What Should I See in Egypt?

What should I see in Egypt?

North Africa has been among my favorite regions to travel. Algeria, Libya and Tunisia are marvelous. Morocco is on my wish list. Next up is Egypt. For an ancient history buff, Egypt is one of the greatest treasure-houses in the world and it is long past time that I visit.

There is so much to choose from, I would like to hear from readers what stood out the most from their trips. How to even begin to choose among Luxor’s sites other than to try to see them all?

Here’s my trip outline as I hit the road:

  1. St Catherine’s and Mt Sinai
  2. Port Said for the Suez Canal and its faded 20th-century past
  3. The WWII sites of El-Alamein, with side stops at Rosetta, Alexandria and Abu Mena
  4. Luxor
  5. DenderaAbydos – Sohag Red Monastery and White Monastery
  6. Cairo

Luxor and Cairo are my big open items. So much to see, so little time. If you’ve traveled Egpyt, let me know what to do or what not to do.

And in case I can squeeze in any other place, let me know what I have inexcusably skipped. Submissions that include hotels, hotel lounges, airplane seats or airport lounges will be ignored. 🙂

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  • Gene

    tahrir sq?

  • Seb

    I lived there for a few years and visited over a dozen other times. I don’t know how much time you have there, but the additions to the list I have are:

    Dahab & Sharm El Sheikh – Some say Sharm is touristy (it is) but it is a heck of a party too. Dahab is way chill with great food and a more backpacker/hostel vibe.

    You have the N. Coast well covered, so A trip to Marsa Matrouh is not necessary but would be fun. At the very least take some time other than the sites to appreciate the beaches, which are highly underrated.

    Go to a legitimate fish market in Alex or Cairo – The fish is perfectly fresh and there is so much (really good) food you can’t go wrong. “Fish Market” are in both places, I also like Farag in Alex.

    Spend more time than you think in Cairo Museum – since this is your 1st time the amount of stuff there is gaudy – you will walk by many rooms not open to the public just stacked with ancient artifacts.

    The Coptic area in Cairo is interesting, doesn’t take long, and gives a unique view of the culture.

    Hope this helps.

  • Charlie

    Looks like a great itinerary! I have only spent a few hours in Cairo so far (but will be running a 100K there later this year) and my one takeaway – avoid driving in Cairo on a Thursday night! 🙂 Saw more accidents in 2 hours than I have seen in a year.

  • What an exciting journey. We did Cairo over Thanksgiving and I certainly have some tips. You may have read these already but if not, maybe there is some helpful info. The comments provide some insight as well. Safe travels. http://www.frugaltravelguy.com/2014/12/my-top-ten-tips-for-visiting-the-pyramids-of-giza.html

  • Mariana

    WE just spent two weeks in Egypt over the Christmas break.
    We did Cairo, three full days, Luxor, three full days (if you can book a hot air balloon experience it is worth it). Aswan, 1 .5 days and Alexandria, 1.5 days. Of all the places I could have skipped Alexandria. Not that interesting, other than the Library and a quick look around. So one full day in Alexandria is enough in my opinion.
    Cairo deserves three full days. WE did all the pyramids in one day, next day the Museum (which is amazing) and islamic and coptic Cairo. Third day other sites around the city, such as garbage city and the church in the mountain as well as their Bazaar. You would be best hiring a good tour guide. WE went with Cairo Overnight Tours, reasonable price, great tour guide company. Mohamed Baaha is amazing and super responsive. You can find them in trip advisor.
    Luxor you can do in two days. Aswan we did because it’s beautiful. The way the river Nile is in that area is just gorgeous.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    Sunday 1/25 will be Revolution Day. Staying far from the square.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Charlie – was not planning to drive in Cairo. Was looking at options for Sinai and north coast, Egyptian friend of me convinced me to hire a driver, given the flight times, overly ambitious route, and road conditions, that is more prudent.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Christine K – I already had them all bookmarked to re-read on the plane!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Mariana – thanks for the great ideas, several in Cairo are new to me like “church in the mountain” and good to know it is possible to do all the pyramids in one day. Alexandria I do plan to drive by, frankly would not visit if not for wanting to see El Alamein. I was undecided on the Luxor hot air balloon, thanks for the recommendation. I wanted to get to Aswan, with my tight time it just won’t happen.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Seb – thanks for the detailed tips. Timewise will not get to Dahab or Sharm, instead chartering a car from my middle of the night arrival to Cairo to get me to Mt Sinai.

    Was not sure about going to Coptic Cairo, now will go a quick swing through. “Legitimate fish market” sounds great.

    Sun 1/25 is Revolution Day, I plan to avoid the city and be out by the pyramids, any particular tips for the that day to avoid issues?

  • luckywinner

    I travelled for a month in Egypt quite some time ago and the thing that impressed me most was the coral reef in Dahab. Since then, I’ve seen a few reefs and the one in Dahab is still the best. The reef is accesible form the shore and creates an impressive dropoff. The second best sight was overnight camping at White Desert near Bahariyya oasis (which was also cool). Mt Sinai was not bad either but a bit crowded. There are so many ancient ruins that it starts a bit boring after a few but some are quite nice. I liked temple of Karnak and Edfu temple but I found the Valley of the Kings very crowded and quite boring. Cairo is a must and I skipped Alexandria.

  • Dboy99

    Friday in Cairo the traffic is very light. Great day for a city tour.
    At the Pyramids of Giza, I stayed at Pyramid View Inn. It’s a low cost B&B. From my room and from the roof top deck, I had one of the best views of the Pyramids, just 1/4 mile away. I know you said no hotel reviews, but this is low cost, very simple, but a fantastic location! None of the bloggers we know would stay there.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Dboy99 – that is a hotel recommendation I do appreciate. I have been throwing this together and, out of character, book a SPG hotel by the pyramids for a night since it is 2k or 3k. I might switch over to this.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @luckywinner – great to cut through the fluff of the guidebooks and hear your honest take on what is worth skipping. I am hoping for Mt Sinai since a weekday in January and will be going up for sunset instead of sunrise that it will be more quiet.

  • Mike Manna

    Been to the Sinai area twice for a week each time. Loved it! Better brush up on your Russian since there are so many Russian tourists (but maybe their economy will keep them home). Also bring food poisoning meds – I had it for 3 days – not fun. I recommend getting a camel for ride up Sinai (cost be $10 USD a few years ago), but walking down (men should not ride camels downhill). In Luxor, we had a private guide who was cheap and professional – this way we saw more quicker and learned more quicker than with a group. Snorkeling at Sharm el Shiekh is nice too.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Mike Manna – sounds like my recent experience in Phuket.

    My few camel rides have made me more interested in hiking both ways, though if it is a a furnace that day may go for one.

  • Dboy99

    I stayed at Pyramid View Inn for 5 nights. Every night I sat on the roof top deck and watched the tour buses pull up with tourists that signed up for the “Sound and Light” show. It was a trip for them. For me, it was in my front yard. I watched it in English, Arabic and another language every night. Meanwhile, I had pretty good internet and got a lot of work done.

    Yeah, the show is a little cheesy, but you’re sitting there in comfort looking at the Pyramids!