Tourism is slowly improving in Egypt now that people realize it’s actually pretty safe in spite of the events that hits the news once in a while. Even Will Smith came with his family and had a great time in Cairo! So it’s probably time for you to start planning your trip! Whether you come for a weekend or a month, I have multiple itinerary plans that you can customize to make the most of your stay.
Cairo (3-5 days)
You have to begin in Cairo, the largest capital in the Arab world. Filled with over 22 million people. Yes, it will be crowded, smelly, and hot, but it’s Egypt! Come in the winter and then at least it won’t be hot.
What to Do & See:
- Pyramids & Sphinx – you didn’t really come all the way to Egypt to skip this wonder of the world, did you? Of course not. Do not go without reading up on what you need and what to expect when visiting the pyramids.
- Khan El Khalili – If you know how to barter and want to get souvenirs at a bargain, this maze of a bazaar is the place to be. Careful not to get lost! For other tips, read about what to expect at the Khan.
- Felluca on the Nile – what could be more romantic and relaxing than a little boat cruise on the Nile? This may be one of the best ways to end off your trip in Egypt. You can head to Zemalek island, go down Left Bank and hire a felluca. Don’t pay much more than 150 Egyptian pounds for one hour.
- Mall of Egypt – if you like malls, this brand new structure is the one to beat! Gorgeous interior and is the twin to the Mall of Dubai – since they are built by the same owner. You can try out the indoor ski park, VIP theater (yes there are English movies!) a range of delicious cafes and endless shopping for whatever your budget is.
- Coptic Cairo – if culture, religion and architecture interests you at all, you can do a walking tour of Coptic Cairo, which has the famous Hanging Church. And in its near proximity, the Amr Ibn El Aas Mosque, where both men and women can enter, just through different entrances!
Red Sea Coast (3-5 days)
Probably my favourite part of Egypt! We have been to the Sinai peninsula coast 3 times now, and I love it every time! If you like the beach lifestyle, turquoise-blue waters and many outdoor activities and sports, this is a must-see!
What to Do & See:
- Sharm El Shiekh – an hour from the airport, or 7 hours by the Superjet Bus, this city is one of the best spots along the Red Sea. 5 star resorts for as low as 40 US$ a day, incredible blue water, Old Town, Farsha Cafe, desert safari, I could go on and on about all the things you could do that would easily fill up your days. Read more about what to do in charming Sharm.
- Dahab – If Sharm is too resort-like or big for you, Dahab is a tiny beach town just 1 hour north of Sharm. While low tourism has made Dahab feel a bit shabby and ghost-like, it is THE spot of snorkeling and diving! With the famous Blue Hole and Three Pools coral reefs, you can really enjoy the water life here. Find out more about this small beach town and fun to be had!
Aswan & Luxor – The South (3-5 days)
There is one very popular way to visit both Aswan and Luxor, which is by cruise along the Nile (with a short flight from Cairo to Aswan first) although it automatically take 4 days if you do so.
The Itinerary for Nile Cruises:
- Begin in Aswan: Philae Temple and the High Dam
- Stop over in Kom Ombo City: Kom Ombo Temple and Edfu Temple
- End in Luxor: Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, Colossi of Memnon
Check here for more information about Nile Cruises and see if there is a package right for you.
North Coast & Alexandria (2-4 days)
The city of Alexandria alone can be done in 1-2 days, but if you have time, you should squeeze in a trip westward along the Mediterranean for some of the softest white sand and gorgeous blue water!
What To Do & Sea:
- The Citadel – a fort-like structure that is hundreds of years old with a great view of the Mediterranean in the city of Alex. If you like castles and the like, you will enjoy a jaunt through here.
- Library of Alexandria – not the original I’m afraid, but this library was built in the memory of the old world wonder and is considered in the top most beautiful libraries in the world. There are also a couple smaller museums inside, including one with ancient, preserved texts from ancient times!
- North Coast Hotel or Resort – if you are coming during May-early September, then you can enjoy the coastal life on Egypt’s lovely north coast! Soft white sand, beautiful warm turquoise water, just watch out for the jelly fish!
All of Egypt: If you like to evenly pace your trip and have a lot of time to travel, you could do Cairo, the Red Sea, the South, and North coast in 21 days. If you rush through quickly, you would need a minimum of 2 and a half weeks, but it would be very tight.
2 Week Recommendation: If you only have two weeks, then I recommend Cairo, the Red Sea and then Aswan & Luxor with about 3-4 days for each location.
1 Week – 10 Days: If you only have a week to ten days, then I would recommend only two of these locations, unless you cut it down to only 2-3 days per location, but instead of Aswan & Luxor, Alexandria would be more doable.
Less than a Week: You can do what Will Smith did, and simply spend a weekend or so in Cairo! A day trip to Alexandria is still very doable as well if you are visiting for 4-5 days.
Whatever your time frame is, I hope you visit enough of Egypt to have seen at least 3 of these 4 locations to really get a taste of what this country has to offer. Now, if time is the least of your problems, here are some extras you can throw into your plans!
Here are some honourable mentions that you can do if you are staying for an extended period of time, because you could spend a whole month in Egypt and have it quite filled with activities, exploration and fun!
- Sandboarding in Fayoum – a lot warmer than snowboarding! You can also camp out in Fayoum, which is a couple hours south west of Cairo.
- Kayaking on the Nile – rent a kayak and get more personal with the popular Nile and see Cairo from another perspective. Just don’t go swimming in it!
- Hiking in Wadi Degla Pectorate – this protected desert area is just outside Cairo, and is great for hikers. You can bring a picnic and portable BBQ if you like!
If you were at a loss when it came to planning a trip to Egypt, I hope you feel inspired and ready to plan out your itinerary with the places and outings that suit you!
Special thanks to Zach for his great photos from Fayoum!
Have you been to Egypt before? Or is it still on your bucket list? What is stopping you from visiting? Let me know in the comments below!