Egypt is such a bucket-list destination but with so many temples and historic sites, where do you start and how do you narrow it down? Keep reading for my top ten favorite places to visit in Egypt. From Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Sharm, and beyond.
I won’t ramble on much about the history (I’m not a historian!) of each site but I will tell you why I love it and provide some tips for your visit. Tip number one: go with a guide to all temples and sites! If you don’t you risk the chance of the locals harassing you. When I was in Egypt I went with a guide everywhere and never had a problem but I have heard bad stories from others.
Pyramids of Giza
I don’t think this site needs any explanation. This is the most famous site in all of Egypt. It is so impressive to see in person, pretty sure I got teary-eyed when I walked into the site. I was lucky to visit in 2020 when there were no crowds but during normal times expect large crowds. To avoid as much of the crowd as you can go at opening or shortly before the close. Tip: stay at a hotel close by the site instead of in central Cairo- makes it easier to get there because traffic in Cairo can be a nightmare.
This is one of the more famous temples in Egypt. Located on the east bank of the Nile River. This temple has an impressive facade and beautiful column-lined walkways and open areas. Tip: we visited near sunset and it was lovely. Luxor Temple is a don’t-miss for sure!
Karnak is a temple complex and a massive one. This was my favorite temple in all of Egypt. Karnak is considered the largest religious site in the world. So leave plenty of time in your schedule to see the whole thing. The avenue of the sphinxes lines the entrance and inside the gigantic columns will leave you in awe.
This temple is located near Aswan on an island in the Nile River. You can only access this Egyptian Temple by boat. This alone makes it worth a stop if you will be in the Aswan area. Tip: when looking for accommodation in Aswan I suggest staying in a guest house on the east side of the Nile. We stayed at Maghrabi’s Guest house, it was lovely and the family that runs it has a wonderful story. You can book it through booking.com here.
Hatshepsut is a pretty iconic Mortuary Temple in Egypt. It is also one of the few for a Queen! The long staircase at the entrance and the cliffs in the backdrop make this place a stunner. It’s one of those, “you’ll recognize it when you see it”, places. It is located on the west bank of the Nile near the valley of the queens.
This one is usually overlooked by most visitors and tour guides but I love it. It is smaller than some of the rest but has some very impressive columns and sculptures. We were the only people there the entire time (yes, it was Nov 2020) but because this one is not as popular it will be less crowded than the rest. I truly believe it’s worth a stop if you have the time while visiting the west bank.
Edfu Temple is located on a hill overlooking the west bank of the Nile. Edfu is considered one of the best preserved of Ancient Egypt. There are extensive carvings and even color is still visible on the walls and ceilings. This was our tour guide’s favorite temple, that says a lot because you know he has seen them all!
Abu Simbel is out of the way at about 2.5 hours from Aswan but completely worth it! The site includes two massive stone-cut temples- cut right into the cliffside. With an inside just as impressive as the outside, this is truly a do not miss while traveling in Egypt.
Valley of the Kings
No list of places to visit in Egypt would be complete without The Valley of the Kings. Located on the west bank of the Nile this monument to the Pharaohs, at current count, has 63 tombs. Not just any old tombs, very elaborate and some very deep into the ground. When you visit you cannot visit them all as only some are open to the public. The ones that are open can change as some will close for renovations. There are also a few tombs that cost extra to enter, they are all worth the price. Tip: some the best tombs to visit are: Ramessus IX, Ramessus III, Tasusert-Setnakht, Set I, Ramessus V and VI, and Tutankhamun.
This mosque is located in Sharm Ash Sheikh, an amazing suba diving capital and coastal town. Although you cannot enter the mosque it is absolutly stunning from the outside and worth a stop if in the area. Tip: stay at the Four Season in Sharm and be sure to book through me as I am a member of the Four Season exclusive Travel Partner Program, meaning my clients get extra goodies. Contact me here.