Egypt: A Curious Traveler's Odyssey into History and Beauty
Arts & Culture
Embarking on a journey to Egypt, a land that had long captured my imagination, fulfilled a lifelong dream, making this bucket-list destination an unforgettable reality. From the awe-inspiring pyramids that stand as testaments to ancient ingenuity, to the serene Nile River that carries stories of civilizations past, every moment in Egypt is steeped in history and wonder. Museums brim with artifacts that bridge the gap between the past and present, offering glimpses into a rich and intricate history. A highlight is the cherished Valley of the Tombs in Luxor, a place where the mysteries of the pharaohs come to life. Moreover, the enchanting city of Alexandria, with its storied past and Mediterranean charm, adds another layer of fascination to this incredible journey. For the curious and history enthusiasts alike, Egypt beckons with its timeless allure, promising an exploration of a world steeped in legacy and captivating stories.
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Where to stay in Egypt
Marriott Mena House, Cairo
Just outside Cairo, this vast luxury sleep has an ornate style, an 18-hole golf course, heated pool, three international restaurants, and direct views of the Pyramids.
Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza
Set on the banks of the Nile, this luxury stay has multiple restaurants and bars, three outdoor pools and a luxe on-site spa.
When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.
Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor
Colonial style hotel with lavish landscaped gardens overlooking the Nile River and the Theban Necropolis.
$50 hotel / resort credit.
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Things to do in Egypt
A mesmerizing fusion of ancient wonders and modern vibrancy, is a city that pulses with life and history. From the awe-inspiring Pyramids of Giza to the serene Nile River, Cairo is a treasure trove of iconic landmarks. Its bustling markets, diverse neighborhoods, and rich cultural scene provide a glimpse into both Egypt's storied past and its dynamic present. With a tapestry of mosques, churches and historical sites, Cairo's spiritual and architectural diversity is captivating. Whether you're drawn to its renowned museums, vibrant street food scene or the warmth of its people, Cairo promises an immersive journey that unites tradition and innovation in a truly unforgettable way.
Pyramids: The Giza Pyramids, a timeless marvel, left me awestruck. Standing before these ancient giants, I marveled at their sheer scale and the intricate engineering that has stood the test of time.
Camel and ATV Riding around the Pyramids: Experiencing the Giza Pyramids from a different perspective was exhilarating. Riding a camel through the desert sands or navigating an ATV around these ancient wonders added an adventurous twist to my visit.
Mosques and Religious Sites: Cairo's spiritual landmarks are diverse and awe-inspiring. The Sultan Hassan Mosque's intricate architecture left me in awe of its grandeur, while the serene Ibn Tulun Mosque's tranquil atmosphere provided a moment of reflection.
Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo: Stepping into the Hanging Church was like entering a serene sanctuary. The intricate wooden ceiling, ancient icons, and its significance as one of the oldest Coptic Christian churches made it a deeply moving experience.
Egyptian Museum: A journey through the Egyptian Museum felt like walking through history. The vast collection of artifacts, including Tutankhamun's treasures, offered a glimpse into the lives of ancient Egyptians.
Nile Boat Rides with Dinner and Music: Drifting along the Nile on a felucca while enjoying a dinner accompanied by traditional music was a sensory delight. The city's lights reflecting on the water and the melodies in the air made for a fantastic evening.
Cairo's Textile Museum: This hidden gem highlights Egypt's intricate textile traditions. From stunning ancient garments to contemporary designs, the museum celebrates the artistry of fabric and fashion.
Shopping in Cairo: The city offers a variety of shopping experiences. From the bustling Khan El Khalili Bazaar, where I haggled for souvenirs, to upscale malls like Cairo Festival City, there's something for every shopper. For local handicrafts, the shops around Islamic Cairo are a hidden gem.
A coastal jewel steeped in history, offers a unique blend of Mediterranean charm and ancient heritage. From the legendary Bibliotheca Alexandrina to the stunning Qaitbay Citadel overlooking the sea, the city is a treasure trove of cultural landmarks. The Corniche's serene waterfront and the historic Montaza Palace gardens provide a relaxing escape. Exploring the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa and the Roman Amphitheater transports you through time. With a rich history spanning Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations, Alexandria's cosmopolitan vibe, vibrant markets, and diverse culinary scene make it a great destination that combines the past and the present in an extraordinary way.
Qaitbay Citadel: Exploring this majestic fortress perched on the Mediterranean shores was a highlight. The panoramic views from its ramparts offered a glimpse into Alexandria's maritime history.
Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa: Descending into these ancient catacombs felt like stepping into a hidden world beneath the city. The intricate carvings and eerie history made it a fascinating adventure.
Roman Amphitheater: Discovering the well-preserved ruins of the Roman Amphitheater is a journey back in time. Imagining the performances that once took place, there was truly immersive.
Stanley Bridge: Crossing this iconic bridge provides stunning vistas of the city's coastline. It's a perfect spot for watching the sunset over the Mediterranean.
El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque: The intricate architecture and serene atmosphere of this mosque were captivating. Observing local worshipers and admiring the intricate details was a humbling experience.
Souq El Attarine: Navigating through this bustling market was a sensory delight. The aromatic spices, colorful textiles and vibrant atmosphere showcased Alexandria's vibrant trade history.
Was a dream come true for me, and it quickly became my favorite part of Egypt. Often called the world's largest open-air museum, this captivating city lies on the banks of the Nile River. Renowned for its astonishing ancient temples, Luxor is home to iconic sites like the Karnak and Luxor Temples, as well as the famed Valley of the Kings, where the tombs of pharaohs are nestled into the desert hills. Its rich history and splendid architecture make it an extraordinary destination for travelers like myself, who are eager to explore Egypt's awe-inspiring past.
Karnak Temple: Stepping into Karnak Temple felt like entering an ancient realm. The colossal columns, intricate hieroglyphs, and sheer scale of the complex left me in awe of Egypt's architectural prowess and spiritual legacy. Attending the Sound and Light Show at Karnak Temple was a captivating evening. As the temple's history came alive through lights and narration, I was transported to the ancient past, creating a surreal and immersive experience.
Luxor Temple: The Luxor Temple, illuminated at night, was a sight to behold. Walking through its grand avenues and witnessing the fusion of ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman elements was an experience that brought history to life.
Valley of the Kings: Exploring the Valley of the Kings was like unearthing the secrets of the pharaohs. Venturing into the tombs, adorned with vivid paintings and hieroglyphics, provided an intimate connection to the rulers of ancient Egypt.
Hot Air Balloon Ride: Taking a dawn hot air balloon ride over Luxor was pure magic. As the sun painted the sky with hues of gold, I marveled at the vastness of the temples and the serene Nile, a view that few experiences can match.
Temple of Hatshepsut: Visiting the Temple of Hatshepsut, dedicated to one of Egypt's few female pharaohs, felt like stepping into a storybook. The terraced design against the cliffs and the detailed reliefs told tales of a remarkable ruler.
Colossi of Memnon: Gazing at the towering Colossi of Memnon, guarding the entrance to Amenhotep III's mortuary temple, was humbling. These monumental statues carried the weight of millennia and stood as sentinels of ancient history.
Egypt presents myriad captivating experiences, and here are a few more notable destinations and activities to consider—bearing in mind that the country's offerings are truly extensive and diverse.
Aswan: Nestled along the Nile, Aswan is known for its tranquil beauty and historical sites. The Philae Temple, perched on an island, and the Unfinished Obelisk showcase ancient craftsmanship. The High Dam and Nubian villages provide a modern and cultural perspective on this charming city.
Sharm El Sheikh: A popular Red Sea resort town, Sharm El Sheikh offers stunning beaches and vibrant coral reefs. It's a haven for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. With luxurious resorts and bustling nightlife, it's a lively destination for relaxation and adventure.
River Cruise on the Nile: Sailing the Nile on a river cruise offers a unique perspective on Egypt's heritage. From Luxor to Aswan or vice versa, these cruises allow you to explore temples, villages and local life along the banks while enjoying the comforts of a floating hotel.
Spending a night in the Egyptian desert is a remarkable adventure that immerses you in the country's natural beauty. Whether in the vast expanses of the Western Desert or the serene dunes of the Sahara, camping under the starlit sky offers a profound connection to Egypt's ancient landscapes. As the sun sets, the desert transforms into a tranquil haven, providing an opportunity to experience traditional Bedouin hospitality, enjoy a campfire dinner and witness the mesmerizing desert sunrise. This immersive experience is a unique chance to escape the modern world and embrace the tranquility and mystique of Egypt's arid wilderness. Undoubtedly, this was an unforgettable experience.
Places to eat & drink in Egypt
Saigon Restaurant & Lounge: This upscale venue brings Vietnamese cuisine to Cairo, combining elegant décor with a diverse menu that reflects the flavors of Southeast Asia.
Le Deck: Situated within the Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah, Le Deck offers panoramic views of the Nile and a refined Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Felfela: With a history dating to 1959, Felfela is a Cairo institution known for its authentic Egyptian street food. From falafel to koshary, this eatery offers a taste of local flavors in a casual, bustling setting.
Brigantino Restaurant: Known for its seafood and Mediterranean cuisine, Brigantino is located in the upscale area of Stanley Bay. It provides a charming waterfront setting and a selection of fresh seafood delicacies.
Greek Club: Situated in the historic district of Alexandria, this restaurant serves authentic Greek dishes in a charming setting, reflecting the city's multicultural history.
Abu Ashraf: Renowned for its koshary, a traditional Egyptian dish made with lentils, rice, pasta and more, Abu Ashraf is a local favorite for authentic and affordable Egyptian street food.
1886 Restaurant at Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor: This historic restaurant offers an elegant dining experience in a classic colonial setting. With a gourmet menu and impeccable service, it's a top choice for fine dining.
Pavilion Winter Luxor: Nestled in the historic Winter Palace complex, this restaurant offers refined dining with views of the Nile. The luxurious ambiance and gourmet cuisine create a memorable experience.
Al-Sahaby Lane: A local gem, Al-Sahaby Lane offers an intimate atmosphere and traditional Egyptian cuisine. The riverside setting and views of the Nile create a charming backdrop for enjoying local flavors.
Need to Know
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Egypt.