10 must-have Egypt experiences while traveling in this historic country visiting ancient sites on your bucket list.
There is an endless array of amazing experiences just waiting for you in Egypt.
They say Egypt is the one place that is on everyone’s bucket list, but because of everything that happened back in 2011 manly travelers have been too afraid to book a trip.
Last year travel articles began to surface with titles that read “This is the year to travel to Egypt” and then again this year I saw the same headlines.
Last fall Roger and I began to plan our travels for this year & near the top of our list was Egypt.
Over the next 7-8 months, we slowly did a plethora of research as we planned for our trip.
And at Christmas, we presented Roger’s parents with a gifted trip to Egypt, the one place in the world my father-in-law wanted to visit & has been dreaming about since he was 8 years old. (Side note: here are some tips for traveling with your in-laws.)
Then, at the end of April, we packed our bags & flew from ATL to IST to Cairo where adventure awaited.
I could write a whole book about our trip, or at least talk your ear off about our experiences, but instead, I thought I’d share some of the top 10 experience I think you will enjoy in Egypt as you plan your next adventure.
1. Visit the Cairo Museum
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is a must when in Cairo, it’s where all the amazing antiquities & treasures can be viewed!
If you are visiting in 2019 you will be visiting the original museum in Cairo, but if you plan to travel in 2020 you will be one of the first to experience the new Cairo Museum which is just down the road from the Giza pyramids.
We enjoyed viewing the original museum because it felt historic in & of itself.
But I’d also love to return in the next few years so that we can explore the new one as well.
Prior to going to the museum, Roger had read that you can’t bring a camera or backpack into the museum.
This is completely incorrect.
However, you will need to purchase a special pass for taking photos & another one for taking videos.
However, I used my phone for video & the man at the ticket counter said I didn’t need an extra video pass since I was just using my phone.
There are restrooms with toilets in the original museum, but I used the toilet paper I had brought in my backpack.
There was an attendant, who I tipped (even though the sign says you don’t have to), but I was never offered any toilet paper.
So be sure to always keep a little bag with toilet paper with you just in case.
We spent about 3.5 hours in the museum & saw almost everything, but we stopped a lot for pictures.
You could easily explore it in less time or for much longer, depending on your travel style.
From the Marriott Mena House Cairo, it was about an hour drive. We used an Uber & it was about $3.50 (one way). Crazy right!?
2. Go inside the Great Pyramid
Our tour didn’t include this so we bought extra tickets that were an extra 360 LE (Egyptian pounds) per ticket.
If you get claustrophobic I would recommend skipping this experience.
I didn’t think I had bad claustrophobia, but going inside was more than I could handle.
The tunnel you climb to get to the top is very small.
I’m 5’ 2” & I had to duck.
Also, it looks like enough room for just one person to go up, but you will encounter people coming down as you go up & you will have to press yourself up against the wall to pass each other.
My mother-in-law was leading, followed by my father-in-law, me & then my husband.
Both my husband & his dad are both around 6 feet tall & are both muscular men.
So when I looked up all I saw was my father-in-law sandwiched between two walls, the ceiling, & the floor.
And it was the same when I turned around. Roger sandwiched between 2 walls, the tunnel ceiling, & the floor.
We were about halfway up when about 20 Asians came down & we all had to push to the side.
I closed my eyes & tried to breathe slowly to relax & calm myself down.
But when I opened my eyes again I started to panic.
I’ve never had this happen before.
I knew if I didn’t turn around right then & there I was either going to pass out, throw up, break down into tears or some kind of combination of all 3.
I immediately told Roger I had to get out of there & I booked it back to the base of the tunnel.
I stayed inside at the base where it is way wider (the size of an actual hallway), as I didn’t want to be waiting around outside in the sun by myself.
Even now, months later, thinking back on this experience gives me anxiety, but at least I can say I went into the Great Pyramid of Giza, even if I didn’t make it all the way to the center!
3. Take a hot air balloon ride in Luxor
This was Roger & I’s favorite experience of the whole trip!
We booked through I like Egypt Tours & the cost was $67 US dollars per person (you can also book through TripAdvisor).
They pick you up from your hotel in a car, take you to a ferry to cross the Nile River, & then you get on a bus that takes you to the hot air balloons.
The sun rises really early in the morning so in order to see the sunrise from the hot air balloon, they picked us up at 3:45 am from our resort.
We were on the hot air balloon by 5:15 am & floated above Hatshepsut’s temple, above fields being plowed, & new archeological dig sites near the Nile River.
It was incredible seeing all of the tombs & ancient monuments from above. I could not recommend this experience more.
Seriously this was a once in a lifetime bucket list moment!
4. Snorkel in the Red Sea
We took a 36-hour break from tours to spend a day relaxing at the Red Sea doing some of the best snorkeling I have ever experienced.
The fish had no fear (they are protected by law) & weren’t afraid to come right up to you!
The water was crystal clear & on our last morning, the red sea was as flat as a lake.
You can read more about where we stayed that had the most incredible snorkeling here.
5. Visit the Valley of the Kings & Queens
There are 100s of king’s & queens buried in these mountains!
Our tour came with 3 tombs to visit & we also purchased an extra ticket so that we could go inside King Tut’s tomb where he is still laid to rest (yes, you can see him!).
The colorful depictions inside the tombs are gorgeous & awe-inspiring.
And if you have problems with claustrophobia like I do you don’t have to worry because these tombs are pretty wide, open, & spacious.
You do have to pay extra to take pictures (my father-in-law took pictures that I plan to get from him later), but it’s totally worth it for the memories.
Also, no tour guides are allowed inside, so you are able to roam about within the tomb at your leisure without having to try to walk around a big tour guide group.
Oh, & from the parking lot to the tombs you get to ride a little covered tram, which is a huge relief & time saver.
6. Explore Karnak Temple
The numerous gigantic pillars in the Karnak Temple will blow you away.
And if you look up & look closely you will even see some of the original paint on the walls & ceilings.
Seeing the artifacts in the museum is fun, but walking up to the actual temple & touching the stone that someone chiseled is beyond cool.
If you plan to visit with a guide make sure before booking or at the beginning of the tour that you will be given time to explore the Karnak Temple on your own.
We were given about 15 minutes & Roger & I had so much fun just wandering around in the temple & on the grounds looking at everything on our own.
7. See Hatshepsut’s Temple
The history, or should I say HERstory, is worth researching before visiting Hatshepsut’s Temple.
There is a great podcast about her life by The History Chicks that you should definitely listen to.
The mini recap is that she was a Pharaoh who took on male pronouns – i.e. King – in order to be taken seriously & rule her land.
There was great prosperity during her rule & she had many statues & walls carved with her image engraved on them.
But her stepson tried to erase her from history by destroying her monuments.
Luckily, historians are slowly piecing together her story & it’s pretty amazing!
Seriously, you should listen to this podcast!
8. Take a sunset cruise on the Nile River
When we arrived in Luxor we booked a sunset cruise through our resort that sat on the bank of the Nile River.
We rode in a felucca just the four of us and we had so much fun!
This was our first night in Luxor & it was a pinch-me kind of moment to see the sunset from the river.
Not only that, but he took us up the river so that we could see the Karnak Temple from the river!
9. Ride a camel with the pyramids behind you
Honestly, I hadn’t planned on riding a camel.
We had discussed it prior to our trip, & I wasn’t so sure I wanted to & neither did my in-laws.
But it was a part of our guided tour of the pyramids & the next thing I knew I was on a camel with the pyramids looming in the distance.
In hindsight, I am glad we did it (as are my in-laws), plus I was able to get some awesome photos with Roger & the pyramids behind us just after our little camel ride.
10. Stay at a 5-Star Resort
This may sound funny, but I seriously recommend staying at a 5-star resort while in Egypt.
Not only are they significantly less expensive than most places around the world, but there are some incredible views to behold from a few select resorts.
From our resort in Cairo/Giza, we could see the pyramids from our balcony.
And in Luxor, the Nile River was in the backyard (so to speak) of our resort.
Extras we didn’t do:
There were a couple of places that we didn’t get to on our trip including Alexandria & Aswan.
You can take a day tour to Alexandria from Cairo & a day trip to Aswan from Luxor.
Everyone’s travel style is different, although Roger & I have traveled quite a bit in the last 3 years we decided to take things a bit slower this time since his parents were coming with us.
But if you are traveling by yourself or as a couple (& are used to traveling) you could definitely do two tours in one day.
For example, you could visit both the pyramids (morning) & Cairo museum (in the heat of the day) in one day. You could also visit both the West Bank & East Bank in Luxor on the same day.
We did all four of those in four days but you could do all four in two days. Just don’t forget to consider the time of year you go, your travel companions, & the heat.
There are obviously way more than just 10 awesome things to do in Egypt, but these were definitely some of my favorites.
And I know the memories I made during our trip to Egypt will last a lifetime.
If you’ve traveled to Egypt recently, or even years ago, I’d love to hear what your favorite experiences were & I know other travelers would love to read about your favorites too!
So be sure to comment below.
I hope these Egypt tips help you as you plan your Egyptian adventure.
I have more blog posts focused on tips that will help you plan your grand adventure to Egypt.
And if you enjoyed these tips, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter below so that you don’t miss out on another blissful tip!
What are you most excited about when visiting Egypt?
Feel free to comment below, email me, or tweet me on Twitter!
With love, Giusti
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV