Things to do in Egypt

Things to do in  Egypt

Land of pyramids and pharaohs

On the cusp of Africa and Arabia, home to thousands of years of history, Egypt pairs desert, river, and Red Sea to devastating effect. Many of the most memorable things to do in Egypt explore its ancient wonders, be that cruising the Nile, riding a camel around Cairo’s Giza Pyramids, or soaring over Luxor’s Valley of the Kings in a hot-air balloon. Yet the nation’s Red Sea coasts offer beach resorts, from scuba hotspot Sharm el Sheikh and laid-back Dahab to bustling Hurghada and Marsa Alam.

Top 15 attractions in Egypt

Egyptian Museum (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities)

A centerpiece of Tahrir Square, the Egyptian Museum (Museum of Egyptian Antiquities) has been a mecca for Egyptologists since it opened and houses some of the world’s greatest ancient relics. While some collections are moving to the new Grand Egyptian Museum, it remains a must-see for anyone interested in ancient Egypt.More

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings is a trove of archaeological wonders, containing dozens of tombs filled with art and hieroglyphics. See King Tutankhamun's tomb—the most famous sight in the valley—then tour the temples of the sons of Ramses II and of Amenhotep III and others to marvel at art and artifacts dating between the 18th and 20th dynasties.More

Ras Mohammed National Park

On the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Ras Mohammed National Park is home to Sharm el Sheikh’s best diving, notably Shark Reef, Yolanda Reef, and Jackfish Alley. Besides the pristine coral that awaits offshore, the land delivers empty beaches, rugged cliffs, and desert, plus mangrove swamps, salt marshes, and diverse birdlife.More

Nile River

Measuring a mighty 4,150 miles (6,680 kilometers) from end to end, the Nile is the longest river in the world. It's also the lifeblood of Egypt, flowing through the heart of the Sahara desert and passing through cities, including Khartoum, Aswan, Luxor, and Cairo, before emptying into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria.More

Giza Pyramids

One of the most mysterious Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (and the only one still standing), the Pyramids of Giza—the Great Pyramid of Giza (Khufu Pyramid), Pyramid of Khafre, and Pyramid of Menkaure—still live up to more than 4,000 years of hype. Seeing these 4th-dynasty pyramids and their guardian Sphinx rising from the Giza Plateau is a must on any trip to Cairo (and the reason many travelers find themselves in Egypt).More

Hurghada Marina

Opened in 2008, Hurghada Marina is the recreational hub of the Red Sea resort. Centered on a 200-berth harbour and bordered by the Marina Boulevard—a walkway flanked by palms, parks, and ochre-painted shops and residential blocks—the marina boasts an abundance of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.More

Khan El-Khalili

With a history dating back to the 14th century, the Khan El-Khalili bazaar is Cairo’s signature shopping destination. It’s an intoxicating warren of streets, houses, and merchants selling everything from gold and spices to shisha pipes and toy camels, not to mention the inevitable scarabs, pyramids, and belly-dancer costumes.More

Philae Temple (Temple of Isis)

Perched on an island in the Nile River, Philae Temple is ancient history that’s been saved stone by stone. A relocation effort moved Philae Temple to Agilkia Island when the UNESCO World Heritage Site was threatened by flooding; today, thanks to the move, visitors can still admire hieroglyphic reliefs abutting soaring columns and sanctuaries dedicated to the ancient gods Horus, Isis, and Hathor.More

Aswan High Dam

Built to control the Nile River’s annual floods, the Aswan High Dam transformed Egypt’s Nile Valley and created the vast Lake Nasser. The sheer scale of the dam is impressive, and at the top, you’ll find sweeping views of the lake and surrounding desert.More

Abu Simbel Temples

Built as royal tombs, the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor are some of Egypt’s best known archeological sites. Step past the enormous sandstone statues carved into the temple facades, and explore the interiors, which are decorated with art and hieroglyphics.More

Karnak Temple

Ancient architecture goes monumental at this landmark in Luxor, which houses magnificent statues, columns, and the largest place of worship ever constructed—just a stone’s throw from downtown traffic. Construction of Karnak Temple spanned more than 1,000 years, and it shows in the diverse art and architecture of this Egyptian site.More

Luxor Temple

An ancient sanctuary surrounded by honking taxis, touts, and strolling families, Luxor Temple’s grandeur has endured more than 3,000 years on the East Bank of the Nile. Linked to Karnak Temple via the Avenue of Sphinxes, Luxor Temple boasts soaring colonnades, elaborate columns, statues, and images of Amenhotep III and Ramses II.More


During Egypt’s Old Kingdom period, Memphis, located near Cairo, was home to the pharaohs who built the pyramids. But domestic architecture didn’t last like the pyramids did, so most all that remains of Memphis today is the Mit Rahina open-air sculpture museum.More

Colossi of Memnon

Two giant statues of the New Kingdom pharaoh Amenhotep III, the Colossi of Memnon, tower 59 feet (18 meters high, making the perfect introduction to the grandeurs of Luxor’s West Bank. Each weighs around 1,100 tons (1,000 tonnes and they once guarded the entrance to a funerary temple archaeologists are still excavating today.More

Saqqara (Sakkara)

Set about 18 miles (30 kilometers) south of Cairo, Saqqara (Sakkara) was the burial place for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, now in ruins. The site features a small sphinx and several pyramids—the most famous of which is the Step Pyramid of Djoser, which represented a major advance in building techniques.More

Trip ideas

How to Haggle in Egypt

How to Haggle in Egypt

Top activities in Egypt

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All about Egypt

When to visit

Tourists primarily visit Egypt from October to April, when the weather is dry and sunny. The two downsides to winter, however, are Cairo’s sometimes overcast weather and a cool Red Sea—especially between December and March. Come June, most cities are quiet, thanks to summer’s heat; coastal breezes make resorts like Sharm el Sheikh tolerable. Popular annual events include the Abu Simbel Sun Festival, which takes place twice a year (in February and October) and the Sandbox music festival in El Gouna in May.

Getting around

In cities, private cabs are the tourist go-to, but remember to agree to a price before getting in. You can also get around pretty well using Egypt’s public transportation systems. (Renting a car isn’t advisable, due to the country’s often chaotic roads.) Air-conditioned trains (including some with sleeper cars), can whisk you between Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan. There are also buses run by private companies that make the trip between the Nile Valley and Red Sea resorts more comfortable (though domestic flights are quicker).

Traveler tips

For a taste of classic Cairo, seek out the Naguib Mahfouz Café, located deep in the city’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar. Named after the 20th-century writer Naguib Mahfouz, this elegant coffee house offers a respite from the market’s sweltering, noisy lanes. Step through the curtains into its air-conditioned sanctuary of cushioned benches, and cool off with a zingy lemon-and-mint juice. For the full Cairene experience, pair your drink with the café’s signature hawawshi, pita loaded with herby minced beef.


People Also Ask

What is Egypt known for?

Egypt is best known for its pharaonic period archaeological sites. Most famous are Cairo’s UNESCO-listed Giza Pyramids—three 4,500-year-old royal tombs guarded by the Great Sphinx. Other claims to fame are Cairo’s collection of Tutankhamun’s funerary treasures, Luxor’s temples and tombs, and the beach and diving resorts of the Red Sea coast.

What should you not miss in Egypt?

Egypt’s ancient relics are must-sees, with Cairo’s Giza Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum’s Tutankhamun artifacts major draws. Don’t miss a Luxor-Aswan Nile cruise—sailing the timeless river to view age-old monuments, including Karnak and Abu Simbel’s temples. Beach and scuba-diving enthusiasts, meanwhile, will love the Red Sea’s sands and coral reefs.

Where is the most visited place in Egypt?

Cairo’s Giza Pyramids and Sphinx lure the most tourists, with millions visiting every year. Other crowd-pullers include Cairo’s Egyptian Museum with its pharaohs’ mummies and Tutankhamun burial cache. Also popular are Luxor’s Karnak temple and tomb-filled Valley of the Kings, as well as the gigantic Abu Simbel, overlooking Lake Nasser.

What activities do people in Egypt do?

Admiring Cairo’s antiquities and taking multi-day Nile cruises around the treasures of Luxor and Aswan are visitor favorites. But Egypt has plenty to enjoy. Revel in the beaches and underwater beauty of its Red Sea resorts, browse atmospheric souks, sunset-watch from a felucca or sailboat, and explore vast desert landscapes.

Is 7 days in Egypt enough?

Yes, a week is enough to cover Egypt’s principal ancient monuments. It allows a short sightseeing stint in Cairo before a 3-, 4-, or 5-day Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan to experience temples like Karnak and Abu Simbel. For a Red Sea beach break on top, add another week.

Is Egypt a safe place to visit?

Yes, Egypt is generally safe. Terrorism can sometimes occur, with a heightened risk at religious and tourist sites, so take extra care and follow security advice. Otherwise, crime is low, although pickpocketing and scams can blight cities like Cairo. Female travelers should avoid walking alone after dark.

Frequently Asked Questions