Fine Egypt Travel Blog and Guide for help YOU
1. Ultimate Guide to Visiting Egypt (& Not Just the Pyramids!)
Egypt is a land of dreams for travelers looking for a bustling destination with a vibrant culture. For Europeans, Egypt has been a popular spot (among Turkey and Tunisia) to go for a resort getaway with occasional day trips to Luxor and Cairo. Growing up, I remember seeing many chartered flights to Sharm El Sheik and Hurghada, and everyone and their mother has been to Egypt.
It’s no surprise that Egypt has been the first place I traveled to solo after my high school graduation back in 2007, at the age of eighteen. However, Egypt for Americans has never been a ‘hot spot’, but after my second independent trip to Egypt I can say that it surely should be! Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Egypt.
Ultimate Guide to Visiting Egypt
Safety in Egypt
First things first: is Egypt safe? Absolutely! When I visited Egypt back in 2008 safety wasn’t the biggest concern. Unfortunately, nowadays most of the Middle East is currently in a political or social unrest, but we often forget to see the difference between Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.
Sure, there are some regions which are not safe, but there are also regions where are perfectly fine. Just like in any other country and city. That said, everywhere in Egypt I was told that the only rules for tourists in Egypt are to “enjoy and feel like at home”.
As you may know by now, Egypt is NOT on the travel alert or travel warning list for the U.S Department of State.
Tourist attractions are largely safe and not under any threat. Egyptians are one of the most welcoming people I’ve ever encountered on my travels (among Iranians!) and they love tourists. Not once I felt in any danger anywhere in the country, people constantly had my back when I looked lost or unsure
I was very saddened to read a lot of other blog posts saying that everyone in Egypt wants your money, as it’s absolutely not my experience. I met locals trying to help me on numerous occasions, asking me if I’m all right, feeding me good food. Everyone was nothing but nice to me.
When to Go to Egypt?
Don’t make my mistake during my first visit by going to Egipt in the summer. In summer, temperatures can get up to 45 degrees Celsius in dusty, so Luxor and Aswan are unbearable.
Remember that nights can be freezing so bring a sweater and a pair of warm socks. Trust me, you can thank me later.
The best time to go to Egypt is surely between October and April. The tourist high season is considered from December to February, so if you come slightly out of season you will also enjoy cheaper hotel prices and fewer crowds. Also, make sure to avoid traveling during Ramadan.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel to Egypt?
Not much. Egypt is comparatively cheap if you’re coming from a developed nation. For a bed in a dorm, you’ll usually pay about $4, guesthouse would be about $12 per night and a higher standard shouldn’t be more than $150. If you’re backpacking you could get by for $30 a day without any issues.
The most expensive thing I paid for in Egypt was my hot-air balloon flight ($50).
Always carry a lot of coins and small bills. You will have to “tip” many times a day, for all kinds of reasons. While you don’t HAVE TO do this, it’s customary to for instance give some coins to a bathroom lady who hands you a few sheets of toilet paper. I was completely fine with tipping here and there, especially after visiting some of the poorest neighborhoods of Cairo and Luxor.
2. Egypt Travel Guide
Egypt. The Land of the Pharaohs and one of the world’s greatest civilizations, with its temples, hieroglyphs, mummies and pyramids. It is filled with iconic landmarks and remarkable landscapes. It has a rich history, strong culture and it boasts world class diving, incredible beaches and exciting nightlife. Egypt really does have it all. This Egypt travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Egypt Travel Guide: Fast Facts
Egyptian power voltage is 220 V 50Hz; Plug C & F
The Egyptian currency is the Egyptian pound and is around 7 EGP to 1 USD
Egyptian laws towards alcohol are quite liberal, except for the month of Ramadan when alcohol is strictly forbidden
Egypt has a reasonably modern telephone service including three GSM mobile service providers: Mobinil, Vodafone and Etisalat. It is possible to purchase tourist mobile phone lines for your trip, which usually will cost around 30 EGP.
Random fact: More than 90% of Egypt consists of desert!
Top Packing Tips for Egypt Travel
Egypt has a hot desert climate that is generally dry. The most moderate temperatures can be found near the thin coastal strip in the north and November through March are considered the most comfortable months to travel. Although temperatures can reach up to 40 degree Celsius travelers must remember that Egypt is a rather conservative country and therefore it is wise to pack accordingly.
Avoid packing skirts or shorts – instead invest in a good pair of long pants made from a breathable fabric like linen.
Scarves or a light sweater – short sleeve tops and sleeveless tops are acceptable for women visiting tourist areas, however it is recommended that travelers carry around a scarf or light sweater to cover up when traveling to and from tourist destinations.
Protection from the sun – the sun can get extremely hot in the summer months so make sure to pack sunscreen, a sturdy had and a good pair of sunglasses.
Walking shoes – Egypt is a sightseeing country and travelers do a lot of walking. Make sure you bring a comfortable pair of shoes that you have already broken in and leave the flip flops at home.
Check out our Packing List for more ideas on what to bring with you.
3. 12 Things to Know Before Traveling to Egypt in 2018
At the close of last year, I arrived at Cairo International (CAI) for the second time in my life. Into the dusty sunshine I walked, a six-foot American male on his third passport, to feel again the gentle tug of history toward the main stage. Again I found great treasures of humanity sparkling bare across the Sahara’s shoulders, stretching for the starry heavens—and on a few occasions, in corners I’d not previously known to look for them. To those that feared for my safety in December, I suggest giving Egypt a second look. There are flights leaving tomorrow. Here, in the form of twelve items to note before you go, is a place to start:
1. You need a visa, and you can buy it upon arrival
An Egyptian visa is $25 in American dollars, which are requested in cash over fragile Egyptian pounds. If you don’t have cash, your respite will be the ATM. You buy your visa from your choice among the bank windows cut into the walls of the airport, around the lines building behind immigration agents. Make sure you stick it (one side is adhesive) in your passport before you get to the front of the line (to avoid reprimand and a kick to the back of the line). And to make things easy on yourself, have at least $25 per person in cash with you when you touch down.
2. The dollar goes far in Egypt
The Egyptian pound is what you’ll trade in Egypt. As of April 2018, the U.S. dollar trades at about 18 Egyptian pounds. Here’s the up-to-date rate via XE.com. $1 USD = 17.60 Egyptian pounds (as of April 13, 2018) Egypt is objectively a tremendous value for Americans, Europeans and most westerners right now. A subway ride (pre-hike; see below) will run you about 11 U.S. cents. A room at the Nile Ritz-Carlton, an institution, can be secured for $186/night. Near the Pyramids, I got lunch at a Giza falafel shop called Felfela, where a very good falafel sandwich cost me three Egyptian pounds (17 U.S. cents). That may literally be the cheapest meal I’ve ever paid for. Egyptians, of course, are on the other side of this exchange rate. The bottoming out of the tourism industry is by some coefficient related to their economic woes. On this same coefficient hangs the hope that the return of visitors in numbers to Egypt will accelerate the economy’s return.
3. The traffic in Cairo/Giza is outrageous, but taxis (and Ubers) are cheap Outside of Southeast Asia, Cairo’s roads are the wildest I’ve come across. Transportation around the sprawling capital (population: 28 million) is typically by car for visitors and locals alike, and traffic can pile up in a hurry and stick your tires to the hot asphalt. A thirty-minute trip could take two hours without warning. Just as jarring are the streets when cars are moving, which to my visiting eye recalled the functional lawlessness of boats in a small harbor: near-misses, unexpected reversing, no discernible regard for lanes… Traffic lights were added to the mix just a few years ago. Car horns, when you consider how thoroughly they are laid on, may as well be generating electricity. The city has a metro that is set to expand over the coming year or so, a single ride on which costs just two Egyptian pounds (that’s set to rise this year), but Americans do not use it in numbers. Arrange transfers (the nicer hotels, before and during a stay, are good sources of transfer arrangement) and leave time to get around—and fly between, for example, Cairo and Alexandria. Better yet (sort of): Uber is available in Cairo and Alexandria.
4. The 20 best places to visit in Egypt
A massive list of the best things to do and places to visit in Egypt. Where to go, what to see and when to visit all these ancient tourist attractions.
Are you currently planning a trip? And are you wondering what are the best places to visit in Egypt?
You are probably not alone. Egypt has gigantic monuments as old as 6,000 years and Cairo, with its 22 million inhabitants, certainly has to offer an abundance of unique points of interest and tourist attractions as well (check out my guide to the best tourist attractions in Cairo). But there are very few comprehensive travel guides on the internet.
That’s why I compiled a massive list of the best things to see in Egypt. This is not your standard list of pretty pictures of the pyramids. Instead, I made sure to ask all the local guides, guides who earn their livelihood by showing the great wonders of Egypt to international tourist, about their favorite landmarks in Egypt and ranked the various tourist attractions accordingly.
Before your trip, you should also read my guide on what to wear in Egypt, as it’s not always as simple as you’d think it is!
But let’s dive right in my Egypt travel guide!
1. Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx
No trip to Egypt is complete without visiting the Pyramids of Giza. It truly is and will always remain THE must see in Egypt. While there are over 120 pyramids in the country of the Pharaohs, the ones around the Giza necropolis are the largest, (almost) the oldest and certainly the most perfect ones. There are many camel rides available around the pyramids. Best come with a local guide who can show you around. Read my full guide to the Pyramids of Giza here.
You can even get inside the pyramids, but you will need an extra ticket. The climb inside the Pyramid of Kofu is somewhat claustrophobic, quite steep and it will be extremely hot inside. There isn’t much to see, except an empty coffin, but I still felt it totally worth the 300 EGP as there is some weird and quite massive spiritual weight to be felt in the innermost chamber.
The famous Sphinx, while technically speaking belongs to the same complex, requires you to drive down a little bit into the valley. Naturally, that shouldn’t keep you from visiting this ancient monument. There is even a (somewhat kitschy) sound & light show every evening you may want to check out.
Attention: The street vendors around the Pyramids are incredibly annoying. Do not start a conversation with anyone. Just say “no!” and walk on. Do NOT accept any gifts, do not tell them your name, and don’t tell them where you are from – except you really want to buy something from them. Then haggle severely 🙂
2. Valley of the Kings
There are two reasons we know so much of ancient Egypt. The dry & preserving Egyptian climate and the elaborate burial practices of the Pharaohs. You probably have heard of Tutankhamun and Ramses II, but they certainly weren’t the only Pharaohs from the so-called New Kingdom. They all have something in common though: They were buried in the valley of Kings on the west bank of Luxor.
To see all those reliefs and murals from 4,500 years ago is truly a sight like no others. While all tombs were looted to some degree and some even were never finished, you really shouldn’t miss climbing into the deep shafts and right into history. Certainly one of the best places to visit in Egypt!
Some murals are so clear, with such intense colors it is almost impossible to believe they are that ancient. It really pays off to get a local guide or at least read a bit about the Ancient Egyptian burial practices in advance. The texts and depictions on the walls are quite complex and your visit will be so much more intense if you got a basic understanding what’s going on in all the scenes.
5. 101 Best Places to Visit in Egypt
1. Places to Visit in Cairo
1) Egyptian Antiquities Museum — Famous for its extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities.
2) Sakkara Pyramids — It’s an ancient burial ground in Egypt.
3) Mosque of Mohamed Ali — It is one of the first features to be seen when approaching the city any direction.
4) Nile River — It’s regarded as the longest river in the world.
5) Gezira Island — It’s on the Nile River in central Cairo.
6) Khan-el-Khalili — Famous bazar in Cairo.
7) The Hanging Church — One of the oldest church of Egypt.
8) Museum Of Modern Egyptian Art — It’s famous for Memphis monuments.
9) Statue of Ramesses II — It is 3200 years old figure.
10) Cairo Tower — It’s nice to be up high on Cairo.
11) El- Fishawi Cafe — The most famous and legendary cafe at the heart of Cairo.
12) Qarun Lake — It is the only natural contemporary lake rich in both natural and archaeological resources.
13) Cairo Opera House — It is the main performing arts venue in Egypt.
14) Petrified Forest Protected Area — Famous for acacia tree and pastoral plants.
15) Abdeen Palace — it is a symbol of Egypt’s strength.
16) Al-Rifa’i Mosque — It is the resting place of Khushyar Hanim and her son Isma’il Pasha.
17) The Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel — Find inspiration out of your window with exclusive views from here.
18) Bahariya Oasis — The valley of the Golden Mummies.
19) The Aquarium Grotto Garden — A strange aquarium with stuffed fish.
2.Places to Visit in Giza
20) Great Pyramid of Giza — It is the oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
21) Great Sphinx of Giza — It is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human.
22) Grand Egyptian Museum — It is a planned museum of artifacts of ancient Egypt.
23) Pyramid of Khafre — It is the secong largest and tallest pyramid of ancient egyptian pyramids of Giza.
24) Giza Solar Boat Museum — It is dedicated to display the reconstructed Khufu solar ship.
25) Red and Bent Pyramid — These are the major pyramids located at the Dahshur necropolis.
26) Egypt Papyrus Museum — Famous for the collection of papyrus paintings.
27) Pyramid of Djoser — It was built for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his vizier, Imhotep.
28) Oasis Hotel — It is only minutes away from the great Giza Pyramids & Sphinx.
3. Places to Visit in Sharm El Sheikh
29) Tiran Island — It connects the connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.
30) Ras Muhammad National Park — It is one of the most famous diving sites in the world.
31) King Tutankhamun Museum — Featuring the famous Tutankhamun collection with its beautiful gold death mask.
32) Aqua Blue Water Park — Famous for its large number of water slides.
33) Old market of Sharm — It is the heart of Sharm and offers almost everything you want to buy in Egypt.
34) Dolphina Park — Famous for its dolphin show.
35) Dive the Red Sea — The Red Sea offers amazing snorkelling about everywhere on shallow reefs in crystal clear water with a teeming reef life.
36) Desert Safari in Sharm El Sheikh Desert
37) Terrazzina Beach
38) The Heavenly Cathedral
39) Nubian Island Hotel — It is a seaside resort that offers views of the Red Sea.
6.25 Best Places to Visit in Egypt
When people think of a trip to Egypt, the Giza pyramid complex and the Great Sphinx of Giza probably come to mind, and well they should, but there is much more to explore in this incredible country. These and other ancient monuments in the Nile River Valley make a cruise down the Nile River an excursion at the top of most travelers’ bucket lists. The Valley of the Kings in Luxor, home to Tutankhamun’s tomb, Ramses II’s Abu Simbel Temples in the Aswan Governate, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square and the city’s medieval architecture open the traveler’s eyes to a millennium of Egyptian history and culture. The beaches and diving and snorkeling spots of the Red Sea also yearn to be experienced.
1. Al Badari
Al Badari is situated between Matmar and Qau in Upper Egypt, occupying just over 18 miles of land along the Nile River’s east bank. It’s most well-known for its Predynastic cemeteries with Mostageddan and Dier being the most popular sites. These cemeteries teach visitors about the social history and chronology of the Badarian Period. The 40 settlements and 600 graves that have been unearthed show that the Badarian economy thrived between 5500 BC and 4000 BC, with animal husbandry, fishing, and agriculture playing important roles in their economy. Each site contains a wealth of artifacts which give insights into the Badarians daily lives as well as their burial practices.
Alexandria was a city conceived of by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE after staying overnight in the Re-qdt village, situated between Lake of Marriott and the Mediterranean Sea. While there, he decided a great city should be built and put architect Dinocratis in charge of building it. The city thrived for decades until the Romans conquered the area and built a new city in 30 BC. During their rule, most of it was destroyed due to revolts, civil wars, and natural disasters. The city’s remains are seen through various cemeteries’ from the Ptolemic period to the Roman Period. Additional popular monuments include Pompeii’s Pillar, Quaitbay Citadel, and the Montazah Gardens.
Aswan is the 3rd largest city in Egypt and the largest in Upper Egypt, located at the base of the Nile Valley. It is a popular destination for tourists since it’s a premier stop for cruise ships traveling along the Nile River and Lake Nasser. Its location slightly north of the Tropic of Cancer gives it a hot climate throughout the year, so visitors should wear hats and drink plenty of water. Some of the area’s most outstanding attractions are Abu Simbel, Pharaonic Temples, the Botanical Gardens on Kitchener Island, the Temple of Dakka, and the Tombs of the Nobles.
Bernice is a small coastal town situated along the Red Sea, roughly 7.5 miles south of Marsa Alam. It is known for being very rich in fish, and it served as an important port during the Ptolemy times. Today, the city serves as an important therapeutic center and is considered a geological phenomenon brimming with semi-precious gems. The area is also home to numerous ruins such as an Ancient Ptolematic temple, and excavations still regularly occur here, particularly on Greco-Roman monuments. Visitors to this area are recommended to visit the nearby Marsa Alam, a port and resort town, and El-Quseir, great for camping and watersports.