Egypt boasts some of the world’s best ancient sights, fabulous beaches and hotels and some of the most amazing dive sites on the planet, which means there’s something to appeal to everyone.
Whether you want a short break in bustling Cairo, a cruise on the Nile or the chance to top up your tan, you can’t go wrong. Best of all, a holiday in Egypt is great value for money.
Getting there/getting around Egypt
There are plenty of direct and regional flights to the Red Sea resorts of Marsa Alam, Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh and Taba Heights as well as to the capital Cairo.
Internal flights are efficient and an affordable way of combining a break in the capital with a beach stay. Long distance coach travel is good but distances can be long. There are plenty of cheap taxis operating within cities and resorts too. Cairo’s streets are congested and driving is not for the faint-hearted.
Beach lovers are spoilt for choice on the Red Sea Riviera. Sharm el Sheikh has become so popular with Brits that some have even dubbed it the new Benidorm. An upmarket alternative is El Gouna, which is less than one hour from Hurghada. With international hotels, affordable accommodation, child-friendly facilities and year-round sunshine, the Red Sea offers everything that you’d expect for a short haul holiday.
If you want an alternative, head for some of the new resorts along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast such as Almaza Bay and its up-and-coming neighbours, which are served by Marsa Matrouh airport.
First-time visitors should head to Cairo, which is also an unforgettable short break option for culture vultures. Gawp at the iconic Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, devote hours or even days to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities featuring ancient relics including Tutankhamun’s famed Gallery, stroll through Coptic Cairo, the oldest part of the city and haggle your way around the local markets.
Luxor is another must-see – its temples, and the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, are outstanding.
Nile cruises are also popular and vary in duration and standard, depending on your budget. Most trips incorporate the must-sees – Edfu, Kom Ombo and Philae temples, Aswan’s old and new dams, and Egypt’s greatest treasure, the wonderfully preserved temples of Abu Simbel. Cruises on Lake Nasser can also be tagged on.
Bear in mind that if you’re staying in Sharm or Hurghada, most hotels and agencies can organise day-long or overnight trips to see the top attractions in Luxor and Cairo.
Eating out in Egypt
Expect Middle Eastern fare, often described as Oriental buffets in the larger hotels. Staples includes breads, salads, dips, fuul which is a type of bean, stewed pigeon, spit-roasted lamb and black, strong, sweet coffee. One of the most scenic places to eat in the capital is 180 metre high Cairo Tower which has a revolving restaurant.
International cuisine is also readily available in the larger cities and coastal resorts.
Nightlife in Egypt
Most evening entertainment for tourists in cities like Luxor and Cairo involve floor shows with whirling dervishes, musicians and belly dancers.
In Sharm and Hurghada, there are plenty of British-style pubs, clubs and discos. The nightlife in El Gouna is more sophisticated and is centred around a glittering marina, while most evening entertainment in Taba Heights is based around the hotels.
Shopping in Egypt
Souvenir hunters will be spoilt for choice. In Cairo, head for the sprawling and somewhat bewildering Khan al Khalili, a vast market place selling gold and silver jewellery; perfumes, papyrus pictures, alabaster pots, statues, and trinkets. Expect some hassle from stall holders.
The Red Sea resorts offer touristy markets and souks, with some of the larger hotels piled high with tacky and overpriced souvenirs.
Family attractions in Egypt
Apart from watersports, beaches and snorkelling on the coast, enjoy a spot of camel trekking. In cities like Luxor and Cairo, hot air balloon flights provide bird’s eye views and are worth the early morning wake-up call.
Cairo boasts an overly dramatic but informative Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids. There is an equivalent at Luxor’s Karnak Temple too.
Day trips around Egypt
Day-long boat trips are available in most Red Sea resorts – depending on where you are stay, they involve bbq lunches on deserted islands, plus plenty of time to swim, sunbathe, snorkel or dive. Hair-raising quad biking trips into the Western Desert or the Sinai Desert are also fun and safe but check before you book about age restrictions if you’re planning to take the kids along.
If you’re in Sharm el Sheikh or Taba Heights, trips can be arranged to climb Mount Sinai and to see St Catherine’s Monastery, site of the Moses’ Burning Bush. In Luxor, Aswan or Lake Nasser, book a felucca (traditional sail boat) trip. And for some romance, pick a sunset cruise.