#1 top pick - Nile Cruises
- â˜‘ 3 nights accommodation on board 5* Nile cruise ship
- â˜‘ English-speaking tour guide, Egyptology expert
- â˜‘ Hot air balloon ride at Luxor
- â˜‘ Small group tour to Abu Simbel
- â˜‘ Duration: approx 4 days
- âï¸Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (1300 reviews)
#1 top pick - Giza Pyramids from Cairo
- -> private, full day tour of essential landmarks in Cairo, including the Egyptian Museum
- -> English-speaking tour guide, Egyptology expert
- -> 30-minute camel ride around Giza pyramids
- -> Shopping time at a famous Cairo Bazaar, Khan Al-Khalili Oriental Market
- -> Duration: 8 – 10 hours
- -> Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (2291 reviews)
I just finished reading Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. It’s a good book. It made me think about all sorts of things such as life, decisions, accomplishments, goals and values.
Gilbert says humans are happier when they anticipate something than when they actually live it. This reminded me about my visit to the main Egypt tourist attractions, about my Nile Cruise experience, about the great advantage of choosing one of the hotels near the Great Pyramids of Giza, and about the noisy and dusty Cairo.
This is the story of the weirdest trips I’ve ever experienced and I’d be happy to know if it made you want to see the pyramids, the Sphinx, Luxor and all other places that made Egypt one of the top tourist destinations in the world. If you decide to give it a go, make sure you organize your Egypt visa online before departure.
How To Visit Egypt?
According to Daniel Gilbert, people are genuine when they remember their amazing travels. Does this mean our real experience doesn’t matter much in the big scheme of things? Once the vacation gone, are we still going to have great memories about it for the rest of our lives? Is this how our mind works? Do we really turn crap into gold with nothing else than our brain and a little time?
How can you design the perfect Egypt itinerary that’s going to satisfy your desire to see all those wonders of this ancient land, full of cultural landmarks and magnificent landscapes? Is it possible to plan your trip to Egypt to cover as much as possible within two or three weeks?
Traveling through Egypt, I discovered that not all trips can make you happy. Please don’t get me wrong; the country is just awesome, my trip to Egypt was absolutely safe, and Egyptian tourist attractions are nothing short of amazing. I wish I had read an insider’s guide to travelling to Egypt before my trip, as it would have helped me enjoy my Egyptian adventure more.
I’d recommend a premium trip, if you don’t want to bother with organizing all transportation and visits by yourself. However, this is just me.
Check out my article about a 7 days Egypt itinerary, maybe you’ll get some inspiration for your trip.
My Egypt Travel Experience That Confirms Daniel Gilbert’s Theory
I would have expected memories of an event to be closer to what we actually lived than to what we anticipated. Funny enough, one of my travels is just in line with Gilbert’s reasoning.
Several years ago, I visited Egypt, in what I used to call ‘a forgettable trip’. Everything apart from Hurghada seemed extremely bad: Cairo scared me, Luxor shocked me, my stomach did not agree with Egyptian food, the bus we spent so much time in was one of the least comfortable I’ve ever seen and the list could go on.
When I returned, I wrote three long articles about my journey, articles full of details that made it such a bad experience, but also full of beautiful photos of the main Egypt tourist attractions. I published them on my travel blog.
One of my readers left a comment which I still remember. She said it was odd that my ‘forgettable’ trip produced a series of three detailed stories about Luxor, Karnak, the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings and many other such historical sites in Egypt.
Must-see Egypt Tourist Attractions
The Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Giza Plateau
Apart from the pyramids, you’ll see camels on the Giza Plateau. They are available for ride, if you wish. However, some of them have a foul odor, so I don’t know if this is actually a good thing to do.
If you prefer someone else to take care of all the details of your visit to the Pyramids, you’ll need to join an organized tour. Here are a few ideas of tours you can take from Cairo:
Is It Worth Getting Inside the Pyramids?
The brief answer is that you’ll be sorry if you get to Giza and you don’t go inside one of the pyramids. Nonetheless, I was more impressed with the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
I’m amused that I went inside the small pyramid, although after descending what seemed like a thousand steps, all that was at the end of the tunnel was an Egyptian dressed in a white robe, begging for money. The funniest of all was that we were not allowed to take our photo and video cameras inside, as if there was some ancient secret sheltered in there. I guess that’s a bit of marketing. It worked for me: if in the beginning I wasn’t sure I wanted to visit the pyramids inside, after I heard about the restrictions, my curiosity simply skyrocketed and I was happy to pay and eager to see what proved to be the void deep inside. Anyway, my experience dates back from the beginning of this millennium. For more actual information, you should read this guide to the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt. It contains way more tips to help you plan your trip to this magic land.
I smile when I remember what we used to call ‘Egyptian hours’: whenever we were told something was going to take two hours, it usually took about eight. You can imagine how much time we needed to visit all most important Egypt tourist attractions.
Visit the Coptic Quartier in Cairo
I skipped the visit to the National Museum of Cairo and went for a brief visit of the Coptic Quartier.This proved to be a great decision. We got there by taxi. Funny enough, the taxi driver took all six of us, even though his car had only four passenger seats.
Copts are Christians, they are the largest religious minority in Egypt and they still hold onto their values and beliefs to this day. Coptic Christians have their own community and church in Cairo (and in other cities as well). Walking on those streets was maybe the coolest experience of the entire trip.
It was interesting to see how street crossing can be a challenging experience. When the street is an eight-lane avenue, you can sweat by simply crossing it as much as you’d sweat if you played table tennis for two hours. There’s this saying which goes very well in here: ‘When in Rome, do like the Romans’. Got it? Egyptians are truly the street-crossing champions. Who cares about traffic lights? Negotiation is way more useful if you don’t want to get stuck on one side of the road for ever or until the last car passes, whichever comes first.
Cairo buildings may look strange to those who visit such countries for the first time. However, you’ll get used to them quickly, as they all have something that makes them attractive.
Hurghada, the Red Sea Resort Built for Leisure and Fun
It’s fun to think about the stay in Hurghada, in one of those all-inclusive resorts, where we had the surprise to see the first rain in the past five years (according to hotel staff).
Here are some activities and tours to do during your stay in Hurghada:
– Snorkeling with the dolphins: click here to book this activity and to read reviews.
– Paradise Island full day trip with snorkeling and island tour: click here to read reviews and to book this tour.
– A 4 wheel drive desert safari with dinner and show: book it here, at the price of today, [todaysdate]
– A full-day trip to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. Check out this bus tour, as it might be exactly what you need.
The Valley of the Kings
I learned a lesson in the Valley of the Kings, which I thought was pretty cool: avoid organized trips like the plague, if you are still in power and you want to enjoy places at your own pace. I still wonder what those merchants with booths all around the Valley exit sold. Unfortunately, I had to run down from the top of the hill to meet our group which was about to leave. I probably didnâ€™t miss much, touristy souvenirs were pretty much the same across all Egypt.
It was impressive to see how much time it takes a convoy of about 50 buses to get moving, once it stopped for a break. It was surprising to see that even so, our bus managed to get lost from the convoy. It was hilarious to see a 40 people bus was guarded by one single soldier with a shotgun for about half of the desert crossing weâ€™ve gone through to Luxor.
Luxor – the Town and the Temple
Luxor is awesome. Those pharaohs loved their huge pillars, obelisks and statues.
I loved the story about one of the pharaohs, who wanted to save some money from the national budget and had the name tags on the former pharaohâ€™s statues deleted and replaced with his name. How did historians catch him with the lie? He forgot to switch names on the statues of his wife.
The town of Luxor is nothing like the old temple once was. All that can be seen these days are run-down buildings, goats roaming freely on the streets, dirt, smells and poverty. Ah, I almost forgot the bazaar, the place where you could buy almost anything from batteries to papyrus presents.
I took a four-day Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan. I enjoyed it. The ship was old, but very well maintained, with polished wood everywhere, and with neat cabins with river view.
Click here to see details about this 5-day luxury Nile cruise which is very similar to the one I took. You’ll have four nights of accommodation with all meals included (except for the drinks). They take you from your hotel. If needed, they will assist you in buying train tickets for the return journey (should you want to return to Luxor by train). One big advantage of this Nile cruise is that it includes guided tours of Aswan, East and West banks of Luxor, and Kom Ombo and Edfu temples.
While in Aswan, consider booking a felluca ride on the Nile.
It’s hilarious to stand on the Aswan dam and ask where the Aswan dam is. ‘You are standing on it’. Really? I had no idea!
Did I enjoy that trip? Probably yes, judging how excited I got while choosing photos for this article.
Would I ever go back to Egypt? Most probably no. I’ve got one of the most expensive Egypt tours, I’ve visited most of those amazing ancient temples and sites that are the most recommended places to visit in Egypt, and I’ve come back with cool photos.
Yet, the discomfort is still here, after so much time.
If you still want to visit Egypt, you may want to read my article about getting to Cairo from Hurghada.
Despite what Daniel Gilbert says, fear remains my dominant feeling towards this place. To this day I associate Cairo with dust, smells, noise and a feeling that you are permanently watched by millions of eyes, millions of hands waiting for the right moment to grab you and throw you in some dark tomb to never see daylight again. I have no clue why I got that feeling of chased rabbit. All people I got in contact with were nice and polite, nothing scary happened, but despite this, I didn’t feel welcome at all during the whole trip. That’s unforgettable.
I want to hear from you now. Did you read ‘Stumbling on Happiness’? Did you only have awesome trips in your life? How can you relate to memories of an event in your life being more highly evaluated than the event itself?
Which of the main Egypt tourist attractions did you like most?