Quick tips to get you started
Before you leave home:
Use our tips guide to find cheap airfare.
Check out booking.com or airbnb. You can seriously find decent hotels and great bed and breakfasts for between $25-$50 per night. It is SUPER affordable! Just make sure that it’s not a hostel if you don’t want that type of place! However, BEFORE you book a place, consider that Egypt is HUGE and it may be better to book your tours first as many come with hotels.
Download the Arabic Language on your Google Translate App. The primary language in Egypt is Arabic, and although many people speak some English, don’t expect that to be the norm.
Download an offline map of Egypt using the Google Maps App. This should save you some trouble if you don’t have Wi-Fi or data when you arrive.
Pack some U.S. Dollars. Even if you don’t use U.S. Dollars in your country, Egyptians prefer U.S. Dollars and Egyptian Pounds - although they will accept Euros and British Pounds as well. But, the airport will charge $25 for your Visa into Egypt - and they collect in U.S. Dollars. So, it is better to bring that in cash if you can.
Request transportation from the airport. Ask your hotel or bed and breakfast to set this up for you. This way, your driver will meet you at the airport exit gate and you can avoid being hounded by about 100 taxi drivers who will likely charge you double or triple the actual cost.
Once you arrive in Cairo:
Withdraw some Egyptian Pounds from the ATM. The exchange rate is very favorable in Egypt. You can get EGP 18 for $1, EGP 20 for €1, or EGP 23 for £1. Many places do not accept credit cards, but some do. You should be able to find an ATM and withdraw some cash - although when we did it we were only able to withdraw a maximum of EGP 3000 at a time ($168).
Buy a SIM card for your phone. They have a location in the baggage claim area of the airport. The rates are fair - we paid EGP 500 for the SIM with 1.5GB data + 20GB of extra data (roughly $28) - but most of that cost was the extra 20GB. If you don’t get a SIM card at the airport, we recommend asking your driver to bring you somewhere that you can purchase one because you will likely need one during your stay in Egypt.
Don’t drive, use Uber. We don’t recommend driving in Egypt as the road rules are probably very different from what you are accustomed to. Getting a SIM card will allow you to use Uber for getting around Cairo. Ubers are extraordinarily cheap in Egypt. We took an Uber one day to get somewhere that was an hour away and it ran us less than EGP 180 ($10). Most of the time it will likely run you less than EGP 40 ($2) and you will be able to find them just about anywhere.
RECOMMENDED HOTELS IN CAIRO
Best Luxury Hotel, Experience & Location: Marriott Mena House, Cairo (as low as $139 USD per night)
Best Value & Location Hotel: Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa (as low as $89 USD per night)
Best Experience & Location Bed & Breakfast: Guardian Guest House, Giza (as low as $39 USD per night)
Cheapest Decent Hostel & Location: Midtown Hostel (as low as $9 USD per night)
DESIGN YOUR OWN 2, 3, OR 4 DAY ITINERARY
We recommend the 6-Day “Highlights of Egypt” Itinerary below, however jump to any of the sections listed above to piece together your personalized “Egypt Adventure”!
Save yourself some planning and pick the Discover Egypt, Cairo & Nile cruise 8 Day Tour with tourradar. The cost is roughly the same as if you did it yourself, but you will have a knowledgeable guide to show you around, handle the logistics, and give you additional information! That’s how we did it! :)
Example 6-Day “Highlights of Egypt” Itinerary
The Egyptian Museum
Cost: EGP 160 | Location: Cairo | Time: 3 Hours
Info: Over 120,000 artifacts were collected and transferred here from sites all over Egypt. You won’t find artifacts like King Tut’s Golden Mask in any other place than this Museum.
Giza Plateau - The Pyramids & the Sphinx
Cost: EGP 160 | Location: Giza | Time: 4 Hours
Info: This ticket gives you entry to the three main pyramids, including the Great Pyramid, as well as the Sphinx. You can go inside the pyramids for an extra charge, EGP 300 for the Great Pyramid.
Morning Flight to Luxor
Cost: EGP 2K-3K Flight, 195 Train | Location: Cairo | Time: 2-10 Hours
Info: Catch a morning flight down to Luxor. Round-trip flights can be found for EGP 2K-3K ($110-$170). If flights are too expensive, you could always catch the Cairo to Luxor overnight train at the end of Day 3, like we did, but make sure you pick a first class seat - they are only EGP 195 ($11). While the seats are decent in first class, the lights remain on all night for safety reasons and the trip is about 10 hours.
Check in with your Nile River Cruise
Cost: EGP 6,805 | Location: Luxor | Time: 4-5 Days
Info: You can book 5-day, 4-night Nile River Cruise tickets on ETLTravel or NileCruisers for around $400-$500 per person. You can also find the 4 Day Nile Cruise on Tourradar for $378. However, we were able to find a full package Discover Egypt, Cairo & Nile Cruise 8-Day tour with Tourradar for around $582 each - which seemed like - and actually turned out to be - an incredible deal! If you go to their site, sort the list by price to find it. However, if you are trying to book your own cruise - we were on the Radamis II and it was decent. They’ll let you check in around 11:30 AM, and then you can visit the Karnak and Luxor Temples in the afternoon/evening.
Cost: EGP 150 | Location: Luxor | Time: 2-3 Hours
Info: The largest religious building ever constructed - covering an area of about 200 acres - and was a place of pilgrimage for nearly 2,000 years. The area of the sacred enclosure of Amun alone is sixty-one acres and could hold ten average European cathedrals. The great temple at the heart of Karnak is so big that St Peter’s, Milan, and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within its walls.
Cost: EGP 140 | Location: Luxor | Time: 2 Hours
Info: Luxor was constructed around 1400 BCE. This temple was not dedicated to a god or a pharaoh. It is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship and might have been where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned.
Valley of the Kings
Cost: EGP 200+ | Location: Luxor | Time: 3+ Hours
Info: This is the location where many of the famous Pharaohs were buried, along with their elaborate tombs. You can find the tombs of Ramses III, Ramses IV and even King Tut here. We had the “3 Tombs” ticket which costs EGP 200, but you can choose more tombs if you desire! Some tombs have longer lines than others. Tomb of Tut Ankh Amon: EGP 250, Tomb of Ay: EGP 60, Tomb of Ramses VI: EGP 100. Note: If you want to take photos in the tombs, be sure to purchase a photo ticket at the entrance for EGP 300!
Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple (Hatshepsut Temple)
Cost: EGP 100 | Location: Luxor | Time: 2-3 Hours
Info: Considered the closest Egypt ever came to Classical architecture, Hatshepsut’s temple includes a few sanctuaries to both honor the gods relevant to her afterlife and aggrandize her as a Pharaoh.
Cost: Free! | Location: Luxor | Time: 0.5 Hours
Info: For over 3,400 years, two massive statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III have stood guard at the entrance to the Theban Necropolis, Amenhotep’s mortuary temple.
Edfu Temple by Horse Carriage
Cost: EGP 140 | Location: Edfu | Time: 3 Hours
Info: This ancient Egyptian temple has remained almost completely intact since being built between 237-57 BC as the use of it, seen as a type of non-Christian pagan warship, was banned by the Roman Empire in 391 and later became buried and preserved under layers of Nile river silt and 39 feet of desert sand. The temple is of archaeological significance due to its inscriptions, which provide important information on language, myth and religion in Egypt as well details of its construction.
Kom-Ombo Temple & Crocodile Museum
Cost: EGP 100 | Location: Aswan | Time: 2-3 Hours
Info: This is a temple dedicated to two Gods - the Crocodile God, Sobek, and the Falcon God, Haroeris. Around 300 crocodile mummies were found here, as well as a hieroglyphic scene that "probably represents a set of surgical instruments" - making it one of the first recorded places where surgery was used and marking the origins of surgical medicine.
The High Dam
Cost: EGP 75 | Location: Aswan | Time: 0.5 Hours
Info: Designed by the Moscow-based Hydroproject Institute, this dam was pivotal to Egypt's planned industrialization in 1952 because it gave Egypt the ability to provide increased water storage for irrigation, generate hydroelectricity, and control flooding in the Nile basin - protecting and supporting farms.
The Unfinished Obelisk
Cost: EGP 80 | Location: Aswan | Time: 1 Hour
Info: This Obelisk was abandoned after it cracked. We now understand quite a bit more about how Obelisks were made because this one was left here in an unfinished state.
Cost: EGP 140 | Location: Aswan | Time: 2-3 Hours
Info: This Temple was not originally in this location. The entire thing was taken apart and relocated from its original location, near the expansive First Cataract of the Nile in Upper Egypt, to the island of Philae and then reassembled. It is the Temple of Isis. In the ancient Egyptian religion, Isis was a major goddess and was first mentioned as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth.
Felucca Ride around Elephantine Island in Aswan
Cost: EGP 100 | Location: Aswan | Time: 1-2 Hours
Info: The Felucca is the Egyptian-style Nile Sailboat. Enjoy a relaxing sail around Elephantine Island and view the Botanical Garden and Agha Khan Mausoleum from the boat as you sail around it.
Day Trip to Abu Simbel Temple
Cost: EGP 400 | Location: Aswan | Time: 8-9 Hours
Info: Named after the boy who led the archaeologist to this temple in 1813, Abu Simbel. Built during the reign of Ramesses II at the second cataract of the Nile River and entirely relocated to this location in 1968 to prevent it from being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser when the Aswan High Dam was constructed. It was dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakty, Ptah, and the deified Ramesses II. Part of the “Nubian Monuments” UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the site itself doesn’t take more than a few hours to appreciate, the drive from Aswan via van takes about 3 hours each way. You can also arrange a 2 day Nile River cruise instead (for night access) and to avoid the long desert drive.
Flight back to Cairo
Cost: EGP 2K-3K Flight, 235 Train | Location: Aswan | Time: 4-12 Hours
Info: The flight is by far the best option to head back to Cairo. It should just take you a couple of hours to transfer to the airport and then another hour or so to fly in to Cairo ($110-$170 round-trip). If you opt for the train, you will certainly save a lot of money, but you will be on an overnight 12 hour train back to Cairo instead ($13). While the seats are decent in first class, the lights remain on all night for safety reasons. If you are flying back, you could use this day to also transfer back home, ending your trip after 8 days.
As crazy as it is, we also threw in a couple extra days for ourselves to relax a bit once we got back. Here are the two extra days that we added, but you can check out our blog about “The Best Places to See in Cairo” if you find yourself stuck in Cairo.
Extra Day 1
Grab some Egyptian Food
This is the perfect time to look for a nearby restaurant that serves quality Egyptian foods such as: Molokhia, Fettah, Mahshi, or Koshary.
Cost: EGP ~400 | Location: Cairo | Time: 5 Hours
Info: This village is a micro-Egypt and an amazing introduction to Egypt. It will set you up with a greater appreciation and comprehension of the depth of everything you are going to see later. Note: They entry area looks a bit sketchy, but the park itself is wonderful. Recommendation: Eat lunch before you go and find dinner outside of the village if possible. If you must eat inside, skip the meal on your entry ticket and just buy food from the cafe at the start or snacks inside.
Extra Day 2
The Fayoum Oasis: Wadi El-Hitan & Wadi Al Rayan
Cost: EGP 1,365 | Location: Fayoum Oasis | Time: 14 Hours
Info: A great day-trip outside of Cairo is the Fayoum Oasis trip. The best places to see on this trip are Mudawara Mountain and the Waterfalls of Wadi El-Rayan. If you are feeling up to it, try looking for a Full Day trip to Wadi El-Hitan instead. This includes both of the places mentioned above as well as the Fossils Museum and the Valley of the Whales - where full whale skeletons are found in the desert! Contact Egypt Mo Tours directly for details (save 5% per Adult if you copy info@EatWanderExplore.com in your email request).
1-2 Days in Coptic Cairo
See the most popular Coptic attractions - the Hanging Church, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, and the Coptic Museum - all in the same location! See the Cave Church of the Zabbaleen and learn about the famous miracle of moving the Moqattam Mountain (location: Saint Samaan the Tanner Monastery), and visit St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District (Passport Required)! Try the “Egyptian Museum, Old Cairo & Bazaar Tour” to see the Coptic Area!
Khan El Khalili Bazaars
These Bazaars are the place to go if you want to spend some money and buy some Egyptian souvenirs. You can get just about anything here. But, be weary! You should be a GREAT haggler or feel comfortable being rude if you want to venture into here!
1-2 Days in Islamic Cairo
The Salah El Din Citadel and the Mohammed Ali (Alabaster) Mosque, the Al-Rifa'i and Sultan Hassan Mosques nearby, and if you want to explore more, the Sultan Qalawun and Al Hakim Be Amr Ellah Mosques. Are you looking to shop? Try walking down Moez Street. Hungry? We recommend trying the Ameer El Geyoush cafe or the Cafe El Lord. There’s even an Islamic Museum if you have time! Try the “Private Highlights of Cairo Tour w/ Lunch” tour for the best experience, or try the “Egyptian Museum, Cairo Citadel & Mohamed Ali Mosque Tour" to combine the Egyptian Museum with the Citadel.
1-2 Days strolling around in the Gardens & Parks
Choose from a number of parks and gardens to stroll around Cairo. Some of the most famous ones near the city center are Al Azhar Park, Al Horreya Garden, Aquarium Grotto Garden, Orman Botanical Garden, and the Giza Zoo. If you don’t mind going outside of the city a little bit, the Al Andalus Garden and the International Garden are both excellent choices as well!
1/2 Day Trip to Sakkara & Memphis
Try the “Pyramids, Memphis & Sakkara Tour” to experience these gems!
1 Day Tour of the Pyramids, Sphinx, and the Egyptian Museum
Try out the “Giza Pyramids Tour w/ the Egyptian Museum” for the best experience & cheap price! Or, try the “Private Egyptian Museum Tour" or save some money and join the “Egyptian Museum Tour & Transfer" group tour!
1/2 Day Trip at the Pharaonic Village
3 Day Trip to the Bahariya Oasis with the Black & White Deserts
Try the “3-Day White Desert & Bahariya Safari From Cairo” tour for the best experience!
Nile River Dinner Cruise
Experience a “Nile River Dinner Cruise” if you don’t have time for a full Nile River Cruise!
Looking to explore the highlights of Cairo? Check out the “Cairo Experience - Independent” tour that lets you choose your favorite choices from Cairo - a custom experience - over 3-4 days!
See ALL of the Pyramids with the “Cairo Pyramids Tour 5 days and 4 Night in 5*hotel” tour. This will include the main 3 in Cairo, Sakkara, and even in Fayoum! You’ll also be set up in an Egyptian 5-Star Hotel, all for only $485!
Only have 3 days? The “3 Days Cairo tour" packs in all of the highlights for you for only $436! Enjoy a Nile felucca ride, traditional Egyptian meals, Giza Pyramids and Sphinx, Camel Ride, Saqqara, the Step Pyramid of King Djoser, Egyptian Antiquities Museum, Old Cairo, the Citadel of Saladin and the historic Christian and Islamic monuments of the Old City, and the Khan el-Khalili bazaar.
If you only have 2 days, try the “3 Days / 2 Nights Cairo Tour" that you can arrange to do in 2 days for only $291!
North & Western Egypt
7 Day - Rosetta, Alexandria, Alamein & Siwa Oasis (RECOMMENDED)
Opt for a leisurely exploration of Rosetta, Alexandria, El Alamein, and the Siwa Oasis with the “Alexandria and Siwa Extension” tour. Siwa is one of the most mysterious of all of Egypt’s oases.
2.5 Days - Alexandria & Alamein
Choose the “Alexandria Experience - Independent” and enjoy a leisurely experience in Alexandria. Single day trips to Alexandria sadly do not end up being great experiences because you are rushed from one place to the next without really getting to enjoy any of it. Choose this 2.5 day trip to make sure your experience is enjoyable.
3 Days - Siwa Oasis
Travel to the Siwa Oasis from Cairo and spend 2 nights in one of the most mysterious of all of Egypt’s oases. Contact Egypt Mo Tours for details (reduced price of $380 per Adult if you copy info@EatWanderExplore.com in your email request)
The Red Sea & Hurghada
With the “Egypt on a Shoestring tour” by G-Adventures you can see the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Egyptian museum and spend most of your trip in Hurghada at the Red Sea. Ask your tour guide if they can replace the Cairo day excursions with ones in Hurghada if you’ve already seen them.
Combine Cairo, Luxor, and The Red Sea at Hurghada with the “Sands & Seas” tour
The Sinai Peninsula
Fly out from Cairo to Dahab for all things in the Sinai with the super affordable 8-Day “Dahab Dreams” package for less than $510! Dahab Dreams includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
Enjoy everything Sharm El Sheikh has to offer with the “Sinai Jeep Safari, Abu Galum Snorkeling, Camel Ride and Bedouin Lunch” in Sharm El Sheikh
Take a Day trip to the St. Catherine Monastery and even climb Mount Sinai from Dahab with the “St. Catherine Monastery Day Trip from Dahab by Coach”
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Jenny & Bradley of EatWanderExplore