With over 5,000 years of recorded history, Egypt offers travellers an unparalleled look into the past. As one of the oldest civilizations in Africa and the world, Egypt’s iconic pyramids, temples, and ancient Egyptian sites give you a glimpse into its storied history. Beyond its archaeological wonders, Egypt also provides a vibrant modern culture, delicious cuisine, stunning natural scenery, and warm hospitality that make it a top destination for any traveller. The people are friendly, the traffic can be chaos and the experience incredible!
When to Go
The best time to visit Egypt is during its cooler winter months from October to March. During this time, temperatures are milder, averaging around 70-75°F (21-24°C) along the Mediterranean coast and 60-70°F (16-21°C) in Cairo. Summers can be very hot, especially in Upper Egypt where temperatures frequently exceed 100°F (38°C). Winter is peak tourist season for Egypt when hotels fill up fast, so be sure to book accommodations well in advance.
If you want to catch Egypt’s famous beaches before the summer crowds, late spring (April and May) is a good shoulder season. While it’s warming up, the ocean breeze keeps things comfortable. This is also a great time to travel on a budget as prices are lower and crowds thinner. Just be aware temperatures will start climbing into the 90s.
Where to Go
Cairo – Egypt’s sprawling capital should be your first stop to see iconic sites like the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian Museum. Cairo offers an exhilarating mix of ancient wonders alongside modern conveniences.
Luxor – This city on the east bank of the Nile was once ancient Egypt’s capital and contains spectacular temples like Karnak and Luxor, along with the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens burial sites. Luxor provides an open-air museum into ancient Egyptian history.
Aswan – Called “the jewel of Egypt”, Aswan has an easy-going pace and is a great base for trips to the temples at Abu Simbel, Philae Island, and cruises along the Nile. Relax on a felucca sailboat or visit the towering Aswan Dam.
Alexandria – Founded by Alexander the Great, this Mediterranean city was once the ancient world’s intellectual capital. Today you can stroll along the scenic corniche waterfront or visit ancient sites like the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa and Pompey’s Pillar.
Red Sea Resorts – The crystal clear waters and bright coral reefs around resort towns like Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, and Hurghada offer amazing relaxation and world-class scuba diving. Snorkel or swim with dolphins in this Red Sea paradise.
Siwa Oasis – Far off Egypt’s tourist trail in the Sahara, Siwa feels like another world with natural springs, olive groves, and ancient ruins. Explore by bike or 4×4 and camp under the stars in the surrounding desert.
Cruising the Nile – A multi-day cruise along the Nile is one of the best ways to see Egypt’s pharaonic highlights while only unpacking once. Relax on deck as temples and villages pass by or get off to explore sites along the way.
What to See and Do
Climb inside the Great Pyramid of Giza and explore the Sphinx, the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World. Gaze up in awe at their immense size and age.
Wander through the Egyptian Museum’s countless artifacts and King Tut’s famous golden mask and sarcophagus in Cairo. See well-preserved mummies and everyday objects that reveal details of ancient life.
Marvel at the massive temple complex of Karnak, built over 2,000 years with soaring columns and hieroglyph covered obelisks. Neighbouring Luxor Temple is beautifully illuminated at night.
Sail on a felucca, Egypt’s traditional wooden sailing boat, around Elephantine Island near Aswan while watching village life along the shores.
Take an early morning hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings for sweeping views of this desert landscape and west bank of the Nile.
Snorkel or scuba dive around coral reefs in the Red Sea to explore underwater worlds filled with colourful fish, sea turtles, and dolphins.
Ride a camel across wind swept desert sands surrounding the pyramids or through Siwa’s sprawling dunes. Many tours offer sunrise or sunset camel rides for an unforgettable experience.
Visit ancient Coptic churches and monasteries around Egypt to learn about the country’s early Christian history and see rich religious art.
Egyptian Food and Drink
Fuul and taamiya – These national dishes are fava beans cooked with garlic, lemon, and spices and then mashed. Often served for breakfast with eggs. Taamiya are falafel made from fuul.
Koshari – A mix of pasta, rice, and lentils topped with tomato sauce, garlic vinegar, and crispy fried onions. Often called Egypt’s national dish.
Mahshi – Peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and other vegetables stuffed with rice or meat mixtures.
Mulukhiyah – Stewed dark green leafy vegetable similar to spinach that’s made into soup or cooked with chicken.
Shakshouka – Eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. Usually served for breakfast or brunch.
Bameya – Fried fava bean balls similar to falafel that are served with tomato sauce.
Meshabek – Egyptian pancake similar to crumpets, often served for breakfast.
Hibiscus, sobya – Dark red refreshing drink made from steeping dried hibiscus flowers. Often served hot in the winter or chilled as summertime sobya.
Shai (tea) – Black tea brewed strong, often with fresh mint.
Ahwa (coffee) – Dark roast coffee, usually sweetened with sugar.
Egypt’s location on the Mediterranean provides access to fresh seafood like grilled fish, prawns, crab, calamari, and more.
With flavors taking influence from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean, Egyptian food has something for all tastes. Be adventurous and try classic dishes for an authentic taste of the country.
The best way to get around Egypt is flying between cities then taking taxis or tours in private cars to see sites. Buses are very cheap but often overcrowded, while the infrastructure has been upgraded in recent years – it is still nothing compared to what you might be used to.
For female travellers, modest, loose fitting clothing that covers shoulders and knees is recommended, especially when visiting mosques.
Learn some basic Arabic phrases. English is common in tourist areas but fewer people speak it in rural regions.
Baksheesh (small tip) is still expected for many services. Carry small bills for baksheesh when visiting sites or taking taxis.
USD is the currency of choice locally, the EGP was tied to the USD up until mid-2023 and tends to fluctuate rapidly. Hence lots of small change in USD will be great as well as some local EGP.
Be prepared to bargain for souvenirs and even taxi rides. Start at less than half the quoted price.
Avoid drinking tap water in Egypt. Only drink sealed bottled water which is readily available.
Ramadan: Be aware that during the Islamic holy month, some restaurants may be closed during the day. It’s also respectful for tourists to refrain from eating and drinking in public. Whenever you are thinking of travelling to a Muslim country – do Google to check when this is on – as it changes every year.
Timing sightseeing for early morning or late afternoon will avoid the intense midday heat in summer.
With stunning scenery along the Nile, magnificent ancient sites, delicious cuisine, and hospitable people, Egypt engages all your senses. Let the timeless wonders of this African crossroads captivate you and make memories to last a lifetime.