10 Things you MUST see or do in Egypt

Egypt is an incredible place full of history, architecture, religion and more. Visitors are draw to Egypt every year to witness one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Pyramids of Giza. See colossal temples, and ancient tombs. And experience some incredible ancient history. 

I had 12 days in Egypt, where I travelled from Cairo in the North to Abu Simbel in the South. I visited many temples, tombs and historic areas in my time in Egypt (it was very fast paced), these are my top 10 favourite places. Each which I highly recommend you visit or add to your Egypt bucket list. 

I visited Egypt on a tour, which I highly recommend you do to. It is a lot easier to get around and everything is planned for you. If you are a solo female traveller like myself, I wouldn’t recommend travelling here alone. 

1. The Great Pyramids of Giza

It wouldn’t be visit to Egypt without visiting the Pyramids of Giza! This is safe to say, the main attraction in anyone’s Egypt itinerary. Id recommends spending at least 3 hours here. We unfortunately didn’t get enough time here and didn’t get enough time to walk around the Pyramids. You will also need to buy a ticket which will cost 200EGP. 

Take time to walk around the pyramids and visit the viewpoint which has all 3 pyramids in a row. You can also opt for a camel ride around the pyramids at an extra cost. 

Make sure to go inside the Great Pyramid. You will need to give yourself about 1 hr to complete this activity as the lines can get quite long. It is very hot inside the Pyramid. If you want to take nice photos around the pyramid’s, do it before you enter. You will come out a sweaty mess. This cost 400 EGP which is about $20 AUD. You will need to buy this on top of your entry ticket. 

Things to note. 

  • Nothing in Egypt is free: if someone offers to take a photo of you, you will need to pay them. My friend and I got tourist trapped and got photos taken at the Sphinx. Which we don’t regret because they are very funny! However, we did have to pay. 
  • You will get haggled to buy things, but this is normal in Egypt. 
  • There is no sun protection, so wear a hat and sunscreen. Also bring water! 
  • Its chaotic here, as it’s the main attraction. If you want to try and avoid people, I would visit very early in the morning. 

2. The Sphinx 

Another must do with your time in Egypt. Visiting the Sphinx is included in your ticket to the Pyramids. I recommend taking about 1 hour to explore here. There is a small pathway which will lead you through some ruins then to the Sphinx, where you can take a good look and get some photos. Again, this is a very busy spot, so expect lots of tourists. 

You can head up to the hill, slightly In front of the Sphinx to get some photos of the pyramids in the background. This is where my friend and I got tourist trapped, I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we do. 

3. Abu Simbel 

As my tour guide said, “You haven’t visited Egypt if you haven’t been to Abu Simbel”. Abu Simbel is located near Aswan, which is very south of the country. It is only recommended you do a tour here, as it is very close to the Sudan border. Most buses have a police escort. This tour cost me 94 USD, which included all transport and entry fees. 

Abu Simbel is one of the most incredible temples I have visited in Egypt. 

You will leave on your tour here at about 4am from your hotel, the drive takes about 4 hrs with one stop. Once you have entered the area, you will have time to explore – possibly about 2 hours. It is flooded with people, like most places in Egypt, but it is an incredible sight. You can explore inside both temples, which do get hot as well. 

TIPif you want to get photos with no one in the background, visit the main temple at around 10-10.30am, I was able to get shots with no one in them. Most of the tours leave by then or travellers have hunted for shade. It is VERY HOT. 

4. Philae Temple 

This temple is located near Aswan and was my favourite temple that I visited. You will take a long boat to the temple, where you will get to explore the area. Its right on the Nile and is very secluded. 

Philae rose to prominence during the Ptolemaic Dynasty as the centre of the goddess Isis. This complex is one of the last remaining places where ancient religion survived after the arrival of Christianity. This is the reason there is defacement of some of the figures of ancient gods. 

The temple is a must-see if you are lover of classical history. Here you can examine the detailed temple walls contains reliefs of the Isis mythology, including Isis brining Osiris back to life, giving birth to Horus and mummifying Osiris after his death. 

The temple of Isis is the main feature on this island, but there are many other smaller temples around which are well worth spending some time exploring. 

5. Sail down the Nile via Felucca 

This was included in my tour which included 2 nights sleeping on a felucca. This was one of my favourite experiences with my time in Egypt. You can choose to do an overnighter or just a day trip, but I do recommend sailing down the Nile! You can also book a cruise if you don’t want to rough it. 

The felucca was very basic, but included breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was lovely just to sail down the Nile, have a few swims and take in the scenery. Keep in mind you sleep on the felucca, which is just some mattresses on the floor, with some blankets and a pillow. Might be an intermate experience with some strangers but would be great with friends. 

6. Dahab 

Dahab is a small seaside town, which has a completely different vibe to the rest of Egypt! If you’ve ever been to the Philippines, it had a very similar vibe to Siargao. 

What’s there to do here? Relax, swim, snorkel, dive, eat – pretty much just unwind from the hustle of other places in Egypt. You can get here via bus, which takes about 10-12hrs or by flying which takes about 1.5hs (Sharm El Sheikh). If you opt to fly, you will need to catch a minivan or taxi to Dahab from the airport, which takes about 1 hour and has 2 security checks. 

Make sure to snorkel or dive at the Blue Hole. This was some of the clearest water I have ever snorkelled in. You can also get your PADI certification here. 

7. Hot Air Balloon over Luxor 

Another bucket list activity ticked off the list! This was an incredible experience, watching the sunrise over the Valley of the Kings, desert, and mountains. This activity cost me $124 USD, which included hotel pickup/drop off, tea or coffee and the hot air balloon ride. 

You will get picked up from your hotel in Luxor around 4am, to start your journey which includes a boat ride over the Nile. The whole Hot Air Balloon ride took about 40mins. This was a beautiful experience which I highly recommend!  

8. Visit the Valley of the Kings 

This is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It is the burial ground for pharaohs from the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. Famous tombs of kings such as Tutankhamun, Ramses II, Tuthmosis III and Seti I can be found here. 

This is believed to be the chosen area as a burial ground to avoid tomb robbing, that was occurring in the Pyramids of Giza and the Nile Delta. By carving these tombs deep in the earth, pharaohs believed their tombs and treasures would be safe. 

Valley of the Kings is without a doubt another must do when in Egypt. It will cost you 265 EGP to have access to three tombs. It will cost extra to visit tombs such as Tutankhamen or any extra tombs. I highly recommend Tutankhamen’s tomb! You are allowed to take photos of the tombs on your phone, but if you use any other device you will need to pay for a photography permit. 

9. Take a sleeper train

Here me out…the sleeper train isn’t for everyone, but I enjoyed my experience! This is one of the cheapest ways to travel between Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan. The train from Cairo to Aswan and vis versa takes about 14hrs and the train from Cairo to Luxor, about 10hrs. 

The sleeper train is very basic, in each cabin a small couch and two beds – one which folds out. A small sink, mirror, air conditioning and lighting. This is the VIP sleeper train btw! 

You will also get dinner and breakfast on the train, with the opportunity to buy snacks at the train station before departure. 

As I said, it isn’t for everyone, but it was a good thing to experience in Egypt, especially if you haven’t taken a sleeper train before! You can read my full review of the sleeper train here. 

10. Karnak Temple

The Karnak temple is a cult temple dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu, located in Luxor. This is the largest religious building ever constructed. The temple was constructed over 2000 years and will take a couple hours to fully explore. 

During the New Kingdom, this temple was the centre of ancient faith, while power was concentrated at Thebes (Luxor). In addition to its religious significance, it also served as a treasury, administrative centre and palace. The height of its importance was during the reigns of pharaohs such as Hatshepsut, Tuthmose III, Seti I and Ramesses II. 

The temple is open from 8am to 4.30pm and costs 80 EGP. To visit the open-air museum, and extra ticket of 35 EGP must be purchased. 

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