This list of amazing things to do in Egypt will inspire you to book a flight to Egypt as soon as the quarantine is over. Egypt is a magical place that is both dreamy and chaotic and has an undeniable otherworldly feel. As evidenced by the recent grand mummy parade in honor of the region’s kings and queens, we know Egypt is rich in history, but it isn’t just for history buffs.
Each city has a distinct feeling. The hazy sunsets at the Pyramids of Giza are a juxtaposition to the cacophony of cars during the Cairo rush hour. Experience the hustle and bustle at Cairo’s most famous souq and see vendors selling their bejeweled treasures one day, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a felucca boat ride on The Nile the next day. Whatever your mood or travel style, read on for the 11 best things to do in Egypt after the quarantine.
1. Visit the Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Egypt
On the drive from Cairo to Giza, the driver blasted a familiar Nancy Ajram song as he expertly weaved through traffic at breakneck speed. All while having the most casual conversation with me. I checked in at my bed and breakfast, climbed the two or three flights of stairs to drop off my bags, and headed straight to the rooftop. The sun had already set, but the rooftop view of the Pyramids was breathtaking and felt so surreal. I had shisha and mint tea on the rooftop as I marveled at the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx.
I couldn’t believe I was doing something that felt so ordinary with such an extraordinary view. With this view, you can also see the Sound and Light Pyramid show at night. The show is held every night at 7 PM and 8 PM. I only saw it from the rooftop my second night in Giza because we only found out about it after we had already scheduled our Uber to Cairo. We couldn’t hear what they were saying, but if you’re there and you love history, it’s probably worth checking out.
Rooftop views of the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx
The rooftop view in broad daylight during breakfast is even more unbelievable. I highly recommend staying a night in Giza versus just doing a day trip from Cairo. It’s nice to take your time seeing the Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx in just a few hours. When you finish sightseeing, walk around town and stop for falafel & fresh juice. We went to a place that wasn’t even on Google maps and we loved it. It’s always a great idea to go where the locals go for the best food.
How to get from Cairo Airport to Giza
Like with other tourist destinations, there will be dozens of taxi drivers offering their services as you exit the airport. The cheapest and best option for getting from Cairo Airport to Giza is to book an Uber. Taking an Uber is much cheaper than taking a local taxi and unless haggling is your thing, it will be much easier to know what you’re paying ahead of time, too. If you take a local taxi, you will probably overpay, especially when you’re leaving the airport.
An Uber will cost around $10USD while local taxis go for $25 and up. Local taxis usually don’t have a meter or if they do have one, they might not use it. Worst case scenario is they might quote one thing before you accept a ride and then charge something else when you get to your destination. It’s better to avoid these situations and just take an Uber.
Is it safe to take a taxi in Egypt?
Uber is fairly recent in Egypt, but it is available in Cairo. Are you nervous about hopping into an Uber alone? You should always take normal precautions when traveling, and especially in a foreign country. Before you get in the car with an Uber driver, make sure their license plate and car make & model match what is on your app, and if you get a weird feeling, trust your gut and don’t get in.
I personally felt quite safe in Egypt, but as a solo female traveler, I know you can never be too careful. You can share your location on WhatsApp and send a screenshot to a friend. I also share a general itinerary and update them as I go. You can also arrange for pickup from your hotel or bed & breakfast but they will most likely charge more. The drive time from Cairo Airport to Giza varies heavily between thirty minutes to an hour depending on traffic and how fast your driver is. Buckle up because it is a fun ride.
2. Take the overnight train from Cairo to Luxor
From Giza, take an Uber to the Cairo Train Station. Taking the train from Cairo to Luxor is one of the most underrated things to do. It’s a really great experience, and like other train rides, you get to see a different view of the city than you normally would if you were traveling by car or plane. On the train, you’ll have your own private compartment with two beds, a sink, and a mirror. It’s very cozy and perfect for two people or even a solo traveler wanting more privacy. I love taking the train, and especially comfortable overnight trains like this one. I like taking the train because it’s a comfortable way to travel, you can sleep, and don’t have to pay for accommodation for the night.
Here’s a fun, little anecdote for you about the train ride. A server came to knock on our door to offer us Pepsi about five times. “Pepsi? Pepsi?” he hopefully asked each time as he waited expectantly for our reply. We didn’t want Pepsi, but we finally caved in and said yes as the man smiled and nodded approvingly. I guess one just does not say no to Pepsi in Egypt. The funny thing about all the insisting is that when we finally got our drink, it wasn’t even Pepsi. It was 7UP. We just went with it.
Is there a vegan option on the train from Luxor to Cairo?
Dinner is included with your train ticket. You get a dinner roll, rice, and meat. However, if you’re vegan, rice is the only vegan thing on the menu. Buy something in Cairo ahead of the trip.
3. Visit Luxor and walk through the Temple of Luxor
Luxor itself is great to visit and it also has a few great day trips you can take from there. Some day trips you can take from Luxor include Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, a felucca boat ride on the Nile, and a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings. One of the most relaxing things to do in Luxor is taking a walk along the Luxor Promenade right on the water. You can see feluccas, which are available for hire, on the water. Taking the promenade is much quieter than walking on the street. There are hardly any vendors there, either.
To see the Temple of Luxor, or the maabd el uqsor for Arabic, ask at your hotel or follow Google Maps. The temple is located in downtown Luxor which is on the east bank of the Nile River. We walked to the temple from our hotel. It was a nice way to see the town and check out places to get food afterward.
When you arrive at the temple, you see the entrance of the temple guarded by six enormous royal statues and one obelisk. Wander through the corridors and outdoor courtyard as you admire Egyptian hieroglyphics up close, and you can try to decipher them yourself on a self-guided tour or hire an English-speaking guide at the temple. Plan to spend at least two hours at the temple to walk through and see everything. The entry fee is 40 Egyptian pounds (about $2.50USD). Arrive early to avoid the crowds.
Getting to the Temple of Luxor
You can visit Luxor as a day trip from Cairo as buses run regularly from Cairo to Luxor and back. There are direct flights to the Luxor Airport, but I think it’s best to fly into Cairo and take the night train to Luxor. You don’t want to miss the night train from Cairo to Luxor. It’s best to stay in Luxor for 2 days. You can take day trips to see the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and plan a hot air balloon ride during one of those days. This leads us to the next item on the list.
4. Take a felucca boat ride on the Nile River
What is a felucca?
A felucca is a long, wooden, traditional Egyptian boat. Normally, sails are used to steer the felucca. However, our felucca was propelled by a combination of an engine and sails.
Going to Egypt was on my Bucket List for a long time, and taking a felucca on the Nile River was right up there on the list with seeing the Pyramids. We were walking along the Luxor Promenade one day when we spotted a man on a felucca and decided to ask him about taking a felucca ride on the Nile. He introduced himself as Ahmed and invited us onto the boat. He proudly showed us his new felucca and offered to make us some tea. We accepted and as he boiled water on a small, portable stove on board, he brought out a lace-trimmed family photo album.
Tourism in Egypt
When we were in Egypt in March of 2019, tourism had been hit hard with recent events. Because of this, vendors were aggressive with their tactics to sell tours, and I don’t blame them. I understand that we are tourists in their country and that we should always try our best to buy local and support small vendors versus chain restaurants and hotels, etc. whenever possible.
That being said I have a REALLY hard time saying no to vendors. If you’re like me and you want to buy something, my advice is to approach someone who doesn’t seem to care if they sell something or not. Egypts tourism has been affected once again–this time by the pandemic. It will probably be a similar situation with vendors when travel opens up again there.
Ahmed was so nice and friendly, and we appreciated the fact that he let us approach him. We decided to arrange a felucca boat ride with him for the following day, and paid a deposit.
The next day, we went back to the promenade and were a bit nervous when we didn’t see Ahmed’s boat. We had no way to contact him. We finally spotted Ahmed in his long gray thobe cheerfully waving to us from the shore. Apparently, he had seen us walk by several times. When we walked down to his boat he said, “Ahem is no thief. Ahmed promised to take you across The Nile.” We were relieved to see him and I felt a bit guilty for doubting him. Learn from our mistake and at least get a contact number.
We were excited to get on the felucca and set sail onto The Nile. It was a very spacious boat that could have easily seated a few dozen people on its red, traditional seat cushions. Instead, my partner and I had the boat to ourselves. Ahmed even let my partner steer the boat!
5. Visit the Valley of the Kings.
What better way to get to the Valley of the Kings than by starting the day with a felucca ride across The Nile? Ahmed arranged for a driver to pick us on the west bank of The Nile and take us to the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings is an important historical site. Valley of the Kings has around 63 tombs and its most famous one belongs to King Tut. Imagine walking through tunnels and down ramps to see the tombs of Egypt’s most famous kings. The tombs are air-conditioned and climate-controlled which keeps the tombs in pristine condition. The color of the drawings and hieroglyphics inside the tombs are so well preserved, too. It’s stunning.
How much does it cost to visit Valley of the Kings?
You pay the admission fee at the visitors center and follow the maps posted throughout the site. You can ask for recommendations for the best ones. We chose KV 17 which is Seti I, KV2 – Ramesses IV, and KV11. The entrance fee is about $11 USD and it includes a visit to see three tombs. If you want to see the tombs for Tutankhamun, Ay, and Ramses VI, there is an additional fee
Tips for having the best experience at Valley of the Kings
If you want to take photos, there is an additional fee. There are signs posted inside the tombs stating that you need permission to take pictures inside. The guards watch you carefully to make sure the rules are followed; you’ll pay a small fine if you don’t. The funny thing is that if they catch you, they let you take pictures after you pay the fee, so you may as well just pay the fee.
The Valley of the Kings is a huge site. It is hot and there is no shade outside as you walk from tomb to tomb. The tombs are air-conditioned, but take plenty of water and hydrated well because you will be walking around in the heat. There are several tombs where you walk down long ramps to get down to the actual tomb so wear comfortable walking shoes, too. You will need at least two hours from the moment you arrive to the Visitor’s Center.
6. Pay homage to the Egyptian queens at Valley of the Queens
If you have extra time, visit the Valley of the Queens. It is smaller than the Valley of the Queens but definitely worth a visit. You can see the tombs of many royal queens, the most famous being Queen Nefertiti. Since its discovery in 1904, Queen Nefertiti’s tomb has been well preserved. The $90 fee for visiting Queen Nefertiti’s tomb may seem pricey but when you see just how well it has been preserved you will know why. The tomb is temperature-controlled and you can only take cellphone pictures without flash (No DSLRs or GoPros are allowed). It is normally less busy than the Valley of the Kings so it feels like you have the place to yourself. Plan to spend 1-2 hours here.
Getting from Valley of the Kings to Valley of the Queens to the east bank of The Nile
If you have booked a felucca tour and he arranged for a driver for you on the west bank of The Nile, the driver will take you to Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queen and wait for you until you’re done. There is an optional stop at a village that sells Egyptian artisanry that is completely free. They show you how they carve statues out of various types of stones by hand. Tips are expected for the driver at the end of the trip when he takes you back to The Nile to catch the felucca back to the east bank.
7. Sunrise hot air balloon ride over Valley of the Kings.
One of the coolest experiences you could have in Egypt is taking a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings at sunrise. You are suspended high above the ground with a view of the entire valley as you watch the sunrise from the air. You get to enjoy the breathtaking view of the monuments and the surrounding crops in the area. This is an experience you’ll always remember. If you haven’t been on a hot air balloon before, this is definitely a memorable first place to do it. When you book your hot air balloon ride, transportation to and from your hotel is included but tips are not. Check out this list of the top 10 hot air balloon rides throughout Egypt.
8. Visit Egypt’s most famous souq, Khan el Khalili
Your trip to Cairo would not be complete without a visit to Khal el Khalil, Egypt’s most famous souq. Spend the morning wandering through the souq admiring shiny treasures and buying souvenirs. If you like to barter, this is the spot to do it. They say that vendors expect a bit of back and forth, but be respectful. You are supporting small business owners so make sure you pay a fair price. Don’t leave the souq without checking out the shops with the lamps (genie in a bottle anyone?), ornate mirrors with Arabic calligraphy, and intricate, colorful jewelry.
When you get hungry, stop and have some fresh watermelon juice and a falafel sandwich. I’ve had a lot of falafel in my life, but the best falafel I’ve had by far has been in Egypt. You can’t go wrong at any of the shops. Just follow the locals. Remember to say shukran (thank you). Locals will appreciate that you are making the effort to speak the language.
Vegans: Order your falafel bedoon jeben (without cheese) to make it vegan!
9. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Cairo from the Cairo Tower
If you want to get an idea of just how big Cairo is, take a trip to the Cairo Tower. At the top of the tower’s circular observatory deck, you’ll have a 360-degree view of Cairo and the Nile River. Beyond the cityscape of Cairo, you can see the Great Pyramids of Giza looming in the distance. At 614 feet tall, the Cairo Tower is the tallest tower in Egypt and in North Africa. In comparison, the Seattle Space Needle is 604 feet tall. The best times to go to the tower are during the early mornings or early afternoons for better visibility. The Cairo Tower is open from 9 AM- 5 PM and the entry fee is $10USD.
Aswan is known for its beautiful valleys and lush scenery. It hardly ever rains and is sunny almost the whole year. It is a very peaceful place to visit. has a large Nubian population and it is interesting to learn about their culture. Many people come to Aswan to take a day trip to Abu Simbel, a beautiful, must-see temple.
What is the difference between Aswan and Luxor?
Many people compare Luxor and Aswan, especially if they are short on time. Aswan is definitely more relaxing than Luxor. Luxor is a bit hectic. In comparison, there is less hustle and bustle of vendors in Aswan. For this reason, I’d say that it’s a great idea to visit both Luxor and Aswan if you have the time. I would suggest visiting Luxor first, then Aswan.
11. Relax and unwind in Hurghada
I saved the best for last. If you have time and you’re looking for a little relaxation, visiting Hurghada is one of the best things to do in Egypt. Hurghada is a beautiful resort town on the Red Sea. This is a perfect destination if you love scuba diving, snorkeling, being pampered at the spa, or lounging poolside while drinking passionfruit mojitos. They have many resorts along the beach, but I loved my stay at the Steigenberger Pure Lifestyle boutique hotel and I can’t wait to go back. This all-inclusive resort boasts that it is the only adults-only resort on the Red Sea. The Mediterranean vibes and chill house music instantly put you in relax mode. The spa experience was divine and the service was top notch from check-in to check-out. I highly recommend it.
Getting from Cairo to Hurghada
Buses from Cairo to Hurghada run every hour to every three hours. Aladdin The drive is about five and a half hours long and costs about $3USD. You can also take a direct flight from Cairo to Hurghada.
Egypt really does have it all. From historical sites to picturesque panoramic views, to relaxing at a resort in Hurghada there is something for everyone in this beautiful country.