Egypt is a country that is on almost every travellers wishlist. The land of pharaohs, hieroglyphs and mummies has a magical attraction. As a child, it was a dream for me to ever see the pyramids, tombs and temples in real life. Although modern Egypt could not really enchant me, visiting the ancient sights was an unforgettable experience. Ready to start your trip to Egypt? We’ll help you on your way with your travel plans. What about safety, transport and the heat? And what is the ideal itinerary?
What does a flight to Egypt cost?
Egypt has several national and international airports. The largest airports are those of the capital Cairo and the coastal city of Hurghada. Direct flights from the Netherlands regularly go to both destinations. I myself paid € 238 for a return ticket Amsterdam-Cairo with a short transfer. You can easily check the lowest current prices below.
Is traveling in Egypt safe?
Although Egypt is not known for its safety – especially since the revolution in 2011 – I have not felt unsafe. Every year millions of tourists travel to this country and especially for the tourist destinations the government has an interest in the highest security. On the Dutch government’s website, most of Egypt is shown as ‘yellow’, just like virtually every non-Western country (Find the latest information on your own governments website). Only the Sinai desert is shown as ‘not traveling’, but also the southern Abu Simbel with its beautiful temples is marked as ‘only necessary’. Yet we have definitely not experienced our day trip to Abu Simbel from Aswan as unsafe. In another blog I will tell you more about this day trip to Abu Simbel and how the tourist transport in column makes this journey.
That does not mean that traveling in Egypt is always pleasant. I went to Egypt with a friend and I would not recommend the country to female travelers without a male travel buddy. We may not have felt unsafe, but we were constantly harassed. In Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, we were constantly called after, young men wanted to be photographed with us and salesmen did not leave us alone. It also happened to us several times that we were seriously scolded if we did not respond to it. That constant attention and the avoidance of eye contact was quite tiring. My most important tip for female travelers is to simply ignore the call. And learn the text ‘la shoukran’ (no thank you) by heart to reject people as friendly as possible.
I also advise female travelers to dress modestly. Ensure covered knees, shoulders and décolleté. You will not need a bikini or bathing suit, except on the private beach or at the swimming pool of your hotel. I personally find the wedding ring tip a bit exaggerated, but I have often emphasized that I have a permanent relationship. That again saved a few marriage proposals from desperate Egyptians.
How long do you need for Egypt?
I think the perfect travel time for a trip to Egypt is two weeks. You will have plenty of time to see the most important highlights without rushing and can include a relaxing Nile cruise or some beach days in your trip. Without a cruise or beach you will also be fine with 10 travel days.
But when you are coming just to dive in the Red Sea, then a week at the beach can also be perfect. Another option is to visit Cairo for a city trip, but I’d prefer to include Luxor and Aswan.
How do you travel between your destinations?
There are excellent bus connections, but for a little more comfort, take the train. Egypt’s train network is connected to almost every major city. They are not all of the best quality, but those from Alexandria to Cairo and from Cairo to the more southern cities of Luxor and Aswan are. The train ride from Cairo to Luxor takes approximately 10 hours according to schedule and 13 hours to Aswan. By the way, count on more time. We had a delay of approximately three hours each time, also on the train ride from Luxor to Aswan. It lasted twice as long with us.
With such long travel times, night trains are a good alternative. There are several types in Egypt. The comfortable night train with beds is the Watania Sleeping Train. We paid € 75 per person for a night train from Aswan to Cairo, so that is not cheap. For a night train from Cairo to Luxor without beds, but fairly comfortable seats, we paid 300 EGP per person at the black market (around € 19 at that time).
Tip: reserve your train tickets in time to prevent them from being sold out. We finally had to buy our train tickets from Cairo to Luxor through an Egyptian acquaintance on the black market.
There is no train connection to Hurghada, but buses run daily to Luxor, Aswan and Cairo. The one to Luxor is the shortest (4 to 5 hours).
Within the city or for short distances you can travel with an organized group with minivans. We only did this for the day trip to Abu Simbel. All other trips we did by taxi or Uber. If you don’t want a fuss about taxi fares, the Uber is really a must for at least Cairo. For a taxi ride from the center to the airport we paid 130 to 150 EGP, but with the Uber only 100 pounds.
Tip: don’t have an Uber account yet? Via this link you can easily register and receive a discount on your first ride.
What is the best time to visit Egypt?
Egypt is largely a desert, so count on extreme temperatures in the summer. The high season is therefore in winter, from October to February. The temperatures are pleasant during the day, but it is chilly in the morning and in the evening. The busiest months are at the end of December and January. Expect the temperatures in the country to vary greatly. It is usually much cooler in Cairo than in Luxor and Aswan.
In the hot summer you can visit all sights without tourist crowds, but you also pay a price for it. The temperatures can rise to well above 40 degrees. In the spring and autumn it is also quieter – and therefore cheaper – at the tourist places, but the heat is not yet at its peak.
The ultimate itinerary for two weeks
In two weeks you have the time to see all sides of Egypt. From modern Cairo with its impressive monuments and mosques to the ancient temples in the deep south. My itinerary gives you the option to add a multi-day Nile cruise or some beach days to your trip. Don’t you need that? Then you can also be fine with 10 days out.
# 1 Cairo and the pyramids of Giza (3 days). Take the time to visit all facets of diverse Cairo. From the world-famous pyramids and sphinx to centuries-old markets and magical mosques.
Reading tip: I wrote an extensive blog about the coolest highlights of Cairo.
# 2 Aswan (3 days). Take the night train to southern Aswan and explore the most beautiful temples in three days. Like Cairo, Aswan can be quite overwhelming, so my top tip is to sleep on the quiet island of Elephantine Island in the Nile . A day trip to the temples of Abu Simbel is the most popular, but also the Isis temple on Philae Island and a boat trip on the Nile are rarely skipped.
Extra: multi-day Nile cruise. You can take a train from Aswan to Luxor, but you can also travel in style on a multi-day cruise. During such a boat trip you have the opportunity to visit the less visited temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu.
# 3 Luxor (3 days). The ancient capital of ancient Egypt has more impressive temples than you can and will visit. In any case, do not miss the Valley of the Kings with the tomb of Tutanchamon, the enormous temple of Karnak and the little visited Medinet Habu temple.
Reading tips: before your visit to the Valley of the Kings, I wrote an extensive blog with 30 practical tips. I also made an overview of the most beautiful temples and tombs in Luxor.
Extra: Hurghada (2 days). I came to Egypt myself for the antiquities and not for sun, sea and beach. That is why I skipped the Red Sea, but a few final days in Hurghada are ideal for a moment to recover. After almost two weeks with full day programs you can certainly use that.