Best Things To Do In Egypt For Travelers + Tips
Updated: Apr 4
Do you need some help planning a trip around Egypt? In this Egypt travel guide you'll find all your answers. Egypt is an unforgettable travel destination with some of the most historical monuments on Earth. Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Africa, Egypt is home to the Nile River, where one of the world’s earliest civilizations thrived. And even though Egypt had its fair share of turmoil in recent years, we found it safe, welcoming, and accessible. Its ancient history, vast desert landscapes, and incredible marine life along the Red Sea are truly one of a kind. In this article, we’ll break down the best things to do in Egypt and the things we've learned from traveling in Egypt for 6 weeks.
Check out our video on Egypt to get a sense of what it's like there!
Where is Egypt and how to get there?
Egypt is in northeast Africa. The most common way to get to Egypt is by plane. The most used airports are Cairo Airport, Hurghada Airport, Sharm El Sheikh Airport, Alexandria Borg El Arab Airport, and Luxor International Airport.
Below you can find the map highlighting everything we talk about.
Important things to know before you go to Egypt
1. Egypt weather
Even though Egypt generally has good weather all-year-round, doesn’t mean it can’t get cold! There are very few places that have heating inside and evenings can get especially cold during the winter. For us, this was sometimes a struggle since we had to ask for extra blankets or a portable heater in our accommodations.
2. Best Time to Visit Egypt
It’s probably best to visit Egypt between October and November or between March and May if you want to avoid the cold nights, while still avoiding the unbearable heat during the summer.
When you go to Egypt you'll get pretty far with English. Everyone in the tourist sector knows at least the basics, but if you want to get a ticket at a train station or speak to locals they may not understand you (especially the older generations). The official language is Egyptian Arabic. If you speak Arabic you'll definitely be able to communicate.
Egypt is often regarded as unsafe. However, the crime rate is generally low and even though the threat of terrorist attacks has been an issue in the past, Egypt is taking many precautionary measures. For example, police and checkpoints are everywhere. Any time you travel between destinations or outside the town you’ll find them, which can sometimes even be exhausting. But you have to remember that this is to keep you safe as a tourist and we definitely never felt unsafe ourselves. As long as you use common sense, don't disrespect the locals, and dress appropriately, you'll be fine.
Things to do in Egypt for travel
We visited Egypt for 6 weeks which was not enough because there were multiple things that we didn't have the time to do such as the Siwa Oasis, Ras Mohammed National Park, Hurghada, Nuweiba, and Sharm-el-Sheikh. that said, we did travel a lot slower and stayed 2 weeks in Dahab for example. You can probably fit all destinations in if you travel faster. We'd recommend to stay at least 3 to 4 weeks to make sure you see everything this beautiful country has to offer. Now let's break down the 10 best things to do in Egypt for travel.
10. Get lost in Cairo
Located along the Nile River in the northeast of Egypt, Cairo is an important metropolis. It’s the largest city in the Arab World and a true place of contrast. From the lush Nile shoreline to magnificent skyscrapers, and historical monuments, there’s a lot of variety in the city. Many buildings date back to Roman, Arab, and Ottoman times. We recommend checking out the royal mummies at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilizations first since it is beautifully done and provides a nice broad history of Egypt throughout the displays. Then, we recommend exploring the Coptic Churches and mosques of Cairo, visiting any of the beautiful palaces (Al Manial Palace is beautiful!), shopping at the authentic Khan-el-Khalili market, and taking in the view of the city from the Cairo Tower.
9. Experience the local Fayoum
About 112 kilometers, or 70 miles south of Cairo, sits the Al-Fayoum depression. This natural area feels almost like an oasis, with the immense Lake Qarun being the source of life. It’s surrounded by cute towns, with Tunis Village being the destination that most visitors choose. Here, you can find pottery workshops and small art galleries. But besides that, Fayoum is also the gateway for desert adventures out to Wadi Rayyan and Wadi Al Hittan, where you can find desert lakes, a whale skeleton, and plenty of birds. Book your day tour in the Fayoum desert here.
8. Hike at Saint Catherine
Another incredible travel destination in Egypt is Saint Catherine, which is located in Southern Sinai. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the Eastern Orthodox Saint Catherine’s Monastery and the biblical Mount Sinai. This mountain is sacred as it’s the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God according to the Bible and the Quran. Most travelers decide to hike this mountain at night in order to catch the sunrise from the summit. However, there are many alternative hiking routes in the area that are less popular and nearly as beautiful.
7. Discover the sea life at Marsa Alam
Located in south-eastern Egypt along the Red Sea, Marsa Alam is an upcoming tourist destination. It’s especially known for its incredible sea life as well as tranquility and relaxation. Abu Dabab is among the most famous beaches in the area and you can find turtles swimming right off the shore there. But apart from that, Marsa Alam is also home to the endangered “Dugong”, or sea cow. We weren’t really impressed by the town itself. Tourist resorts are scattered along the coastline, leaving much to be desired from the town center. However, the beaches and sea life here were out of this world. If you have more time here, we also suggest visiting Wadi el Gemal National Park, which is home to wild camels and the gorgeous Ras Hankorab beach.
6. Visit the temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo (by Nile Cruise!)
At number 6, we have the towns of Edfu and Kom Ombo which are accessible by taking a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan or vice versa. Edfu is located along the West Bank of the Nile River, and is known for the Temple of Horus, which is one of the best-preserved ancient monuments in Egypt. Horus was one of Egypt’s most important Gods, depicted as a falcon.
About 70 kilometers, or 43 miles south of Edfu, there is another incredible temple in Kom Ombo. This temple is dedicated to two gods: the local crocodile god Sobek and Horus the Elder, which makes the temple very unique in Egypt. There is also a small Crocodile Museum with a collection of mummified crocodiles. Watch our full video about a 3-Day Nile Cruise to find more information about these historical places.
5. Wonder at the Pyramids of Giza
Another amazing travel destination in Egypt are the world-famous pyramids of Giza. These iconic ruins are actually royal tombs that were built for 3 different pharaohs. With the Great Pyramid being 138m, or 451ft high, you’ll realize how immense these mortuary temples actually are. The pyramids are located in the Memphis area, also known as the first capital of Ancient Egypt. This area can easily be reached from Cairo as it nearly borders the modern-day city. But besides the Giza Pyramids, there are also other ancient ruins in the Memphis area, including the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, and the pyramids of Dahshur and Abusir.
4. Experience the Nubian culture of Aswan
One of our favorite travel destinations in Egypt is the idyllic town of Aswan. Located along the Nile River in the south of Egypt, Aswan is a friendly town surrounded by beautiful Nile Valley scenery, immense sand dunes, and many charming islands. It’s the perfect place to relax and explore the historical and cultural heritage. Sail to the temple of Philae and Elephantine Island, find peace at Botanical Island, or visit a Nubian Village. A must-do is to watch the sunset from the tombs of the nobles. You can walk up to the top of the hill here to enjoy some amazing evening views over the Nile. Just make sure to check the weather and watch out for sandstorms before your hike.
Also make sure to go on a day trip to the renowned Abu Simbel, which is a 3.5 hour drive from Aswan. Carved out of the mountain between 1274 and 1244 BC, the Abu Simbel complex is truly impressive. We recommend taking a guided tour starting from Aswan, in that way you don't have to take care of your own transportation and you learn a lot more than without a guide.
3. Dive and relax in Dahab
Located on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula, Dahab is our favorite beach destination in all of Egypt. Once a sleepy Bedouin fishing village, Dahab enjoys a laid-back and bohemian atmosphere that you can’t find anywhere else in Egypt. It’s popular with backpackers and known as one of the best dive destinations in the world. And although scuba diving is undoubtedly the most popular activity in town, there are also plenty of other outdoor activities on offer, such as hiking, rock climbing, and kite surfing. Make sure to visit the Blue Hole, Abu Galum, and the Blue Lagoon when you visit. Find more information and things to do here in our full Dahab video.
2. Visit Luxor's most impressive temples
A travel destination you cannot miss when in Egypt is definitely Luxor. Luxor is arguably the most historical place on Earth, with civilizations and historical monuments that date back to as early as 2000 B.C. You can find numerous ancient temples and tombs of the various dynasties along the West and East Bank, such as Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings, Habu Temple, and the Mortuary temple Hatshepsut. A great way to see these historical sites is from a hot air balloon! But it’s also possible to rent a bike or go on a donkey ride as most of the ancient temples are within a reasonable distance. Get to know more about Luxor in our blog about the Best Things To Visit When Visiting Luxor in Egypt.
1. Enjoy a 4x4 safari through the White Desert
Finally, the ultimate adventure travel destination in Egypt is the White Desert in our opinion. Located 570 kilometers, or 350 miles to the southwest of Cairo, the White Desert is a unique National Park filled with white calcium rock formations. These rocks have been shaped by wind and sand over millions of years. The White Desert was once underwater about 80 million years ago, making it even more ancient than the pyramids and temples. But what we enjoyed the most about it was the full desert experience with a guide. From sandboarding to cruising the desert dunes by 4x4, and camping under millions of stars, it was one of our favorite travel adventures in a long time. Watch our full video about the White Desert to learn what to expect from your own trip there.
Tips for traveling in Egypt
1. Ask locals about the prices of items or bargain
Traveling around Egypt can be more expensive than you think. Apparently, the prices have gone up in the last decade and we found it almost twice as expensive as Turkey, which we visited before coming to Egypt. It’s hard to tell the price of items since there are usually no price tags. For example, for our first two weeks we were paying 10 Egyptian Pounds (0.6US$) for a large bottle of water, but later found out that the actual price was 5 Egyptian Pounds. It’s easiest to ask locals about prices beforehand.
2. Buy a SIM card in Egypt
We recommend buying a mobile SIM card once you arrive at the airport. Public WiFi is very unreliable throughout Egypt, so it’s important to have access to the internet somehow. SIM cards here are very cheap. We paid about 17€ for 50GB. With that much data, you can even connect your laptop via a hotspot and do work if you need to.
3. Plan transportation ahead as some Egypt destinations aren't very accessible
The fourth thing we learned is that transportation from one destination to another can be tricky sometimes. There aren’t many public transportation routes that you can use, so you have to plan carefully. For example, from Marsa Alam, it was almost impossible to get anywhere. There wasn’t any public transportation and the only option we had to get to Luxor was to book a private taxi or go on a day tour. This ended up being very expensive unfortunately.
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More Helpful Info About Egypt
If you still need more information about Egypt, make sure to check out these other great articles below:
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