Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Egypt
| by Assia A. |
| Last Updated March 28, 2023 |
Egypt is considered the oldest travel destination in the world, an ancient country with a fascinating history dating back to the dawn of civilization. Its awe-inspiring temples and pyramids have captured the imagination of travelers for thousands of years.
Although most tourists visit Egypt to view its ancient monuments, there are plenty of other things to see, too. Natural attractions like coral reefs and white sand beaches are just some of the reasons why this region is a great place to visit. You can also enjoy trekking in the desert, enjoying the waters of a freshwater spring oasis, and staying in the country’s many hotels and resorts.
Many beach lovers head to Egypt’s Sinai or Red Sea coast to soak up the sun. While Archaeology enthusiasts will love Luxor and the Southern part of Egypt as well.
Cairo is one of the most popular cities for people looking for a big city experience, but Siwa oasis and Aswan have a slower pace that’s worth trying out.
Egypt offers a wide variety of tourist attractions and experiences to suit any traveler. Tourists can create itineraries that combine culture, adventure, and relaxation on one trip, there is something to suit everyone’s preferences.
We have compiled a list of top tourist attractions in Egypt which will be a good starting point to plan your trip.
Pyramids of Giza
The Pyramids of Giza are one of Egypt’s most recognizable landmarks and one of the world’s last remaining Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
These three pyramids, guarded by the mysterious Sphinx, are usually at the top of most visitors’ list of places to see in Egypt. Often referred to as tombs of the Pharaohs: Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, they have awed travelers down through the ages and stand as a testament to their amazing history.
The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) is the one that you can get into for extra fees.
Alternatively, why not take a camel ride out into the desert and get a photo with all the pyramids in the background before heading to the Sphinx for a standard Sphinx-kissing tourist photo.
If you’re planning to stay in Cairo overnight and want to see the pyramids in all their glory, take time for an evening visit to the Pyramids Sound and Light show. You won’t be disappointed.
Giza’s Pyramids are certainly among the most famous, but Egypt has many other pyramids. Not far from Cairo, Saqqara is a vast necropolis of tombs and pyramids that were utilized throughout Egypt’s pharaonic history.
The site is famous for its Old Kingdom Step Pyramid, built by Ancient Egyptians, which is one of the most important achievements in the history of engineering and architecture. The steps show that they were able to advance their knowledge in architecture which allowed them to create a true pyramid shape.
Explore beyond the famous Step Pyramid and take a look into some of the surrounding tombs, like the mastaba of Ti, which showcases some of the best tomb paintings you’ll see in Egypt.
Nearby, the pyramid sites of Dahshur you will find the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid. Explore these magnificent structures and many other equally impressive ones in Saqqara as part of your day trip.
Cairo’s Egyptian Museum is home to an incredible collection of antiquities. It houses one of the world’s greatest museum collections from ancient Egypt.
It is true that the collection is a bit poorly labeled and not well set out. It’s also not surprising that the exhibits are only a fragment of the entire collection of the museum holdings. Some artifacts have been moved to the new Grand Egyptian Museum GEM,
which is planned to open in November 2022 and their cases are still empty, but the remaining pieces on display will definitely impress you.
If you’re short on time, go straight to the Tutankhamun Galleries, you will see the treasures found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, son-in-law, and successor of Amenophis IV (later Akhenaten). The tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. It contains the largest and richest assemblage of grave treasures ever found intact in an Egyptian tomb.
The most interesting highlights include Tutankhamun’s death mask and sarcophagi (Room 3), the pharaoh’s lion throne (Room 35), and his enchanting wardrobe collection (Room 9).
Then you can head to Room 4 to check out the Egyptian jewelry collection which contains more luxury than you’ll ever see again in a lifetime.
The Tutankhamen Galleries will be moved to the new Grand Egyptian Museum. Meanwhile, the Egyptian Museum’s Royal Mummies Collection was transferred to the NMEC (National Museum of Egyptian Civilizations) to better share out the vast amount of Egypt’s Pharaonic riches between Cairo’s museums.
Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor
Famous for the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut, the Nile-side city of Luxor in southern Egypt is home to plenty of tourist attractions in Egypt. Home to pharaohs and the birthplace of the Ancient Egyptians, this ancient Thebes houses many museums, and historic sites that can’t be seen all in just one visit.
The West Bank’s green farmland and barren cliffs are where the vast majority of Luxor’s tourist attractions sit. With so many tombs and temple sights, it has been called the largest open-air museum in the world. It holds so many of Egypt’s famous monuments that it has become a sort of tourism magnet.
Here, tourists can visit the spectacular temples and tombs, such as the Hatshepsut’s Temple, and the King Tutankhamun’s tomb in the valley of the kings.
While the East Bank of Luxor holds the modern city with its vibrant souq and ample shopping opportunities. As well as the two temples of Karnak and Luxor, some of Egypt’s best-preserved monuments.
You can stay for a few days and explore the colorful wall art of the tombs and the colossal columns in the temples. You’ll be looking into history while seeing how impressive they are and learning so much more about ancient Egypt.
One of the most outstanding and fascinating artifacts in Ancient Egypt is the Temple of Osiris in Abydos. It’s located at the site of the ancient necropolis where archaeological excavations are ongoing.
There are many other temples to see in Abydos, but for tourists, the Temple of Osiris is the main tourist attraction.
Its massive hypostyle halls, graced by papyrus-headed columns, house some of the finest relief-work in Egypt, with several scenes depicting the pharaoh and the gods of Ancient Egypt.
Cruising the Nile
Egypt is defined by the Nile River. Many tourists on an Egypt itinerary will include a river cruise down this beautiful waterway. This highlight saw the rise of the magnificent Pharaonic era.
Cruising the Nile is also a great way to see the temples that line the banks of the river on the route between Luxor and Aswan, plus you can enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunsets over the date-palm-studded river banks.
The two famous sights along these routes are the Temple of Kom Ombo and Edfu’s Temple of Horus, where all the big cruise boats stop.
If you’d prefer more time to explore and fewer crowds, it might be worth considering cruising the Nile by felucca (Egypt’s traditional lateen-sailed wooden boats).
Luxor and Aswan offer a lot of popular cruise boat itineraries, but a felucca can only be chartered for multi-day trips from Aswan.
Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Luxor
Aswan is one of the most tranquil towns in Egypt, set along the Nile River’s west bank, and backed by orange sand dunes. The town offers the possibility to relax for a few days and enjoy the beautiful Nile after your busy days in Cairo or Luxor. it’s also considered to be one of Egypt’s top tourist destinations.
Aswan is the base town for excursions to the temples of Philae and Kabasha as well as the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel. It is also the best place to start if you want to explore the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu between Aswan and Luxor.
Take the ferry to Elephantine Island and you’ll pass by the colorful Nubian villages.
A camel ride to the east bank of the Nile to visit the desert monastery of Saint. Simeon, or a cup of tea at the riverboat restaurants while enjoying the amazing views of the old city and the Nile at sunset.
Take a felucca ride around Aswan’s islands at sunset to experience the most popular activity here. This is also the best way to see the local sights.
Even in a country with over 200 temples, Abu Simbel is still unique. The vast structure was built for the pharaoh Ramses II to declare him as (God). It also shows off the pharaoh’s power and influence. The exterior walls are decorated with colossal statues that stand outside and protect the interior of the temple which is decorated with lavish wall paintings
Abu Simbel is one of the world’s most well-known ancient monuments. It is famous for its megalithic proportions, and also for the incredible engineering that UNESCO carried out in the 1960s to save it from disappearing under the rising waters of Lake Nasser.
Visiting Abu Simbel today is just as much about admiring the triumph of an international effort to save the temple, as it is about gaping in wonder at Ramses II’s awe-inspiring building works, itself.
Diving the Red Sea
The Red Sea is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. The world below the Red Sea’s surface is as fascinating as the temples and tombs on land.
The coral reefs of the Red Sea are renowned among scuba divers for both the soft corals on display, and for the sheer diversity of marine life, it supports. One can find colorful reef fish, nudibranchs, sharks, dolphins, turtles, and rays in addition to dugongs at these magical sea gardens.
For diving enthusiasts, one of the most popular locations to base themselves in is Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula. The town offers excellent diving, and it’s also the closest to the reef of Ras Mohammed National Park. It’s also just a short drive from the other popular dive sites at the Strait of Tiran. The city is also thought to be the most popular tourist destination for scuba diving enthusiasts.
If you’re interested in diving in Egypt, you can head to either Hurghada or El Gouna on the Red Sea coast. Advanced divers will want to dive at Marsa Alam resort.
The Red Sea is not only a destination for scuba divers, but it is also a popular destination for wreck diving. One of the most famous wrecks sites is the Thistlegorm, a British WWII cargo ship that was bombed by the Germans in 1941 when it was on its way to resupply Allied troops.
The site is considered by divers as one of the top five wreck dives in the world thanks to the vast cargo of cars, motorbikes, and WWII memorabilia that can be seen scattered on the sea bed around the wreck and inside the ship itself.
South Sinai’s Beach Life
The Sinai Peninsula has a beautiful coastline with amazing beaches, which makes it the best destination for tourists who are looking to spend their vacation on the beach.
Sharm el-Sheikh is a resort town on the Sinai Peninsula, in Egypt. It is packed with luxurious hotels, international restaurants, and tons of entertainment options for all tastes. This is a favorite destination for Europeans on their winter-sun vacation.
Dahab is a budget traveler’s dream because of its low prices, desert excursions, and adventures. The beach town offers affordable diving packages, and it is famous for kitesurfing, windsurfing, and its lagoon beach.
Between Nuweiba and Taba are small villages with bamboo hut retreats that offer a complete getaway from life, and give you the chance to enjoy an authentic experience on the beach.
St. Catherine’s Monastery
St. Catherine’s monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the world. Located at the foot of Mountain Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.
This desert monastery is home to an incredible collection of religious iconography, art, manuscripts, and the burning bush. The on-site museum gives you the opportunity to view ancient Christian texts and learn about their history. There are also plenty of sights to check out when you visit this place.
For many tourists, a trip to St. Catherine also includes a hike up the mountain to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Take the easy route by taking the camel path, or climb the famous “Steps of Repentance” if you want to see better views.
Upon first glance of the White Desert National Park in Egypt, the place looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. You’ll immediately be enchanted by the sight of these towering white chalk spires, each formed into a unique shape resulting from the dry desert wind.
This place is a major attraction for 4WD tours enthusiasts and overnight camping in the desert. The best way to organize this is through a travel agency in Bahariya Oasis.
This is a unique playground dedicated to desert fans, and anyone who loves exploring exotic sites will certainly admire this spectacular natural setting.
Explore Islamic Cairo
The old buildings, narrow alleys, and streets of the Islamic Cairo district are full of mosques, schools, and religious buildings that date back the Fatimid and the Mameluke eras.
This is where you’ll find the bustling Khan el-Khalili market, the main market corridor which continues to offer unique shopping experiences with numerous shops and stalls. Artisans and leaders of world-renowned crafts in Cairo still have their tiny workshops, and the stalls are laden with ceramics, textiles, spices, and perfume. The market remains popular with tourists even though much of it has changed over the years.
Some of the most historically-rich locations in the world surround this beautiful market, including the most exquisite architectural pieces from the Islamic empires.
There is a wealth of history here to explore which makes it an interesting attraction in Cairo city. Visiting Al-Azhar Mosque & Sultan Hassan Mosque, as well as climbing up the tower at Bab Zuweila, is highly recommended.
Alexandria is a great Mediterranean port city with a long history. Founded by Alexander the Great, the city is best known as the birthplace of the late Cleopatra and the capital of the Roman Era in Egypt.
Although the city has always been known for its fascinating history, today unfortunately, just few historic remnants illustrate its rich past. Alexandria’s long, seafront Corniche Road leading to its Fort (where the famous ancient lighthouse once sat) is a popular summer destination for Egyptians and tourists alike.
Check out Alexandria’s museums for cool exhibits and ancient relics. The city is also home to the famous Library “Bibliotheca Alexandrina” which is one of the main attractions in the city.
The White Desert National Park is a natural wonder in the western desert in Egypt, just south of Bahariya Oasis. The altitude in the park varies from 32 to 353 m above sea level. It is one of the most famous parks in the country and one of the favorite tourist attractions in Egypt. The park is also the location of the largest white sand dune in the world.
Siwa is one of the few places in Egypt that provides a quiet retreat for tourists seeking a getaway from the hustle of Egypt’s grand cities. Situated in the western corner of the Western Desert, Siwa has become a popular holiday destination for both locals and tourists.
The oasis town is surrounded by date palm plantations and hot-water springs, making it one of the most picturesque places in the Western Desert.
Siwa is home to many archaeological sites and ruins of a huge mud-brick citadel, known as Shali Fortress. There are also many temple remnants in the town, including the temple of Oracle where Alexander the Great has come to receive advice.
This is a good place to wind down and take a break for a day or two, as well as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding desert.
Tours & Activities in Cairo & Egypt
Visa & Health Requirements
Please make sure you check all the information you need to know about the passport, visa, and health requirements of your destination.
Check out all the data provided by IATA (International Air Transport Association)