Egypt’s southern-most town – unspoilt and on one of the most beautiful stretches of the Nile. Most come to see the magnificent Temple of Ramses II, one of the wonders of the ancient world, but there’s plenty more besides.
Bucket list destination:
Destination guide for Ancient Egypt
With its unique tapestry of ancient history, culture, and natural wonders, Egypt is a country – and a bucket list destination – like no other. It’s a captivating land of mystical allure that unfolds like a living museum.
But if you’re interested in a trip that ticks off all the bucket list sights relating to the ancient Egyptians, you need to plan on (at least) three stops.
First Cairo, Egypt’s capital, home of the incredible Pyramids of Giza, and the astonishing new pyramids and tombs being constantly discovered in nearby Saqqara. The world-renowned Egyptian Museum here holds a treasure trove of ancient Egyptian artefacts, including those found in the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun.
Second, 700km to the south is Luxor, home of the extraordinary tomb-filled valleys, and the colossal temples at Karnak.
Third, further south still, exotic Aswan, your staging point for visiting one of the world’s greatest ancient sites at Abu Simbel, the Temple of Ramasses II.
Cruises down the legendary Nile river, in the footsteps of the great pharaohs, will take in all the major stops. Most visitors will fly from Cairo to Luxor, then cruise to Aswan, but you can cruise all the way from Cairo. You can also cruise from Aswan to Abu Simbel across the beautiful and less-crowded Lake Nasser. Wherever you start from, it’s an unforgettable odyssey watching Egypt’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and awe-inspiring landscapes slowly unfold.
When to go
Egypt’s allure beckons year-round, but to truly embrace its wonders, timing is key.
For a perfect blend of pleasant weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). This allows you to bask in the golden sun while exploring ancient sites without the scorching heat or bustling crowds of summer.
Alternatively, if diving in the Red Sea is your goal, winter (December to February) offers ideal conditions.
Getting there and away
Egypt’s bustling capital Cairo is unsurprisingly the main international gateway to ancient Egypt (Cairo, Luxor, Aswan) for most visitors. The presence there of the pyramids and the Egyptian Museum make it an essential stop. Numerous airlines offer direct flights to Cairo from major cities worldwide.
The main bucket list attractions are spread between the different cities, so if you want to tick off all the top sights, some travel is inevitable. Thankfully, navigating Egypt’s captivating landscapes and historic sites is a breeze, thanks to a well-connected transportation system.
Domestic flights are available to connect major cities, allowing for easy exploration of Luxor and Aswan. In cities like Cairo, taxis and ride-sharing services provide convenient options for getting around. See our individual destination guides for destination-specific transport advice.
To reach Luxor or Aswan, you’ll need to take a domestic flight or take a scenic train journey along the Nile. Nile cruises run from Luxor to Aswan, in both directions, and are the most popular way to travel between the two, or you can drive or take a train.
Health & Safety
While Egypt generally offers a safe travel environment, it’s advisable to be mindful of your surroundings and take precautions against pickpocketing and petty theft. Keep valuable belongings secure, and use hotel safes for passports and important documents.
Before you go, check your vaccination status for diseases like hepatitis A, typhoid, and tetanus. When there, be sure to drink bottled water, eat at reputable establishments, and steer clear of street food.
The Egyptian sun can be especially intense, so pack sunscreen, hats, and lightweight clothing. Additionally, safeguard against mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants, especially in areas with a risk of malaria or dengue fever.
Remember, this is a Muslim country and women should dress conservatively. If you visit any mosques, please check any conditions of entry beforehand.
Other guides relevant to this destination
Exotic, bustling city on the Nile, packed with world-class ancient sites including the remarkable tomb of Tutankhamun. A tantalising glimpse into the exotic culture and remarkable sophistication of this ancient civilisation.