Egypt is considered the oldest travel destination on earth. The awe-inspiring temples and pyramids have captured the imagination of travelers for thousands of years. Egypt tourist attractions are like nothing you will find anywhere else in the world. Ancient Egypt was the Land of the Pharaohs, with monuments like the legendary Great Pyramids and Sphinx, and the many royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Although most people come to Egypt to view its ancient monuments, natural attractions tempt travelers too. The Red Sea coast is known for its coral reefs and beach resorts, while a trek through the Sahara can lead visitors to refreshing freshwater spring oasis. Egypt sightseeing has long been popular due to its diversity along with the educational opportunity it provides.
Since the revolution in 2011, tourists numbers coming to Egypt have decreased drastically. This has created an opportunity for unique experiences of places in Egypt to visit without the crowds. Finding yourself alone inside a pyramid is now a real possibility. Below the top 10 tourist attractions in Egypt are as follow:
1- The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
The Giza necropolis, situated in the immediate vicinity of the southwestern suburbs of Cairo, is probably the most famous ancient site in the world and is one of the main Egypt sightseeing attractions. The last surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the world’s oldest tourist attractions and the reason most people visit Egypt today. There are in fact three main pyramids in Giza, the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops), The Pyramid of Kafhre and the smaller Pyramid of Menkaura. Each Pyramid is a tomb to a different King from Egypt’s past. In front of the pyramids lies the Sphinx. Carved out of a single block of stone, this enormous cat-like sculpture has mesmerized millions of visitors.
2- The Egyptian Museum in Cairo
The Egyptian Museum has the largest number of antiquities on display in the world. With over 120,000 artifacts, the museum houses an incredible display depicting ancient Egypt’s glorious reign. You can enjoy mummies, sarcophagi, pottery, jewelry, and of course King Tutankhamen’s treasures. King Tut’s goodies include his socks, underwear and the boy king’s death mask made of solid gold, described as the most beautiful object ever made. The displays are not all labeled as well as they should be and it may be a little haphazard, but you will enjoy it nevertheless.
3- Abu Simbel Temples
Possibly the most awe-inspiring temple of all ancient Egypt with its enormous rock-cut facade, the great Sun Temple of King Ramses II at Abu Simbel created to revere the mighty pharaonic ruler King Ramses II. Guarding the entrance to the temple and hewn into the side of a mountain are four famous colossal statues of the pharaoh himself. In a fit of precision and architectural egotism, Ramses II had the entire temple carefully angled and oriented in order that the sun’s rays would align twice a year on his date of his ascension to the throne (21 February) and on his birthday (21 October) and illuminate the inner sanctum of the temple. This incredible natural phenomenon provides for a most spectacular sight, which has come referred to as the Sun Festival of King Ramses II. Arriving at the temple before sunrise, you will witness the shafts of light slowly creeping through the rock-hewn inner Hypostyle Hall (replete with further statues of the king) and through to the Sanctuary. Significantly, the sun illuminates statues of Amun-Re, Re-Herakhte and Ramses the god, whilst the statute of Ptah – the god of darkness – remains in the shadows.
4- Valley of the Kings
Located in 4,000-year-old Luxor, the Valley of the Kings studded with often highly decorated tombs, constructed to house the regal sarcophagi enclosed mummies of the mighty pharaohs awaiting their passage into the after-life. Some of the best-known tombs are those of Ramses II, Seti I and Amenhotep II and of course, the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Tutankhamun’s tomb, which discovered almost intact in the 1920’s. You can go inside the tomb, but you will have to visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to see the king treasures. Tutankhamun was actually quite a minor king in the scheme of things and there are much larger and more impressive tombs to discover in the Valley of the Kings. In all, more than 60 tombs have been excavated. You only allowed entering three tombs. However, the ones you can enter are incredibly well preserved. The artwork and colors are stunning.
5- Karnak and Luxor Temples
The temples of Karnak and Luxor are some of the most striking relics of ancient history in the world. The Karnak complex made up of four distinct sections, of which only the Amun-Re precinct is open to the public. The Amun-Re part of the complex consists of numerous, intricate temples, columns and an obelisk. The Temple of Karnak is the largest ancient religious site ever built and represents the combined achievement of many generations of Egyptian builders. The Temple of Karnak actually consists of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples located about 2.5 kilometers north of Luxor. One of most famous structures of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall, a hall area of 5,000 m2 (50,000 sq ft) with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows. The spectacular Luxor Temple situated in the center of Luxor city. The Temple of Luxor built by Amenhotep III and Ramesses II around 1400BC. Its main purpose was to celebrate the festival of Opet. Many rulers built on to the temple yet it always remained a place of worship for Christians and later Muslims. A mosque built inside the temple still exists and is one of the highlights of the site. Luxor Temple beautifully lit at night so it is worth visiting the site at sunset.
6- Nile River Cruise
Cruising the Nile is a popular way of visiting Upper Egypt. The Nile River has been Egypt’s lifeline since ancient times and there is no better way to trace the passage of Egypt’s history than to follow the course of the Nile. A lot of Egypt’s sightseeing can be done near the banks of the Nile. Almost all Egyptian cruise ships travel the Luxor-Aswan route, which is safe, scenic and terminates at two of Egypt’s most important towns. Taking a Felucca down the Nile is an adventurous option. Feluccas are sailboats that been used on the Nile since antiquity. A Felucca is not quite as comfortable as a luxury cruise ship but nothing can beat sailing in a quiet rig that designed thousands of years ago.
The two different boats have their positives and negatives. For a more traditional Egyptian experience, sign up for the Felucca cruise. However, if you are looking for a room with full-board, air conditioning, and a pool – sign up for the Nile River cruise ships. Common trips include those between Aswan and Luxor, as well as south of Aswan towards the 550km long Lake Nasser.
7- Red Sea Resorts
The Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt, is one of the most beautiful places in the world to go diving. The waters of the Red Sea are renowned for their spectacular visibility and features some of the most exotic seascapes. With its wide expanse of coral formation on the reefs, it is home to thousands of different sea creatures. While most Egypt sightseeing spots consist of ancient monuments, the Red Sea provides a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the cities of Egypt. Red Sea beach resorts are located on both sides of the sea: on the east side, and part of the Sinai Peninsula is the long-established Sharm el Sheikh and its neo-hippy counterpart, Dahab. On the west coast of the Red Sea lies relatively old and touristy Hurghada and a cluster of new resort towns. Hotels and expanded infrastructure provide holidaymakers with excellent aquatic facilities for sail boarding, yachting, deep-sea fishing, Scuba diving and snorkeling. The red sea provides a gateway to prime offshore reefs, which are some of the finest in the world.
8- Siwa Oasis
The Siwa Oasis situated in the Western Desert close to the Libyan border. Siwa Oasis is one of Egypt’s isolated settlements, with 35,000 people, mostly ethnic Berbers. Located on an old date trade route, Siwa was an oasis vital to the trade route, as the natural springs and shade-giving palm trees gave travelers some respite from the desert. Recently tourism has become a vital source of income. Much attention has been given to creating hotels that use local materials and play on local styles. The Siwans have developed their own distinct Berber culture. Siwans speak their own language and their jewelry and crafts are exquisite. A decent road and a small airport have certainly put the Siwa Oasis on the tourist map but it is still off the beaten track. As well as its unique culture, the Siwa oasis known for its geographical beauty, hot springs and the fact that Alexander the Great traveled here to visit the Oracle of Amun. It is a wonderful place to relax, swim and eat some olives. The old town of Siwa dates back to the 13th century and its mud and brick architecture looks gnarled and unique.
9- The Temple of Isis in Philae
The scenic town of Aswan is set on the River Nile and worth exploring. Head out by boat to Agelika Island to explore the Temple of Philae belonging to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The Temple of Isis is one of most beautiful temples in Egypt dedicated to the Goddess of Motherhood and Fertility. The temple of Isis – occupying about one-quarter of the island. The walls covered with scenes of Ptolemaic kings and Roman emperors performing daily and ritualistic ceremonies. Later, when this temple became a church, Christians added their crosses to the stones. The laid-back Nubian town itself is also a highlight for visitors as it is overflowing with colorful markets, spicy aromas, Pharaonic and Roman ruins and antiquity from the ancient land of Nubia. Do not forget to watch the amazing sound and light show almost every night of the week!
10- The White Desert
Egypt’s unconventional natural wonder is the White Desert where wind-carved and shaped in the form of massive pebbles or mushrooms or pebbles have created what looks like a snowy wonderland in the middle of the arid sand. The landscapes here look like something out of a science fiction movie with blindingly white boulders and iceberg-like pinnacles. For desert fans and adventurers, this is the ultimate playground, while anybody who has had their fill of temples and tombs will enjoy this spectacular natural scenery. Upon first glimpse of the 300-sq-km national park of the White Desert, you will feel like Alice through the looking glass. These sculptural formations best viewed at sunrise or sunset, when the sun lights them with orangey-pink hues, or under a full moon, which gives the landscape a ghostly Arctic appearance. The sand around the outcroppings littered with quartz and different varieties of deep-black iron pyrites, as well as small fossils. No less beautiful than the east side of the road, the shade and privacy here make it a great area to camp. A few kilometers further along, the desert changes again and becomes litter with quartz crystals. If you look at the rock formations in this area, you will see that they are also largely made of crystal. The most famous of the formations is the Crystal Mountain.