You must plan for a trip every year. Sometimes it may happen with so much of joyous moment or sometimes your plan just goes in vain for your hectic schedule or for your impractical pre-planning and terribly wrong choice of places to travel. Yes, you heard it right! For a wonderful tour of a budget, you can visit Egypt, the land of the then queen Cleopatra. The ancient civilization and two wonders of the world among seven have made Egypt one of the major tourist spots. The history admirers would love to see the mighty Nile and the time-honored megaliths on the edge. The Giza Pyramids, Egyptian Museum, Siwa Oasis, Luxor’s Karnak Temple and St. Catherine’s Monastery are the center of attraction to the travelers. If you are interested to give a tour in Egypt by now you may check these 23 top-rated tourist attractions in Egypt.
- Pyramids of Giza
The pyramids of Giza have been an alluring tourist spot for a long time. The Great Giza Pyramid is one of the seven wonders of the world which is located on the Giza plateau, southwestern part of Cairo. People come across these pyramids whenever they are in Egypt. These pyramids were built by three generation over an extended period. The most significant monument is 139 meter (455 feet), and it was made for Khufu. Another two pyramids alongside were built for Khafre, the second reigning son of Khufu and Pharaoh Menkaure.
- Luxor’s Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings
The city Luxor was once the capital of Egypt during the emergence of the new kingdom. At that time, it was known as Thebes. You can visit Luxor as it has two renowned temples and on the opposite side of the city, the valley of the kings is located. Luxor temple was built for paying homage to the god Amon Ra.
The karnak temple is only about 3 kilometers away from Luxor and it is considered as the largest place or structure for the spiritual purpose. It took around eight hundred years to build this temple having a succession of halls, courts, and statues. To make it more dramatic there is also a hallowed lake.
The valley of the kings and queens is situated on the west bank of the Nile. Inside the valley, there are 63 tombs and chambers. The royal figures of the new kingdom were buried in this valley. The royal tombs are embellished with Egyptian mythology sequence.
- Islamic Cairo
Islamic Cairo was the capital of Egypt from 750 to 868 and it was founded by Fatimid dynasty in 969 AD. This is the reason behind its being referred to “Fatimid Cairo” or “Medieval Cairo”. It is famous for Al-Azhar Mosque, Sultan Hassan Mosque and Bab Zuweila and its roof. The textiles, perfume, spice, and ceramics trades are well developed in this city. If you visit Islamic Cairo then you might have a happy shopping.
Aswan has a strong appeal to the travelers as it is the most halcyon city in Egypt. It is located in the south part of the country, around 130 kilometers away from southern Luxor. From Aswan, Nile looks the prettiest. One of the interesting travel aspects in this city is riding on a ferry to see Elephantine Island. Explore the city full of striking vibes as well as enjoy the sunset with a different discern. You can stop by the temples and ancient sites near the town. Wander the charming streets of the Nubian villages. You may take a small trip to river-boat restaurants listening to Nubian music over a steaming cup of tea.
- Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is exceptional as it has two rock-made temples. They are on the west bank of the lake Nasser and about 230 kilometers southwest of Aswan city. It is highly decorated with wall paintings at the interior part. During the 19th dynasty, Pharaoh Ramesses II overtook the twin temples from the mountainside. They are the remaining memorial of the king and his queen Nefertari. The structure was at risk while the lake Nasser was created. So it was relocated in 1968 on a false hill above the Aswan Dam reservoir.
- Egyptian Museum
Egyptian Museum is the highly rich source of antiques. It is situated in the central square of Downtown Cairo. If you want to see the huge collection of Pharaonic artifacts, then must visit it. The Tutankhamun Galleries display the relics found in the grave of Tutankhamun. Among these, Tutankhamun’s death mask and sarcophagi, the pharaoh’s wardrobe collection and his lion throne are prominent. The mummies of the royals include the collection of Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis II, Ramses II, and Seti I mummies. Don’t forget to have a glimpse of the Egyptian jewelry collection in the museum.
- White Desert
This dessert is famous for its eccentricity. It starts from 45 kilometers north of Farafra Oasis. This bizarre natural desert is mostly formed by chalk-mountains and rock. The block of the chalk exhibits arctic panorama. Travelers spend nights to experience the magical color transformation between the sky and desert. If you are lucky enough you might grasp a full moon on the white desert!
- Siwa Oasis
Siwa Oasis is 560 kilometer from Cairo and about 50 kilometers east of the Libyan border. It is an urban oasis centered around the wreckage of a gigantic mud-brick citadel which garnishes the spectacles more. This little piece of land is well blessed with a great many date palm and olive trees and freshwater springs. Stay some days in this quaint oasis and roam around the encircled deserts.
Alexandria has a magnificent history that made it most chosen tourist spot across the world. It was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. Only 225 kilometers away from Cairo, this city is famous for and known as the home of Cleopatra too. It is praised predominantly for its classical cultural heritage and bygone environment. Alexandria is beholden to the writers like E-M- Forster, and Cavafy as they glorified this city many times in their writings. It is a perfect place to ramble along the corniche as the foreshore will beckon you like hell. For the tourists, it is a must going place.
- Catherine’s Monastery
It is one of the oldest most viewed monasteries. It is located on the Sinai Peninsula, Saint Catherine city of Egypt. This monastery has an unbelievable collection of sacred parchment, art, and illustrations. Mount Sinai, is the place where Moses is supposed to have acquired the tablets holding Ten Commandments from God. You can visit the Mount Sinai as well while you are in Saint Catherine. Ride on a camel for your convenience and enjoy the sunset from the mount.
- South Sinai
South Sinai encloses the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula situated in the east of Egypt. Tourists find it attractive for diving points. You can dive with your partner or family in the south Sinai part of the Red Sea, one of the utmost goals for diving. For an average budget beach traveling you can choose Dahab, a subtle beach town. One of the renowned resorts in South Sinai is Sharm el-Sheikh. It entertains the tourists with international restaurants and plenty of refreshment choices.
- Abydos Temple
The town Abydos located about 11 kilometers west of the Nile is popular with the tourist for the Temple of Osiris. This temple is one of the captivating masterpieces of ancient Egypt. Having three levels inside it was constructed of limestone. The sturdy pillars and walls full of mesmerizing paintings and hieroglyphics will blow your mind.
- Al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque was the first established mosque in Islamic Cairo. Its construction was commissioned by Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah of the Fatimid dynasty in 970 AD. After the completion of the mosque in 972 AD, it evolved with the 35 scholars hired by the authorities into world’s second oldest persistently run university namely Al-Azhar University. This university is still considered as the topmost Islamic institution in the world for the department of Sunni theology and Sharia or Islamic law. The Gate of the Barbers is the main entrance and you have to take off your shoes to enter the mosque. The El-Taibarsiya Medrese is on the right side of the entrance. You will get the best view of the five minarets from the central courtyard. The main prayer hall along the courtyard is around 3,000 square meters.
- Khan el-Khalili (Souq Quarter)
It is the most conventional and accessible souq (bazaar) for the tourists in Cairo. Various types of products are sold every day to the tourists including miniature Pyramids, mini Shisha, Gold jewelry, Papyrus scrolls, etc. from the numerous stalls or shops. This is the prime place for buying the souvenirs. From the curious to fabric, everything you will find on the narrow lanes of the shops. Must try a cup of coffee from the city’s most well-known café Fishawi that is located in this souq.
15. The Citadel
The citadel was founded by Saladin in 1176 AD. It was used as the fort but still served as a grand city. It encases some famed mosques and museums. Most of the tourists visit the legendary Mosque of Muhammad Ali. To have the charismatic view of the city, you have to go to the Gawhara Terrace that got a quite good attention to the travelers from a long very time. You may pay a visit to the National Military Museum, Police Museum and Carriage Museum because they will provide you with the actual idea of the original architecture of the ancient structures as they have been renovated for several times.
- Sultan Hassan Mosque
Built-in 1363 AD Sultan Hassan Mosque is the greatest symbol of early Mamluk architecture. It is known that it was a madrasa but for the sermons of Friday it was used as the mosque. It has the tallest minaret of Cairo city with a height of around 82 meters. At the north, the main door is about 26 meters high and it leads to the appealing open court. It has an ablution spring around the court. Sultan’s tomb is placed behind the iron door of the court. The stalactitic remainder of the original dome has been preserved here.
- Bab Zuweila
Bab Zuweila is the only remaining southern gate in the walls of old Cairo. It was built in the 11th century and during the Mamluk dynasty, this medieval age structure was used as prosecution site. For the outstanding view from the Islamic Cairo to the citadel, tourists climb up the roof of the gate. It has two minarets. Sheikh al-Mu’ayyad Mosque is situated on the right side of Bab Zuweila gate.
- Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street
Almost one kilometer long, Cairo’s one of the oldest streets is Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street. This historical street was named after Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah, the fourth caliph of the Fatimid rule. In the north, it starts from Bab Al-Futuh to Bab Zuweila in the south. To turn the street into “open-air museum”, the government of Egypt refurbished the paving, sewerage, modern and historical buildings around the street. Madrassa of Qalaun on the road shows one of the greatest architectural mastery of Mamluk regime. Its interior is decorated with fine marble, gorgeous tile work and pearl mosaic and stained glass windows. The Madrassa of as-Salih Ayyub across the road is the symbol of placid Islamic architecture. Don’t forget to visit the Egyptian Textile Museum with an assembly which will remind you of the Pharaonic reign up to the Islamic period.
- Ibn Tulun Mosque
Ibn Tulun Mosque is the second oldest mosque still in the existence in Cairo and was built between AD 876 and 879. It was given a structure like the Kaaba in Mecca (Saudi Arabia). Some original remaining of decoration is still kept on the southern side of the main prayer hall. The mihrab is showing the decoration of original gold mosaic. The entrance has a dome of horseshoe over it having a height of 40 meters. Through the inner part, there is a beautiful twisting staircase. For the awesome views of the eastern hills and northern sea, you can walk up the 173 steps to its upper portion.
One of the substantial districts of the western Cairo is Zamalek enclosed by the northern Gezira Island. Some embassies are housed in impressively florid Belle Époque mansions of Zamalek. So many non-Egyptians are found here. Zamalek has a reputation for its various restaurants. Museum of Modern Egyptian Art and the Palace of Arts have unbelievable collections of 20th-century Egyptian arts and culture. The remarkable Cairo Tower is also in Zamalek. You must not miss a chance to climb up this 187 meters high tower to experience the beguiling sunset from its deck.
- Roda Island
Located in central Cairo, Roda island is a stunning piece of historic Old Cairo. On the southern tip of this island, the Nilometer was built. It is one of the oldest Egyptian structures still standing. It was used to estimate the movement of the tide out to sea from the Nile and to forecast the heights of annual flood. The Monastirli Palace encircling the Nilometer was used as the residence of an Ottoman Pasha. Built in 1805-18, the Manyal Palace is on the north end of the island. Currently, it has been closed for some restoration work.
- Mosque of Al-Hakim
This mosque was constructed by the famous and at the same time one of the most controversial Fatimid rulers Caliph Al-Hakim in 1013 AD. This mosque sits between Bab el-Futuh gate on the western side and Bab el-Nasr gate to the eastern side. The minarets have the square casing on the upper part through their original shape was round. After the earthquake of 1303 in Cairo, these minarets were rebuilt with this new shape. Initially, it was run as a madrassa, Crusader fortress, and mental hospital respectively over a period of almost hundred years. Later, it was renovated in the 1980s and was used as a mosque.
- Downtown Cairo
Downtown Cairo was called the “Paris of the East” at the 19th century. It was planned and designed by well-known French architects. Khedive Ismail commissioned it and emphasized the urban planning of European style in the city. For a vibe of the late 19th century, you must visit downtown Cairo. Its Belle Époque buildings are now deteriorated yet marvelous. For having a glimpse of the best fragments you have to go Midan Talaat Harb. An open museum has been established the former king’s apartments that are exhibiting a surreal collection of images, tapestries and presents given to the presidents by the foreign delegates. You may also visit the residence of Egypt’s last khedives Abdin Palace on Al-Gumhuriya Street.
The Best Places to Stay in Cairo
Numerous hotels of the diverse range have been brought into being in Cairo and the prime tourist areas in Egypt for the tourists of overseas and the local visitors. Gezira Island and the Garden City district are preferable for the travelers as their locations are very close to some of the tourist attractions. Across the Nile, a lot of five star and posh hotels are situated while the budget hotels are also found all over the city. The hotels are categorized into these three types:
Hotels on Budget
The Berlin Hotel is a good choice for those who want to stay in a quality hotel with a budget. It offers basic and clean rooms. You can go to the Egyptian Museum by a few minutes walk from this hotel. If you want the views of pyramids from your place you can stay in the Pyramids Inn Motel situated very close the pyramids. The restaurants are a walk away from it. For viewing the pyramids from the balcony, you may even check in the Gawharet Al Ahram Hotel in Cairo. The Osiris Hotel is in downtown Cairo with a suitable location offering comfortable basic rooms. Another hotel in downtown Cairo is Talisman Hotel which provides with all necessary facilities within a cost-effective range.
Hotels in Mid-Range
To have a view over the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx, you can stay at the Pyramids View Inn. Though it is outside of the downtown, it will entertain you with all necessaries. Formerly used as the colonial British officers club, the Windsor Hotel was built in the 19th century in Cairo. You will get the ambiance of olden days here. The Golden Hotel is situated very close to the Egyptian Museum. It offers clean and spacious rooms with a free continental breakfast. All these three hotels have satisfactory reviews for mid-range.
Hotels for Luxury
The Four Seasons is located in the garden city district. It has capacious rooms and suites, several restaurants, one spa, three heated rooftop pools. You will get the tremendous view of Nile from here. Another classy boutique hotel nearby is the Kempinski Nile Hotel which provides the tourists with spacious rooms and suites with balconies facing the Nile. On the pool area, you will have the river view. The Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah is a royal five-star hotel at the southern Gezira Island with excellent services. You will experience the unbelievable views over the Nile from the infinity pool and the rooms. Having located on the Heliopolis in Cairo the Gabriel Hotel is renowned for the rooftop bar and the restaurant ‘Salt’. It also impresses the tourists with its stylish rooms. The Mena House Hotel is a luxury boutique near the Giza Pyramids. It offers well-furnished rooms and mind-blowing Italian restaurant.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Cairo
If you are traveling in Egypt for a short span of time, then you might not be able to visit all the 23 places described. You have to go for a precise planning with all the major tourist destinations including Giza Pyramids, Memphis, and Sphinx. Then Khan el-Khalili Souq, Egyptian Museum, Alabaster Mosque should get priority. You should rationalize the prices you will pay for every service and should have the foresight to be out of any kind of trap. You need to choose a reliable and knowledgeable tour guide for getting the interesting information about the visiting places. Some private tour facilities are available for sightseeing in the highlights of Egypt with a reasonable trip charge. They provide with hotel pickup and drop-off as well. You can go to Memphis to see the ruins of ancient Egypt’s capital on the same day your visit to Giza Pyramids and Sphinx. If you can manage then try to visit the Solar Boat Museum of Giza. If you are done with visiting pyramids and the nearby places then you can visit Alabaster Mosque and Egyptian Museum. For the most awaited shopping in Egypt, your next visit must be in Khan el-Khalili Souq. To add some more excitement you can pay a visit to the Papyrus Institute too. As it is a private tour you have the freedom to customize tour planning and timing and you are all allowed to take up more time at your best-loved place.
Egypt is a dream destination for the tourists all over the world. Because this country possesses innumerable major tourist attractions with glory from the 19th century. You should feel privileged if you have the opportunity to travel Egypt once in a life. Most of the tourists travel Egypt more than once as it has way too many places to visit around. For a relaxed and enjoyable tour, you need to crosscheck the places you are eager to visit and know the proper location for matching the time span of your trip. Traveling in Egypt will not be extremely expensive if you follow the appropriate agency and their assistance according to your expectations and budget. Try to make a contact to the travel agencies with the higher reviews or ratings and those who will help you for the tickets, hotel reservations and get you a reliable guide (optional or if possible) for the whole trip. So don’t sit idle. Start making a plan for a thrilling and smashing tour anytime soon. Egypt is waiting for you.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY- SHEGUFA HAQUE