Egypt is a marvelous country, full of many fascinating things. The best places to visit in Egypt feature magnificent cities, old monuments, pyramids, and other historical attractions – the country offers it all.
Egypt is one of the rare countries in the world that has hundreds of great locations to visit and things to see for any taste.
Most of the attractions are close to the river Nile, but throughout the entire country, you can see fantastic things.
We’ve spent a total of 2 months exploring Egypt, from the border of Sudan to the chaotic streets of Cairo and the peaceful shores of the Red Sea.
It was a trip that surprised us in many ways and fulfilled childhood dreams of standing in the face of history and exploration.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Egypt (Travel Guide)
9 of the Best Places to Visit in Egypt
Table of Contents
The recommended amount of time in Cairo: 2-5 days depending on your interests and how much time you have on your trip
Since most international flights arrive in Egypt, we strongly advise that you plan a couple of days in the city prior to heading elsewhere in the country. This is simply due to there being so many great things to do in Cairo.
Your first outing should be to head straight to the Egyptian Museum. This museum is a world icon and houses the relics of ancient Egypt.
It is an insightful journey into the history, lives, and culture of the country, making it a great starting point for your trip.
It is advisable to visit the museum early in the morning because it is often very busy and packed with tourist groups during the day. Some major attractions you can see in this museum include real mummies and the tomb of Tutankhamen filled with all kinds of treasures.
After you’ve had your fill of the museum, head over to the Khan el Kahlili Bazaar for some shopping.
Be sure to poke your head into the various sale stalls and marvel at the hookah pipes, lanterns and other treasures on display.
Check out this book: Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs
There are several tours that you can book that will take you to the best sights in Cairo and provide you a fantastic guide. It is possible to book tours in advance or through your hotel once you arrive in Egypt.
Both options can work great but we prefer to book in advance to ensure we get the tours we want.
Interested in taking a night walking tour of Cairo? Watch Cairo come to life after dark with a 6-hour, private tour through the city’s most atmospheric spots. Take in the view from the top of the iconic Cairo Tower, then cast off on the Nile River in a traditional felucca sailboat.
Sip tea high above the city from the peak of El Mokkatam mountain and enjoy a traditional Egyptian dinner.
Finish your evening at the bustling Khan El Khalili bazaar, where vendors pile their stalls will brilliant displays of antiques, handicrafts, and jewelry.
2. Saqqara, Dashur & Memphis
Of course, seeing the city is fantastic but you do not want to miss the opportunity to explore the areas around Cairo.
Luckily, there are several fantastic day trips on offer that will show you other cities, desert oasis’, sand dunes, ancient cities and large collections of pyramids.
There are a lot of options for day trips from Cairo and what you can see will depend only on the time you have available.
If you only have one spare day to work with we highly recommend that you take a day tour to the Dashur & Saqqara Pyramids and Memphis.
In doing this you will have the opportunity to explore the very first pyramids that were built in Egypt.
You may also want to opt for a day trip to Alexandria.
3. Pyramids of Giza
While technically located in Giza, the pyramids are accessed from Cairo but deserve to be highlighted separately from the city. Giza Pyramids are surely the biggest attraction and the top site of all the places to visit in Egypt.
The Great Pyramids are mysterious structures, each containing unique things.
Built-in perfect shapes, the three pyramids are known as Kafhre, Khufu and Menkaura. It is believed that these ancient structures were built for the pharaohs who are buried inside them.
Check out this book: Giza and the Pyramids: The Definitive History
No trip to Giza would be complete without paying a visit to the Sphinx. This ancient and mysterious structure has puzzled people since ancient times and even today the archaeologists still struggle to find the purpose and origins of the Sphinx.
While tourism was down in Egypt, our visit to the Pyramids of Giza was the most crowded. This has a lot to do with the local people that enjoy visiting the complex. It will be crowded and be sure to dress conservatively, despite the inevitable heat.
Looking for a great private tour of the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx? Check out this amazing half-day tour from Cairo that we did and loved! Follow your own Egyptologist through all the highlights and enjoy personalized attention as your tour the city’s most iconic destinations.
The flexibility of a private tour means you can decide how much time to spend at each of the sites, ensuring a truly memorable experience.
A recommended amount of time in Luxor: 3 days depending on your interests and how much time you have on your trip
Following the path of the ancient pharaohs, you cannot miss a visit to Luxor. It has dozens of great monuments and museums where you can admire interesting artifacts and exhibits.
It is also a lively city with great shopping and dining options that shouldn’t be missed. There is no shortage of things to do in Luxor, so plan your time wisely.
Built on the ancient location of Thebes, the main draw to Luxor is its access to the Valley of the Kings. This is the place where pharaohs were buried and the host to many old treasures and other wonders.
The mummy of Tutankhamen, one of the most famous discoveries of all time, was discovered by archaeologists at this very site.
The Valley of the Kings is located on the West Bank of the Nile River and it is home to hundreds of tombs and chambers.
The majority of the old tombs are not open for tourists, but it is possible to go descend into a few of them, as well as explore the various temples in the valley.
It is definitely one of the most popular archaeological places to visit in Egypt and is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Be sure to take a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings when you are there!
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Egypt (Travel Guide)
You also shouldn’t miss a visit to the Valley of the Queens. Also located on the West Bank, the must-see site here is the enormous Hatshepsut Temple. The temple is extremely detailed and worth the time it takes to explore all of the levels.
Lastly, located within the city are the impressive temples of Luxor and Karnak. These temples are a place where ancient Egyptians worshipped their gods.
Both temple complexes are large and require a few hours to really explore all they have to offer.
Expect very ornate carvings throughout and solid examples of the perfect Egyptian text.
Take a Valley of the Kings tour and explore the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut on this 4-hour private trip from Luxor, with your very own Egyptologist guide.
Head for the West Bank and discover the hieroglyph-coated chambers of the Valley of the Kings, the mountain-cut tombs of 62 of ancient Egypt’s rulers, as you learn about the pharaohs once buried here.
Also, visit the stunning Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and stop to see the towering Colossi of Memnon.
A recommended amount of time in Aswan: 3 days depending on your interests and how much time you have on your trip
First impressions of Aswan might make you think it’s a pretty unexciting place. We’ll admit it, we thought that too until we took a closer look. Truth is, there are some pretty interesting things to do in Aswan.
The city, while not over the top like Luxor, has a lot to offer and is worth the visit for access to Abu Simbel alone.
The city is much more laid back than the other cities I’ve mentioned, making a visit here a more calming experience.
The main road of the city literally runs next to the Nile River on the East Bank with amazing views of towering sand dunes on the opposite side of the river.
Typical visits to Aswan include touring the nearby sites that include Philae Temple, the Unfinished Obelisk and the Aswan High Dam.
There is a beautiful market located in the city center where you can find a large variety of trinkets and clothing to purchase.
One of the things we really enjoyed was an afternoon sunset Felucca trip that ended with a tour of the Nubian village on the West Bank, where we enjoyed a traditionally cooked meal in a family home. We even got henna tattoos from the local women.
This private tour of the Philae Temple, Aswan High Dam, and unfinished Obelisk showcases three of Aswan’s most popular sites.
You will get an up-close look at the dam that divides the Nile from Lake Nasser, marvel at the sheer size of the unfinished Obelisk and revel in the natural beauty of Philae Temple’s island home.
6. Abu Simbel
Outside of Aswan, people are usually drawn to the area for the opportunity to visit the amazing ancient site of Abu Simbel.
While it is possible to travel to Abu Simbel and stay in the small village near the lake, most people stay in the more comfortable Aswan and take the very early morning tour to the famous temple.
Located nearly on the border of Egypt and Sudan are a couple of temples built by the famous Egyptian, Pharaoh Ramses II. It is hands down the most impressive temple structure and at the top of the places to visit in Egypt.
Despite the cost, early morning departure and effort to visit, it is a place that is totally worth your time. Do not miss it.
A recommended amount of time in Hurghada: 2 days depending on your interests and how much time you have on your trip
While the main reason to visit Egypt revolves around temple touring and ancient history, one must not forget that it shares a coast with the stunningly beautiful Red Sea.
With the desert running into the turquoise water, it would be a shame to take a day or two for some water fun and maybe some scuba diving!
I won’t lie to you, the best place to experience the Red Sea in Egypt is from Dahab or Sharm el Sheik, however, if you don’t want to travel through the Sinai Peninsula and are just looking for an easy option then Hurghada is your answer.
Officially a resort town, you won’t find any temples here. Instead, the strip is filled with restaurants, bars, shops, and fancy hotels. You’ll even find a Hard Rock Cafe in Hurghada, but don’t let this deter you.
The direct access to the Red Sea makes the visit worth your time, especially if you like to scuba dive.
Many people will plan a trip to Egypt using this beach resort town as a base, which works out great due to an abundance of day trips on offer to the rest of Egypt. There are plenty of things to do in Hurghada.
8. Sharm el Sheik
A recommended amount of time in Sharm el Sheik: 5-7 days depending on your interests and how much time you have on your trip
Even more commercial and the official resort town of Egypt is Sharm el Sheik. Affectionately known by repeat visitors as ‘Sharm’, the only difference between this beachside resort and Cancun, Mexico is the continent.
Upscale, all-inclusive resorts are the name of the game and water sports are the tempo. People flock to the shores of Sharm el Sheik for world-class diving opportunities in the Red Sea.
It’s a shame but people will visit the resort town and never leave to explore the rest of Egypt. Go for the diving and the sunshine, but don’t miss out on Egypt’s history.
Revel in the sparkling waters and sunshine of the Red Sea on this full-day Tiran Island cruise and snorkeling trip from Sharm el Sheikh.
Aboard a comfortable boat, cruise to Tiran, an island in the southern Gulf of Aqaba famous for its beautiful corals, lagoons and marine life.
A recommended amount of time in Dahab: 3-7 days depending on your interests and how much time you have on your trip
When Sharm el Sheik exploded into a giant beach resort, laid-back travelers left in search of quieter, less commercial areas. This is how Dahab came to be the hippy paradise it is today.
Arguably, it even has better diving on offer including the famous Blue Hole and Bells dive sites within a few minute’s drive.
The town is very laid back with a backpacker vibe. There’s a main street with restaurants and bars, a market, several dive shops, and small boutique hotels.
However, it is now possible to have an all-inclusive experience in a handful of properties that have moved into the area.
After spending 17 weeks Overlanding through Africa and traveling through Egypt for a month, we holed up in Dahab for 2 weeks and found the small town to be exactly the perfect blend of a remote location and access to modern amenities.
It also has one of the most picturesque coastlines along the Red Sea.
So Many Amazing Places to Visit in Egypt
Egypt is a country that can be visited throughout the year, regardless of the season. Chances are high that you will always see other tourists checking out the attractions, no matter the period of your visit.
Above all, Egypt will amaze you and leave you contemplating the greatness that once resided within its borders. You will be mesmerized by the rich history and presence of all the places to visit in Egypt.
Our visit to Egypt not only exceeded our expectations but completely blew our minds. The structures are something you can only really appreciate in person, so nothing should hold you back from visiting.
Remember to keep an open mind and be prepared for the unexpected, you never know what you might find. After all, Egypt is full of treasures that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.
Safety in Egypt
A lot of people wonder if Egypt is a safe place to visit, given its location in North Africa, its consideration as part of the Middle East and the history of political conflict.
While this may at first be concerning, we are happy to report that Egypt continues to be a safe place for visitors who want to explore relics of the ancient world.
A huge bonus about tourism in Egypt right now, compared to before 2011, is that the country is no longer a crowded place to visit.
You can literally enjoy places like Abu Simbel and the temples of Edfu in the company of a handful of other people. There is no better time to explore the best places to visit in Egypt.
We recommend that you check out a tour that hits all the highlights with a certified Egyptologist guide: 10 Day Egypt Experience with 5* Nile River Cruise
As with all travels, it is important to make sure your investment is covered in the case of unforeseen circumstances, including lost luggage and change of plans. Policies for non-US travelers can be evaluated with companies like iSelect – Travel Insurance.
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Cairo to Cairo
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Trip Type: Small Group
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