Best things to do in Egypt

Best things to do in Egypt

One day you climb the highest peak in the desert, the next you walk in the middle of the remains of the world’s oldest civilization or dive into the depths of the Red Sea. Whether Egypt is on your travel radar for history, adventure, beaches or even just the pyramids, when it comes to things to do, you are spoiled for choice.

Here is our guide to Egypt’s very best experiences.

Have breakfast by the pyramids

Why not kick up your visit to the pyramids with some falafel, hot mint tea and a great scenic panoramic view of the ancient wonder? Go to the 9 Pyramids Lounge for influencer-worthy photoops and a hearty Egyptian breakfast with freshly baked bread, feta cheese or a tahini salad.

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See an authentic Tanoura performance in Cairo

Ancient Cairo is also home to the beautifully restored Wekalet el Ghouri Arts Center, which hosts a wide range of cultural events. Here you can see an unforgettable Tanoura show – a swirling dervish performance that unites Egyptian folklore and Sufi spirit songs. This colorful and fascinating one hour experience is a must-see for anyone visiting Cairo.

The show runs every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 19:00, but make sure to show up at. 18.00 to grab your tickets before they are gone.

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Experience Egyptian street food at Cairo’s Kebdet El Prince

Located in the heart of Cairo’s Imbaba district is Kebdet El Prince, an oasis of Egyptian street food with a side of typical Cairo sensory overload. This busy joint is ideal for anyone who wants to experience Egyptian street food.

Start with the basics: molokhia (jute mallow), kebda (liver), and So go ‘ (sausage). More adventurous foodies should try mombar (stuffed sausage), pages (bull testicles) and kaware soup (kofod soup). If you can still breathe, eat dessert next door at El-Malky and top it off with a mint tea from the cafe across the street.

People are sitting at the tables in a coffee shop in an alley filled with items for sale
Khan al-Khalili Bazaar sells everything you could hope for © Emily_M_Wilson / Getty Images

Take a walk through the alleys of ancient Cairo

The ancient streets of ancient Cairo are labyrinths of narrow alleys filled with monuments, mansions, museums and mosques. Start at El Moez Street and enjoy how the rich architectural, religious and cultural history merges with the pulsating noise of daily local life in this bustling neighborhood.

Walk until you reach the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar, where you can shop for everything from soap powder to fancy clothes and trinkets. Then go to Bab Zuweila – one of three remaining gates from the old city of Cairo. Time for your arrival to watch the sun set over the ancient buildings from the towering minarets of Bab Zuweila – one of the best views you will find in the city.

Camp in the Fayoum Desert

Disconnect from the chaos of modern life with desert camping in Fayoum. Experience the dunes on a 4WD safari with a stop at the Wadi el Rayan waterfalls and the crystal blue lakes in the middle of the desert, and top it off with a freshly made Bedouin dinner under the stars.

For an optimal night of clear stargazing without light pollution, time your visit to Wadi el Rayan or Wadi al Hittan (Valley of the Whales) when there is no moon. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring a light jacket if your trip is in the summer; for winter, pack your whole closet – the desert gets cold at night. Fayoum is only two hours south of the capital, so this trip can easily be made as a weekend stay from Cairo.

A solo kite-surfer on a turquoise lagoon surrounded by sand-colored hills
The strong winds of the blue lagoon make it a great place for kitesurfers © PhotoStock-Israel / Getty Images

Go kitesurfing at the Blue Lagoon

Time stands still at the turquoise blue lagoon. Nestled between the shadows of the Sinai Mountains and the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea, the Blue Lagoon has flat water and strong winds, making this cute place from the Red Sea a kitesurfer paradise.

Beginners can book a private kitesurfing course on arrival. If you are not into kitesurfing, Blue Lagoon is a perfect place to do absolutely nothing by lying on the beach and enjoying the ocean and tranquility.

Float in Siwa’s picturesque salt lakes

Imagine this: floating in a perfect pool of crystal blue water in the middle of the desert, surrounded by sparkling towers of sea salt. Siwa’s salt lakes have long been a treasured local place. Float effortlessly in an above-ground pool with the highest water-to-salt ratio, which is not only picturesque, but is said to cleanse sinuses and treat infections.

Siwa Oasis is dotted with hundreds of turquoise salt basins – a stark contrast to the oasis’ palm green and desert yellow colors, all set against the backdrop of stunning sunsets that gave it the title of Sunset Oasis.

Professional tip: Keep a few bottles of clean water with you to wash the salt layers of your body and avoid skin irritation. Or better yet, take a dip in Cleopatra’s spring afterwards.

Snorkel or dive in the Red Sea Sataya Reef

Marsa Alam is a great base for divers wanting to discover the riches of the Red Sea. Horseshoe-shaped Sataya Reef ranks as one of the most beautiful dive sites on the planet with its striking sea life and colorful corals. This wonder of the natural world is also suitable for snorkelers.

A woman visits the Great Temple of Amun in Karnak, Egypt.
Take a Trip to Ancient Egypt on a Temple Jumping Tour of Luxor © SrdjanPav / Getty Images

Temple hop in Luxor

Luxor, the world’s largest open-air museum, is a testament to ancient Egyptian civilization through its vast wealth of temples and monuments.

Begin your temple hopping at the Karnak Temple – the perfect manifestation of Pharaonic ambition. A few kilometers southwest of Karnak is the magnificent Luxor Temple. If you can, visit at night when the temple lights are on. About 40 minutes northwest of Luxor Temple is the Valley of the Kings – a popular tourist destination and includes the tombs of Ramses III, Seti I and Ay.

On the southern part of the Theban hillside and about 7 km (4 mi) from the Valley of the Kings is The Valley of the Queens. An area of ​​75 tombs that includes the final resting places of Nefertari and one of Ramses II’s five wives.

Other important points along the way include: the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the Luxor Museum and Ramses III’s Medinat Habu in the West Bank.

Eat like an Egyptian with a local food tour in Cairo

Food is an international language of love, and Cairo is bursting with culinary gems, but where do you start? What are you trying to do? Where are you going? Connect with local culture on a food tour where you immerse yourself in the history and local life of Egypt, one authentic dish at a time.

Ideal for female solo travelers, Bellies En-Route is a women-owned food travel provider that skips culinary tourist hot spots and takes visitors to local mom-and-pop spots or neighborhood favorites known for great street fare. You can even help in the kitchen at some of the restaurants so you can connect with the local community that makes your food.

An old large stone statue at dawn with hot air balloons in the sky
A hot air balloon ride over Luxor is worth waking up early in the morning © Laurent Sauvel / Getty Images

Soar over Luxor in a hot air balloon

Dozens of balloons take to the skies of Luxor every day at dawn for a view that is literally breathtaking. Watch the sun rise and light up the Theban hills, local farms and ancient monuments. See the Nile twinkle in the distance, and wave to the locals watching from their balconies. Trust us, it’s definitely worth waking up at 3am and anxiety before the trip.

Take a sunset felucca ride along the Nile

The world’s longest river is best experienced flowing peacefully in a felucca (traditional wooden sailboat) at sunrise or sunset, whether you are in Cairo or Aswan or anywhere in between.

In Cairo, docks lie along the corniche of Maadi, Zamalek and Garden City, giving you stunning views of the Cairo skyline; If you’re in Aswan, Feluccas is your favorite means of transportation between the city’s 20 islands. Either way, grab a few friends, snacks and drinks, and spend some time enjoying the breathtaking tranquility of the Nile.

Hiking Sinai Trail or Red Sea Mountain Trail

Experience Egypt’s most iconic mountain peaks and untrodden wilderness by hiking with local Bedouin guides through the country’s two sister trails: the Sinai Trail and the Red Sea Mountain Trail.

The Sinai Trail is Egypt’s first long-distance hiking trail, a circuit that runs 550 km (342 miles) through the eight Bedouin tribes of southern Sinai. The 170 km long Red Sea Mountain Trail, located just outside the beach resort of Hurghada, showcases the best of the region’s incomparable beauty – from vast desert plains to deep gorges and from crumbling Roman cities to prehistoric rock art and chapels of Egypt’s desert fathers.

Both trails are sustainable tourism initiatives that directly support local Bedouin communities by creating jobs and helping to keep the region’s traditional Bedouin knowledge, skills and heritage alive. And don’t worry, the trails are divided into segments so you can choose whether you want to take between two- and five-day hikes as part of your hike.

A woman snorkeling on a coral reef near Dahab in the Red Sea, Egypt.
Dahab’s clear waters attract visitors from all over the world © Ashley Cooper / Getty Images

Dive and snorkel near Dahab

Dahab, the symbolic beach town of southern Sinai, is ideal for divers and snorkelers to experience amazing sea life. If you are not already a qualified diver, you can start your PADI certification process at one of Dahab’s many dive centers.

A few kilometers north of Dahab lies Egypt’s Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that drops straight down to a depth of over 100m (328ft), attracting experienced divers from around the world. It is a fascinating but risky dive that has unfortunately cost many lives and it should only be left to professional and advanced divers.

Relax with the view from Castle Zaman

Come for the view, stay for – yes, the view. This medieval-style castle, actually a slow-food restaurant, is nestled between Sinai’s signature mountains and is located somewhere between Nuweiba and Taba on Aqaba Bay – a unique vantage point over the Red Sea that stretches across Egypt’s shores and mountains. , Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Spend an entire day at Castle Zaman relaxing by the pool, grabbing a drink at the bar and enjoying a slow cooked lunch or dinner that includes things like a meat tagine or the day’s catch. Although Castle Zaman does not offer accommodation, you can make use of its facilities such as a sauna and massage treatments.

And for an overnight stay, head to Dayra Camp, a collection of wildly decorated thatched huts and wooden bungalows located in the coastal town of Nuweiba – just 23 km (14 mi) away.

Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for updated guidance before traveling under COVID-19.

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