Treasures of the Nile
- 2 Weeks
Many visitors now skip Cairo and fly direct to Luxor, the world's largest open-air museum. There's plenty to keep you busy here before spending a few days cruising the Nile, which is definitely the most relaxed way to see Egypt.
In Luxor spend two days on the east bank visiting Karnak and Luxor Temple and the brilliant Luxor Museum, as well as strolling through the souq. The next few days cycle around the west bank of the Nile where the major sights include the Valley of the Kings, the Ramesseum and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut. Try to save some energy for less-visited sights, such as Medinat Habu, the Tombs of the Nobles and Deir Al Medina, which can be just as rewarding.
In the second week arrange four days sailing up the Nile to Aswan on a budget-friendly felucca or a luxurious dahabiyya; the shorter version is to find a taxi to take you there, stopping at the temples on the way. From Aswan you can visit the temples at Abu Simbel, perched on the edge of Lake Nasser.
- 2 Weeks
The Western Desert offers a wonderful mix of lush oasis gardens, stunning desert landscapes and interesting ancient monuments. And there is nowhere in Egypt as peaceful as the oases.
Begin a trip to the amazing Western Desert with a bus from Cairo or Asyut to Al Kharga Oasis, and explore the Al Kharga Museum of Antiquities as well as the Graeco-Roman temples and tombs.
From Al Kharga, head northwest to Dakhla Oasis to see the fascinating, hive-like mudbrick settlements of Balat and Al Qasr. Next, hop north to the small and quaint Farafra Oasis. From there you may be able to make a two- or three-day trip to camp in the stunning White Desert National Park, and then head for the closest oasis to Cairo, Bahariya.
The desert road from Bahariya to Siwa Oasis is currently closed, so you will have a long detour via Cairo to get there. Worth the trouble? Certainly. Perched on the edge of the Great Sand Sea, and surrounded by some staggeringly beautiful desert, Siwa is renowned for its dates as well as for being the place of the oracle where Alexander the Great was declared son of the god Amon.
- 1 Week
Get a taste of contemporary urban life in Egypt's two largest cities. The heaving metropolis of Cairo allows you to wander through time in its different quarters. In Alexandria, soak up the cafe culture and catch a glimpse of the Graeco-Roman achievement.
In Cairo, head to the Egyptian Museum to immerse yourself in Egypt's long history and then stroll through the faded elegance of Downtown. The next day visit the Pyramids of Giza, and continue to the necropolis of Saqqara. For contrast on your third day, take the metro to Coptic Cairo and visit the excellent Coptic Museum. Take a taxi to Al Azhar Park to enjoy lunch and great views over the city and then spend the afternoon in Islamic Cairo. On your last day, cafe-hop in leafy Zamalek, visit some art galleries and end atop the Cairo Tower for a final view.
The next morning, take an express train to Alexandria. Follow a morning in the stunning Bibliotheca Alexandrina with a visit to the excellent Alexandria National Museum. On your second day, indulge in Alexandrian nostalgia: ride the creaking streetcar and tour Pastroudis and other cafes where the city’s literati once sipped coffee.