The Land of the Pharaohs is far from a dead, worn out country. Egypt’s ancient history is still going strong, with the multitude of pyramids, temples, and museums drawing visitors from all over the world. Top class cities, beach resorts and diving spots, and wonderful food are just some of the delights awaiting your visit to this fabulous Arab country.
The best for Ancient Egypt: Luxor
A visit to Egypt is not complete without a visit to the chilled out southern capital of Egypt. Luxor offers the best of Egyptian food, sunset felucca rides on the Nile, and shopping in the markets.
In the centre of town is the domineering Luxor Temple. Karnak Temple down the road is the biggest ancient temple. Across the riverbank visitors will find an endless choice of sites to see. Highlights include the two giant statues the ‘Colossi of Memnon’, Hatshepsut’s Temple of Dier el Bahri and the Valley of the Kings with the famous tomb of Tutankhamun, among many others.
The best city: Cairo
The sprawling capital city of Cairo is one full of delights. A trip to the Pyramids of Giza is a must, as is a visit to Cairo Museum and Khan el-Kahlili markets. Off the beaten track are the pyramids of Saqqara, and the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur, which shows how the ancients did get it wrong occasionally!
Along the Nile visitors can go on cruises or party-boats. The glorious mosques give a sense of the local Islamic religion. The biggest and most famous is Mosque Muhammad Ali in the centre, while the oldest Ibn Tulun is also worth a visit. Make sure you dress appropriately to visit any religious building.
The best for diving: Marsa Alam
The famous diving spots on the Red Sea are Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh. However, further south is Marsa Alam, where experienced divers prefer to go. It is quieter and divers are more likely to come across dugongs, dolphins and hammer head sharks.
The town is quiet but there are attractions around such as the Valley of the Camels, where you can embark on a 45 minute camel trek. The Ottoman Fort town of Queseir also has Egyptian and Roman ruins to explore.
The best for backpackers: Dahab
Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh and leave the luxury resorts behind. An hours’ minibus ride away is the delightful town of Dahab, a backpackers’ coastal haven. Cheap accommodation, beaches, and diving or snorkelling trips await the intrepid traveller.
A visit to the Blue Hole for diving or snorkelling is a must, and it is possible to book trips into the desert to stay with the Bedouin people. Visitors can also go on camel rides or on sunrise treks to the beautiful Mount Sinai.
The best off the beaten track: Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is the hidden delight of Egypt. A flight down south, or a bus ride from Aswan, will take you into the desert to find this ancient gem. The temple was going to be destroyed when Lake Nasser was created by the Aswan Dam. Instead, the temple was moved brick by gigantic block to a new location.
Built by the great Rameses II, the remote location of this temple adds to its impressiveness: the empty desert around, the gigantic stone statues and pillars, and the secondary temple to Rameses wife Nefertari. It’s an incredible sight and worth the extra trip.