When people think of a trip to Egypt, the Giza pyramid complex and the Great Sphinx of Giza probably come to mind, and well they should, but there is much more to explore in this incredible country. These and other ancient monuments in the Nile River Valley make a cruise down the Nile River an excursion at the top of most travelers’ bucket lists. The Valley of the Kings in Luxor, home to Tutankhamun’s tomb, Ramses II’s Abu Simbel Temples in the Aswan Governate, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square and the city’s medieval architecture open the traveler’s eyes to a millennium of Egyptian history and culture. The beaches and diving and snorkeling spots of the Red Sea also yearn to be experienced.
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Al Badari is situated between Matmar and Qau in Upper Egypt, occupying just over 18 miles of land along the Nile River’s east bank. It’s most well-known for its Predynastic cemeteries with Mostageddan and Dier being the most popular sites. These cemeteries teach visitors about the social history and chronology of the Badarian Period. The 40 settlements and 600 graves that have been unearthed show that the Badarian economy thrived between 5500 BC and 4000 BC, with animal husbandry, fishing, and agriculture playing important roles in their economy. Each site contains a wealth of artifacts which give insights into the Badarians daily lives as well as their burial practices.
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Alexandria was a city conceived of by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE after staying overnight in the Re-qdt village, situated between Lake of Marriott and the Mediterranean Sea. While there, he decided a great city should be built and put architect Dinocratis in charge of building it. The city thrived for decades until the Romans conquered the area and built a new city in 30 BC. During their rule, most of it was destroyed due to revolts, civil wars, and natural disasters. The city’s remains are seen through various cemeteries’ from the Ptolemic period to the Roman Period. Additional popular monuments include Pompeii’s Pillar, Quaitbay Citadel, and the Montazah Gardens.
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Aswan is the 3rd largest city in Egypt and the largest in Upper Egypt, located at the base of the Nile Valley. It is a popular destination for tourists since it’s a premier stop for cruise ships traveling along the Nile River and Lake Nasser. Its location slightly north of the Tropic of Cancer gives it a hot climate throughout the year, so visitors should wear hats and drink plenty of water. Some of the area’s most outstanding attractions are Abu Simbel, Pharaonic Temples, the Botanical Gardens on Kitchener Island, the Temple of Dakka, and the Tombs of the Nobles.
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Bernice is a small coastal town situated along the Red Sea, roughly 7.5 miles south of Marsa Alam. It is known for being very rich in fish, and it served as an important port during the Ptolemy times. Today, the city serves as an important therapeutic center and is considered a geological phenomenon brimming with semi-precious gems. The area is also home to numerous ruins such as an Ancient Ptolematic temple, and excavations still regularly occur here, particularly on Greco-Roman monuments. Visitors to this area are recommended to visit the nearby Marsa Alam, a port and resort town, and El-Quseir, great for camping and watersports.
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Cairo, the largest city in Africa and the capital of Egypt, is situated on both sides of the River Nile at the head of the river’s delta. Its name means the victorious city, and it has been settled for over 6000 years, featuring several river islands and containing several businesses, cultural institutions, universities, hotels, and government offices. The epicenter of downtown Cairo is Tahrir Square, an expansive and open square boasting various attractions such as the Arab League Headquarters and the Egyptian Museum. The main sights that should be seen when visiting Cairo are the Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx, the Step Pyramid at Sakkara, and the Castle of Saladin.
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Dahab is a beautiful tourist city famous for its gold sand beaches. It covers over 700 square miles and is situated in Southeastern Sinai on the Aqaba Bay, featuring two other major bays, Ghazala and Al Qora. Diving is the most popular activity in Dahab, and the protected area of Ras Abu Galuom is the premier spot for it. Al Masbat is the commercial and tourist center of the city offering various souvenir shops, Bedouin-style cafes, diving centers, and camps. The best beaches are the Blue Hole, a giant hole inside the sea created by a falling star that collided with the earth during ancient times, and the Lighthouse, which is excellent for diving.
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Daraw, situated south of Kom Ombo, is primarily known for its camel market, Souq al-gimmal, where visitors can see thousands of camels in one place brought from Modurman in Sudan, Abu Simbel from the north, and Wadi al-Alagi. Goats, cows, and other livestock are also sold here. Nubian men in tuk-tuks sell Egypt’s spinach, molokheya, and mint. After experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime attraction, there are a few places just outside of Daraw worth a visit. These include the ancient temple of Contra-Ombos, the quarries at Gebel el- hamman, and El-kubaniya, a quaint village with several early Egyption cemeteries.
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Faqous is a town located in the Ash Sharqiyah Governate that is just over 300 square miles and consists of numerous villages and small towns. It is a premier agricultural area comprised of farmer and Bedouin inhabitants. Textiles and food industries are the main contributors to the economy. It offers visitors a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity with various monuments and museums that showcase the area’s rich cultural past, as well as hotels, boutiques, and restaurants. Faquos is also well-known for its nearness to several popular and important cities such as Cairo, Port Said, Al Mansurah, Ismailia, Tanda, Al Mahallah al Kubra, and Zagazig.
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Girga is famous for its desert, sharing its boundaries with the River Nile’s west bank. It is classified as a hot desert and has extremely hot summers. The area has many iconic and well-known attractions such as el-Sini, which is believed to be the oldest Roman Catholic Monastery in Egypt; the ancient site Beit Khallaf where tombs made of mud brick reside; and the Porcelain Mosque. Girga is also famous for its sugar refinery, dairy, and cotton weaving industries. It sells some of the world’s finest pottery made of the highest quality. Just outside of the city are the remains of the ancient city of Abydos, a Catholic monastery.
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Hurhada is a premier tourist destination, receiving over 2.5 million visitors each year and stretching just under 45 miles along the Red Sea coast. The weather is idyllically moderate throughout the year, making it the perfect locale for various watersport activities. These include deep-sea fishing, windsurfing, and sailing as well as snorkeling and diving in offshore underwater gardens to see colorful fish and some of the world’s finest coral reefs. There are more than 170 exquisite beach hotels and resorts featuring a wealth of amenities and six off-shore islands that are worth a visit: Gifton, Sheduan, Umm, Abu Ramada, Dishet El Dhaba, and Abu Minqar.
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Ismailia is a famous tourist destination known for its beauty and location along the Suez Canal. It was built on Tesmah Lake’s west bank between Suez in the south and Portsaid in the north. The city, which has developed rapidly over the past few decades, is known as one of the most attractive cities in the country with a dignified European style, well-organized clean streets, and various enchanting gardens. There are also several pristine beaches along Tesmah Lake, various museums such as the De Lesseps Museum (the former home of the iconic engineer Ferdinand De Lesseps) and historical sites from the Roman, Pharaonic, Islamic, and Coptic periods.
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Luxor is considered the largest open-air museum in the world. It has been approximated to contain roughly one third of the world’s most valuable antiquities and monuments. The list of these sights is too vast to list, but some of the most notable are The Luxor and Karnak Temples, the Valley of the Queens, and the Valley of the Kings. Deir El-Medina’s workers’ village and the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir El-Bahri are two additional top attractions. The Luxor Museum and the Mummification Museum, which showcases the preservation of the body for afterlife, gives visitors a look into the country’s rich historical and cultural heritage.
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Marsa Alam is a coastal area along the Red Sea situated just over 80 miles south of Al-Qusseir and connected to Edfu by an almost 180-mile long desert road. It’s become a big draw to tourists over the years thanks to its many exotic beaches and monumental sites. This once tiny fishing village has transformed into a seaside mecca, famous for its diving and sea trips boasting unparalleled diving spots and coral reefs. There are also various outdoor sporting activities on land, excellent markets and shops selling everything from healing herbs to jewelry, as well as a multitude of adventure opportunities such as camel, buggy, or motorcycle tours into the desert.
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Mersa Matruh is Egypt’s most stunning Mediterranean City with an extensive number of diverse beaches. This historic city is said to date back to the period of Alexander the Great, who is also considered the builder of the city. During ancient times, it was the starting point to Siwa where the temple of the god Amoun was located and visited regularly by Alexander. It used to be a quaint seaside village but has been transformed by progress to host several hotels, shops, and modern conveniences such as fast food chains as well as traditional restaurants. It is most popular for its shopping markets and water activities such as surfing, jet skiing, and peddle boating.
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Naj Hammadi, located in Upper Egypt, is a small town in the Qena governorate of the River Nile’s west bank. Its biggest claim to fame is the iconic Naj Hammadi Library, which houses a collection of ancient codices. These famed codices go back to the fourth century AD and are written in Coptic, but many believe were translated from Greek. They have given significant insight into the nature of Gnosticism in the early Christian history. One of the most marvelous aspects of these codices is that they include the only copy of the gospel of Thomas. The nearby town of Faw Qibli is also significant, as their excavations have given validity to the codices.
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Nuweiba is a quaint, continually developing town nestled between Taba in the north and Dahab in the south and opposite to Jordanian port city Aqaba, making it an essential Egyptian port in the Gulf of Al Aqaba. The Nuweiba port is also the most significant gateway to Asia and the Arab world, and a duty-free zone featuring numerous supermarkets and shops. The town is home to several mineral water wells and has an array of Bedioun dwellings offering a unique atmosphere to the area. The main tourist activities in Nuweiba are snorkeling and diving at the various coral reefs as well as safari trips to the desert.
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Port Said is located along the shores of Mediterranean Sea and is considered the third most important city behind Cairo and Alexandria due to its location at the entrance of the Suez Canal. There are various remarkable sites and monuments throughout the city, including the Port of the city, the second biggest port in the country. The Suez Canal Authority Building is one of the most prominent and important examples of Islamic construction, an architectural gem worth a visit. Cultural highlights include the Museum of Modern Art, the Military Museum of Port Said, and the Port Said National Museum. There is also a duty-free area, making it a perfect locale for shopping.
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Qalyub is situated in the Al Qalyubiyah governorate in Lower Egypt at the tip of the Nile River Delta and just north of the metropolitan city of Cairo. It is a prominent commercial center and expansive agricultural region. The printing press for Al-Ahram, a popular newspaper, is located here and said to have been built using the material from the ancient Heliopolis, which resides just a few miles away. There are several important sites in and around Qalyub such as beautifully preserved old mosques like the Great Mosque. Additional noteworthy attractions include the Theodor Bilharz Research Institute, Shubra El-Kheima, Plastic Stadium, Al-Matariyyah, and Ain Shams.
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Rosetta is northeast of the city of Alexandria, located on the western bank of the River Nile. Its biggest claim to fame was the discovery of the infamous Rosetta Stone in 1799, the black basalt stone contained three distinct bands of writing. The top was hieroglyphics, the middle was Egyptian script, and the bottom was written in Ancient Greek. It was later revealed this was a royal decree stating it needed to be written in the three languages used at the time. The houses of Rosetta are also prominent fixtures here, a collection of architecturally beautiful, multi-level homes. The most noble is the former home of Arab Killy, the Ottoman governor of the city.
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Sadat is located centrally in the northern part of Egypt west of the city of Cairo. It is well-known and revered as one of the biggest industrial cities in the country. Sadat is surrounded by over 215 square miles of green belt, making it one of the top ten environmentally friendly industrial cities in the Middle East. The city itself is mostly focused on preserving agricultural lands in the area but features various sites and attractions as well. There are several mosques and churches throughout the city that showcase the beauty and nobility of Islamic architecture such as the Abd El-Aziz Ezz Mosque and the Virgin Mary Church.
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Safaga is a marine port just south of Hurghada connected to a cruise shuttle service line with Saudi Arabia and Jordan. It is a prominent center for special medical research that aids in attracting international tourism to the area. This is due to its unpolluted atmosphere and mineral springs, which are credited with acting as a remedy for psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Since it borders the Red Sea, Safaga is also known for its windsurfing and uncrowded diving in the turquoise waters filled with coral reefs and marine life. Just slightly north of the town there is a strip of beach with hotels and diving and windsurfing centers.
22.Sharm El Sheikh
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Sharm El Sheikh is located in the southernmost area of Sinai, situated where the Aqaba Gulf and Suez Gulf meet, with the Red Sea to the south. The city was awarded the distinction of Finest City in the World for Peace and Beauty by UNESCO, making it a popular tourist destination. It is one of the most gorgeous cities in the world, featuring majestic mountains, beautiful flora and fauna unlike anywhere else, and stunning coral reefs. The energetic city is filled with restaurants, discos, internationally popular bars, and cafés. Its beaches are the main draw, offering a wealth of activities such as diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, boating, and windsurfing.
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Suez is located to the east of the Nile Delta, situated at the Southern opening of the Suez Canal. It has a rich and lengthy history dating back to the reign of the 6th Pharaonic dynasty during the time when kings used the city to protect the eastern region of Egypt from invaders. There aren’t many prominent attractions within the city, but just a few miles outside of it is Ain Musa, the Springs of Moses where two of the twelve springs referred to in the Book of Exodus still exist today. Just north of Ain Musa is the Military Touristic Memorial built by the Egyption army to memorialize their victory over the Israelis.
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Taba is a beautiful resort town overlooking the Red Sea on the famed Riviera, the Gulf of Adaba on one side, and mountains on the other. There aren’t many attractions outside of the resort hotels, but they feature various restaurants and boutique shops as well as a championship golf course. This is the ideal town for those who just want to relax by the pool or beach while sipping on signature cocktails with family and friends. The two prominent attractions in and around Taba are the Taba Museum, which displays roughly 700 pieces of South Sinai antiquities from the Pharaonic Era, and the Castle of Saladin.
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Zagazig is a large city in the Eastern section of the Nile Delta, and it is the capital of the Sharkeya Governorate. This modern city has an interesting and beautiful location where it overlooks the River Nile, Muweis Canal, and Ismailia Lakes. Today, the city is divided into two major regions: Hay Awal, the first neighborhood, and Hay Thany, the second neighborhood. Some of the most prominent public squares include Tala’ebHarb, El Sagha, Sphinx, El Tahrir, and El Montazah, each feature restaurants, cafes, and entertainment buildings. The Grand Mosque of Zagazig, constructed by Mohamed Ali Pasha, is an architecturally stunning and important fixture of the area.
25 Best Places to Visit in Egypt
- Al Badari, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Alexandria, Photo: Courtesy of javarman - Fotolia.com
- Aswan, Photo: Courtesy of Pixelheld - Fotolia.com
- Bernice, Photo: Courtesy of fotoeg - Fotolia.com
- Cairo, Photo: Courtesy of BlackMac - Fotolia.com
- Dahab, Photo: Courtesy of baxela - Fotolia.com
- Daraw, Photo: Courtesy of paul prescott - Fotolia.com
- Faqous, Photo: Courtesy of corradobarattaphotos - Fotolia.com
- Girga, Photo: Courtesy of traveldia - Fotolia.com
- Hurhada, Photo: Courtesy of Ren - Fotolia.com
- Ismailia, Photo: Courtesy of Foap.com - Fotolia.com
- Luxor, Photo: Courtesy of dietwalther - Fotolia.com
- Marsa Alam, Photo: Courtesy of jbphotographylt - Fotolia.com
- Mersa Matruh, Photo: Courtesy of homocosmicos - Fotolia.com
- Naj Hammadi, Photo: Courtesy of Nudda - Fotolia.com
- Nuweiba, Photo: Courtesy of Ludmila - Fotolia.com
- Port Said, Photo: Courtesy of senai aksoy - Fotolia.com
- Qalyub, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Rosetta, Photo: Courtesy of Richard Oechsner - Fotolia.com
- Sadat, Photo: Courtesy of frank11 - Fotolia.com
- Safaga, Photo: Courtesy of viii - Fotolia.com
- Sharm El Sheikh, Photo: Courtesy of Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Suez, Photo: Courtesy of mirceadobre78 - Fotolia.com
- Taba, Photo: Courtesy of sergei_fish13 - Fotolia.com
- Zagazig, Photo: Courtesy of rastlily - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Ahmed Elsayed - Fotolia.com