Fascinating history meets ancient architecture and an interesting culture: That’s Egypt! In this blog post I’m sharing seven incredible things to do in Egypt which must not be missed on your travel itinerary for this spectacular country in North Africa.
Seven amazing things to do in Egypt
The capital of Egypt with more than 20 Million inhabitants is the biggest capital in Africa and a place where many nations, cultures and African as well as Middle Eastern traditions come together. Most tourists visit Cairo only for their arrival and departure from the airport or due to the fact that is located right next to the famous pyramids of Giza. But the city itself is definitely worth spending some time at, to experience how the majority of Egyptians are living nowadays.
Best things to do in Cairo:
- Visit the Egyptian Museum to see impressive ancient artifacts closely.
P.S. The condition of the current museum is not great. During rain falls, water even drops through the roof right on top of the thousands of years old artifacts! But a brand new Egyptian museum is currently being built and will hopefully be finished at the end of 2022!
- visit the oldest mosque in Egypt and Africa: The Mosque of Ibn Tulun from 879 AD
- enjoy the incredible panoramic view over Cairo from the Salah El Din Citadel and visit its main attraction, the Muhammad Ali mosque
- climb up the Minaret At Bay Zuweila for a spectacular view of historic Cairo
Ibn Tulun Mosque
Muhammad Ali Mosque
Located in the outskirts of Cairo lies Giza: Probably the most visited place in Egypt – but for a good reason: The pyramids of Giza date back to 2560 BC and are one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The size of the structures and the fact that they have been manmade thousands of years ago, take their visitors back to ancient times!
It is possible to go inside the pyramids through tiny corridors into the chambers but it is not as spectacular as seeing them from the outside. All mummies and artifacts which used to be inside have been transferred to the Egyptian museum. Even though the guides try to tell you something else, the visit to one pyramid is for free: Menkaure Pyramid. For the other two pyramids you’ll have to pay an extra charge to get in but we heard that they all pretty much look the same inside – so visiting the free one is enough!
On the complex locals offer camel rides to the best spots of the areal to overlook the pyramids and take amazing photos of the pyramids. Don’s miss on this opportunity! It is definitely worth the extra charge that you should bargain before the ride.
To the South of the Cheops pyramid lies the most famous creature from the Egyptian mythology: The Great Sphinx which has the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh. It is said to be the guardian of the pyramids and a great photo opportunity as well!
Aswan lies in the South of Egypt so you need to take another domestic flight or train ride from Cairo to reach it but it is so worth it! It is located at the Nile river and home of the Nubians which live mainly in the southern part of Egypt.
Best things to do in Aswan:
- Take a boat to the romantic Philae Temple – Located on a small island on the Nile river, this temple can only be reached by a motor boat taxi. It is a well preserved temple with beautiful carvings and columns.
- Visit the Nubian Museum and the colorful Nubian village to get a great insight in the Nubian culture and history
- Visit the Aswan High Dam
- The unfinished obelisk was planned to be a 42 m high structure which would then have been the world’s largest obelisk. Unfortunately it was never finished since it cracked while excavation and was abandoned ever since. Today it gives visitors a great insight in ancient Egyptian architecture and how they used to cut the stone.
- Stay in the historic Sofitel Old Cataract Hotel or at least have lunch or dinner at The Terrace restaurant! It is one of the most legendary hotels in Egypt which had visitors like Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, Princess Diana, … just to name a few!
4. Abu Simbel
A visit in Abu Simbel is one of the best things to do in Egypt which will surely leave you in awe – just as myself! It has been one of my personal favorite places we visited in Egypt.
Abu Simbel is located relatively close to Aswan so the best way to reach it is by hiring a taxi driver during your stay in Aswan for a day tour. The drive still takes around 3,5 hours but it is definitely worth it! Otherwise you can reach Abu Simbel by plane.
The temple of Ramses II. and his wife Nefertari are carved into massive rocks and look absolutely spectacular from outside but even more fascinating from the inside with very well preserved colorful hieroglyphics which are more than 3300 years old!
For more details about Abu Simbel, how to get there, what to expect and important advices, read my guide for a day tour to Abu Simbel!
The most beautiful temple we’ve visited in Egypt is the Karnak Temple in Luxor: The largest and most religious temple in ancient Egypt. Its obelisk and the huge columns with hieroglyphs are glowing mysteriously in the early morning light. That’s why the best time to visit the Karnak Temple is early in the morning right after the opening at 6am! You will have the site almost to yourself during this time of the day and have the possibility to shoot dreamy photos.
The best things to do in Luxor:
- visit the mysterious Karnak Temple
- admire the Luxor Temple which dates back to 1400 BC where many kings of ancient Egypt have been crowned
- Visit the Valley of the Kings which used to be the royal burial ground for the pharaohs of the 18th until 20th dynasty including Tutankhamun and Ramses II.
- While the Valley of the Queens used to be the burial site of the pharaohs wives. Especially spectacular is the tomb of Queen Nefertari which is very well preserved, colorful and rich in details!
- Visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut – the most powerful female ruler of ancient Egypt.
- Take a hot air balloon ride during sunrise over the West Bank of Luxor to see the tombs and temples from above
Valley of the Kings
6. The Red Sea
After exploring the impressive temples, pyramids and tombs of ancient Egypt, plan a few days of relaxation at the Red Sea. It is not only a great place in Egypt to soak in some sunshine and go for a swim but especially to go diving or snorkeling. The maritime life in the Red Sea is extremely rich. You might see dolphins, colorful reef fish and corals, rays, sharks, turtles and so much more! It is a different side of the country and definitely belongs to the best things to do in Egypt.
7. Siwa Oasis
One secret tip and definitely one of the most spectacular things to do in Egypt is visiting the Siwa Oasis in the Western part of Egypt. Siwa Oasis is a tiny community near the border to Libya and not the right destination for you if you’re looking for a luxury stay in Egypt. The area is famous for its hundreds of unique salt pools which spread over the whole region. They are mostly surrounded by a white salt crust while the water in the pool appears to be turquoise blue. The area looks almost extraterrestrial!
Getting to Siwa is not easy – expect a long (9-12 hrs) and bumpy bus or car ride from Cairo but if you want to visit a unique and extraordinary destination in Egypt, then this place has to be on your travel list!