If you find yourself with three weeks free to spend travelling in and around Egypt then you’re in luck. This is one massive land sprawl, packed with tourist attractions, ancient history, intriguing and rich culture, and some of the best beaches and marine-life in the world. Maybe three weeks won’t be enough after all!
We are talking about a country here which is almost twice the size of France, so you’re not going to struggle for things to see, however despite that fact, much of it is covered in desert, which makes getting around a tad difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. Internal flights are a good way to go if you don’t want to spend endless hours on difficult roads and long rail journeys, but it all depends on your particular itinerary.
Egypt is separated into Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt, and the Sinai Peninsula, where many of the famous tourist resorts are located, including well-known Sharm el Sheik and Nuweiba. This is area is known as the Red Sea Riviera. A visit to Egypt should certainly encompass these destinations, especially if you enjoy snorkelling and diving. You could even complete your PADI diving certification whilst you’re there.
Always check official travel advice when it comes to travelling in and around Egypt, especially away from the major tourist resorts, and heed advice – this is something you must always remember.
Cairo is obviously the capital of the country, and a definite must visit. At first you might be astounded by its size, noise, and sheer frenetic nature of the place, but you will soon get used to it. This is of course home to the Pyramids of Giza, and you will find countless hordes of people heading there as a first stop. These should be explored, however for a set of pyramids which are totally out of the way, head to the lesser known Pyramids of Dahshur, totally within the desert. Downtown Cairo should also be visited, Khan El Khalili Market, as well as the rather interesting Birqash Camel Market.
Once you’ve ticked Cairo off your list, your attention will probably turn to Luxor. This is obviously home to the Valley of the Kings, somewhere you need to see. You will need at least three days in Luxor to get the most out of it, visiting the aforementioned Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut’s Temple, and Karnak, as well as the interior of the city itself.
Alexandria is another Egyptian city certainly worth a visit, which is a good base for city and beach time. Montaza Palace Complex is a beautiful setting, with gardens home to former palaces, upmarket hotels, and wonderful sea views. Head a little further up the coast to Mamounia or Abu Qir for deserted beaches.
If you want a true desert experience then visit the Siwa Oasis. Be aware that this is a particularly strict part of the country, so always adhere to dress code, but this remote town in the Western Desert is rich in heritage, architecture, and history, and is easily reached from Cairo.
To end your break, why not head off on a Nile cruise?
Egypt is massive, and there is so much to see that you certainly won’t pack it all into three weeks, but hey, you can try!
Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis