Egypt is an ancient land situated at the crossroad between Africa and the Middle East. It is home to some of the oldest monuments in the world. From the breathtaking sights of the pyramids to the clear blue waters of the Red Sea, this wonderful, historical land is filled with sights and experiences that will fill the soul. Read on to learn about 10 incredible places that are a must-visit in Egypt.
No visit to Egypt would be complete without a trip to the Pyramids of Giza. The pyramids are otherworldly to behold even from afar. Rising up against the dusty horizon, they look formidable and breathtaking all at once. It really is a point of reflection and give a sense of awe at what human beings are capable of achieving.
The best time of year to visit Giza is Spring and Fall when the weather is not too suffocating for a stroll along this ancient site. There are options to ride donkeys and camels whilst taking in the sights, or you can simply tour along on foot to experience some of what the ancients created.
Cairo is a sprawling city of over 20 million residents, and the population just keeps on growing. The hustle and bustle of the city is amazing to experience. There are countless historical sites to visit within the city, including the ancient Al-Azhar University and the Al-Hussein mosque.
It is also somewhere you can experience the workings of a traditional souk (market). Khan el-Khalili is a vast souk where you can buy exquisite scarves, sparkling trinkets and local delicacies to enjoy on your holiday or take back home. Walking through the narrow and winding alleyways you will be spellbound by the scent of aromatic spices and otherworldly scents. If you love to take snaps on your travels, then Khan el-Khalili is the perfect place for charming and nostalgic photographs. Be sure to haggle for your purchases, since this is what locals expect.
Cairo is the perfect place to try some local cuisine. The wafts of freshly-made crispy falafels are every bit as enticing as they look. Kushari is also a local street food which is comforting and tummy-filling. Made with pasta, rice and lentils and topped with a hot sauce and crispy fried onions, it is a dream to dig into for any meal of the day.
Dubbed the second capital of Egypt, Alexandria is a long and narrow city of approximately 30km, situated along the northern coast. The mediterranean sea clothes the city in sea air, and there are plenty of fish restaurants along the coast that you can enjoy. There are remnants of Alexandria’s colonial past in the architecture of the city, and some old patisseries also remain dotted throughout the city. Spend an afternoon strolling through the streets and enjoy a coffee and pastry at a local cafe.
A must visit place is Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It was one of the largest libraries of the ancient world, and because of it, Alexandria became known as a place of learning. There are many old manuscripts on display and is a great homage to the knowledge of the ancients. In addition, there is also a Planetarium on site which may provide an entertaining afternoon for little ones in tow.
Another must-visit place in Alexandria is the Citadel of Qaitbay. Erected on the site of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, it is visited by locals and tourists alike. You can spend a morning climbing the striking structure and enjoy breathtaking views of the crystal blue coastline from the top.
4. Siwa Oasis
Siwa Oasis is a peaceful little haven situated in the western deserts of Egypt. If you’re looking for an experience away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, then Siwa Oasis is the place for you. It has a unique fusion of Berber and Arab cultures, which can be seen in the finely chiselled features of the people, as well as heard in the local dialect.
Here you can spend a few days in torch lit, traditional mud accommodation and bask under a blanket of stars every night. It is truly a great escape from noise and civilisation and the perfect place to hire a bike. By day, the Shali ruins are startling to behold and captivating to explore. A morning of climbing the extraordinary structure can be followed by a wonderful fresh food experience at one of the nearby mud-hut restaurants where fresh tagines and couscous are on offer.
5. Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai is an ancient mountain located in the Sinai peninsula. It is mentioned in several religious scriptures and is a site for pilgrims and tourists alike. Visitors like to climb up in groups in the night with the aid of torches and lanterns, in time to reach the top before sunrise. It is a safe and trodden path, requiring low fitness levels. Watching the dawn on the mountain edge while picnicking on breakfast will probably be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
6. Sharm el-Sheikh
For snorkelers and sunbathers, Sharm el-Sheikh is the perfect place for some beach time. The wonderfully diverse and spectacular colours of the corals and fish attract visitors from far and wide. There are some excellent upmarket hotels and accommodation for a truly relaxing experience.
The south of Egypt, known as the sa’eed in Arabic, is undeniably different in the culture, dialect and appearance of the people and landscape, and it is absolutely worth visiting. It is in this region that Luxor is located in the east bank of the river Nile. It is the site of ancient Thebes, which was essentially the capital during the 5 centuries of the pharaonic era. In addition to ancient monuments on the east bank, the royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens are also on the west bank. The whole city and area is a real treat for anyone who appreciates history and culture. Luxor essentially offers an experience like nothing else on this planet.
Located on the Red Sea coast, Hurghada is a popular destination with tourists who want to explore and enjoy the Red Sea without venturing into the Sinai peninsula. It has sparkling and tranquil waters and beautiful soft sand beaches. The uniquely beautiful undersea world filled with a rainbow of corals makes it a great place for snorkelling. You can spend a good number of days here sunbathing, snorkelling and swimming in the beautiful sea. For some daytime adventures, the Hurghada Grand Aquarium is fascinating to visit, and the local town centre also has a variety of shops and markets for exploration.
Aswan is another captivating city that lies on the banks of the Nile. It has ample adventures to discover. Such as spectacular boat rides to Kitchener Island, or heading to the breathtaking temples of Abu Simbel (around 3 hours drive). Aswan is also a great place to appreciate the river Nile, away from the polluted waters further north towards Cairo.
10. Marsa Alam
For another option to explore and appreciate the Red Sea, Marsa Alam is definitely worth considering. This resort town is well known for its mesmerising corals and beautiful beaches which make it a hotspot for water sports. The U-shaped Abu Dabab Bay also attracts intriguing wildlife such as sea turtles which can be a delight to spot. You can also visit Wadi el-Gemal National Park which brings together the landscapes of the desert, sea reefs and islands to create a beautiful and tranquil environment for you to enjoy.
For a holiday that truly embodies the historical and the modern, as well as the city and the rural, Egypt is a must-visit country. From the quaint and charming cafes on the coast in Alexandria, to the quiet wilderness of the western deserts, Egypt offers incredible experiences that will be unforgettable.
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