Usually when Egypt is mentioned the first things that come to mind are the desert, sun, mummies, and the Pyramids. This gives it a kind of mystical sense as an adventurous destination. Egypt is actually the country linking Northeast Africa with the Middle East. Millennia-old monuments still sit along the fertile Nile River Valley, including the colossal Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and the hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs in Luxor. The capital, Cairo, is home to Ottoman landmarks such as the Muhammad Ali Mosque.
Although tourism numbers have declined over the last couple of years because of the political climate and terrorism attacks it still remains on the bucket list of many as a destination to visit. When you do get the chance to tour this nomadic land, these would be some of the most recommended spots to be!
The White Desert
This gorgeous oasis gives you the impression that you are walking on the moon. The white surfaced desert which resembles an alien planet has been used to film Sci-Fi movies, including Vin Diesel’s Riddick. The desert is renowned for its rock formations, safari trips, and overnight camping.
Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria is Egypt’s leading port and transportation hub. Founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great, the city was once considered the crossroad of the world. Many of Alexandria’s most famous historic sites, including a library that housed more than 500,000 books, were destroyed by devastating earthquakes in the 14th century. Today the city is a faded shade of its former glorious cosmopolitan self, but still worth a visit for its many cultural attractions and glimpses of its past.
Pyramids of Giza
Sole survivors from the ancient Greek-listed Seven Wonders of the World, the amazing pyramids at Giza are the planet’s oldest tourist attraction! Known as Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus, the pyramids were already more than 2,000 years old when Herodotus the Greek historian visited them (5th century BC).
To date, 138 pyramids have been discovered in Egypt. Most were built as tombs for the country’s Pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. All Egyptian pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile, which as the site of the setting sun was associated with the realm of the dead in Egyptian mythology. The Pyramids contain a maze of passageways, designed to protect the Mummies of the Pharaohs and the treasure which they would take to the afterlife.
One thousand years after the construction of the Great Pyramids, the New Kingdom arose in Egypt, and power shifted from the ancient capital of Memphis to Thebes in the south, the site of modern-day Luxor. One of the best places to visit in Egypt, the mid-sized city has much to offer the traveller from the ancient temples of Karnak and Luxor to the ancient royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and spectacular desert and river scenery.
El Fishawy Café
Looking for a bit of night light in this serene dessert land? For more than 230 years, El-Fishawy Cafe (or Qahwat El-Fishawy) at Khan El-Khalili has stood the test of time, bringing traditional coffee, tea, shisha, and music to locals and foreigners alike. Today, El-Fishawy is one of the most renowned cafes in Egypt and the Arab world – an icon of the traditional Egyptian way to relax, enjoy live music, smoke a uniquely flavoured shisha, and meet new people.
Khan el Khalili
Apart from all of the beautiful tourist attractions, you would probably want to indulge yourself a little in the culture, find a place to buy decent knick-knacks and items to carry home. Khan El-Khalili dates back to 1382 and is located in Cairo’s old Islamic district; getting lost in the labyrinth of narrow alleys, stumbling upon hidden treasures and historic monuments, and chatting to the local shop-owners as the smell of spices and local food lingers in the air results in an unforgettable experience. The locals’ warm hospitality is central to this experience: they will offer you tea, a tour around the alleys, tell you stories about their shops, or simply smile for the camera.
In 1997 three artists set out to create ‘Desert Breath’ in the desert near the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. Desert Breath, completed in March 1997 and viewable today by satellite via Google Earth, covers approximately 100,000 square meters. Consisting of dozens of cones that stand taller than most humans, Desert Breath is a double-spiral, with a pool of water in the centre of the art piece. Slowly, with the passage of time, the piece of art is eroding naturally and fading away once again into the desert. Two decades later, it stands as a reminder of the passage of time and can still be viewed.
Siwa, once the most mysterious of all Egypt’s oases, is also the most fascinating. Its history has not only been shaped by all major civilisations, but also by the contrast of the surrounding desert with the lush soil of the oasis setting. The modern town of Siwa is set among thick palm groves, walled gardens and olive orchards, with numerous freshwater springs and salt lakes. Siwan people have their own culture, customs and language. Women still wear traditional costume heavily laden with locally crafted antique silver ornaments.
There is plenty to keep you busy in Siwa, walk, hire a bicycle or ride in a caretta (donkey cart) and explore the ancient fortress of Old Shali – made of salt and mud-brick, visit Mountain of the Dead – the Roman necropolis strewn with dozens of rock-cut tombs, Cleopatra’s Bath and the famed Temple of the Oracle – where Alexander the Great visited in 331BC, seeking confirmation from the Oracle that he was the son of Zeus.
Hurghada, Red Sea
Hurghada is one of Egypt’s most popular resort towns on the Red Sea coast. Hotels and expanded infrastructure provide holidaymakers with excellent aquatic facilities for sail boarding, yachting, deep-sea fishing, SCUBA diving and snorkelling. Hurghada’s central location provides a gateway to prime offshore reefs, which are some of the finest in the world. Hurghada also has a healthy after dark scene. For retail therapy, the town has plenty of shops selling knock-off bags and tees, snorkelling gear and suchlike. Just outside Hurghada is an ancient Roman quarry called Mons Porphyritis and Port Safarga – a famously windy place and King Kong of windsurfer paradises.
Last but definitely not least, the picturesque town of Aswan is set on the River Nile and its start point for both the felucca journey downstream to Kom Ombo & also optional Abu Simbel excursions. Aswan is known as the ‘the market’ because of the trade route between Egypt and the southern lands. This is the place to go shopping. You can purchase rare spices of the area-and even gold for an extra special gift or travel souvenir. Take a tour of the Botanical Gardens on Kitchener Island, or sightsee around one of the numerous temples or the Nubian Museum.