Planning a trip to Egypt? Here’s my 17-point guide to Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and more

When you hear the word Egypt, the pyramids of Giza are the first thing that come to mind. But there is so much more to the country than those triangular-shaped landmarks. If you’re planning a trip to that corner of the world, use one or more of these 17 activity suggestions to help build your vacation itinerary.

1. Stroll the busy streets of Cairo. There are always tons of things going on. Absorb the sights and sounds and take it all in. 

2. Go shopping at Khan al Kalilli, Egypt’s colorful and most talked about souk (market). There are no price tags anywhere. The key to a great purchase is to pretend you really don’t like what you’re hoping to buy. Waste at least 20 minutes asking about something else, check for different colors and sizes where applicable then nonchalantly zero in on your true subject. The scarves and the papyrus paintings are great finds. Market stall at the Khan al Kalilli, Egypt

3. Watch a dizzying performance of the Sufi Dancers, a traditional folk dance involving multiple spins. The term Sufi is derived from the Arabic word that means ‘to dress in wool’. Sufi Dancers, Egypt

4. Visit the famous pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, the guardian on the tomb. For a little extra you can go inside the Little Pyramid to see the burial chamber of a pharaoh. Warning: The passage is narrow and slopes down for quite a bit so expect it to be hot and a tad claustrophobic. At night, you can watch their Light and Sound Show. The pyramids of Giza, Ehypt

5. Gorge yourself at a roadside eatery. The food is good! I recommend a chicken or beef shawarma, a typical Middle Eastern fast-food snack.

Image source: Travel Channel.com
Image source: Travel Channel.com

6. Devote a couple hours to the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, a place that houses many artifacts and national treasures. The exhibits were numerous, with the ostentatious possessions from Tutankhamen tomb’s taking center stage. the Egyptian Antiquities Museum

7. Get outside of Cairo and visit other regions like the charming seaside town of Aswan. A winter favorite for many tourists, Aswan boasts snore-conducive sailboats and lively floating restaurants that dot the watery channel. The Nubians are darker in hue than their Cairo counterparts so I felt quite at home. I got called “cousin” wherever I went. Aswan, Egypt

8. Sail in a felucca down the River Nile and somewhere along the way, stop at the Nubian Village and take a swim. Sailing on the River Nile, Egypt

8. Hike up a sand dune. Sand dune in Egypt

10. Ride a camel through the desert at sunset. Camel ride in the Egyptian dessert

11. Plan a day trip to see Abu Simbel, the great temples of Ramesses II. There are two sites, one for Ramesses II and a smaller temple built in honor of Nefertari, his wife. What makes this symbol of ancient Egyptian history even more fascinating is the fact that the site had to be dismantled and relocated in the 1960s to protect the temples from rising waters during the construction of the High Aswan Dam. You just gotta see it to believe it! Abu Simbel, the great temples of Ramesses II, Egypt

12. Walk through the Philae Temple, a gift to the Egyptians from the Greek built for the goddess Isis. Philae Temple, Egypt

13. Learn the art of making cane juice in a local market. Making sugar cane juice in Egypt

14. Head to Luxor to see the Karnak Temple, the largest known temple complex ever built by man. It’s made up of three main sections: Mott, Montu and Amun and it is believed to have been built and enlarged over a 1,300 year period.Karnak Temple, Egypt

15. Stop for photo ops at the Colossi of Memnon, two 75 feet/23 meters high statues of Amenhotep III that guarded a mortuary temple in Thebes. The temple is no longer there, but the giant statues give a glimpse into its majestic past. Colossi of Memnon statues in Egypt

16. Purchase tickets to tour the Valley of the Kings. The rulers from the 18th -20th Dynasty built their tombs in Thebes and instead of using the pyramid shape, they cut directly into limestone rock. There are 64 discovered tombs in the valley, but only some stay open for rotational viewing. Tutankhamen’s is perhaps the most famous as it was the only one found with everything intact. I didn’t go in as that was an extra cost and I had seen all the treasures at the Museum of Antiquities anyway. Valley of the Kings in Egypt

17. Try some Turkish coffee and smoke a shisha pipe with flavored tobacco if that’s your sort of thing.

Image Source: theguardian.com
Image Source: theguardian.com

And that’s a wrap!