Hello everyone! I’m so happy to be able to share this blog post with you all. Egypt has been high up on my bucket list for so long and I was finally able to visit! To be honest, even though I’ve wanted to visit for so long, I had some concerns about going because my mom had some bad experiences there herself. But I decided to not let the actions of one person keep me from such a magical country. So here we go, my recommendations for the Ultimate Egypt trip.
8 Day Itinerary
Before you go
Be sure to check Egypts up to date COVID entry restrictions. As of the time that we went, it was only required to have a PCR test done within 72 hours of arrival.
Egypt Guide recommendations
As someone that researches down to the T when planning a trip, especially with my slight concerns based of some of my friend/family experiences in Egypt – I was completely OVERWHELMED with all the tour guides/ companies that are available!! So let me just cut this short and tell you that I absolutely loved our guide in Cairo and highly recommend booking with him. His page is here. (We had a different local guide meet us in each city but it is also possible to have the same guide accompany you the whole trip if they are available).
Day 1-3 Cairo
On your first day, land in Cairo and head to your hotel. I highly recommend this one. It has the best views of the Pyramids and will allow you to visit before the crowds.
Day 2 – Giza
The adventure begins – start out by visiting the… Pyramids! There are a total of 9 Pyramids, and you will also have the option to take a camel ride to the viewpoint to see the Pyramids from atop a hill. If you do decide to do so, please make sure the camels look like they are healthy and well. That being said, it is also completely walkable to get to the viewpoint as well. (If you need a break, this lounge has a great view of the Pyramids).
After the Giza Pyramids, we visited the Saqqara which is a step pyramid and about 200 years older than the pyramids at Giza!
We also visited a few shops that taught us the old school way of how to make papyrus as well as lotus and papyrus oils. They smelled so good!! And thats a wrap on Day 2!
Day 3 – Museum, Old Cairo and Bazaar
Today will be a lot more chill than the first – we took it easy and went to Old Cairo to view the Mosque of Mohammed Ali, the Hanging Church and a few other places in the Coptic District. Then we stopped by the Bazaar for some coffee and tea. (I recommend if you can visiting the Bazaar in the early evening when its lit up). Our guide said that’s actually the best time to view the stalls. But because of my work schedule we just visited during the day.
See my detailed Cairo blog post here
Tip: take a seat at the famous cafe El Fishawy while you’re at the Bazaar and if you’re lucky like we were there will be musicians playing a tune to set the mood!
Day 4 – Leave Cairo to head to Aswan
Most tour companies will give you the option to have a driver take you via car, or book a domestic flight. Being short on time, we booked a domestic flight (~$50). But the benefits of going via car would be you get to stop by the smaller cities on the way and see more sights.
Once you get to Aswan some sights to see are Philae Temple, and visit a Nubian Village. We stayed at this hotel, which is on Elephant island and requires a ferry crossing over the Nile to get there (provided by hotel). On a hot summer day the breeze from the Nile is much appreciated. Another option if its within your budget would be one of the oldest still operating hotels in the world!
Day 5 – Day Trip to Abu Simbel
Wake up early on day 5 to make the drive to Abu Simbel (takes about 3 hours) but for us it took 2.5 because our driver was LEGITTT. haha. Anyways, you may think oh thats so far to drive six hours total round trip – but let me tell you its worth it. The massive temple carved into the mountain is so impressive, you won’t regret it.
Tip: Drop by Bob Marley Cafe if you stay on Elephant Island for some delicious home style food, and they have a balcony with great views. If you like chicken and a nice cool smoothie stop by Makani for some delicious and affordable eats.
Day 6 – Take a train to Luxor
To make up for not seeing the sights of Egypt on the way to Aswan, we took a train to Luxor (4 hrs) and got to see the sunset from the train. Our guide booked the train for us as apparently there is a train for locals and one for tourists. Less stops and nicer so they tell me. Once we got to Luxor you have the option to go to Luxor Temple directly as they are open late or go to your hotel and save it for the next day. We stayed at this hotel and I highly recommend it, the location and staff were amazing with perfect sunset views from the infinity pool.
Day 7 – Explore Luxor
Spend all day today going around Luxor exploring the East and West Bank. This will be quite a long day so you also can split today into two days if you have the time.
Find my detailed Luxor itinerary here.
Day 8 – Fly to your next destination or to Sharm el-Sheikh/ Hurghada
And finally you have reached the end of your tour around Egypt. If you have the time I highly recommend spending a few days at a resort by the Red Sea to relax and scuba or snorkel and unwind from traveling all over Egypt – it can be hectic! If you end up in Sharm el-Sheikh we stayed here (tip: get the full board option) which has a Dive Center on site and you can get PADI certified with Pyramids Diving Center! We did that and I highly recommend our teacher Nassar (he saved me from having a full panic attack haha).
Before you leave Egypt
Odds are during these times you will have to show a COVID test before being able to arrive at your next destination like we were. And luckily for us our hotel was able to organise everything for us, just be sure to tell them when you need the test by when you check in. In Sharm el-Sheikh there is a government hospital that can get you results in 24 hrs. And for PCR tests in Cairo see here for thread of other travellers who have shared info on testing sites.
I hope you this inspires you to visit Egypt some time in your future. It was so surreal to be in a country with so much history and as a kid I loved reading about Egyptian history and mythology. I’m glad I didn’t let my fears keep me from experiencing this country.