Plan an adventure down the Nile River, and discover some of the richest attractions in Egypt. Loaded with some of the best historic landmarks in the world, Egypt possesses an old-world charm like no other place on the planet. Plan an easy itinerary from north to south with stops along the Nile that include The Great Pyramid of Giza, the magnificent city of Luxor and the ancient village of Abu Simbel. Remember, though, Egypt attractions go way beyond Cairo and the banks of the Nile! Serious adventurers will want to explore the Red Sea Coast and venture west to Siwa Oasis, a lush village in the desert that you have to see to believe!
Attractions in Egypt | Alexandria
With a legendary backstory and some of the most historic attractions in Egypt, Alexandria is the perfect city to start a sightseeing tour down the Nile River. The Mediterranean coastline of the country’s northernmost metropolis offers some of the most jaw-dropping views in the world, and the city also is the former site of the Alexandria Lighthouse, one of two landmarks in Egypt that make up the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. While the lighthouse (or the Great Library built by Alexander the Great) no longer exists in Alexandria, plenty of other tourist attractions do.
Can’t-miss attractions & landmarks in Alexandria
- Alexandria Library (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) – this modern version of Alexander’s Great Library contains at least eight million books, four museums and a planetarium. Plus, the architecture is as impressive inside as it is outside. Bibliotheca Alexandrina is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 2 to 7 p.m. Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Guests can take a self-guided tour of the library or book a guided tour. Tours are offered in French, English and Arabic and should be booked at least two days prior to visiting.
Alexandria National Museum – discover Egyptian history in a restored Italian-style palace that once housed the US consulate and served as a meeting place for Alexandria’s elitists. Alexandria National Museum features about 1,800 artifacts on three floors. The first floor showcases a collection of mummies, while the second floor exhibits a wide range of paintings and statues, including figures of Medusa, the Greek mythological character whose hair was made of snakes. One glance at Medusa, and she would turn people to stone! However, staring at her likeness at Alexandria National Museum is perfectly safe. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa – considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa (sometimes spelled Kom Ash Shuqqafa) is a former burial chamber dating to the second and fourth centuries. The site was discovered in 1900 when a donkey fell into an access shaft! The catacombs consist of three levels, which were cut from solid rock. The third level of the site, however, is completely underwater. Guests can tour a funeral banquet hall, climb a stone staircase and do their best to decipher the incredible hieroglyphics and symbolic paintings throughout the tombs. One of the highlights of the tour is the Hall of Caracalla, which is a burial ground for the horses of the Emperor Caracalla.
Serapeum & Pompey’s Pillar – carved from a single piece of red Aswan granite, Pompey’s Pillar is what remains of the Serapeum temple that once stood in Alexandria. The pillar stands at just more than 67 feet (20.46 meters) tall and is one of the largest monolithic (made from a single stone) columns in the world. Pompey’s Pillar is estimated to weigh about 285 metric tons.
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Attractions in Egypt | Cairo – The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
Located directly on the banks of the Nile in Egypt’s capital city of Cairo, The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities showcases more than 120,000 artifacts that range from ancient Egyptian currency and papyrus collections to the Gold Mask of Tutankhamen, which was recovered from the young king’s tomb and is made of more than 24 pounds (11 kilograms) of gold.
The displays are arranged on two floors and make up the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiques and memorabilia. Two (of the 42) rooms of the museum are dedicated to mummies, and visitors can view the preserved corpses of kings and royal family members of the New Kingdom. With a façade as grand as its contents, The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (also called The Egyptian Museum) was built in 1901 and remains one of the largest museums in the region.
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when it is closed, and offers extended hours from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday. Tickets are 60 EGP for adults and 30 EGP for students. Visitors need to buy an additional ticket to see the mummies display. Admission is 100 EGP for adults and 60 EGP for students.
Attractions in Egypt | Giza – The Great Pyramids & Sphinx
Everyone in the world knows that a trip to Egypt should include a tour of The Great Pyramid of Giza, but some folks don’t realize that this superstar landmark isn’t the only pyramid on the grounds. Tourists who enter Giza Necropolis will see several pyramids, tombs and monuments, including the iconic Great Sphinx of Giza! Out of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and the only one that still stands today.
Visitors should plan on spending at least two hours on the grounds, but a half a day is recommended for self-guided tours. Two can’t-miss and lesser-known attractions at The Great Pyramid of Giza are the Khufu Ship and the evening light and sound show. The Khufu Ship is a wooden boat that was found buried near the pyramids. Historians believe the ship was used to transport the dead to the afterlife. The evening light and sound show takes place every day – and hasn’t changed for more than 20 years!
The complex is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October through March and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April to September. Tickets for general tours are 200 EGP, but entering some structures requires additional tickets. Combined tickets are 500 EGP and allow guests to tour any attraction within the complex.
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The former capital and site of ancient Thebes, Luxor is a magical city situated along the banks of the Nile in central Egypt. The modern side of the city exudes the wealth and power credited for developing the region, and the still-existing ancient monuments lure archaeologists and history nuts from all over the world.
Can’t-miss attractions in Luxor
- Luxor Temple – dating to 1400 BC, Luxor Temple is a large sandstone complex where many of Egypt’s pharaohs may have been crowned.
Theban Necropolis – on the west bank of the Nile River, the Theban Necropolis contains several can’t miss Egyptian landmarks, including the Valley of the Kings and Tombs of the Nobles. The Valley of the Kings was the burial site for royals, including the beloved Tutankhamun (in tomb KV62), and dates to about 2100 BC. The valley contains 63 tombs and burial chambers, some of which are open for tours on a rotating basis. Tombs of the Nobles features more than 400 catalogued burial grounds covered in ancient hieroglyphics. The site is the burial place for royal servants, priests and government officials.
River Nile Cruise – travelers can take a short trip down the Nile on a falooka (small, wooden sailboat) or plan a 3- to 7-day cruise to Aswan (and nearby Abu Simbel). The longer, luxury cruise line packages include stops and guided tours of tons of attractions along the Nile, allowing travelers to enjoy the sites without the hassle of planning itineraries.
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Attractions in Egypt | Abu Simbel
About 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Aswan lies an off-the-beaten-path jewel called Abu Simbel. The tiny village with a population of just more than 2,500 people contains one of the most historic temple complexes in Egypt. The temple grounds, built by Ramesses II in the 13th century, are situated on a picturesque peninsula in southern Egypt, but that’s not where it originally was built. When the Aswan High Dam threatened to flood the original site in the 1960s, a UNESCO team moved the two structures piece by piece to Abu Simbel. The complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main attraction at Abu Simbel temples is The Great Temple of Ramesses II. Beside it stands the Small Temple, dedicated to Ramesses II’s wife, Queen Nefertari, and Hathor, the Egyptian sky deity worshiped for her role in maternity and love.
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Attractions in Egypt | Siwa Oasis – West Egypt
Inhabited mostly by Berbers, or descendants of pre-Arabic natives of North Africa, Siwa Oasis lets tourists dive into Egyptian culture while discovering the great mysteries of the desert. Located just 31 miles (50 kilometers) east of the Libyan border and nearly 350 miles (560 kilometers) west of Cairo, this cozy village sits 82 feet (25 meters) below sea level and is nestled between the Qattara Depression and the Great Sand Sea.
Despite its isolated location, Siwa Oasis is one of the most fertile regions in northern Egypt due to the many springs, lakes and waterways around the village. Visitors can cool off in Siwa Lake, lounge on Fatnas Island and splash in Cleopatra Spring. Other landmarks in Siwa Oasis are Temple of Umm Ubayd, Shali Fortress and Gabal Dakrur. Perhaps the most well-known attraction, though, is the Temple of Amun, which is said to be home to an oracle of Amun-Ra, the chief Egyptian god. Tourists also should pay a visit to The Traditional Siwa House to learn about the Berber culture, the language of the Siwis (still spoken today), traditional dress and the centuries-old history of the people who first occupied Ancient Egypt.
Getting to Siwa Oasis takes about eight hours by bus from Alexandria and 10 hours from Cairo, but adventurous travelers say the sacrifice is well worth it. Guests also can hire a taxi to make the drive, though the cost will be considerably more. Travelers looking for a quick (and still affordable) alternative can book a flight from Cairo International Airport to Siwa Oasis North Airport.
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Attractions in Egypt | Red Sea Coast – East Egypt
Known as the Red Sea Riviera, the eastern coast of Egypt is a conglomeration of resort towns, diving villages and historic trade routes. Divers love this region more than anywhere in Egypt, and luxury travelers have no problems finding first-class resorts with incredible views.
Places to see on the Red See Coast in Egypt
Hurghada – stretching nearly 25 miles (40 kilometers) along the Red Sea Coast is the modern metropolis of Hurghada. The city is best known for its epic diving opportunities, but it also attracts affluent travelers looking to be pampered in beachfront resorts.
El Gouna – just north of Hurghada travelers will find the island oasis of El Gouna. The resort town has no shortage of sandy beaches, seafood restaurants and trendy bars. Guests love to dive from this area and hang out in Tamr Henna Square.
Monastery of Saint Anthony – travelers who want to venture to the Red Sea Mountains in the Eastern Desert of Egypt should plan a daytrip to the Monastery of Saint Anthony. This Coptic Orthodox monastery is the oldest monastery in the world and once served as the home to St. Anthony, the first Christian monk.
Visitors can explore St. Anthony’s favorite cave, stroll through gardens, see a working mill and bakery and tour the five churches on the grounds. Some paintings in the village date to the 7th and 8th centuries. While the Monastery of Saint Anthony used to be a secluded sanctuary, the unique landmark now is a popular retreat destination for Egyptian Christians and families.
The easiest way to reach the Monastery of Saint Anthony is to drive or take a bus from either Hurghada or Cairo. The trip takes about three hours by car and four hours by bus from both cities.
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