simbel to the shores of the Red Sea. Here are the top seven can’t-miss destinations in Egypt.
Where to go in Egypt
1. Cairo – The Beautifully Chaotic Capital
Egypt’s capital city is a melting pot of cultures; a place of stark contrasts where the past and present coexist. Cairo is among the largest cities in Africa, drawing travellers to the nearby Pyramids of Giza. Its vibrant streets, crowded markets and narrow alleyways hide a wealth of history and modern charm – including incredible nightlife and cuisine.
When in Cairo, visit a local bazaar for an authentic shopping experience and take a food tour to discover the vibrant culinary scene. Spend some time exploring the rich history of Old Cairo, or head to one of the many museums where you can learn about ancient Egypt and the eras that followed it.
2. The Nile River – The Essence of Egypt
Historically considered the world’s longest river, the Nile flows from south to north across Egypt before branching off into the Mediterranean Sea. Since ancient times it’s been the lifeblood of local communities, supplying them with water, fertile soil and transportation – and taking on strong spiritual significance.
Today you can explore it on a Nile River cruise or a traditional felucca sailboat. Along the way you’ll spot crocodiles and other wildlife, and be treated to truly spectacular sunsets. Absorb the expertise of on-board egyptologists to learn everything there is to know about this region and its legendary past, stopping off at ancient ruins such as Kom Ombo temple, built to honour two different gods.
3. The Sahara – A Vast Desert Landscape
The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, spanning 8.5 million square kilometres – around 25% of the entire continent of Africa. It’s best known for its rippled sand dunes extending as far as the eye can see. But the Sahara also boasts sweeping plains and rocky plateaus, as well as animals and plantlife that have adapted to the harsh ecosystem.
The best way to enjoy the Sahara is to simply immerse yourself in it, although it’s good to keep in the best time to visit is during the cooler months such as November. You can go on a safari adventure travelling by jeep or quad bike in surprisingly verdant national parks. Here you can discover waterfalls with the chance to hike and even swim in natural pools.
4. Alexandria – A Hub of Ancient Knowledge
This city is probably best known for its ancient library, which once held thousands upon thousands of papyrus scrolls. Alexandria was renowned as a centre of knowledge, and today that prestigious legacy is reflected in its grand historical sites – including the legendary Lighthouse of Alexandria and catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa.
Any trip to Alexandria should include a visit to the modern incarnation of its Great Library, which also houses multiple museums. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop across the City and descend a spiral staircase to the underground burial chambers of the catacombs. Back aboveground, you can feast on fresh seafood straight from the Mediterranean.
5. Luxor – Monumental Temples & Tombs
The modern city of Luxor stands atop the ruins of the ancient city of Thebes. It’s here that you’ll find the temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor, set on the eastern bank of the Nile. Across the river lies the Valley of the Kings, a burial site for ancient Egyptian pharaohs, and the Valley of the Queens, where their female counterparts were laid to rest.
Visiting Luxor means diving deep into the history of ancient Egypt. Here you’ll be surrounded by the remains of this incredibly complex civilization, from massive statues of pharaohs and sphinxes to the intricate paintings and hieroglyphics that adorn the walls of the royal tombs.
6. Aswan & Abu Simbel – Nubian Culture & Riverside Ruins
The southernmost city in Egypt, Aswan is a quieter alternative to the country’s more popular destinations. Set on the shores of the Nile, it’s a gateway city between Egypt and the rest of Africa. It’s also the perfect base for a trip to Abu Simbel: a UNESCO World Heritage Site located a couple hundred kilometres south.
When in Aswan, it’s essential to visit its Nubian villages and the city’s Nubian Museum, to learn more about this ancient culture. Make sure to organise a day trip to Abu Simbel, famous for its temples carved into the rock and four enormous statues of Ramses II. You can also visit the temple of Kom Ombo, built to honour two different gods.
7. The Red Sea – Egypt’s Coastal Escape
The eastern side of Egypt is bordered by the Red Sea, a relatively narrow body of water that has some of the saltiest seawater on earth. This coastline features beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters and secluded resorts where you can take a break from sightseeing to enjoy the sun and sand.
The Red Sea is an ideal destination for snorkelling and diving, thanks to its stunning coral reefs and abundant marine life. There’s also plenty to do on dry land, including quad bike safaris through the dunes around the city of Hurghada. This is the perfect place to complement Egypt’s endless historical sites with some outdoor adventure and relaxation.
Luxury accommodation in Egypt
Old Cataract AswanThe Old Cataract hotel is an icon in the *Aswan and Abu Simbel* region, with a long list of famous guests from Agatha Christie to King Fouad. The hotel itself is a grand 19th century palace thoughtfully restored to maintain the characterful original features and ambience of the past.
Oberoi Philae Nile CruiseSailing on the Oberoi Philae is an exceptionally elegant way to enjoy the sights and sounds of the iconic River Nile. Equipped with numerous modern comforts, exceptional dining, an outdoor rooftop swimming pool, spacious accommodations and a wellness centre - this cruiser is a floating top-end hotel.
Lazib InnNestled within a charming villa atop a lush green hillside, the Lazib Inn offers a serene and secluded haven for escaping city life that captures the essence of local charm and sophistication. Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and pristine resort grounds, Lazib Inn combines local and international touches, creating a captivating and calming ambiance. The 16 bespoke suites, adorned with art and embellishments from the owners’ personal collection, provide a home-like feel with individual flair. Each suite is meticulously decorated with attention to detail, combining warm tones, elegant fabrics, and local handmade carpets. The residential-style suites feature private balconies or patios, offering stunning views of the resort’s lush green grounds. Indulge in the ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation at the state-of-the-art spa facilities nestled at the foot of the resort’s hilltop setting. The full-service spa offers a luxurious Turkish hammam, private gym, sauna, and multiple massage rooms. Treat yourself to revitalising treatments and massages from the tailor-made menu, followed by a dip in the outdoor Jacuzzi. Unwind on the pool deck, where you can enjoy a snack in a relaxed and casual atmosphere whilst taking in the magical panoramic views of Lake Qarun. For a private dining experience, indulge in the artistically presented dishes and drinks offered through room service, allowing you to enjoy quiet moments in the comfort of your suite.