Things to do in Egypt: Attractions and places to visit

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Egypt – land of the pharaohs and always sought-after destination. The country on the Mediterranean coast is known above all for its relics and buildings from the time of the Egyptian rulers. This unique culture can still be admired today at many sights in the form of temples, graves or pyramids.

Apart from that the country also offers fantastic beaches, diving areas and of course the river Nile with all its natural beauty. Arabic is the official language of the country, but there are different dialects. The capital is Cairo, important tourist centres are located near Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh and Marsa Alam.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Egypt.

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1. Pyramids of Giza

No visit to Egypt would be perfect without the impressive sights of Giza – some 20 kilometres from Cairo. You should not miss these wonders of the ancient world. The most important buildings are the pyramids of Mykerinos, Chephren and Cheops. The Cheops Pyramid is also called the Great Pyramid, it is actually the largest of the ancient Egyptian buildings. Originally it was 147 metres high and thus for a long time the largest building in the world.

The three pyramids were probably built between 2620 and 2500 BC. Even before the three great pyramids were built, the surroundings were used as a cemetery, which is why there are many old graves to visit here. A side trip to the Great Sphinx of Gizeh is also a must. The mythical creature, carved in stone, is actually a “he”. How the sphinx had lost the nose could not be clarified until today.

2. Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings lies on the western bank of the Nile, opposite the modern city of Luxor. Only a small number of visitors are allowed to enter the valley every day. Too many tourists could damage the sensitive graves. The first funerary temples are said to have been built here in the 2nd millennium BC. At that time, only high-ranking officials were buried here. From the 18th dynasty (1,500 BC) onwards, the pharaohs were also buried in the valley.

Rock tombs were filigree carved into the stone, with numerous decorations and wall paintings, which gave the experts many insights into the afterlife ideas of the Egyptian kings. One of the most important sights in Egypt today is the famous tomb of Tutankhamun, which was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922. It’s one of the few graves that hasn’t been plundered.

3. Aswan Dam

Not only ancient buildings form the sights of Egypt, also the enormous Aswan dam is worth a trip. It was built from 1960 to 1971 in cooperation with the Soviet Union and is located south of the city of Aswan. The dam is almost 4 kilometres long and can hold up to 169 cubic kilometres of water. This makes the Aswan Dam the third largest dam in the world.

The dam has the task of damming up the Nile water to form the 5,250 square kilometre Nasser Lake, which is partly located in Sudan. On the one hand, the dam protects against flooding, generates electricity and helps agriculture. On the other hand, it also damages nature: fish stocks have declined, Lake Nasser is in danger of silting up and the Nile has become poorer in nutrients.

4. Karnak Temple

The surroundings of Luxor are full of sights from Egyptian times. About 2.5 km north of the city is the Karnak temple on the banks of the Nile. The oldest building remains date back to the time of Sesostris I of the 12th dynasty (2nd millennium BC), but even up to the time of the Romans the complex was maintained and extended. Then the ruins were buried under rubble and partly built over.

What remains today are the numerous richly decorated columns and labyrinthine corridors. The stone hall in the main temple is the largest temple hall in the world. A tower at the complex offers a breathtaking view over the temple and the Nile. Besides there are still two side temples to visit, different small chapels and several obelisks.

5. The Red Sea

The Red Sea describes the strait of the Indian Ocean, which is located between the Arabian Peninsula and the Northeast of Africa. The beaches of the Red Sea are an alternative to the Mediterranean beaches of northern Egypt. The sea here is particularly salty and is said to have a healing effect. The clear, blue water offers a view of the colourful coral reefs.

The water temperatures are pleasantly mild throughout the year. It is not only suitable for bathing and sunbathing, but also for extended diving tours. Popular beaches include Scharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. Meanwhile, the up-and-coming trend destination is the lagoon city of El Gouna, not far from Hurghada, with its great marina and numerous luxurious resorts.

6. Oasis of Siwa

Those who want to experience sights far away from the usual tourist routes should take a trip to the oasis of Siwa. The oasis is situated in a depression, 275 km from the Mediterranean Sea and close to the Libyan border, so you should be prepared for a longer bus ride. The unique Berber culture was able to survive in this almost isolation.

The Berbers make up the majority of the population in the oasis. The oasis of Siwa stretches over a stretch of land 80 kilometres long and 20 kilometres wide. Here you can admire large salt lakes, dense palm gardens, fresh water springs, thousands of date palms, olive trees, romantic orange groves and the interesting temple of Amun from ancient Egypt.

7. Abu Simbel

The rock temples of Abu Simbel are among the best preserved sights from ancient Egypt. In addition, the two rock temples are the most imposing of their kind. The outer façade of the great temple can be seen from afar with its huge statues carved 20 metres high into the rock.

The great temple was dedicated to the gods Ptah, Amun-Re and Re-Harachte. The smaller of the two temples was for Queen Nefertari. Abu Simbel is located about 280 kilometers south of Aswan. At that time this country belonged to Nubia. The temples were built 3200 years ago, when the land was ruled by Egypt.

8. Nile cruise

One of the most pleasant ways to travel in Egypt is undoubtedly a cruise on the Nile. The ships are quasi floating hotels, with beautiful outside cabins, their own restaurant and mostly even a sun deck with pool area. Nile cruises operate mainly between the cities of Luxor and Aswan.

This makes a trip doubly attractive, because you will not only admire the slowly gliding Nile delta, which is lush green compared to the otherwise rather barren landscape. On your route you will also experience some of the most beautiful sights and temples mentioned above. A great experience!

9. Catharine Monastery

The Katharinenkloster is located in the center of the Sinai Peninsula, at about 1585 meters above sea level. The best way to reach the monastery is from the village of el-Miga, from here it is about 2 kilometres. The monastery was named after Saint Catherine, a martyr who died in the 4th century.

The monastery is considered to be one of the oldest monasteries of Christianity. Here also the burning bush of thorns is said to have shown itself to Moses. Nearby is the Moses mountain (Gebel Musa), on which the Prophet had received the Ten Commandments. These legends make the place one of the most important sights in Egypt.

10. Underwater world in Ras Mohamed National Park

Not far from Sharm El Sheikh lies with the Ras Mohamed National Park another highlight of your Egypt journey. Thanks to the comparatively shallow water, the breathtaking underwater world is also ideal for beginners, which is why snorkelers in the National Park get their money’s worth. Look forward to thousands of colourful fish and with a bit of luck even sea turtles!

The well-preserved coral reefs are of unique beauty and reveal a sheer incredible biodiversity. One of the highlights of this attraction is the Jackfish Alley, where you can sometimes even see sleeping (harmless) sharks and rays between the caves on sandy ground! Bizarre is the Yolanda Reef, where various toilet bowls of an old cargo ship lie.

More things to do and activities for your Egypt holiday

Best time to visit Egypt

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Egypt:

April, May, June, September, October, and November

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Egypt.

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