The Nile continues to play a central role in Egypt’s economy, culture and society. It’s great for tourists too. The river offers the perfect way to take in many of the most spectacular ancient monuments, whether on a cruise, dinner boat or a felucca. There are sand-covered tombs at Luxor, austere pyramids in Giza and towering Pharaonic temples in Karnak to enjoy. The beauty of the fertile lands around the Nile contrast with the more austere beauty of the deserts, and hiking up Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise or sitting in a hot spring in the Siwa Oasis are wonderful ways to appreciate it. This barren beauty contrasts strongly with the hidden treasures of corals and marine life in Egypt’s crystal-clear waters. The sea around Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada offers psychedelic corals and marine life that snorkelers and divers will relish, as well as top beach hotels and resorts.
Cairo – The iconic pyramids Giza are just the most famous examples you can see: the area around contains many others to explore. Yet, it’s not all ancient history: Egypt’s bustling bazaars offer a sensory overload, magnificent mosques dominate, Coptic churches carry a strong hint of history, dinner cruises on the Nile add a splash of romance and Cairo hotels offer modern comfort.
Luxor – Welcome to the world’s greatest open-air museum. The scale, grandeur, craftsmanship and sheer depth of history of the Theban monuments are simply astounding. Furthermore, temples like Karnak and funerary complexes like the Valley of the Kings are set on the banks of the Nile with a stunning backdrop of dramatic cliffs.
Aswan – Further down the Nile the Nubian influence can be palpably felt. Laid-back Aswan offers a little rest and relaxation after the rigours of your sightseeing and the crowds of Cairo.
Sharm el Sheikh – Home of beachside hotels and resorts, wrecks, coral walls, caves, coral gardens, sharks, turtles and more exotic fish than any diver could hope to log in a lifetime. Non-divers can see it all by snorkelling on a boat trip or from sites near the shore but, should this all seem too much, grab a drink, eat well and just lay out on that beach.
The main sights of Egypt have been available to see for as long as 4,500 years, and they look as impressive as ever. The Sphinx and those pyramids at Giza are best combined with a visit to Cairo’s fantastic Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Monumental sites, such as Karnak and Abu Simbel, cannot fail but impress, yet at the temples and tombs of Luxor it is often the remarkably vivid details of hieroglyphs and paintings that really take the breath away. The adventurous can scale Mount Sinai and be rewarded by a stunning sunrise, rather than a tablet of commandments as Moses was. Divers can head in the other direction to take in the beauty of Egypt’s marine life.
A cultural tour in Aswan will introduce you to the life of the Nubians whilst a balloon tour over Luxor will give you a truly different perspective of the temples and town strung out below. Take a trip on a camel into the desert or opt for something with a bit more horsepower like a quad bike. Ride a donkey through the Valley of Kings or sail on a felucca past the ancient sites. Take a dinner cruise on the Nile from Cairo or explore the early years of Christianity on a walking tour of Coptic Cairo. Egypt serves up many thousands of years of history to you on a plate: so why not tuck in?