Places to Visit in Egypt | Luggage & Lipstick

August 31, 2020

best places to travel in egypt

Egypt, in the northeast corner of Africa, is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the world. Anchored by its world-famous archaeological attractions such as the pyramids at Giza, the Great Sphinx, and the Valley of the Kings, there are also many other places to travel in Egypt, legendary landmarks, museums, beaches, and delicious cuisine to discover.

It was a very long time ago that I visited this magical country. In recent times, Egypt has had its share of problems with terrorist activities. I recommend that you check with your government website to ascertain the safety of travel.

This guide to the best places to travel in Egypt is divided into four regions:

  • Cairo
  • Ancient Thebes
  • North Egypt
  • South Egypt


Giza Pyramids


Who hasn’t dreamed of the Giza pyramids, the only remaining of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World?  I had always imagined them to be secluded out in the middle of the Sahara Desert, but they lie just 15 miles southwest of the city. Viewing them on the horizon from some of the taller buildings was surreal.

The pyramids, built some 4,500 years ago, have endured time as the eternal resting place of the great Pharaohs, – although the Pharaohs themselves or their treasures are no longer housed there. The Giza Pyramid Complex in Cairo is often cloaked in mystery as to how they were constructed. While originally thought to have been built on the backs of slaves, after thorough excavation was done, it was discovered that the construction workers were actually Egyptian laborers from low-income families.

I visited Giza on the exact day of a milestone birthday (decades ago) with a wish to “climb the pyramid” on my birthday.

Photo disclaimer:  I had been reading through Elizabeth Peter’s “Amanda Peabody” historical fiction series based on the Victorian excavation of Egypt; I may or may not have gotten a bit into character.

Approaching the Pyramid of Khufu, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids, I surreptitiously scrambled slightly up the rough underlying limestone (originally covered with smooth, white casing stones that have long worn away) to fulfill my birthday wish and snap the photo. Note: climbing the pyramid is no longer allowed.

But it was only after I walked around to Robbers Tunnel entrance that I learned there was another kind of climb – one that many of the other tourists declined:  scaling the steep, narrow tunnel inside the pyramid.

4 feet x 3.5 feet, barely enough room for one person going up, and another coming down, I began my ascent up the constricted, 128-foot-long passage. Once started, it’s impossible to turn back or even rest with someone at your heels, so the climb is not recommended for the claustrophobic.

Hand over hand, I made my way straight up; the air was hot and humid, and about halfway up, the burning in my thighs and sore knees made me curse my insatiable thirst for adventure. Persevering, I was finally able to stand, stunned at the final destination – the Grand Gallery leading to the King’s Gallery, an ancient burial chamber with an empty stone sarcophagus thousands of years old. The feeling of getting a personal, insider’s look into what was the tallest, man-made structure until 1889 gave me a deep appreciation for this amazing accomplishment achieved without modern technology.

The passage down, feet first, was easier… but not much.

Great Sphinx


The massive limestone sculpture known as the Great Sphinx rests its paws quite close to the pyramids in the Giza necropolis. A pharaoh’s head (missing the nose and beard) sits on a lion’s body and is the oldest monumental statue in the world. For much of history, the sculpture was buried in sand, except for the head. What a sight that must have been!

Nile Cruise

best places to travel in egypt

My birthday ended with a luxury dinner cruise on the Nile – several hours of drifting along enjoying decadent and traditional food, rambunctious belly-dancing and Whirling Dervish skirt-twirling entertainment, or just gazing at the lights along the banks of the Nile. There was an Egyptian wedding reception on the same ship, and when the captain brought out the cake, the entire wedding sang Happy Birthday to me, in Egyptian!

Citadel & Museum

cairo citadel

Back in the city, I visited the Citadel – a medieval combination of fort, palace, and mosque, with terraces offering grand views of the city. After that, we roamed through the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities which contains some of the most stunning artifacts of human history such as the Mummy Room, gigantic statues, and the treasures of King Tut. At that time, some areas were stuffed with relics, and the cataloging and placing seemed just a bit haphazard, which just added to the mystique of this already intriguing period. It’s my understanding that it’s much more organized now.

Khan el-Khalili

No trip to Cairo would be complete without a visit to the souks – open-air bazaars enticing passersby with sound, smells, sights, and just-for-you sales. Dating back to 1392, Khan el-Khalili is the largest and most popular. The shopkeepers are fiercely competitive, so it is not wise to even glance at an object or make eye contact if you’re not interested. I, however, was interested in much! And the merchants were all very attentive to one of the few blonde women in the marketplace. Accustomed to this type of sale in many other countries, I enjoy the lively, friendly barter, which should result in a win-win scenario for both parties.  After all purchases were made, we took a rest in one of the famous coffee houses where my friend Cece tried some flavored tobacco smoked through one of the ever-present hookahs.

best places to travel in egypt

Note 1: One of my most “gripping” Egyptian experiences was riding a camel through the streets of Cairo. Riding was a hoot, but getting off the creature was the stuff of nightmares. When the driver made the camel kneel on its front knees, I thought I was about to be hurled into space. But several Egyptian men caught me ever so gently…. and proceeded to escort me to their perfume shop next door!  Welcome to Cairo!  Some tourists really detest this aggressive solicitation. Me?  Not a bit. I found the most delicate, sweet-smelling lotus oil. I’ve never been able to find anything remotely close to it in any other country.

Note 2: Taxis in Cairo are VERY scary – almost as frightening as India. There were no lanes, no speed limits, and no traffic lights. No regulations. It seemed like we were constantly on the verge of a head-on collision, with every driver on the road beeping his horn every two seconds. “I’m just saying hi to my friends,” our driver explained. I had to my eyes.




Luxor is one of the best temples in Egypt. Constructed in approximately 1400 BC by New Kingdom pharaohs Amenhotep III (1390–1352 BC) and Ramses II (1279–1213 BC), Luxor Temple was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Thebes. Called “the world’s largest open-air museum,” many of the country’s most astonishing monuments, tombs, and temples are located here.

Dedicated to the god Amun, his consort Mut, and their son Khonsu, the temple is made from Nubian sandstone and underwent several reconstructions over the centuries, culminating in its final form under Ramses II in 1250 BCE who built the entrance known as the first pylon.

Some highlights include mammoth obelisks, relief and hieroglyphics, statuary, and columned inner court.



Karnak Temple is the largest open-air religious sight in the world. What sets Karnak apart from other Egyptian sites is the length of time under construction, with contributions of approximately thirty pharaohs. While the atmosphere and appearance of the structures seem similar to Luxor, the sheer volume of Karnak is overwhelming. The Hypostyle Hall covering 50,000 sq ft with 134 massive columns is a highlight of this site.

Valleys of the Kings and Queens

ancient ruins

Across the Nile on the west bank is the Valley of the Kings where two colossal statues of Amenhotep III  stand as sentries to the burial place of the great pharaohs. There were few people in the area and no tour guides in sight so we hired a taxi to drive us around. At first blush, it doesn’t look like much more than a valley between limestone cliffs. But within that bleak landscape are hidden entries cut into the rock leading to what were once magnificent caches of treasure, buried with rulers to accompany them in the afterlife. Although each tomb is now guarded, the treasures were discovered and removed by tomb raiders in antiquity; luckily the wall paintings of mythological scenes and hieroglyphics remain intact. The highlight is the tomb of Tutankhamun, the boy king, discovered in the 1920s which was one of the few and last tombs still containing its treasures.

Adjacent is the lesser-known Valley of the Queens, a smaller U-shaped valley and burial place for royal wives and children. The most famous tomb of Queen Nefertari, the royal wife of Ramses II, is considered to be the most beautifully painted tomb in Egypt. Unfortunately, the tomb is now closed to the public due to preservation concerns.



best places to visit in egypt

Originally founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria is Egypt’s second-largest city and boasts a thriving Mediterranean port. During the Hellenistic period, it was home to the Lighthouse of Alexandria which is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, even though subsequently an earthquake reduced it to rubble.

Alexandria is also home to the Great Library, the largest library in the ancient world where the entire world’s written knowledge was held. The library was reduced to ashes by a great fire after Julius Caesar was besieged.

You’ll also find the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa – one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, the medieval Citadel of Qaitbay, the royal Montazah palace, restaurants, and beaches.


Abu Simbel

best places to visit in egypt

The Abu Simbel temple was constructed as a place for people to worship Pharaoh Ramses II as a god following his death. It took about twenty years to build, was completed around year 24 of the reign of Ramses (1265 BC). The most notable feature of the Abu Simbel temple are the four colossal statues of Ramses II on the outside.

For 3,000 years, it sat on the west bank of the Nile River, in Aswan, near the border with Sudan. In 1964, one of the world’s most spectacular feats of engineering was undertaken. To rescue the ancient temples from the rising Nile, the temple complex was dismantled and rebuilt on a hill to make way for the Aswan High Dam.


  1. I visited Egypt a long time ago, well before the current problems with terrorism, which has waned and flowed. I highly recommend that you check your government website before visiting.
  2. Because I visited decades ago, the photos are grainy. It was before digital photography and unfortunately I had not obtained my Nikon SLR camera. My apologies.

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About the Author

Patti MorrowPatti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and the southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of the “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials” and she was named one of the “Top 35 Travel Blogs” in the world.

She is also the star of the upcoming TV series “Destination Takeover” which is scheduled to premiere in the next few months.

Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled extensively through six continents looking for fabulous destinations, exotic beaches, and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer tribe.


  1. Comment by Penny Zibula

    Penny Zibula Reply October 21, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Thank you for this gem! Since I never made it to Egypt, I’m glad that someone who could write so well about this fascinating country did!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply March 31, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Penny, it was one of the most amazing adventures of my life!

  2. Comment by Adventuring The Great Wide Somewhere

    Adventuring The Great Wide Somewhere Reply March 31, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Wow! Believe it or not, I don’t stumble upon many travel stories on Egypt. Most of the things I read are focused on Europe or Asia, so this is a welcome break! I would love to visit. I never knew that you could climb a tunnel into the King’s Gallery, but you better believe I want to see it for myself. Hopefully it’s still available to the public (people are so anal about safety measures now…where’s the fun in that?). Thank you for your post and for shedding some light on other “things to do” aside from the famous pyramids!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply March 31, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Egypt is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. It was the top of my bucket list for a long time. I had to keep pinching myself when I was there — it was like stepping back into history. If you get the opportunity, go!

  3. Comment by Seema

    Seema Reply October 16, 2021 at 9:18 am

    I really enjoyed visiting Egypt. The climb inside the tunnel was a bit scary and my neck was hurting at the end of it. It is a fascinating country

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