Egypt is the place to see some truly ancient wonders of the world. Big hitters like the Sphinx, the Great Pyramids, Tutankhamun’s Tomb, to name just a few, are the millennia-old sights to check out in this desert-clad country.
And let’s not forget that the longest river in the world, the Nile, flows through Egypt. Towns along its banks are full of history. Elsewhere, on the Sinai Peninsula and the coast of the Gulf of Suez, resorts have sprung up for those on the hunt for beaches and beautiful coral reefs. Whether it’s history or nature, Egypt is rich in both.
The region of Lower Egypt encompasses the immediate Mediterranean coast of the country and the Nile Delta. Here is where you’ll find Cairo. A mix of modern and old, this is the vast Egyptian capital that’s one of the biggest cities both in Africa and the Middle East.
It’s the perfect jumping-off point for visiting the famed Pyramids at Giza, dating back to between 2550 and 2490 B.C, as well as the lesser-known Saqqara Pyramid Complex, which is located south of the capital.
Alexandria is yet another famous city, the second-largest in the country. This still very much working port city has a rich history: this is where the famous Great Library of Alexandria was located – until 391 AD, that is. There are many other sights, however, like the Mostafa Kamel Necropolis and the soaring Citadel of Qaitbay.
Elsewhere, Port Said is home to the famous French-built Lighthouse of Port Said, and is the entrance of the Suez Canal.
A large region of the country taking up the banks of the Nile from Beni Suef in the north to Ques in the south. You’ll find a various selection of towns and cities along the way, which work as perfect stopping-off points for exploring sights as you go.
Beni Suef is a cotton (and carpet) producing city with lots of attractive mansions scattered through its streets. Nearby Beni Hasan is a small village, south of Minya on the eastern bank; here you’ll find intriguing cliff tombs that overlook the river. The Necropolis of Beni Hasan consists of 39 tombs in total, from the 11th to the 12th Dynasties (2134 to 1802 BC).
Abydos is another famed historic sight. This is home to the Temple of Seti I, who was the father of Ramses the Great, featuring incredible reliefs throughout. There’s also the Temple of Ramses II and the Tomb of Osiris.
Situated along the southern banks of the Nile, between Aswan and Luxor, this is a historical region of Egypt dotted with ancient wonders.
Aswan is a relatively laid-back city, home to quarries where stone for Luxor was sourced; it was seen by the Ancient Egyptians themselves as the gateway to Africa. It’s in Aswan that you can see the Unfinished Obelisk, the largest known ancient obelisk – it’s been carved directly out of bedrock.
Abu Simbel – close to the Sudanese border – is one of Upper Egypt’s major sights, featuring colossal statues of Ramses II.
The undisputed champion of this region, however, is Luxor, split across the east and west banks of the Nile. On the east are the main town, museums, and the Temple of Karnak. On the west is the Valley of the Kings – an incredible complex of tombs of temples. The most famous of all is the tomb of Tutankhamun.
In the west of Egypt, the region of the Western Desert has long been associated with death; Ancient Egyptians believed that at the end of each day, the sun god Ra went there to die. Today, though not as dramatic, it’s still associated with danger; there are travel warnings in place for this region of the country.
The area is characterized by a lot of desert, with five major oasis towns that can be visited. Siwa, close to the Libyan border and centered around a lake, is lined with date palms and olive trees – complete with a charming old town.
Bahariyya is another oasis town and the closest to Cairo; it’s an excellent spot to arrange desert safaris, as there’s a lot of wildlife in the surrounding area.
Other oases, Kharga, Dakhla, and Farafra, represent pockets of green in what is a generally inhospitable environment.
Red Sea Coast
Also referred to as the ‘Red Sea Riviera,’ this area is known for its long stretches of beach, incredibly clear dive spots, and a whole lot of resorts. As you would expect, the Red Sea Coast comprises the eastern coast of the Gulf of Suez and much of the area inland from it.
One major destination is Hurghada. What once was a small fishing village is now a popular destination for international tourists, who come here to enjoy shore-side hotels and excursions to the coral reefs lying out at sea.
El Quseir has the best of both worlds, with great dive spots, beaches, and even history, featuring a fortress and a historical harbor to explore.
El Gouna is a resort town north of Hurghada that now boasts universities, spas, golf courses, and just about everything you could need for a holiday by the Red Sea.
The Sinai Peninsula, located between the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba, with the Red Sea proper to the south, is – for the most part – uninhabited, except for the Bedouin settlements. However, the eastern coast along the Gulf of Aqaba is another story.
That’s because there are some of the best diving spots in the world here. Reefs and marine wonders abound – and so do resort towns. Sharm el-Sheikh is the most famous, with plenty of accommodation for just about anyone. North is Dahab, an alternative hangout for people looking to avoid tourist crowds, complete with isolated beaches.
Away from the beaches, there are some important sights for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike: it’s on Mt Sinai that Abraham is said to have received the Ten Commandments, for example.
There is currently a travel warning in place for Sinai, though Sharm el-Sheikh is said to be safe enough.