Egypt is best known for ancient historical sites in a barren desert landscape. Many travelers will be surprised to find that some of the best attractions are the opposite: modern cities within a fertile river valley. Visit the pyramids, sphinx and Sahara and enjoy world cities that have grown up on the Nile River banks and the Mediterranean shoreline.
While ancient ruins stand throughout Egypt, the most famous artifacts are near the cities of Cairo and Luxor. Head to Cairo’s southwestern outskirts to find the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx. Cairo’s extensive Egyptian Museum features many small artifacts from dig sites around the country, including Tutankhamen’s famous gold burial mask. Tutankhamen’s tomb is in the Valley of the Kings outside the southern city of Luxor, which you can reach by car or Nile River cruise.
Explore the Sahara in Egypt’s Western Desert. Sand dunes roll along the Great Sand Sea, while mushroom-shaped rocks clutter the otherworldly landscape of the White Desert. Visit the Siwa Oasis, where an ancient town thrives on a small green patch around a desert lake. A craggy hill filled with ancient tombs stands at the town center surrounded by the ruins of the medieval Shali Fortress.
After exploring the deserts, return to Egypt’s cities to experience its rich modern culture. Relax in a Mediterranean café on the waterfront of Alexandria, considered to be one of the most liberal cities of the Arab world. Study alongside thousands of visitors and locals under the glass roof of the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Given Egypt’s 21st-century political turmoil, travelers should be cautious about visiting certain regions of the country. Monitor the news before visiting and check to see if your government has any advisories against travel to particular areas.
Fly into Egypt via airports at Alexandria or Cairo. By the end of your trip, you will be overwhelmed by the number of world-famous sights you’ve seen.