1. The Pyramids of Giza
Many travellers think of the Pyramids of Giza as the epitome of Egypt and its culture, and they’re right to do so. The Pyramids of Giza are rightfully one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The complexity and sophistication of the Pyramids of Giza have left archaeologists shocked and awed. It took over 100,000 workers and a highly skilled team of masons, surveyors, mathematicians, and stonecutters to make them. .Set with a maze of confusing passages to protect the great Pharaohs and their treasures, these pyramids make for a wondrous sight for everyone.
The capital of Egypt is the perfect introduction to the country’s heritage with districts showcasing its layered rich history; for instance there is a Coptic district as well as an Islamic/Medieval district for you to explore featuring notable sites such as the Al-Azhar Mosque, the ancient medieval gate of Bab Zuweila. And of course, Cairo houses The Egyptian Museum that has over 120,000 antique items.
Besides its history, Cairo is famous for shopping as well. The Khan-el-Khalili bazaar is a labyrinth shopping souk in which you can buy papyrus paintings and small cat statues made by artisan families.
Sitting on Egypt’s north coast, alongside the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea is Alexandria, the city founded by the legendary Alexander the Great. It’s notable for its blend of ancient glory and elements of modernity. Travellers can enjoy colourful pubs and restaurants along the beach, as well as visit the ruins of Pharos, the lighthouse that was considered one of the wonders of the ancient world. To learn more about the city’s past, a quick trip to the Alexandria National Museum should be included in your itinerary.
4. Aswan & Temple of Philae
Set on the winding curves of the mystic Nile, Aswan is touted as the most tranquil town of Egypt. In between kicking back and watching river life go by, travellers can head out to explore the nearby Elephantine and Kitchener Islands, and the Temple of Philae known as the most beautiful of Egyptian temples. The Temple of Isis is the largest monument on the island with walls sculpted with the tales of Ptolemic kings and Roman emperors.
Further inland you will find little villages with Pharaonic and Roman ruins, and colorful spice markets. And if you are particularly feeling adventurous, you can ride a camel to the St. Simeon desert monastery
The majority of the hipster restaurants and arty boutiques in Cairo are located within the district of Zamalek. You’ll also find lavish Belle Epoque mansions (converted to various embassies now) and wide boulevards lined with Jacaranda trees here; the entire region takes you down the mid-19th century lane.
There’s a clutch of art galleries to explore that include The Palace of Arts, one of the most active art galleries in Egypt that are housed in the Nile Grand Hall. With scheduled rotating exhibitions, there is something new to explore every week. For cherishing 20th-century Egyptian art, you can head to the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art that houses famous works by Mahmoud Mukhtar and Mahmoud Said.
On the southern side of Zamalek stands the 187-meter-high Cairo Tower. Built in 1961, the Cairo Tower’s observation deck lets you take in a unique view of the city.
6. Karnak & Luxor Temples
The temples of Luxor and Karnak are only second to the Great Pyramids of Giza when it comes to immensity and significance. Karnak is one of the most magnificent and the largest temple complexes in the world. One pharaoh after another added to the structure for hundreds of years to finally complete the four sections of the temple. Only the Amun-Re precinct of the Karnak temple, that consists of several intricate temples, columns and a unique obelisk, is open to the public. Built around 1400 BC, the temples in Luxor contain numerous sandstone structures ranging from splendid murals to statues of gods and pharaohs.
7. Valley of the Kings
Located near Luxor, the Valley of the Kings is where ancient Egyptian royalty were buried including the tombs of King Tutankhamun, Ramses II, Amenhotep II and Seti I. To date over 60 lavish and opulent tombs have been excavated in the valley. Nearby, is Biban al-Harim, the Valley of the Queens, which has around 75 tombs out of which 4 are open. And in the area, you’ll also find Deir al- Bahri which is the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, rising out of the desert as a series of terraces. It is one of Egypt’s most photographed monuments.
Hurghada, located by the Red Sea, is one of the most-visited sites in Egypt. It consists of three main centers and a number of self-contained tourist villages; Ed-Dahar which lies in the north houses more than half of the local population and has some of the most expensive hotels and restaurants in Hurghada; to the south is Sigala and further down south you’ll reach New Hurghada which is an upbeat area filled with hotels and markets.
Travellers can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, yachting, sailboarding, and deep-sea fishing. And the city is known for its lively nightlife as well. If you venture just outside the city, you can reach a famous windsurfing location, the ancient Roman quarry called Mons Porphyritis and Port Safarga.
9. El Alamein
El Alamein is a pilgrimage spot for people who want to pay their respects to soldiers who lost their lives at this site where one of the most brutal battles during the Second World War was fought. Over 80,000 soldiers lost their lives here, as the canal was a strategic location, fought over by the Nazis and the Allies.
10. Abu Simbel
Built in the honor of the mighty King Ramses II, Abu Simbel is also known as the Great Sun Temple of King Ramses II. Interiors decorated sumptuously with wall paintings, on the outside four colossal statues of the Pharaoh himself stand guard at the entrance and on the sides.
Famous for its megalithic proportions, Abu Simbel is also an engineering marvel as Ramses II was able to orient the temple in such a way that the rays from the sun align perfectly to illuminate the temple’s inner sanctum of the temple twice a year: 21st February (date of his ascension to the throne) and 21st October (his birth date). (Nothing vain about that at all). This is known today as the Sun Festival of King Ramses. If you visit the temple before sunrise, you can see shafts of sunlight illuminating the statues of Ramses, Re-Herakhte, and Amun-Re inside the temple, while the statue of Ptah-the god of darkness, remains in the shadows.
With its history and heritage, Egypt remains the go-to destination for an adventure back in time. No matter where you go in Egypt, a treasure trove of discovery and delight awaits you in this timeless holiday destination.