Egypt invites you to discover the majestic Nile and its lush delta, its splendid monuments, its bewitching desert, its rich history, and its welcoming people. With its tombs covered in sand, its austere pyramids, and its imposing pharaonic temples, Egypt will awaken your adventurous side. Here are 13 visits not to be missed to discover the country, for a real journey through history.
1. Luxor, open-air museum
Luxor concentrates the most monuments of ancient Egypt in the country. Do not miss to stroll in the temples of Karnak and Luxor on the east bank of the Nile and to climb the tombs of the pharaohs, queens, courtiers, and workers in the mountains of Thebes. From there, watch the sunset over the Nile cruises. Unforgettable moments.
2. The Pyramids of Giza, abodes of the phararons for eternity
The pyramids of Giza are rightly at the top of all tourist guides. Emblematic remains of Egyptian Antiquity, they are breathtaking and their visit will fascinate young and old. To enjoy a panoramic spectacle of the three pyramids and Cairo in the distance, do not hesitate to go a little further on the back of a camel.
3. A cruise on the Nile, to travel along the water
The Nile, which crosses the country from north to south, is Egypt’s nourishing river. It is only by sliding along the water that you can appreciate its importance and beauty. A cruise, especially aboard a dahabiya, is the best way to relax and take your time to travel. But rest assured: even aboard a larger boat, the Nile will reveal its magic and beauty to you.
4. The Mosques of Cairo, far from the bustle of the modern world
Cairo’s medieval mosques are not only places of worship: they are also quiet places to escape the noise of the city. Under their peaceful and shaded arcades, many Cairenes come to chat quietly or take a nap. Some mosques are teeming with theology students others are national monuments, like that of Sultan Hassan. Take off your shoes, take a seat and savor these rare moments of tranquility.
5. Abu Simbel, the temples saved from the waters
Ramses II had Abu Simbel built far south of Aswan, along the border with Sudan, just above the Tropic of Cancer. But these two superb temples are also marvels of modern engineering : they were moved, block by block, in the 1960s to be saved from the flood following the impoundment of the Aswan High Dam. Spend a night aboard a boat on Lake Nasser or at the Nubian Cultural Center and Eskaleh Ecolodge in Abu Simbel to fully enjoy this isolation.
6. The Red Sea and its exceptional dive sites
Egypt’s Red Sea coastline is home to fantastic aquatic life. Whether you are a Sunday diver or a seasoned explorer of the seabed, the coral reefs, colorful fish and wrecks lurking beneath the water are sure to amaze you. And, if you’re not into diving, a mask and snorkel should be enough for your underwater bliss.
7. The Coptic monasteries, sites of the origins of monasticism
Cradles of the Christian monastic tradition, monasteries like those of Saint-Antoine and Saint-Paul still occupy an important place for the Copts today. Explore these places in the heart of desolate mountains to understand the power of faith that once pushed people to abandon the comforts of the city for the wilderness.
8. Aswan, for the Nubian culture and the sweetness of life
Border of the kingdom of ancient Egypt and the southernmost outpost for the Romans, Aswan remains the gateway to Nubia, a region where cultures mingle to create a relaxed atmosphere not to be missed. Here more than elsewhere, the way the Nile winds its way through the rocky massifs, the proximity of the desert, the forgotten funerary monuments make the trip special.
9. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, for its historical riches
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is sprawling. The very large rooms are full of the most fascinating treasures: gold jewels shining with a thousand lights, Tutankhamun’s funeral mask, or even the mummies of the great pharaohs. You will also see all the objects that were to accompany men in their second life: alabaster offering tables, human-sized wooden statues, models of armies, farms, and boats, and even mummified animals.
10. The art of the Old Kingdom, thousand-year-old masterpieces
The walls that line Djeser’s funeral complex are adorned with some of the oldest works of art in the world. And in the first rooms of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the most beautiful works of the Old Kingdom are exhibited . It is imperative to see them to understand the artistic development that followed.
11. Alexandria, city with old-fashioned charm facing the Mediterranean
The second city of the country, inheritance of Alexander the Great and the powerful Cleopatra, is rich in ancient and contemporary history. Don’t miss the Bibliotheca Alexandrina built on the site of the ancient Library of Alexandria . Stroll through the charming markets of the Anfushi district. And, above all, do not miss to savor fish and seafood in a restaurant on the Corniche, by the sea.
12. The souks, real institutions of bargaining
The art of commerce of the Egyptians is fully experienced in the many souks of the country. Start by visiting the oldest ones, like the Khan al-Khalili, which have served as a model for everyone else, including the side markets set up near tourist sites. As you stroll, do not hesitate to buy old objects, pretty Egyptian cottons, gadgets bearing the effigy of Tutankhamun, while sipping hot tea.
13. Abydos, the unique site with unusual buildings
Tourists in a hurry first want to see the Pyramids of Giza, Tutankhamun’s Gold, and the Valley of the Kings. However, you will experience the most beautiful moments of your trip far from the crowds, by visiting less frequented monuments. Abydos, a major place of pilgrimage for the ancient Egyptians, is one such place. North of Luxor, the site is home to sumptuous wall sculptures.