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The Best Places You Need To Visit In Egypt

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The best places you need to visit in Egypt – this is a hard post to write. Egypt is filled with endless ancient historical sites, temples, monasteries, markets, and museums. Where to even begin?

The best places you need to visit in Egypt, I believe, are places that show us just how much ancient history is in this country. Places along the Nile where 95% of Egyptians reside, showing us how they truly live. Egypt is impossible to visit just once, there are constantly new places being discovered, and construction is forever going on. With new highways being built, even local Egyptians that I met said each time they come back to Egypt it is like seeing a new country.

Brooklyn standing in front of the pyramids of Giza

So just where exactly are the best places you need to visit in Egypt? Here is my personal list!

Here I’ll go into detail on places I’m unlikely to dedicate a whole blog post to, or places I’m just very excited to write about! You can definitely expect a chunk dedicated to the White Desert! I haven’t visited quite a few places on this list, so you can bet I’ve researched each of these spots in anticipation of my next trip!

The Best Places  You Need To Visit In Egypt

Camel in the desert in Cairo

Cairo

Cairo is incredible. I was worried about how I would find my time here, having heard so much from others about how overwhelming the city is, how dusty, how relentless the vendors can be. And it’s all true. Yet, I absolutely fell in love with Cairo, and could see myself spending significant time in the city. I think that anybody who says that New York City is the city that never sleeps must never have been to Cairo.

With so many things to do in Cairo, here are a few of the best places to hang out in Egypt’s capital city (not including restaurants or shisha spots). 

The Great Pyramids of Giza and The Sphinx

Egyptian Museum (old, right by Tahrir Square, and new! Which is currently being constructed)

Visit both Islamic and Coptic Cairo

The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha

Visit the monasteries of Wadi Natrun

Day Trip to Alexandria

The Cairo Citadel

Khan El Khalili market

Saqqara, Dashur, and Memphis Day trips.

Al-Azhar Park

Alexandria

The outside of the new Library of Alexandria

The second largest city in Egypt, Alexandria was important towards the end of the Ancient Dynasties. Founded by Alexander The Great over 2000 years ago, he began the Greeks rule over Egypt, and it ended when Cleopatra and Marc Anthony died here.

With one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean, Alexandria was an incredibly important center for ancient civilization in Egypt. Not to mention just how important this port was for trade amongst the entire Roman Empire.

Julius Caesar burned down a fleet of ships, which in turn burned down half the city and the famous Library of Alexandria. The history that happened here is boundless.

Here are some of the best places you need to visit in Alexandria, Egypt.

Library of Alexandria, or, as it is now called, Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Walk the Corniche. This walkway goes 10 miles throughout the heart of Alexandria, and takes you right along the Mediterranean Sea.

The Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa. I had no idea that Alexandria had these catacombs until we went there! Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, these catacombs are thought to originally have been created for one wealthy Roman family in the 2nd century, but by the 4th century it had been expanded and used for others, making a beautiful display of Greco-Roman and Egyptian influence, which is very characteristic for the city.

These catacombs were rediscovered in 1900 when a donkey fell down an access shaft, showing us this hidden gem.

Pompey’s Pillar. Built in honor of Roman Emperor Diocletian, this is the only ancient monument in Alexandria that still stands, in it’s original location, today. Interesting though, before Pompey’s Pillar was built, here stood the Serapeum of Alexandria. An ancient Greek temple built by Ptolemy III Euergetes in honor of Serapis, the Protector of Alexandria, it was most likely closed by Christian Emperor Constantine.

Shop the Souk District giving you the most authentic taste of Alexandria you can hope for.

Dive down to Cleopatra’s Palace. If I ever get back to Alexandria, this is the first thing I’m doing! We all know Cleopatra VII. Not only was she the last ruler of the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty. She was also the last Queen of Egypt. Her suicide meant that her children became wards of the first Roman Emperor and Egypt lost independence and became another province of the Roman Empire.

Her Palace, and part of Alexandria, became a part of the sea after a huge earthquake and tsunami.

Now visitors can dive down to the ruins to visit her palace themselves!

Aswan

Temple of Philae from the water
The Temple of Philae as we sailed up

An ancient city along the Nile and close to the border of Sudan, Aswan was the gateway to South Egypt. The name Aswan means ‘market’, which perfectly described the city, as it was along the main trade road. Seeing as at one time it was the Southern most town in Egypt, many said that Egypt opened in Aswan. Or ended, depending which way you were going.

Here are some of the best places you need to visit in Aswan.

Abu Simbel. Wow. Abu Simbel was by far the most impressive Temple I saw. Just beyond Abu Simbel you’ll find close neighbour Sudan!

This is another historic site that had to be moved, brick by brick, and I can’t even fathom that. This Temples look perfect, you can’t tell it’s been moved at all.

Ramesses II built these twin temples in honour of himself (obviously) and his very much beloved wife Nefertari. I was far more impressed by Abu Simbel than I was The Great Pyramids. This place is just special.

Visit the Aswan Museum, located on Kitchener Island.

Check out Kitchener Island, which is where the Botanical Gardens are!

See the Aga Kan Mausoleum. We saw this from our felucca boat, and it was hauntingly beautiful.

Philae Temple. Also known as the Temple of Love. I’m writing an entire blog post dedicated to this temple, so learn more there! But in the mean time; you must take a boat to this small island temple, which interestingly enough is not the original site of the temple. Every brick has been moved to preserve the temple from being flooded when they needed to construct the dam!

Visit a Nubian Village. We did this as part of our group tour (I went on Alyssa from My Life’s a Travel Movie on one of her travel tribe trips, and they surprised us with this!) and it was so much fun! We took a felucca over to the village, and they welcomed us with about 45 minutes of dancing and music. I definitely danced when pulled into the circle! Afterwards they served us a beautiful dinner, before we headed back to our hotel.

Also check out the Nubian Museum to learn more about the important history of Nubian culture.

Sail to Elephantine Island. This used to form the border between Nubia and Egypt, so there are plenty of archaeological sites here. Visit the Nilometer, which shows just how brilliant ancient Egyptians were and how heavily they relied on the Nile.

Temple of Kom Ombo.

Luxor

Brooklyn wandering through the pillars of the Karnak Temple

Home to the most well known Queens and Kings of ancient Egypt, Luxor was the final resting place for many royals, as this is where the Valley of the Kings is located.

This is ancient Thebes. 

Luxor is made more special by the fact that just driving through the city, you pass historical sites! There’s little wonder why Luxor is known as the world’s largest open air museum.

Here are some of the best places you need to visit in Luxor.

Temple of Hatshepsut. Here you can climb to the Temple of Deir el-Bahar, marvel at the tombs carved into the cliffs, and look for signs of Hatshepsut. She was the second confirmed female Pharoah, and co-ruled with her stepson. She was a fantastic ruler, bringing wealth and trade to Egypt, and is remembered for being a prolific builder.

When she died her stepson, Thutmose III, did his best to erase all trace of her from history.

Take a hot air balloon.  If you can, they seem to get cancelled often due to winds, but if you’re lucky, you could get the most awe inspiring views from above!

Valley of the Kings. This was the final resting place for many ancient Pharoah’s of Egypt and some high ranking nobles.

Tomb of King Tut. In the Valley of the Kings you can also walk down to the Tomb of King Tut.

I didn’t. Here’s the thing, I really wanted to, but it was so hot that day and I was overheating, so I found a shady spot and hung out there with my fan.

There’s also The Valley of the Queens. This is where the queens were buried

Visit Luxor Museum, said to be the best in Egypt.

Luxor Temple. Luxor temple is smack dab in the city center. You can be driving and next thing you know, there it is!

Luxor temple connects to Karnak by the Avenue of Sphinxes, which is just over 2.5 km. This walk used to have over 600 Sphinxes guiding your way between the temples, and you can still see the ruins of some!

Karnak Temple. The columns here are MASSIVE. I loved feeling dwarfed by them while wandering through the temple. While here make sure to walk around the giant scarab beetle dedicated to Amenhotep III for good luck!

Colossi of Memnon. These statues are huge, and stand in front of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III.

Siwa Oasis

I did not make it to this magical oasis and it was such a disappointment! 50 KM East of the Libyan boarder, it takes about 2 days to make it here from Cairo. The water is so blue against the tan sands, and is so salty that you float right up.

I am already dreaming of my return to Egypt, specifically to come here! Google it or search on Instagram and you can see why. It does take 2 days to get there, then another 2 back, which is why I chose to go to the White Desert instead.

The White Desert

The sands in the White Desert

The White Desert, aka the most magical night of my life! I slept under the most stars I’ve ever seen in my life. I woke up on a scorpion. It was the coolest experience!

I took an overnight tour into the White Desert, and this was the best tour I’ve ever taken. It was arranged by iEgypt, who I will definitely be using again. I was picked up at 7 am from my hostel, in a jeep with 4 other travelers. We drove about 5 hours to the Bahariya Oasis. Here we had lunch prepared by the Bedouins who live there, and then transferred into 4 X 4 jeeps, which were awesome!

After lunch we drove to the Black Desert, then stopped at a hot spring for a dip. Next we went to see the Quartz crystals at crystal mountain! They were so unique and beautiful!

Then we went sand boarding! I was by far the most excited to sand board. Never having sand boarded before, or even snow boarded, I couldn’t wait to get on that board! I was not expecting just how fast I flew down the dune! Going down was exhilarating and I was more than ready to go for round two… until I began walking up the sand dune! That was more work out than it was worth, so I, like the others, all took one turn before we were ready to get to camp for the night.

After a night of camping under the stars we stopped at one more hot spring before making our way back to the Bahariya Oasis to switch back to our normal jeep.

Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley)

I tried to make it here, I really did, but I just couldn’t fit everything in. But this one I really do wish I got to see.

While only about 100 Km South West from Cairo, not many people make the journey to this World UNESCO site. I think maybe most people don’t know about this place, but it’s high time they do.

40 million years ago Whale Valley used to be completely underwater. Now we can see the ancient fossils that have survived here, plenty of which are whales. but not just any whales you see. Whales with legs. Yes, legs. The Basilosaurus fossils here prove the theory that whales once walked on land.

I read the blog post from Time Travel Turtle, who recently went to Whale Valley himself, and he has lots of photos and more information. I recommend reading his post here if you’re interested!

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Dahab

Dahab is easily a digital nomads paradise, as not only is it known for its community of solo travelers, it is also incredibly cheap to live there. The vibe is known to be down to earth and friendly, with a huge focus on ocean conservation. I love how much the people love this town.

Solo divers, international visitors and locals alike, flock to Dahab to dive in some of Egypt’s best dive spots.

Not just best diving in Egypt, but in all the world, The Blue Hole is famous for everyone who dives. The Blue Hole goes down 80m, and even has a 30m arch along the bottom, like a sinkhole, that is known as the most dangerous dive site in the world.

There are also other dives in Dahab such as the Lighthouse Dahab, the Canyon Dahab, and the islands.

Sharm El Sheik

Dahab’s ultra touristy resort town neighbour, Sharm, as the locals call it, is about an hour away from Dahab. Where Dahab is laid back and real, Sharm is full of international tourists ready to relax and party.

You can still dive in Sharm, but you’re much more likely to spend your time in Sharm indulging in drinks and the nightlife.

I haven’t been to either Dahab or Sharm, so on my next trip to Egypt I will definitely be making the journey to each of these places to report back!

These are some of the best places to visit in Egypt. As you can see, Egypt is huge and unless you plan to spend a solid chunk of time here, you won’t be able to see and do everything. But, that means you have excuses to keep on visiting Egypt!

Out of these best places you need to visit in Egypt, where would you most want to go?

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Photo of myself standing in front of the 12 apostles, showing how windy it is

Brooklyn Murtaugh

travel blogger

Hi! I’m Brooklyn, a Canadian whose aim is to see as much of the world as I can, on my limited vacation days. I work full time, and want to show you how it is possible to do just that, while still making use of those precious vacation days.

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