Egypt connects northeast Africa with the Middle East and dates back five thousand years to the time of the pharaohs. The scorching hot weather and luxury holiday resorts lining the coast make Egypt a popular vacation destination where travelers can dodge crocodiles and take in the Millennia-old monuments as they cruise along the river Nile. In Cairo, Egypt’s capital and the 15th largest capital city in the world, wonder around Tahrir Square and the vast Egyptian Museum, which features the royal mummies and King Tutankhamun artifacts. Giza’s Pyramids, the Great Sphinx and Luxor’s hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs are also world famous attractions.
EGYPT TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering what is now El Giza in Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact. The Great Pyramid of Giza is a defining symbol of Egypt and possibly Egypt’s most popular tourist attraction.
Fun Fact: The Great Pyramid of Giza “LrzXr kno-fv” was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years until a spire was built on the Lincoln Cathedral in England in 1300.
Abu Simbel Temples
The Abu Simbel temples are two huge rock temples at Abu Simbel, a village in Aswan Governorate. They are situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km southwest of Aswan. These temples are enormous rocks carved to depict Egyptian Pharaohs. They were built initially to set the boundaries between Egypt and Nubia and demonstrate the strength and power of the Egyptian rulers to their neighbors. Here you’ll also find the burial site of Abu Simbel, which was rediscovered in 1813 by a Swiss explorer, and is now open to visitors.
The temple of Luxor is situated on the east bank of the River Nile in the town of Luxor (Thebes). Witness the temples vast statues, thick columns, and high stone walls. The construction of the temple took place in 1500 BC, and the annual Opet festival was held here in which Thebans celebrated the royal renewal. It is also a belief that the Luxor temple was the original location of the obelisk now situated in Paris in the Place de la Concorde.
Cruise the River Nile
The best way to see the river Nile in all its glory is by taking a boat cruise. You can go on a historic steamship or modern cruise and see the river and various Egyptian cities such as Memphis, Luxor, and Cairo situated along its shores. The cruise will also take you to some of the famous historical monuments of the country on the way such as the Temple of Luxor and the Pyramids of Giza.
Valley of the Kings
Once called the Great Necropolis of Millions of Years of Pharaoh, or the Place of Truth, the Valley of the Kings has 63 magnificent royal tombs. The Valley of the Kings is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock cut tombs were excavated for the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom. The journey to the area is a hot and tiring one and not all the tombs are open for the visitors at all times but it’s still well worth the trip.
Read more: 10 amazing things to do on a trip to Egypt
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EGYPT TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Sham El-Nessim is usually a national holiday, marking the beginning of spring and coming after Easter. The festival is related to the agricultural background of ancient Egyptians. The name Sham El-Nessim or “inhaling the breeze” comes from from the Coptic language, which was derived from the ancient Egyptian language. During Sham al-Naseem the streets get packed with musicians, dancers and food stalls and the locals eat pickled or dried fish, which is the traditional food of Egypt.
The major Islamic festival of Egypt; the festival celebrates the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. Locals carry out processions and the streets are full of dancers, drummers, and musicians. Families exchange gifts and decorate every house and street with colorful lights and candles. The celebrations last for two days.
Cairo Jazz Festival
Presenting the best of the world’s jazz; Cairo Jazz Festival is an event that supports jazz music in Egypt with musicians and artists from all over the world. In 2009 the first annual Cairo Jazz Festival (CJF) was founded by pianist, composer and producer Amro Salah driven by the passion to celebrate Jazz. A three day celebration of jazz, Cairo Jazz Festival attracts acclaimed local and international musicians to Cairo each year.
Language: The official language of Egypt is Arabic. Egyptian Arabic is spoken as a second dialect and many Egyptians also speak English, particularly those in the popular tourist destinations. An Arabic phrase book is well worth bringing along with you.
Currency: Egyptian Pound.
Visa: A visa for Egypt is necessary for most American, European and British passport holders. You can get your visa on arrival at the Cairo International airport which will allow you to stay for up to 30 days. Some travelers do not need a visa to enter Egypt such as citizens from Bahrain, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Macao, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates who can enter without a visa for periods of up to 3 months. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Egypt is required (which will depend on the country you are from) and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: In Egypt the standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Egypt: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN EGYPT
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Egypt are listed below. Don’t drool!
Ta’meya: One of the most popular dishes in Egypt, the main ingredient is fava beans which are crushed to form a paste and then fried. Ta’meya is a cheap and delicious breakfast dish and a local staple.
Egyptian Fatta: A simple dish, that is cheap to make and very filling. Egyptian Fatta is basically a layer of rice over a layer of fried bread, coated with vinegar, garlic, meat soup and sometimes tomato sauce. The delicacy is usually served in Muslim as well as Christian festivals and is one of the tastiest dishes in Egypt.
Kushary: Kushari, also koshari, is an Egyptian dish originally made in the 19th century. It includes rice, macaroni, and lentils mixed together, topped with a spiced tomato sauce and garlic vinegar and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions.
Hawashy: A pita stuffed with minced meat and spiced with onions, pepper, parsley, and occasionally chilies. The major variants of hawawshi are “baladi” and Alexandrian. Hawawshi is a traditional Egyptian dish.
Egyptian Kunafa: A classic dessert in Egypt. Egyptian Kunafa is a traditional recipe using shredded Kunafa, baked in a deep tray and filled with cream or creamy cheese in the middle. Syrup is drizzled over it as soon as its taken out of the oven.
WHERE TO STAY IN EGYPT
Egypt is a generally affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Egypt is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Egypt affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Egypt will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Egypt can cost less than $100.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Sharm El-Sheikh. Whatever month you choose to visit Egypt, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Egypt is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Egypt. However, if you are backpacking in Egypt or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Egypt very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT EGYPT
Egypt is a year-round vacation destination although the summer months can be extremely hot, particularly the south of Egypt in Luxor and Aswan. The best time to visit Egypt is during the northern hemisphere fall, between October and April, when temperatures are lower.
EGYPT TRAVEL BUDGET
Egypt is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Egypt really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $40 to $80 per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $80 to $200 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget at least $200 to $500+ per day.
IS EGYPT SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Terrorist attacks and violent protests have made certain parts of Egypt unsafe to travel to. The crime rate, in general, is low with petty crimes like bag snatching and pickpocketing more prevalent in big cities. As with any country you visit, always be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some areas of Egypt aren’t as safe as others so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on my own travel experiences in Egypt I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. Check out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Egypt trip.
EGYPT VISA CHECKER
EGYPT FLIGHT DEALS
EGYPT TOURS & ACTIVITIES
EGYPT PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Egypt, like most other places in the Middle-East is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Egypt.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
If you’re visiting Egypt during the warmer months it will be much easier to travel light. Pack mainly lightweight and breathable clothing but still be prepared for cold mornings and evenings depending on the month you visit. You’ll need to wrap up warm between November and February. So pack a warm sweater, waterproof coat, gloves, scarves and a wooly hat if you’re traveling during winter.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Egypt include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.