Egypt’s tourism sector is slowly rebounding after close to a decade of decline in tourism arrivals occasioned by safety concerns following the Egyptian revolution in 2011, and the bombing of a Russian airliner in 2015 by Jihadist. While security has improved, the number of tourists traveling to Egypt are nowhere near the 14.7 million visitors received in 2010, but millions of travelers are going to this African country to see the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, ancient temples in Luxor, sail the River Nile, sample delicious Egyptian cuisine, learn about the country’s history and culture, interact with its very friendly people, and do a lot more.
I had the opportunity to travel to Egypt recently, as I mentioned it is now safe to travel to the country, and finally got it off my travel bucket list. If you have been thinking about traveling to this destination this is the perfect time to do so. Since their tourism sector is still recovering, travel prices are much lower, and the attractions have fewer crowds, it may not stay that way for long.
In this article, I will share with you what you need to travel to Egypt, places to visit, Egyptian foods to try, and a few tips for when you travel to Egypt. The information I give you will hopefully help you better plan your trip.
How to Get Your Visa For Egypt
The Egyptian authorities require tourists visiting the country to apply for an Egypt visa which grants them entry into the country. You can apply for a visa online or at the airport when you get there. I recommend you do the application online as that will save you time wasted waiting to get your visa at the airport.
To apply for you a visa online you’ll have to provide the following information:
- Personal information which includes your name, date of birth and nationality.
- Passport information such as the issuing country, the date of issue and expiration.
- Contact details.
- Valid credit/debit card details
- Travel dates and purpose of your visit to Egypt.
If your details check out, your visa will be sent to you via email within 48hours. To get the visa you’ll pay about $25.
Where to Stay in Egypt
Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Luxor, Suez are some of the biggest and most popular Egyptian cities. If you travel to any of these cities you should be able to find suitable accommodation for you easily. You can choose from luxurious five-star hotels, guest houses, hostels, bed and breakfast hotels, Airbnb, etc.
I think what will influence your decision on where you stay is how much you’re willing to spend on accommodation. If you have saved up and have money to spend booking yourself into a beautiful luxury hotel with a spa, infinity pool, international restaurants, and a bar will be a good way to pamper yourself. If you’re on a budget, a bed and breakfast hotel, or hostel accommodation will do just fine.
What to See in Egypt
Egypt is a beautiful country with so much to see, but it is not possible to visit all the attractions in a week or two. However, there are some places you must visit when you travel to the country. Failing to visit these spots which are spread across Egypt will, in my opinion, make your trip incomplete. Here are some of those locations.
The Great Pyramids of Giza
This is the most popular attraction among tourists visiting Egypt, and each year millions of travelers journey to the outskirts of Cairo to see and take photos next to the over 4000-year-old pyramids.
I’m sure you have seen this incredible pyramids many times in movies like The Mummy and in history books, so seeing them in real life will be a delight. The centuries-old pyramids are one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Close to the Pyramids of Giza is another top Egyptian attraction, The Great Sphinx of Giza, a centuries-old limestone statue of a mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. The distance between the pyramids and the Sphinx is about a kilometer so ensure you plan to see both.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo
This museum has been open for 118 years and has the largest collection of ancient Egypt antiques. It is another top attraction in Egypt you must visit. If you visit Egypt in 2020, a bigger museum, The Grand Egyptian Museum, will have opened close to the Pyramids of Giza.
The Grand Egyptian Museum will have a lot more space which will allow some of the 120,000 Egyptian artifacts that have been stored for years because there is no room to display them at the Egyptian Museum to be exhibited. Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany recently said “The Grand Egyptian Museum will feature 20,000+ relics that have never been on display before. This will include several items belonging to King Tutankhamen that haven’t been released since their original discovery in 1922. The displays of hundreds of artifacts dating to a variety of periods in Egypt’s history will make the Grand Egyptian Museum one of the largest archaeological museum in the world.”
I don’t know about you but I look forward to visiting this museum when it opens.
The Abu Simbel Temples
This temples were built way back in 1200 BC, and are located in Abu Simbel, a village in Aswan which is close to the border between Egypt and Sudan.
The attraction has two temples, the Great Temple which you’ll easily identify because it has a large statue of the Great Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, and a smaller temple built in honor of the king’s favorite wife Nefertari.
Other top attractions you must visit in Egypt include:
Khan el Khalili Souk. This market in Cairo is the perfect place to get souvenirs for your trip. You can find almost anything at this market from hand-made carpets, sparkling silverware, Pharaoh souvenirs, gold artifacts and antiques, incense, stained glass lamps, etc.
The Red Sea. There are several resorts along the Red Sea you can spend a few days at chilling on the beach or scuba diving.
River Nile. You can’t go to Egypt and not take a cruise on the River Nile. I recommend you take the Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor and get to see ancient Egypt ruins along the banks of the river.
Valley of the Kings. As the name suggests, this attraction is the resting place of all famous Egyptian pharaohs. You will have to pay to access the tombs of this great Egyptian leaders.
Nubian Village. Here you get to sample Egyptian cuisines as you dine with local families.
Take a leisure walk around Islamic Cairo.
What Egyptians Foods Should You Try?
You must try these meals when you travel to Egypt.
- Koshary. This is a very popular dish in Egypt. It is made from rice, lentils, pasta, fried onions, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, spaghetti, hummus, garlic, chili, and vinegar sauce. The meal is very tasty and you can order it at street food stalls or at five-star hotels in cities across the country.
- Molokhia is a healthy vegan meal made from molokhia plant leaves cooked with coriander, garlic, and lemon juice. It is best enjoyed with rice, bread or beef, chicken or rabbit meat chunks
- Ful Medammes is another popular Egyptian meal made from fava beans, beef, onions, vegetable oil, and lemon juice to create a delicious beef stew. This meal is believed to have been cooked in ancient Egypt and is regularly had for breakfast with eggs and pita bread.
- Egyptian Shawarma this a popular street food in Egypt.
- Hamam Mahshi (Pigeon). Pigeons may not be a delicacy where you come from but in Egypt, it is a luxury food, so give it a try.
Some Tips to Keep In Mind When Visiting Egypt
- At some attractions, you may have to pay for your ticket and a pass to take photographs. For example, if you visit the Abu Simbel, The Egyptian Museum in Cairo or the Valley of the Kings in Luxor you won’t be allowed to take photos without a camera pass. If you love taking photos paying for the camera pass is something you should consider.
- Tipping known as “baksheesh” in Egypt is expected by local when they offer you service no matter how small. So, carry small bills for this when moving around.
- Before traveling take time to read up on ancient Egyptian history. Doing this will make you appreciate the sites you visit more because you have a better understanding of their place in history.
- The traffic in Cairo is a nightmare so as you plan your travel itinerary factor in the time you will spend in traffic before you get to your destination.
- Women tourists are required to cover up when visiting religious sites like Mosques. Also while Egypt is liberal on how you dress, wearing strapless tops or revealing clothes will get you a lot of unwarranted attention.
- The best time to visit is November to January which is considered to be winter in the county, temperatures are not high then. June to August is summer and the country gets extremely hot which can limit your movement.
Egypt has numerous attractions you can see, and the best way to ensure you don’t miss any of the must-see attractions is by getting a guide. During my trip to the country, I got an amazing guide who took me all the top spots, recommend delicious Egyptian foods to try, and was an encyclopedia on Egyptian history. The guide made my trip to Egypt more magical, so I guarantee as a first-time traveler to Egypt having a guide will make your experience more memorable.
Hope you have a fun time when you take your trip to Egypt. Let us know how it went once you’re back from your holiday in the comment section.