A holiday to the magical country of Egypt is an experience like no other. Here, visitors can take in some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, wander through grand ancient temples, swim over coral reefs, and witness spectacular desert sunsets. To help you get the most out of your holiday adventure, we’ve put together a few tips on where to go, what to see, and what to expect in this unique country.
The bustling resort town of Hurghada on the Red Sea promises guests an enchanting, adventure-filled escape. With some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world, be sure not to miss the chance to swim with the dolphins and turtles in crystal-clear coral reefs. In the evenings, this tourist-ready town offers guests an enticing holiday experience; the beautiful Hurghada Marina is the perfect place for a sunset stroll, while a myriad of bars, restaurants and shows promise exciting nights filled with dining and entertainment.
Day trip to Cairo
From Hurghada, it’s just a short flight to Cairo and the wonders of the Pyramids, Sphinx, and the vibrant street markets of the capital. Start by taking in the alluring sights and smells of Khan Al Khalili marketplace, a colourful bazaar packed to the rafters with rugs, lamps, perfumes and exotic spices.
From the market, take a metered taxi to the Giza Plateau entrance, the gateway to the Great Pyramids. For an extra fee, tourists are able to enter the 4,500 year old pyramids, and even take pictures with a smartphone. Outside, the Great Sphinx of Giza can be viewed and photographed from the adjacent walkway – an unmissable part of your Egypt holiday.
An afternoon to remember
Riding a quad bike over the desert dunes is an exhilarating experience. Time it right, and you’ll get a striking Saharan sunset for the photo album. There are a number of established tour operators available, and your resort will give you the lowdown on which one to choose. Take your pick, and rev up for the trip of a lifetime!
Top tip for tourists
Bring your bargaining skills! When visiting markets, you’re expected to haggle, so be friendly and try to get a knock-down price on that bottle of perfume or papyrus notepad! If you’re not sure what things cost, ask the friendly vendor, and begin negotiations at half the quoted price. Remember, these street sellers are experts, so have some fun, and always end on a polite thank you, or ‘Shukra Lek’ as the locals say.
Sharm El Sheik
Another of Egypt’s top dive sites, this Red Sea resort town offers powder-soft beaches and crystalline waters. Along with outstanding shopping at Naama bay and the Old Town, visitors are treated to a lively bar scene and an array of dining options. The beautiful Al Mustafa Mosque is not to be missed on any Sharm El Sheik vacation, and the colourful domes and towering minarets look particularly impressive when lit up at night.
Best day trip from Sharm El Sheik
Save the short flight to Cairo for another day, and take a trip to the fascinating Monastery of Saint Catherine, nestled in the foothills of Mount Sinai. One of the oldest working monasteries in the world, this sprawling ancient complex houses an exceptional number of religious icons and artefacts, including the Burning Bush and the Mosaic of the Transfiguration.
An enticing evening out
Make your way to the exotic Old Market for the evening where you can find stacks of souvenirs, charming coffee shops, and an abundance of cheap eateries. Visitors are invited to sample the flavours of the middle east at one of the many popular restaurants, where local specialities include tagine, kebabs, and kushari, a carb-filled favourite.
On the go with H2O
It’s important to stay hydrated on your Egypt holiday. Soaring temperatures and daytime activities make for thirsty work, so don’t forget the water bottle when you’re out and about, especially on a day trip away from the resort. Drinking water from the tap is not recommended but you can fill up your flask at the hotel before heading off to your next adventure.
Known as the Maldives of Egypt, Marsa Alam boasts white sandy beaches and clear blue water. For those wishing to get away from the crowds, this up-and-coming resort town is a smart alternative to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheik and offers some of the best diving to be found anywhere. Night-time is a relaxed affair, and most visitors make the most of the resorts or head to Port Ghalib for cosy restaurants and harbourside bars.
Time for adventure
A 4×4 tour out to the desert makes for an adventurous day out with a difference. Wind your way through undulating dunes and rocky mountains before stopping at a traditional Bedouin village, where you’ll get to share tea with nomadic tribespeople and gain a fascinating insight into a disappearing way of life.
Pack your snorkel and make your way to Abu Dabab beach, where the crystal-clear water hosts a wonderful array of sea life, including dugongs and giant sea turtles. It’s possible to snorkel right off the beach, although you’re likely to see a bigger variety of sea life on an organised boat trip. For experienced divers, don’t miss Elphinstone Reef, one of the world’s best dive sites and home to the rare white tip shark, or for a more relaxed spot, head to Dolphin House reef to see the resident spinner dolphins in action.
Playing it cool
Wearing loose cotton clothing not only keeps you cool, but ensures you’re respectful of local customs. To play it safe, keep your shoulders covered and wear clothing that falls below the knee-line. Women may be required to cover their hair when entering mosques, and long clothing for men and women is expected. It’s also wise to bring a decent pair of sunglasses, plenty of sunscreen, and a hat to protect from the Egyptian sun.
The modern city of Luxor is home to the Valley of the Kings, an ancient burial site for Egyptian Pharaohs including Tutankhamun. Considered the world’s greatest open-air museum, you could spend countless hours exploring the gems scattered throughout this incredible city, with highlights including the Colossi of Memnon, Karnak Temple, and the Temple of Luxor.
Day trip to Dendera
The Temple of Dendera lies just an hour north of Luxor, and is thought to be the best-preserved temple in Egypt. The complex, which dates back an incredible 2000 BCE, features elaborately decorated interiors and carved exterior depictions of Cleopatra and the Roman Emperors.
Museum of curiosity
Not for the faint-hearted, the Mummification Museum offers visitors a riveting look at the ancient Egyptian practice of embalming, in which humans, cats, dogs and even crocodiles underwent elaborate methods of preservation.
In the know
Street hawkers and vendors can seem a bit pushy on occasion, especially when visiting Egypt for the first time. It’s always best to stay calm and polite though, and a simple ‘La Shukran’ (No thank you) is the best way to rebuff unwanted advances.
Cruise on the Nile
A Nile cruise is the adventure of a lifetime. From your opulent All Inclusive resort in Hurghada you’ll arrive at the ancient city of Luxor where your journey begins. Aboard a luxurious cruise ship with all the amenities of a top hotel, you’ll drift along Egypt’s famous river, stopping off to visit some of the world’s most iconic sights, including the Valley of the Kings, the Collossi of Memnon, and the High Dam of Aswan.
Top tip for packing
Be sure to take some sturdy and comfortable footwear. Traversing over uneven ground and clambering over ancient ruins can be tricky in the wrong shoes. Many holiday-goers like to pack a pair of lightweight hiking boots for offshore excursions, and foldable hiking poles are a smart choice for those with mobility issues.