A Seven Day Itinerary for Egypt
March 5, 2020
Egypt is a destination that is on almost everyone’s wish list to visit at least once in their lifetimes. With so many incredible sights to see across many different cities, you will want to plan as many days as you can to make the most of your time in Egypt. We found our trip to be ideal in many different ways, but with any destination, if we had more time, we would have seen even more. What we have here are the locations and sites that we chose to make our priority during a full seven days in Egypt. Due to the length of air travel, the total trip was twelve days, but much of that time was spent in transit. Although we landed in Cairo, we left early in the morning to fly to Luxor and begin a cruise down the Nile River to Aswan and then flew back to Cairo where we spent the remainder of our time in Egypt. It would be easy enough to flip the trip around and start in Cairo, but we found that it worked out well to finish in Cairo. Here was our itinerary starting with our arrival in Luxor:
Day 1 – After arriving in Luxor, we headed directly to the docks where we checked into our cruise ship, had some tea, and put our bags in our cabin before starting our adventure. We quickly left for the Karnak Temple Complex, which was an absolutely amazing way to start our time in Egypt. After spending several hours with our Egyptologist guide touring the temple complex, we walked amongst the lines of sphinxes that once lined a river connecting the Karnak Temple Complex to the Luxor Temple Complex. After another couple of hours touring the Luxor Temple Complex, we returned to the ship for dinner. Our day wasn’t done as we returned after dinner to the Karnak Temple Complex where we enjoyed a lighted show that took you through the history of the temple and gave you a view of what it must have been like thousands of years ago.
Day 2 – After a good night’s sleep, we rose early to have breakfast and start our day. Most days started early in Egypt due to the heat of the afternoon, so it is definitely a place where getting up early pays off. Overnight the cruise ship had made its way from the east bank of the Nile to the west bank. Our first stop of the day was at the famous Valley of the Kings where many of the pharaoh tombs are located, including that of King Tutankhamen (King Tut). Truly an incredible experience. After visiting the Valley of the Kings, we went to an alabaster factory where we saw how alabaster products were made and we were able to buy some items to take home with us. We then continued on to the Hatshepsut Temple at the base of the mountain. Finally, we went to see the Colossi of Memnon before returning to our cruise ship to enjoy an afternoon on the water as we headed towards our next destination.
Day 3 – Overnight our cruise ship had arrived in Edfu. We started our day taking a horse-drawn carriage through the town of Edfu to see the Temple of Horus, which is another amazing temple. After a couple of hours touring the temple, we were back on the cruise ship where we continued down the Nile to visit Temple Kom Ombo. We spent the late part of the afternoon walking through the temple grounds and learning even more history from our guide who was with us throughout our cruise. We were then back on the ship for the final leg of our cruise where we saw amazing sunsets on the Nile River as we made our way towards Aswan.
Day 4 – Our first stop of the day was to visit an ancient quarry where the giant obelisks that we had seen in Luxor had been carved in single pieces out of the granite. There is even an obelisk still in the stone that had broken and therefore been abandoned, but it remains there in the quarry even after thousands of years. We then took a boat out to the island of Philae and the Temple of Isis. At this point, all of the temples were starting to blend together. Finally, we went to see the High Aswan Dam and learned about the alligators that are famous in the region. We then flew back to Cairo to start the next part of our adventure.
Day 5 – Our first full day in Cairo was certainly memorable as we went to see a variety of pyramids in the Giza Plateau. Our first stop was in Dahshur where we saw the Bent Pyramid and were able to climb down to the burial chamber inside of the Red Pyramid. We were pretty much all by ourselves, which made it an even more incredible experience. From there we went to the Step Pyramid in the Saqqara Necropolis, which is another interesting architectural site where we were able to climb down to the burial chamber. We then stopped for lunch before heading to the Giza Plateau to visit the Great Pyramids and the Great Sphynx. Seeing the Great Pyramids is certainly the highlight of any trip to Egypt and to Cairo. We also rode camels around the pyramids, but that was more touristy and not actually our favorite part.
Day 6 – We spent the morning exploring the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, which is quite impressive with all of the historic relics on display. We then went to the shore of the Nile River where we boarded a felucca to leisurely sail around the heart of Cairo. It was a relaxing way to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. We then visited Abu Serga Church where the Holy Family stayed in what is referred to as the Cavern Church. We also visited Ben Ezra Synagogue, which is located on the site where legend states that baby Moses was found. We then visited the Church of the Virgin Mary, also known as Hanging Church, which is one of the oldest churches in Egypt.
Day 7 – Originally it was our intention to take this day and just relax before heading home, but we decided to take a tour of Old Cairo and see the important Islamic mosques. One of the highlights was visiting the Mosque and Madrassa of Sultan Hasan where our guide explained the history of Cairo and the influence of Islam on the region. From the historic mosques, we went into the heart of Old Cairo where we visited one of the oldest Ottoman houses in Cairo. Finally, we visited the famous bazaar in Old Cairo, which is quite busy with hundreds of vendors selling everything from silk to hookahs.
Needless to say, it was a very busy seven days with exciting and fascinating sights on every day. There are certainly more places to visit in Egypt if you have more time, but if you are limited on time as we were, these seven days will not disappoint you. It took us months after returning home to truly absorb everything that we saw and learned during our time in Egypt. It is definitely one of those trips where you need to plan and prepare in order to make the most of your time.