Just over 100 miles south of Luxor and 30 miles north of Aswan is the stunning site known as the Temple of Kom Ombo. With its enormous and towering columns and beautiful reliefs and carvings, it is a wonderful way to experience the world of Ptolem...Read More
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT SURE WHICH PLACES TO VISIT IN EGYPT
If there is a country that appears on more “bucket lists” than Egypt, it would be a great surprise to many. Magical, enchanting, mysterious and beautiful, it is a preferred destination by the millions who head there every year, and who make many repeat visits as time passes.
This is because there are so many places to visit in Egypt that you could spend a lifetime exploring its different regions, sites, and attractions. This can make it very hard to plan a trip, and so we offer the following tips and details to help.
PLANNING YOUR DREAM TRIP IN EGYPT
When you say you want to pay a visit to Egypt, what do you envision? If you are like so many others, you intend to visit in order to see the many ancient sites from the Pharaonic era of Egypt. While many also head west into the desert and oases, and east to the “Red Sea Riviera” along the country’s eastern coast, for many it is all about the ancient past.
That is why one of the top places to visit in Egypt on most lists is the Giza Plateau. Home to the famous pyramids of Khufu, Menkaura and Khafra, it is also the location of the beguiling Sphinx and more.
Located just outside of Giza and close to Cairo, it easily rates as one of the top places to visit in Egypt, but what other spots are in your vision of Egypt?
Temples of Abu Simbel at the far southern end of the country is also one of those must-see locations, and yet so too is Luxor in the center of Egypt…you see, it is easy to get overwhelmed by thinking of just the most well-known areas That is why you must start with that basic vision or list, and a good map.
USE A MAP OF EGYPT TO PICK THE KEY PLACES TO VISIT IN EGYPT
When you take even a simple glance at a map of Egypt, you notice one thing immediately: the majestic Nile running down its center (or near center). Originating outside its southern borders, it enters Egypt as Lake Nasser and runs all of the way north to the Mediterranean. Interestingly enough, if you also look at lists of the top places to visit in Egypt, a huge number of them are found close to or directly on the shores of this enormous river.
That means that one of the easiest ways to take in some of the most famous and beguiling places to visit in Egypt is to do so from the comforts of a Nile cruise.
With options for cruises running from Cairo to Aswan (and then down Lake Nasser, as well), it is easier than ever to pay a visit to such famed sites as Luxor Temple and the Valley of the Kings, Aswan and Abu Simbel, and even Cairo and the famed Giza Plateau.
Yet, there are many places to visit in Egypt that many travelers might be unfamiliar with, but which will enchant and delight them when they visit. And a Nile cruise is a great way to discover such locations, as well.
HOW DELUXE NILE CRUISES HELP TRAVELERS SEE THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN EGYPT
As a simple example of this, start with the area around Cairo. Many premium and deluxe Nile cruises include day trips and guided tours around the city. While the luxury Nile cruises mean the very finest accommodations, gourmet meals, and an all-inclusive trip, it also means you will have experts on hand to give tours, answer questions, provide lectures, and more.
This allows you to have the expertise and knowledge of an Egyptologist, archaeologist or historian as you visit the Giza Necropolis, but also many fascinating sites in Cairo itself. The ancient quarters, the stunning market, and the Egyptian Museum are but a few of the places to visit in Egypt and Cairo.
Yet, aboard a cruise or as part of the land tour for your cruise, you could head south and experience the famed Pyramid of Djoser, also known as the Step Pyramid, the oldest in all of Egypt. Your luxury tour might instead head west into the desert and the oases that also rate as some of the most delightful places to visit in Egypt.
Along the river are also spots like Dahshur, Maydom, and Beni Suef (a common stopping point for cruises heading south from Cairo). Numbering as lesser-known but relevant places to visit in Egypt for those eager to learn all there is about the period of Egyptian history known as the Pharaonic era are Minya, Asyut and Amarna, and Quena, among others.
Why would these spots rate as some of the places to visit in Egypt? Beni Suef, as a specific example, is the spot where many head to the pyramids of Maydom and Dahshur. The site of the beautiful Red Pyramid, it enables you to see the Ancient Egyptians’ first attempt at the classic pyramid form. With its base sloping at an angle too steep to successfully stand, it takes a unique form and is truly stunning.
There is also the stunning Black Pyramid dating to the Middle Kingdom reign of Amenenhat III and standing like an enigmatic giant against the horizon, it is one pyramid you can only enjoy from a distance. Having partially collapsed over the centuries, visitors cannot approach it, but only admire its unique look and design from afar.
From Beni Suef, a cruise could head to dazzling Minya with the village of Tuna el-Gebel nearby. It was here that the westernmost boundary of the famous city of Akhenaten was located, and where boundary stela (monuments) are still found. Visits to Ashmunein are also an option when in this area and it is one of the boundary areas between ancient Upper and Lower Egypt.
A visit to the Minya area also means visiting the lesser known but unforgettable tombs of Baqet III, Khety, Amenemhet, and the Khnumhotep II. Of course, after Minya is the famed Tel El Amarna, the home of the heretic king Akhenaten. Breaking with tradition, he worshipped one god – the sun god or Aten. His queen was the famed Nefertiti and the art and architecture of his reign stand apart as entirely unique in the long history of Ancient Egypt.
Akhenaten relocated the capital to Armana, rather than Luxor, and so it is a stunning spot to explore. Royal tombs here include the king’s (who is thought to be the father of King Tut), along with many other royals. The journey from the Nile to the site may also allow a stop at the beautiful Tawdrous Monastery, another of the lesser known places to visit in Egypt that a cruise can provide.
From Amarna, a cruise can head south to Sohag, El Balyana and Abydos, where passengers will be able to pay a visit to the stunning temple. One of the last stops on an upriver journey from Cairo before reaching Luxor is Quena. Here you find the stunning temple complex known as Dendara. Dedicated to Hathor, it is considered one of the best preserved temples in all of Egypt. It dates to the late years of Pharaonic Egypt, the Ptolemaic Period, and was actually finished by Roman rulers.
A stunning structure, it is also home to a great controversy – the Dendara Light, something you must see for yourself to form a better opinion. Not often part of standard tours and cruises, it is among the must-see places to visit in Egypt available on a luxury Nile cruise from Cairo.
Once you pass Qena, the next stop is usually the famed, historical capital of Ancient Egypt – Luxor.
LUXOR TO ASWAN AND THE MANY PLACES TO VISIT IN EGYPT
If you are eager to see some of the most famed and oft-spoken of places to visit in Egypt, the trip from Luxor to Aswan highlights many of them. Luxor itself is at the very top of most lists because it features the East Bank temple complexes of Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, along with a lot of wonderful museums and sights.
The West Bank must certainly rank as one of the most frequently visited spots in Egypt, probably equal to the pyramid complex at Giza. This is because it is the location of the famed Valley of the Kings, the final resting place (royal necropolis) for more than 60 of Ancient Egypt’s pharaohs and rules. It was here in the 1920s that Howard Carter unearthed the tomb of King Tutankhamen, but it is also where the tombs of Ramses II (Ramses the Great) and many of his ancestors and descendants are found, including Seti I. There are also 18th Dynasty tombs, nobles’ tombs (including those of Yuya and Tuyu – parents of Queen Tiy, grandmother to King Tut), and so many more.
Though the Valley of the Kings is at the top of most lists of places to visit in Egypt, its neighboring Valley of the Queens is just as fascinating, as is Deir el-Bahari, home to the stunning Temple of Hatshepsut. A female pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, it once featured gardens, has multiple tiers and is easily one of the most impressive structures in the region.
When you book passage on a luxury Nile cruise, you are often transported from the water and into the valley areas, given guided tours to some of the very best sights, including multiple tombs, and even places with only limited access. You are also given a lot more time than the average, larger tour, and this can allow for unforgettable experiences.
The East Bank area of Luxor is also one of the top locations to visit as it allows you to experience both the Luxor and Karnak temple complexes, which took more than 2,000 years to complete.
Departing upriver from Luxor brings you next to the temples at Edfu and Kom Ombo. Both fascinating, Edfu is also called the Temple of Horus and is a massive and impressive structure you will never forget. At Kom Ombo, you witness the double temples dedicated to Horus and Sobek (the crocodile god), where mummified crocodiles will never fail to impress.
This leaves the last region that is so often described as another of the top places to visit in Egypt – the Aswan and Lake Nasser areas. Aswan is the location of the High Dam that created Lake Nasser below, but it is also the area where visitors can experience the famous Unfinished Obelisk, showing exactly how these enormous sculptures were made. The area is also home to Philae Temple, another must-see destination, and the High Dam.
If a luxury Nile cruise disembarks at Aswan, the savvy traveler will know there are more places to visit in Egypt below the town. Usually the finest way to do this is yet another cruise, this time a Lake Nasser cruise that will let you see many of the Nubian Egyptian sites relocated to be spared from the waters of Lake Nasser, which submerged the region with the completion of the dam. All of them are UNESECO World Heritage Sites and part of the organization’s Nubian Monuments collection.
A luxury Lake Nasser cruise takes you to the island of New Kalabsha, home to the Kalabsha Temple, Gerf Husseian (built by Ramses II), Beit el-Wali and Kiosk of Qertassi. Impressive and unforgettable, it offers wonderful opportunities to see relief paintings, architecture and more.
Then comes Wadi El Seboua of Valley of the Lions because of its row of sphinxes leading to the temple’s large and imposing pylon. This area features the Temples of Dakka, Amun and Maharraqua, as well. Each is unique and features elements or design that make them more of the best places to visit in Egypt.
Amada is another destination on the shores of the lake and is home to the Temple of Amada (the oldest Nubian temple existing) and the famed Temple of Derr. Lastly, is a site many envision the very moment Egypt is mentioned – Abu Simbel. A temple complex lovingly relocated as the waters of Lake Nasser rose, it was built by Ramses II with temples dedicated to himself and his wife Nefertari. Its enormous, 66 ft. statues of the pharaoh, and its gorgeous halls are something few ever forget.
These are but a few of the must-see sights of Egypt and are easily visited when you book a luxury Nile cruise departing from Cairo, Luxor or Aswan.