The famous tourist attractions in Egypt are probably on many travel bucket lists. The remnants of Ancient Egypt with its mummies, pharaohs and temples appeal to anyone’s imagination. I had been dreaming of visiting Egypt ever since I was a child and the ancient monuments did not disappoint. I’ll give you an overview in this blog of the top 10 tourist sights you shouldn’t miss when traveling around Egypt.
Tip: Check your eligibility to apply for an Egypt visa on arrival to save time on your trip.
Egypt’s tourist attractions on the map
10 best tourist attractions in Egypt
#1 The Sphinx and Pyramids at Giza
When you think of Egypt, you think of the pyramids and the Sphinx. You can easily visit the pyramids from Cairo, where they are located in the suburb of Giza. The three great pyramids are right on the edge of the city, where the city stops and the desert begins. But there is more than just the three famous large pyramids: there are smaller pyramids and many tombs of nobles. During our visit we were also able to enter such a smaller pyramid and see the hieroglyphs in a tomb of a nobleman. And did you know that you can also buy a ticket with access to the great pyramid? That is a unique experience that should definitely be on your Egypt wish list.
#2 The Temple of Karnak
The largest and most beautiful temple in Egypt is the Temple of Karnak. Or rather: temples. This temple complex is located near Luxor, in the heart of Egypt. It is a huge open-air museum of hieroglyphs, pillars and gates. The temple area is the result of 1,500 years of extensions and improvements by the Pharaohs. Each one wanted to pay homage to the gods of ancient Egypt by constructing something dazzling. The enormous obelisks of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut and the columned forest of Pharaoh Seti I and his famous son Ramses II are particularly impressive. Hatshepsut’s obelisks are made from a single piece of granite, which must have been an immense achievement. The colonnaded forest consists 134 pillars in an immense hall of 5500 m².
Read more: our blog about the most beautiful temples in Luxor, including how to visit the Temple of Karnak at night after dark.
#3 The Valley of the Kings
For centuries, the Valley of the Kings was the place where dead Pharaohs were buried. The result is a maze of underground tombs and you can visit them on your Egypt trip. The most famous is that of Tutankhamun. It is a relatively small tomb of a fairly insignificant Pharaoh in history, but it is the only tomb in the Valley where all the splendor was preserved. These riches – from death mask to sarcophagus – can now be found in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Only the mummy is still in the tomb in the Valley of the Kings. But there are many more tombs to discover in the Valley of the Kings and they are even more beautiful than those of the famous King Tut. Think of passages deep underground, beautiful murals and endless hieroglyphs.
Read more: Read our practical tips for the Valley of the Kings, including a map and all the different tickets prices.
#4 The Egyptian Museum in Cairo
The most important museum in Egypt is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Even though a new museum is being built on the outskirts of the city that will be even more impressive, for the time being this is the museum to see the riches of the ancient pharaohs. Here you can admire the famous death mask of pharaoh Tutankhamun and see pharaoh mummies. The other departments are also recommended and show the most beautiful archaeological finds from Egypt. Please note that you have to buy a separate ticket for the mummy rooms and that not one, but two rooms can be visited in the museum with a ticket.
#5 Abu Simbel’s rock temples
One of Egypt’s most famous sights is located in the far south of the country. You can only visit them during a full-daytrip from the city of Aswan. We’re talking about the famous rock temples of Abu Simbel, located near the border with the southern neighboring country of Sudan. Pharaoh Ramses II had these impressive temples carved out of the rocks in honor of himself and his beloved wife Nefertari. The façades with meter-high pharaohs are a marvelous sight and you can enter the temples to see them from the inside.
Read more: our blog about visiting the Abu Simpel temples from Aswan.
#6 Mohammed Ali’s Mosque
As a variation between all Antiquities, the capital Cairo also has beautiful mosques with stunning architecture. The one of Mohammed Ali in the old citadel is definitely the most beautiful. With beautiful views of the city from the high citadel – you can even see the pyramids from here – the unique views and location is already enough reason to visit the mosque. But the building itself is worth the trip as well with its enclosed square, turrets and decorated ceiling.
Read more: these are the 8 must-visit highlights of Cairo.
#7 The Egyptian Nile
The Nile is the source of life in Egypt and a common element for every destination on your Egypt trip. Almost all sights in Egypt are located in a city on the Nile or at least nearby the river. A boat trip on the Nile is definitely a must-do on your Egypt trip. You can book sailing trips of several days or even a long Nile cruise, but you can also take a sunset boat trip with a fallouka around sunset at Aswan.
And would you like to spend the night on an island in the Nile? Then the picturesque Elephantine Island in the Nile at Aswan is a must. This oasis of tranquility is completely car-free and a place to relax after visiting the chaotic Egyptian cities.
Read more: our blog about Elephantine Island, telling you everything about its colored Nubian villages, how to get to the island, where to stay and which sights to see.
#8 The Temple of Hatshepsut
This temple at Luxor is very different from all other temples in Egypt. The desert temple has a sleek and almost modern design with three symmetrical terraces. If you think the temple looks extremely well preserved compared to others you’ve visited, then you’re right. The temple has been almost completely rebuilt and reconstructed. The temple was once built by Pharaoh Hatshepsut as her mortuary temple. Hatshepsut was quite controversial, as she was not a queen and “wife of” but ruled in her own name. To create a grand image of herself as pharao, you will also see many male-looking pharao statues with fake beards of Hatshepsut in the temple.
Read more: our blog about the most beautiful temples in Luxor, including how to visit the Hatshepsut temple and practical tips.
#9 The Medinet Habu Temple
Our favorite temple at Luxor is the Medinet Habu, also known as the Ramses III Temple. This temple is much less visited than Luxor’s other sights, but is just as impressive. It is visited by tourist groups, but compared to the rest of Luxor it feels like an oasis. The Medinet Habu temple has been beautifully preserved: the murals still have many old colors and the statues and pillars are impressively high. The temple was largely built by Pharaoh Ramses III, so you see the temple indicated on many maps as the Ramses III Temple. The walls have many hieroglyphs of the pharao with chariots, severed hands and slain enemies to praise his war achievements.
#10 Luxor Temple
In the center of Luxor, near the Nile is the famous Luxor Temple. The temple once started as a small sanctuary of Hatshepsut and was expanded over the decades by pharaohs like Amenhotep III, warrior king Ramses II and even the famous Tutankhamun. These extensions make the temple easy to date: the deeper you get into the temple, the older the buildings.