Best of Egypt: Top Sites, Hidden Gems & Everything in Between
Discover the best of Egypt, a land of ancient wonders, offering an unparalleled journey through time. From the Great Pyramids of Giza to the temples of Luxor, this country is home to some of the world’s most magnificent monuments and archaeological sites. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler, or a culture lover looking to expand your horizons, Egypt has something for everyone.
In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best of Egypt, showcasing the top sites, hidden gems, and everything in between. Get ready to explore the land of the pharaohs like never before!
Discover the Alluring Legacy: Egypt’s Fascinating Tapestry of History and Cultural Wonders
Egypt has a long and fascinating history that spans over thousands of years. It is widely recognized as one of the world’s “cradles of civilization” and has left a lasting impact on human history. From the rise and fall of the pharaohs, to the Islamic conquests, Egypt has undergone a series of transformations that have shaped its identity and culture.
Come Explore the Best of Egypt
Exploring the best of Egypt is not just about visiting iconic landmarks and tourist hotspots. It’s about immersing yourself in the country’s rich heritage, connecting with its people, and experiencing its unique culture. Whether you’re interested in ancient history, art, or religion, Egypt has something to offer.
By exploring the best that Egypt has to offer, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating country and its place in the world.
So, let’s dive into the top sites and hidden gems of Egypt, and discover everything in between.
The Top Attractions of Egypt
Egypt is a country steeped in history and culture, with numerous attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. From the majestic pyramids of Giza to the bustling streets of Cairo, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this fascinating country. We consider these the top 5…
1. Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza are perhaps the most iconic landmarks of Egypt, with the Great Pyramid being one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the last one still standing and largely still intact. These majestic pyramids were built over 4,500 years ago to serve as tombs for the pharaohs. The largest of the three pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, stands at a towering height of 147 meters and is made up of roughly 2,300,000 limestone and granite blocks.
Visitors can also explore the pyramids’ interiors and learn about the ancient Egyptian beliefs surrounding death and the afterlife. Be warned: there is not really all that much to see inside the Giza pyramids because they were all looted in antiquity. There are also lots of passage ways and stairs, so wearing shoes rather than sandals is recommended if you intend exploring the interiors.
2. Karnak Temple Complex
Karnak Temple Complex is a vast and impressive temple complex located in Luxor, on the east bank of the Nile River in Egypt. It was built over a period of 2,000 years and served as a place of worship for ancient Egyptians. The complex contains the ruins of several temples, chapels, pylons, and obelisks, and is known for its grandeur and intricacy in design.
Visitors can explore the vast complex and witness the impressive architecture and artwork that depict ancient Egyptian mythology and history. The Karnak Temple complex is the second-most visited site in Egypt, and a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the best of ancient Egyptian religion and culture.
3. Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings was a royal burial ground for pharaohs and their families, located on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. It contains over 60 tombs, including that of the famous pharaoh, Tutankhamun. Many of the the tombs are adorned with intricate artwork and hieroglyphics, depicting the journey to the afterlife and ancient Egyptian beliefs surrounding death.
Visitors can explore inside several of the tombs and witness the stunning artwork and preservation of ancient Egypt’s burial practices. Not all tombs are open to visitors, and additional tickets must be purchased to enter the most famous ones. King Tutankhamun’s mummy remains in his tomb to this day.
4. Abu Simbel Temples
The Abu Simbel Temples are a temple complex located to the south of Aswan, in an area that was once known as Nubia, near Egypt’s border with Sudan. The complex consists of two gigantic rock-hewn temples, the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Small Temple of Queen Nefertari, his beloved wife.
Both of these massive structures were carved out of solid rock. The temples are adorned with colossal statues of pharaoh Ramses II and his wife, along with some other smaller statues of different gods.
The Abu Simbel Temples are not only breathtaking but also regarded as true ancient Egyptian masterpieces, undoubtedly ranking among the best sites in Egypt.
5. Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple is a large ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River in the city of Luxor. It was built during the New Kingdom era, approximately 1400 BC, and was dedicated to the god Amun. This impressive complex contains numerous structures, including the main temple, the avenue of sphinxes, and the entrance pylon. Visitors can admire the intricate carvings and hieroglyphics that adorn the walls of the buildings, which depict stories from ancient Egyptian mythology and history.
One of the most impressive features of Luxor Temple is the avenue of sphinxes, a long path lined with sphinx statues that leads to the entrance of the temple. Visitors can walk along this path, admiring the craftsmanship of the sphinxes and enjoying the historic atmosphere of the site.
The Best Hidden Gems of Egypt
When most people think of the best of Egypt, they immediately think about the famous Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx, cruising the Nile, or enjoying a relaxing break at one of Egypt’s coastal resorts on the Red Sea coast. What many people don’t realize is the fact that Egypt has many other hidden gems that are well-worth exploring, including…
1. Siwa Oasis
Siwa Oasis is a stunning natural gem located in the Western Desert of Egypt. This isolated oasis is home to charming mud-brick buildings, lush palm groves, and natural hot springs. Visitors can take a dip in the hot springs or explore the ruins of the ancient Temple of the Oracle, where Alexander the Great once visited to consult the oracle. The quiet and serene atmosphere of Siwa is perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse themselves in nature and history.
2. White Desert National Park
The White Desert is a unique natural wonder located in the Western Desert of Egypt. It is home to a surreal landscape of white rock formations and pillars that have been sculpted over thousands of years by wind and sand. Visitors can explore the area on foot or by jeep, marveling at the formations that resemble mushrooms, ice cream cones, and even camels. The White Desert is also a popular spot for camping and stargazing, offering a breathtaking view of the night sky.
3. Khan el-Khalili Bazaar
Khan el-Khalili is a bustling bazaar in the heart of Islamic Cairo, offering visitors a glimpse into traditional Egyptian culture and an unforgettable shopping experience. The narrow alleys are filled with shops selling anything and everything, from handmade crafts and souvenirs to exotic spices and gold. Visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere, bargaining with vendors and sipping on traditional tea or coffee in one of the many cafes.
Whether you are looking for unique souvenirs, or whether you simply want to soak up some local culture, Khan el-Khalili is a must-visit for anyone exploring Egypt.
4. Nubian Villages
The Nubian Villages are a collection of charming communities located along the Nile River in southern Egypt. These villages are known for their vibrant colors, unique architecture, and rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the narrow alleys and colorful houses, visit local markets, and even take a traditional felucca boat ride along the Nile. The Nubian people are known for their hospitality and warmth, and visitors can experience this firsthand.
5. Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a modern marvel located in the city of Alexandria. This impressive library was built to commemorate the ancient Library of Alexandria, which was once the largest library in the world. The modern library is home to millions of books, manuscripts, and other cultural artifacts.
The library also hosts cultural events and lectures, making it a hub of intellectual and artistic activity in Egypt. Whether you are a book lover or simply appreciate the beauty of modern architecture, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a must-visit destination in Egypt.
The above five place are just a few of the hidden gems that Egypt has to offer. From ancient ruins to modern wonders, there really is something for everyone in this fascinating country.
Best of Egypt for Culture Lovers
The main reason why most people visit Egypt is because they want to see and explore the country’s many famous ancient sites, and also soak up some real Egyptian culture. With this in mind, here are another six places you should consider adding to your bucket list of must-see “Best of Egypt” places during your trip:
1. The Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum is a treasure trove of over 120,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts. Visitors can immerse themselves in the history and culture of Egypt like never before by exploring the museum’s vast collection of mummies, sarcophagi, and other relics. The museum also houses a library and a conservation center, making it an important center for research and preservation of Egypt’s cultural heritage.
2. Islamic Cairo
Islamic Cairo is a unique and fascinating district that offers a glimpse into Egypt’s Islamic history, culture and architecture. Visitors can explore the Citadel of Saladin and the many mosques, madrasas, and mausoleums that dot the area, each with its own unique architecture and history. The district also boasts a vibrant market area, where visitors can shop for souvenirs and traditional handicrafts, and sample delicious street food. As is the case with so many other attractions and places in Egypt, we highly recommend that you explore Islamic Cairo with an experienced local guide.
3. Philae Temple
Philae Temple is a stunning island temple complex located near Aswan. It was originally built during the Ptolemaic era and was dedicated to the goddess Isis. Visitors can marvel at the temple’s intricate carvings and hieroglyphics, as well as its beautiful location on the Nile River. The temple was relocated in the 1960s to avoid being submerged by the rising waters of Lake Nasser following the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Today, visitors can explore the temple and its surrounding areas, including the nearby unfinished Obelisk.
4. The Coptic Museum
The Coptic Museum in Cairo is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history of Christianity in Egypt. The museum’s collection includes a wide range of artifacts and relics that showcase the art, architecture, and culture of the Coptic Church, which dates back to the first century A.D.
Visitors can explore the museum’s galleries, which feature beautiful icons, textiles, and manuscripts, as well as a replica of a Coptic church. The museum also offers guided tours and lectures, making it a great place to learn more about Egypt’s rich cultural heritage.
5. The Temple of Horus at Edfu
The Temple of Horus at Edfu is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt and is dedicated to the god Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky. The temple was constructed during the Ptolemaic dynasty and is known for its elaborate reliefs and carvings. Visitors can explore the temple’s halls, courtyards, and shrines, which are adorned with stunning murals and hieroglyphics. Don’t miss the temple’s main sanctuary, where a statue of Horus was once housed. The temple’s location on the Nile River makes it a great addition to any Nile River cruise itinerary.
6. The Temple of Seti at Abydos
If you are a true fan of ancient temples and culture, and if time permits, you should also consider visiting the Temple of Seti.
The Temple of Seti is a fascinating ancient temple located in Abydos, Egypt. Built during the New Kingdom period, the temple is dedicated to the god Osiris and is known for its intricate carvings and hieroglyphics. Visitors can explore the temple’s courtyards and halls, which feature depictions of pharaohs and gods, as well as scenes from Egyptian mythology.
One of the highlights of the temple is the Osirion, a mysterious underground structure that is believed to have been a cenotaph for Osiris. Although it’s not as well known as some of Egypt’s other ancient temples, the Temple of Seti is definitely worth a visit for those interested in Egyptian history and culture.
Best of Egypt for Foodies
Egyptian cuisine is a delightful blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, with a plethora of vegetarian and meat-based dishes to suit all palates. For foodies, Egypt is a treasure trove of culinary delights – from the famous street food like koshary and falafel, to traditional dishes like kofta kebab, stuffed vine leaves, and fiteer (layered pastry). Seafood lovers can indulge in grilled fish or shrimp, while meat lovers can savor succulent lamb and beef dishes.
Don’t forget to try the sweet treats like basbousa, macaroons, and konafa. Egyptian coffee and tea are also must-try beverages.
Best of Egypt for Beach Lovers
Egypt is not only known for its rich history and ancient monuments, but also for its beautiful beaches. The Red Sea coast also offers some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling spots. Sharm El Sheikh is a popular destination for beach lovers, with its crystal clear waters and vibrant marine life. Hurghada is another popular spot, known for its long stretches of sandy beaches and luxury resorts.
For those looking for more secluded and peaceful beaches, Marsa Alam and Dahab are perfect destinations. If time permits be sure to visit the beautiful Ras Mohammed National Park as well during your stay in Dahab or Sharm El Sheikh.
Best of Egypt for Souvenir Shoppers
Egypt is a goldmine of souvenirs, from traditional handicrafts to modern trinkets. Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar is a must-visit for souvenir shoppers, with its winding alleys and vibrant atmosphere. Here you can find everything from handmade pottery and carpets to shisha pipes and Egyptian cotton clothing.
Luxor’s souks are also a great place to shop for souvenirs, with their colorful stalls selling everything from spices and perfumes to jewelry and leather goods. Don’t forget to haggle for the best prices!
Best of Egypt for Readers
The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz – This Nobel Prize-winning author’s three-part novel series (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street) is a must-read for anyone interested in Egyptian history and culture. The trilogy follows the life of a family living in Cairo during the early 20th century and offers a fascinating insight into Egyptian society at the time. Mahfouz’s writing style is immersive and beautifully descriptive, making it easy to visualize the bustling streets of Cairo and the characters’ daily lives.
The Book of the Dead – This ancient Egyptian text is a collection of spells and prayers that was buried with the deceased to help guide them through the afterlife. It provides a fascinating glimpse into ancient Egyptian beliefs about death and the afterlife and is a testament to the incredible knowledge and wisdom of this civilization. For those interested in mythology and ancient religions, The Book of the Dead is a fascinating read.
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson – This book provides a comprehensive overview of the entire span of ancient Egyptian history, from the pre-dynastic period to the end of the pharaonic era. It delves into the politics, culture, religion, and daily life of the ancient Egyptians, and offers a fascinating insight into this remarkable civilization.
The Pyramids: The Mystery, Culture, and Science of Egypt’s Great Monuments by Miroslav Verner – This book explores the construction, purpose, and symbolism of the pyramids, and sheds light on the incredible engineering feat that went into their creation. It also offers a glimpse into the religious and cultural beliefs that underpinned this monumental undertaking.
Whether you are a seasoned Egypt enthusiast or a newcomer to the subject, these books are sure to captivate and educate.
Best of Egypt for Music Lovers
Everyone wants to take some souvenirs back home with them after their trip to Egypt, but rarely do people consider taking back some authentic Egyptian music as a souvenir. This is a shame really because Egypt has produced many seriously talented artists of the years.
Umm Kulthoum – The Queen of the Middle East
Umm Kulthoum was an Egyptian singer and actress widely regarded as the greatest female singer in the history of the Arab world. She was also named as one of the 200 greatest singers of all time. Her powerful and emotive voice made her a cultural icon, and her songs are still beloved by millions of fans today. She was also a prominent philanthropist and cultural ambassador, and her influence on Egyptian and Middle Eastern culture cannot be overstated.
For music lovers interested in discovering the rich musical traditions of Egypt, Umm Kulthoum is a must-listen.
Egyptian Folk Music – A Window into the Soul of Egypt
Egyptian folk music is a vibrant and diverse genre that reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage. From the lively rhythms of the Saidi and Nubian regions to the haunting melodies of the Bedouin and Siwa peoples, there is something for everyone in the world of Egyptian folk music.
For those interested in exploring this fascinating genre, there are many talented artists and ensembles to discover, such as Hamza Namira, Sheikh Imam, and Mohamed Mounir. So why not take a piece of Egypt’s musical heritage back home with you?
Best of Egypt Tours for First Time Visitors
For those exploring Egypt for the first time, there are a few must-see sights that should be at the top of their bucket list. The Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are all iconic landmarks that offer a glimpse into Egypt’s rich history and culture. A visit to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings is also a must for anyone interested in ancient Egyptian history, as it is home to some of the most impressive archaeological sites in the country. In short, Cairo and Nile cruise packages cannot be recommended highly enough.
How to Explore the Best of Egypt
- Hire a local guide: Hiring a local guide is the best way to explore the best of Egypt, as they can provide valuable insights and knowledge about the history, culture, and traditions of the country. For total peace of mind, choose a tour package or packages that include professional local guides.
- Plan your itinerary: Planning your itinerary is essential to ensure that you make the most of your time in Egypt. From the iconic landmarks in Cairo to the ancient ruins of Luxor and Aswan, there are many incredible sights to see and activities to experience. Research and plan your itinerary carefully or work with a reputable tour operator in order to make the most of your trip.
- Cultural Do’s and Don’ts: As a visitor to Egypt, it is important to be aware of the cultural do’s and don’ts in order to respect the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and remove your shoes before entering mosques. It is also important to greet people with a friendly “Salam” and show respect to elders. However, it is considered impolite to shake hands with someone of the opposite sex unless they initiate it. Also, avoid public displays of affection and drinking alcohol in public, as these actions go against the conservative Muslim culture.
Recommended Tours and Activities
At Egypt Tours Plus, we have a huge range of epic Egypt tour packages, many of which also include a 5-Star Nile River cruise. We also have an excellent range of stand-alone Nile River cruises, ranging from budget to luxurious. From breathtaking 1-day tours, to 3-week once-in-a lifetime adventures, you are bound to find something on our site that fits your requirements perfectly. Here are 5 of our most popular tour packages that will allow you to experience the best of Egypt in absolute comfort and style:
- 12-Day Cairo, Nile Cruise and Red Sea Stay
- 10-Day Luxury Nile Cruise and Cairo Tours
- 10-Day Egypt and Jordan Luxury Tour
- 8-Day Cairo to Abu Simbel Tour with Nile Cruise
- 5-Day Cairo to Luxor Tour
If you are serious about experiencing the best of Egypt, then we would also highly recommend that you try at least one or more optional activities during your stay in Egypt. Here are 6 which can make your vacation even more unforgettable than ever:
- Enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the ancient temples and tombs at Luxor.
- Enjoy a camel ride around the pyramids, or even just a short ride into the desert.
- Go SCUBA diving or snorkeling in the Red Sea and discover an underwater paradise.
- Try your hand at windsurfing or kiteboarding on the Red Sea coast.
- Go for a hike up Mount Sinai for spectacular views and a visit to the Monastery of St. Catherine
- Go overnight camping at the almost surreal White Desert National Park.
These are just a few of the fun activities you can add to your itinerary, but rest assured, there are many more, including island hopping, deep sea fishing, and more. Our travel specialists will be happy to tell you more, or even to recommend certain activities based on your travel style.
Explore Egypt your way by selecting only the attractions you want to visit
Design Your Custom Egypt Tour
Explore Egypt your way by selecting only the attractions you want to visit
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Our Best of Egypt FAQ section provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the top attractions, experiences, and destinations in Egypt. Whether you’re planning your first trip to Egypt or looking for insider tips, this section will help you make the most of your time in this incredible country.
What are the top tourist destinations in Egypt?
Egypt is a country with a rich history and culture that has fascinated tourists for centuries. There are numerous tourist destinations in Egypt that attract millions of visitors every year. In terms of sightseeing, Cairo and Luxor are the best two destinations in Egypt, followed by Aswan and Alexandria.
What are the most popular beaches in Egypt?
While Egypt is mostly known for its ancient treasures, it also boasts several beautiful beaches that attract tourists from all over the world. Here are some of the most popular beaches in Egypt:
- Sharm El Sheikh: Located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm El Sheikh is one of the most famous beach resorts in Egypt. It is known for its crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and stunning marine life.
- Hurghada: Another popular beach resort on the Red Sea, Hurghada is a great place for snorkeling, diving, and other water sports. The beaches here are pristine, with soft white sand and turquoise waters.
- Marsa Alam: Located in southern Egypt, Marsa Alam is a hidden gem that is slowly gaining popularity among tourists. The beaches here are secluded and unspoiled, with clear waters and vibrant coral reefs.
- Alexandria: Egypt’s second-largest city, Alexandria is known for its rich history and culture, but it also has some beautiful beaches. The most popular is Montazah Beach, which has a long stretch of white sand and clear waters.
- Dahab: A laid-back beach town on the Sinai Peninsula, Dahab is popular among backpackers and adventurers. The beaches here are great for swimming, sunbathing, and windsurfing, and the town has a bohemian vibe that attracts free-spirited travelers.
What are the must-see museums in Egypt?
Egypt is home to several museums that house an impressive collection of artifacts, historical objects, and artworks that provide a glimpse into the country’s rich history and culture. Here are some of the must-see museums in Egypt.
- Grand Egyptian Museum: Located at Giza, this is Egypt’s newest and biggest museum. It is also the biggest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilization.
- Egyptian Museum: Located in Cairo, the Egyptian Museum is one of the largest and most important museums in the world. It houses a vast collection of artifacts from the Pharaonic era.
- Nubian Museum: Situated in Aswan, the Nubian Museum showcases the Nubian culture and heritage. It features exhibits that depict the daily life, customs, and traditions of the Nubian people.
- Luxor Museum: The Luxor Museum is located on the east bank of the Nile River in Luxor. It houses a collection of artifacts from the ancient Egyptian period, including statues, reliefs, and jewelry.
- Coptic Museum: This museum is located in Old Cairo and features a collection of Coptic art, including textiles, icons, and manuscripts.
- Alexandria National Museum: The Alexandria National Museum is located in Alexandria and houses a collection of artifacts that depict the history and culture of Alexandria and Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.
What are the best festivals to attend in Egypt?
Egypt has a variety of festivals that celebrate its rich history and culture. Here are some of the best festivals to attend in Egypt:
- Cairo International Film Festival: This festival is held annually in Cairo and is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in the Middle East and Africa. It showcases both local and international films.
- Abu Simbel Festival: This festival is held in Aswan annually and celebrates the relocation of the temples of Abu Simbel. It features a sound and light show and is a breathtaking display of Egyptian history and culture.
- Luxor African Film Festival: This festival is held annually in Luxor and celebrates African cinema. It features film screenings, workshops, and discussions.
- Sharm El-Sheikh International Theater Festival: This festival is held annually in Sharm El-Sheikh and showcases local and international theater productions.
- Cairo Jazz Festival: This festival is held annually in Cairo and features jazz musicians from all over the world.
These festivals are just a few examples of the rich cultural offerings for people who are looking to experience the best of Egypt. Attending any of these festivals is a great way to experience and celebrate the country’s history and culture.
Egypt is a country rich in history and culture, and there are many sites and festivals that culture lovers can enjoy. From the pyramids of Giza to the Nubian Museum and Luxor Museum, there are plenty of archaeological sites and museums to explore. Meanwhile, the Abu Simbel Festival, Cairo International Film Festival, and other festivals showcase the country’s vibrant culture and offer visitors an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re interested in ancient history or modern art, Egypt has something to offer culture lovers from all over the world.
At Egypt Tours Plus, we believe everyone should try to visit Egypt at least once. If you think Egypt’s ancient wonders look amazing, we can assure you that they look 10,000 times more amazing when you visit them in person. With proper planning and expert guides, you really can enjoy the best of Egypt, and you can be certain that you will return home with memories that will last a lifetime.
Start Planning a Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Egypt Today
There is no better time than now to begin planning an unforgettable journey through Egypt where you will be able explore many ancient wonders, experience a rich and unique culture, and even relax on beautiful beaches on the Red Sea coast.
If a trip to Egypt sounds alluring, it’s because it is, so contact us now and let us help you to plan a magical vacation that really will allow you to experience the very best of Egypt.
Explore Egypt your way by selecting only the attractions you want to visit
Design Your Custom Egypt Tour
Explore Egypt your way by selecting only the attractions you want to visit