If there is one place to put on your bucket list of travels, it’s Egypt. Egypt holds a special place in our hearts as it was the destination that kicked off The Planet D in 2008 when we began our cycling journey from Cairo to Cape Town. We have been traveling ever since – well at least until the pandemic hit.
Now that travel is starting to open up again we feel that same sense of excitement and anticipation we had in 2008 before our first big journey. So to help you plan your bucket list, we’ve round up the best things to do in Egypt. Are you ready to get some travel inspiration?
Best Things to do in Egypt
1. Marvel at the Pyramids of Giza
Built between 2550 to 2490 BC by three Pharaohs, the Pyramids of Giza is the only surviving structure of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Just in front of the pyramids is the Sphinx, a cat-like figure carved from a stone. The Pyramids of Giza is a must-see in Cairo, Egypt, and you can go inside the Great Pyramid to go on a camel ride or visit the Solar Boat Museum. Don’t forget to take a photo of this iconic attraction in Egypt. Read more at: 10 Amazing Temples of Egypt – That We’ve Seen
We have visited the pyramids three times and each visit is just as exciting as the first. You can now book a guided camel and quad tour of the desert and pyramids.
2. Explore Cairo
Being the capital of Egypt, Cairo is worth exploring. The city houses one of the biggest collections of historic architecture in the world. Take a walk through historic Cairo where you’ll find several fortifications, tombs and mosques. In fact, Cairo is the world’s oldest Islamic city. When you’re in Cairo, don’t forget to visit the synagogue and the first mosque ever built. Some attractions you need to see include the Church of St. Sergius and the Mosque of Amr Ibn al-As. And make sure to do some shopping at the Kahn El Khalili Bazaar. Check out Slow Travel Guide to Cairo, Egypt – Insider Tips to Discovering City
3. Cruise the Nile River
Cruising the Nile lets you discover majestic temples, ancient ruins and tombs and monuments. Some cruises you can take are the Lake Nasser Cruises, Long Nile Cruises, Nile Steamer Cruises, or the Luxor Nile Cruises. You’ll get to see the Valley of the Kings see Luxor Temple, This is one of Egypt’s top experiences and you can even sail on smaller wooden boats known as Felucca’s for a short ride on the Nile. See more of Egypt at Pictures of Egypt – 22 Beautiful Places in Ancient Egypt
We have sailed, cycled and taken a small felucca along the Nile, but we recommend taking a Nile River Cruise to Aswan. Step back in time and feel like the Pharoahs sailing the river making your way from Luxor to Aswan with visits to the temples of Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, Abu Simbel and take a horse carriage ride to visit Temples of Edfu Horus.
4. Abu Simbel
Located in Aswan, Abu Simble was once located on the Nile River, but in the 1960s when the Aswan Dam was being built, the huge undertaking of moving this historic structure began. The four enormous statues now stand guard over Lake Nassar. Near the border of Sudan. Dating back to around 1265 BC, these 20 metre statues representing Ramesses II are not to be missed. We saw Abu Simbel en route to the Sudan but you can visit it on day trips from Aswan and Cairo.
5. Get to Know Egypt’s History at an Egyptian Museum
The Egyptian Museum houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts. Located in Cairo, it will typically take you about two hours to see the entire museum. The must-see attractions inside the museum include the Tutankhamun and the Royal Mummies. If you want to get to know Egypt more, one of the best places to go is the museum, where you’ll find fascinating ancient art and gems.
6. See the Tombs of the Nobles
Do you want to know how Egyptians go about their daily lives? We suggest that you visit this tomb, a burial site for the most powerful people in Egypt. You’ll find over 400 tombs in the Tombs of the Nobles. Each painting you see in these places shows how Egyptians live their lives. It’s not only an interesting attraction, but it’s also very educational. Some of the most beautiful painted tombs are that of Khonson and the Tomb of Mennan. You’ll also see a tomb of a priest from the 18th dynasty that the Egyptians preserved, and it’s a must-see.
7. Visit the Temple Ramesseum
Located in Luxor, Egypt, just about a mile from the Temple of Deir el Bahri is the mortuary built by Ramses II. It took about 20 years to built this mortuary, one of the largest in Egypt. Although the temple isn’t really fully preserved, it’s still one of the places that you need to see in Egypt. You’ll find the 57-foot statue of Ramses (not the full statue) at the temple that was for the deceased king and the god Amon.
8. Step Inside the Pyramids in Dahshur
Do you know where the Egyptians perfected their pyramid-building skills? This is the place to go. To have an even better experience, explore the interior of the pyramids and descend steep tunnels and see the ancient chambers of the Red Pyramid. It’s one of the most interesting things to do in Egypt, and it won’t disappoint. In fact, you may even enjoy it here more than at the Pyramids of Giza.
The Bent Pyramid is believed to be the first attempt at building a smooth-sided pyramid and it didn’t quite work out as planned. But by the time they completed the Red Pyramid, they had perfected their technique. The Pyramids of Dahshur are located 40 km outside of Cairo so the best way to get to them is with a private driver or on a tour.
9. Visit Sharm El-Sheikh
If you want to take a break from seeing mummies or visiting tombs and temples, then visit one of Egypt’s beach resort towns. The beach is a great place to relax and think about what you’ve learned about the country.
Since you’re at the beach, why not go scuba diving or visit the Ras Mohammed National Park? This is a must-visit if you’re into scuba diving. It’s one of the famous diving sites in the world. If you want to try windsurfing, you can go to Dahab at the Sinai Peninsula.
10. Scuba Diving
Egypt has amazing diving and snorkeling around the country. Most of the diving in Egypt focuses around dive sites on the Red Sea but for something unique, diving off the Coast of Alexandria let’s you explore its ancient history. The remains of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Cleopatra’s palace around the sunken island of Antirhodos and remnants of a plane crash from WWII.
11. Explore the Valley of the Kings
By far, this is one of the best things to do in Egypt as it’s the most popular archaeological site in the world. You’ll get to explore the royal burial ground with its elaborate tombs. There are over 60 tombs, but not all of them are accessible to the public. This 3 day tour takes you from the Valley of the Kings to the Nile including Hatshepsut Temple Edfu and Kom Ombo temples, Karnak Temple and Abu Simbel.
12. Visit the Valley of the Queens
Of course, you also need to see the queens’ valley, which is the burial site of the wives of the most famous people in Egypt. Compared to the Valley of the Kings, this place isn’t as grand or elaborate. However, it’s still worth a visit.
This is where you’ll see the tomb of the famous Queen Nefertari. You may have heard of her from the movie The Mummy. Her tomb, compared to the other wives of the pharaohs, looks vibrant, a must-see indeed.
13. Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Queen Hatshepsut was the female ruler of Egypt for 27 years. Her grand mortuary was built into the cliffs at Deir el-Bahri on the west Bank of Luxor. Built between 1490-1460BC it is one of the most impressive temples in Egypt.
14. Hike Mount Sinai
According to the Old Testament, Mount Sinai is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. The place is a sacred site in Egypt, and it’s ideal for those who want to see this famous pilgrimage site. It is actually one of the four sacred mountains of the Middle East.
If you love to hike, then this is definitely a must-do in Egypt. The hike is about 4 miles long, and it usually starts at dawn, and you’ll reach the summit by sunrise. The hike starts at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries and A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
15. St. Catherines Monastery
Located at the foot of Mount Sinai, St. Catherines Monastery is another important attraction in Egypt. It was named after Catherine of Alexandria and is the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery. This sacred site is believed to be where God spoke to Moses as a burning bush.
16. Understand How Mummification Works
Egypt is famous for its mummies. In fact, several movies were made about the mummies in Egypt. And you can’t visit the country without visiting the Mummification Museum in Luxor. Make this an educational tour for you — you’ll understand the process of preserving their bodies which includes embalming, not just the humans but also the animals.
You’ll get to see the tools and equipment used for preserving the mummies. There are elaborate coffins as well as statues of deities and mummified remains.
17. Stay at Hurghada and Marsa Alam
Thinking of where to stay in Egypt? Why not stay at the resort towns, with their beachfront hotels. Several activities await at the resort towns of Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Here you’ll be able to go snorkeling, island hopping, scuba diving, and even swimming with the dolphins. At Marsa Alam, you’ll also get to see turtles and go kitesurfing.
18. Admire the Karnak Temple
Next to Angkor Wat, Karnak Temple is the second largest temple in the world. It’s definitely a must-see in Egypt. This was built over 2000 years ago and held about 10 cathedrals. You’ll find the temples of Khons and Amun in the Karnak Temple. Don’t also forget to see the Sacred Lake and the Avenue of Sphinxes.
The Karnak Open Air Museum is another site you need to visit and northwest of the Karnak Temple. It contains the reconstructions of dismantled and buried structures hidden in the Karnak Complex.
19. See the White Desert
You can take a rest from visiting temples and tombs and instead visit a national park. Located west of Egypt is this desert that houses a uniquely shaped limestone rock formation. It may be difficult to get here, so we recommend that you book a guided tour going to the desert. See our full visit here at The Lunar Landscape of Egypt’s White Desert
Having a true Bedouin experience, we camped out under the stars surrounded by standing stones. You can book an overnight to to the desert from Cairo.
20. Visit Alexandria
Alexandria is an ancient city located on the Mediterranean Sea, where East meets West. Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria housed one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Alexandria Lighthouse. While visiting Alexandria, make sure to visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a revival of the famous ancient Alexandria library. It is a major landmark of the city. Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Alexandria, Egypt
Fun facts about Egypt
Egypt is an interesting country, and it has a lot to offer both locals and tourists alike. If you’re planning to visit Egypt, we have compiled a list of interesting facts about Egypt to become acquainted with the country.
1. Do you know that Egypt is also home to seven of the UNESCO World Heritage sites? That’s right, Egypt has a lot to offer! The 7 sites are Abu Mena, Historic Cairo, Abu Simbel, Saint Catherine, Wadi Al-Hitan and Memphis.
2. You probably don’t know this, but the calendar divided into 12 months was invented in Egypt.
3. Most of their traditions were from the pharaohs and also from their religion Islam.
4. About 95 percent of the population in the country resides along the Nile River, the longest river on the globe.
5. One of the biggest celebrations in Egypt is the Id al Fitr, and they like to bake cookies and host parties.
6. Another interesting fact about Egypt is that Cleopatra, a famous figure in Egypt, is actually Greek, not Egyptian.
7. Egypt is home to one of the world’s largest dams. The Aswan High Dam is the world’s largest embankment dam, spanning across The Nile separating Egypt from the Sudan and creating Lake Nassar.
8. Do you know that the hieroglyphs, an ancient language once used by the Egyptians, has about 700 symbols? Can you imagine learning this language? Why not give it a try when you go?
When Are You Visiting Egypt?
Egypt is a historic place. Whether you’re a first-time traveler or someone who has been to Egypt several times, there is still a lot to discover in the country. When are you going on a vacation to Egypt? Let us know!