Our 7-Day Egypt Itinerary
Our trip to Egypt was actually 10 days, but 3 of those days were spent traveling from and to Miami, FL, so in reality we enjoyed 7 full days.
I'm not going to go into too much detail about each place we visited, you can easily find countless blogs and videos online with information about Egypt's temples and history, but I do want to give you an overview of our itinerary as it might be helpful when you do your research and plan your trip around your interests. I also wrote a previous blog with some other logistical details about our trip that you can read here.
We arrived to Cairo
at around 11 p.m. the night before (Friday), and after going through the standard airport
protocols, driving to our hotel, checking in and getting settled, we
might have gone to bed at 2 a.m.. But, by 6:30 a.m. we were up and
getting ready to start our first day in Egypt! The excitement was real
and the adrenaline (or jet lag) played in our favor. On our first day, our Cairo guide, Ahmed and driver Salama, took us to visit the Giza Pyramids and we were able to go inside the middle
pyramid. The Great Pyramid was also open to the public but it was
completely dark and since we were traveling with our 6 year old
daughter, we chose to do the middle pyramid which was slightly lit.
Without having been inside the Great Pyramid I'm going to assume the
experiences are very similar, and the entrance fee to the middle one is
less expensive, so that's a plus. Still inside the Giza Pyramid complex
grounds we went for a camel ride, which I was conflicted about but
decided to do anyways. I mean, when would I get a chance to do this
again? The answer at that time was, "who knows" , now is most likely
"never", as the whole experience although interesting and fun was also
very stressful. Riding a camel is not like riding a horse, which I have
only done once in my life. Camels to us felt very unstable, and we felt
like we could roll down those sand dunes at any time even after many
reassurances that "the camel knows what it's doing". Nevertheless, we
now have great pictures to remember this moment. Very close by is the
Great Sphinx, which we briefly stopped to admire before heading off to
Saqqara for lunch at a delicious outdoor restaurant. After lunch, we
visited the Step Pyramid of Djoser and then headed off to the Open Air
Museum at Memphis, which showcases a giant Ramses II statue and an alabaster sphinx. By the time
we finished exploring the museum it was already closing, and as this
was our last sightseeing stop of the day, we headed back to Cairo to
rest at our hotel. All of the places we visited on this first day were
very child friendly with open areas for Emma to run around and explore. Our lunch spot even had a playground where Emma got to play with some local children.
On our second day in Cairo we started off by visiting The Egyptian Museum, which was just a few blocks away form our hotel, Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah. The museum is huge and it would take you a whole day or possibly more to view it all. I read that the museum could feel very disorganized with art pieces and artifacts all over the place, but that was not my experience at all. Maybe it has to do with the fact that many things are being moved to the new soon-to-open Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) and there are less things here now, but to me everything seemed organized and in its place. Although of course we didn't get to see it all, the highlights of our visit were Tutankhamun's treasures and his famous gold mask, as well as some breathtakingly carved and meticulously adorned sarcophaguses. After leaving the museum Salama drove us around Cairo's busy streets (it was Sunday after all, the first work day of the Egyptian week) and Ahmed got us some koshari at a local spot. We took it to go and drove to the Citadel of Cairo where we gobbled down our delicious lunch in the parking lot. At the citadel, we visited the Mosque of Muhammad Ali and Al-Gawhara Palace, both breathtaking structures with an amazing view of Cairo. On a clear day, you can even see the pyramids from there. After that, we headed back to our hotel to rest and get ready for a very early flight to Luxor the next day.
Day 3 (Monday) - LuxorWe headed to the airport early in the morning to board our first domestic flight in Egypt headed to Luxor, and let me tell you, we were in for a surprise. There is not one but two security checkpoints every time you enter an Egyptian airport. The first checkpoint greets you as soon as you enter the airport, then you go through the check in process and then you encounter the second checkpoint, which is typically the one we are used to. Thankfully, our transit through the airports were all uneventful and we always made it to our destination without any issues.
As soon as we arrived to Luxor we could tell we were more South, the weather was so much warmer than in Cairo. We were greeted at the airport by Khaled, who would be our guide for the rest of our trip. We started sightseeing right away and headed to Colossi of Memnon, followed by the Valley of the Kings where we visited 3 tombs including King Tut's, which still contains his mummy. Next, we made a quick stop in a local workshop where they make beautifully carved sculptures and other pieces. Emma got a chance to see the process of making them from beginning to end and even got to work the tools herself. Lastly, we visited the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, which I honestly really liked particularly because of her "bad bitch" energy. Hatshepsut was something else. At this point, it was around 2 p.m. and we were starving. Thankfully it was time to check into our Nile cruise.
I talk a little bit about the cruise in my previous Egypt post, but I would like to add that I really appreciated the slow pace of the cruise after such intensive sightseeing days. By the time we got back to the cruise we could rest, shower and get ready for dinner leisurely. I think this is great when traveling with kids.
The next day we were still in Luxor, so Khaled took us to Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, which are connected by the 1.7 mile-long Avenue of the Sphinxes. These two temples, like every other temple in Egypt, are breathtaking. We personally found Luxor a lot more interesting than Karnak. Did you know that the missing obelisk at the entrance of Luxor Temple is the one found in Paris? Karnak is just massive so it's impossible not to be in awe. During our visit they were starting to clean the columns because they realized that the original vibrant colors were still perfectly preserved under layers of accumulated sand and dust, which is what gave the columns its yellowish appearance. After a few hours of sightseeing we returned to the cruise and headed overnight to Edfu.
Day 5 (Wednesday) - Edfu and Kom Ombo
Early the next morning we found ourselves at Edfu, where we took a horse carriage to the Temple of Horus. It might have been the warm morning light or the engaging way in which our guide, Khaled, told us the story of how Horus fought his uncle Seth to avenge the death of his father Osiris, but this temple felt special and uniquely mystical. It is of course adorned with many falcon statues, representing the god Horus, meticulous engravings throughout the temple and narrow passages that make you feel closer to history.
On the same day, the cruise headed to the Temple of Kom Ombo, in the town of the same name, in Aswan. This is a unique dual temple, honoring the crocodile-headed god, Sobek, and the falcon-headed god, Horus. Legend has it that this came about as a compromise between the two Gods.
Day 6 (Thursday) - Aswan
We went back and forth many times on whether we wanted to go to Abu Simbel. To be clear, we wanted to go, but were concerned about the early wake up time and the long drive with Emma. Abu Simbel is around a 4-hour drive from Aswan, and from what I saw, most tours to Abu Simbel depart very early in the morning. After a few days in Egypt we came to the conclusion that if Emma had been able to keep up so far without complaining, then we should take the leap of faith and hope for the best. The day of the tour we were on the road by 4 a.m., but thankfully Emma was able to sleep in the car on the way there and once we arrived her energy was at 100%. Kids are such troopers! The road to Abu Simbel is all desert, and there is something mystical about the endless view on sand.
Abu Simbel is fascinating. Standing in front of those colossal Ramses || statues and realizing they were moved to their current location so they wouldn't disappear under water during the creation of Lake Nasser is just mind-blowing. The site has two temples, both built during the reign of Ramses ||, and one of them dedicated to Nefertari, his favorite wife.
After our drive back to Aswan we took a relaxing felucca ride to the Botanical Gardens. The visit was a quick stroll through what was quite a busy garden with school children, locals tourists and vendors. And then we took another boat to go to the Nubian Village. This village is very colorful, and known for its spices, which our guide and us ended up buying some of. Khaled explained to us that vendors here don't hassle tourists as much because they all benefit from everyone's sales. Apparently they work as a true community and the earnings are divided amongst everyone in the village. We stopped at a local cafe and had some bread and salty cheese, sugar cane syrup, and peanut spreads, which were to die for, with some hibiscus juice. Then we went to a local school, where we joined a tour group from Spain (the perks of being bilingual) to learn about the Nubian language. This was a cute experience as we were actually inside one of the school's classrooms, and learnt how to write our names in Nubian.
By this point it was getting really late, so we took our boat back to Aswan. Since it was already dark and it was very windy on the boat, we were freezing. Can't believe we were able to keep up after such an early start but it was all worth it.
On our last day in Aswan we took a boat ride to Philae Island to visit the beautiful Temple of Isis, which must have been an idilic place to be in its prime. If you are a cat lover, this temple has tons of cats everywhere which we of course had to stop and play with. Another interesting thing about this temple is that it has Christian iconography, and a Christian altar.
And lastly, we made a stop to admire the High Dam, which understandably Egyptians are very proud of, then headed to have lunch before our flight back to Cairo.
Upon arrival to Cairo it was really late already so we stayed at Le Meridien Cairo Airport, which as the name indicates, is inside the airport and made it very convenient for the early wake up time we had. Also, you might remember earlier in this post when I talked about the dual checkpoints at Egyptian airports. Well, on this flight from Cairo to London at the end of our trip, we had to go through a third security checkpoint right before entering our gate. And just to be clear I'm talking about full fledged checkpoints with bags being scanned/inspected and having to remove our jackets, etc. etc. I'm not complaining as at the end of the day this is for the safety of all passengers including us, but is definitely a pain when you are traveling with kids, so be prepared.
This was definitely a jam-packed week, and in my opinion, the perfect itinerary for first time Egypt travelers. I hope this post is helpful when looking for places of interest to visit during your visit. If you have already been to Egypt or planning to, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
You can follow me on IG for live updates of my trips and every day shenanigans.
To view pictures from this trip and others, visit my Behance page.
Want to travel to Egypt? I highly recommend you reach out to Hussien Abu El Ella. This is not sponsored and I do not receive any commissions. I'm genuinely recommending him because of our amazing experience.