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Egypt

                                   Official Flag of Egypt bearing the national emblem of the shield of Saladin

          The Land of the Pharaohs

Best Places to Visit in  Egypt

Overview

 

The Sphinx at Giza is a majestic sight.  His role was to guard the tombs of the Pharaohs,

Egypt

Traveling in Egypt is exhilarating and for many travelers it is the culmination of a life long interest in the mysteries of Ancient Egypt focused on the pharaohs and their amazing monuments..  

On this page of our Egypt Travel Guide we provide short descriptions of the leading tourist attractions in Egypt.   Each of these "snippets" link to a full-page guide that includes further details, a photo gallery for each major attraction and a map-link showing its location on a combination road map/satellite image.  Below we start our journey of discovery with Cairo and Giza, then turn our attention to an exploration along the Nile and Lake Nasser.

Read our Travel Tips and Things to Know about Egypt pages for more details on traveling in Egypt.

Egypt currently is not without its risks and we do not recommend travel there at this time. Uncertainties about the form and orientation of the country’s current government, as well as the possibility of civil unrest make travel in Egypt unpalatable for many. Once conditions improve, we suggest you weigh the facts and decide on your own if you should travel to this destination.

Cairo Area

Cairo is the port of entry for most travelers to Egypt.  The capital city has much to offer, but most tourists focus on the amazing Egyptian Museum  which has an unparalleled collection of Egyptian antiquities, including  a collection of mummies, the treasures of Tutankhamen, and stunning artifacts from the Age of the Pharaohs.  While you are in the city, you might be interested in touring the Citadel built by Saladin (12th century) and its splendid Mosque of Mohammad Ali Pasha (19th century).

Giza

    The pyramids at Giza are a stunning sight.

Giza, a suburb of Cairo, is forever linked with its famous Great Pyramid of Cheops, as well as those of the pharaohs Khafre and Menakure,  In addition, you will find the  famous Sphinx, a powerful and enigmatic figure, as it guards the burial sites of Egypt's once beloved pharaohs.  For those seeking to make a day of it, there is also a sound and light show during the evening, but the pyramids are the stars of the Giza Plateau and, perhaps, all of Egypt.  For more detailed information on the pyramids of Giza and lots of photos of what you will see during your visit, click for our travel guide to Giza.

Saqqara

Located to the south of Giza, Saqqara is  considered the largest  and richest  necropolis site in Egypt and it is here that the design for the modern pyramid was conceived.  While not as large or impressive as the pyramids as Giza, the Step Pyramid of Djoser, designed by Imhotep, was the  first attempt at building a new type of mausoleum for the pharaoh that would help to prepare him for his trip through the Underworld to the Afterlife.  The success of the step pyramid was immediate and its construction quickly evolved into the type of pyramid that we see at Giza.    Nearby are the famous Red and Bent pyramids.  Click for our detailed description and numerous photos of Saqqara.

Luxor Area

Luxor, located on the Nile River far south of Cairo and once known as Thebes, is endowed with a unique  richness of temples that reflect its historic role as capital of Upper and Lower Egypt.  Luxor Temple and the Karnak Temple are located within the city of Luxor and close to the Nile. 

Our Introduction to Luxor provides facts on Luxor and its surrounding, as well as a short section on why this area has more temples than any other area in Egypt. This section also includes information on  the layout of these temples and other mortuary temples to help you understand how they were arranged and used, as well as to help make sense of what you will see when you visit. Click for our general introduction to Luxor and its surrounding areas.

Luxor Temple sits alongside the Corniche next to the east bank of the Nile River.  The Temple was lost to history when it was buried by sand and debris and excavated only in the mid-19th century. Known for its obelisk,  Colossi of Ramesses II and Grand Colonnade, the temple has sections built by several pharaohs and its setting is quite dramatic.  Click Luxor Temple for our photos and detailed description of this stately temple.

    A row of ram-headed sphinx at Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple is the largest temple in Egypt and its layout reflect a site that was built, and then continuously changed over two thousand years.  It is known for its Avenue of  the Sphinx, Grand Pylon (entrance) and massive courtyards.  Everywhere you look there are minor temples dedicated to one god or another and if you wander long enough you will find even older temples on the outskirts of the property.  There are a number of obelisks, as well as statues whose variety will amaze you, including a granite statue celebrating a scarab.  Each evening, near the ceremonial lake, there is an evening sound a light show that is reputed to be quite good.  For a great collection of photos showing what you will see at Karnak as well as a detailed description of its monuments, click Karnak Temple.

The Theban Necropolis, located across the Nile from Luxor on the West Bank, was  known as the Valley of the Dead in Ancient Egypt.  The mortuary temples of the pharaohs who ruled from Luxor are located on this side of the Nile and there is a wide selection to explore.  Among the best attraction are the following:

The Valley of the Kings is considered by many as the prime reason to visit Luxor.  It is here that the pharaohs of the New Kingdom chose to be buried in lavish underground chambers.  Approximately 60 tombs are in this area, although some are closed for refurbishment or research. Although the Valley of the Kings houses the famous tomb of Tutankhamen, his mortuary is one of the least interesting of the tombs, since its treasures are in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  The tombs in the Valley of the Kings have interesting wall paintings and reliefs that show gods, people and animals helping the pharaoh on his way the Underworld and the Afterlife. Popular tombs includes those of Seti 1, Ramesses VI and Ramesses IV and IX.  See our detailed section on the Valley of the Kings for more information and a few photos.  Note that neither photography nor cameras are allowed in the Valley of the Kings.

The Temple of Hatshepsut, an Egyptian queen who dressed like a pharaoh and ruled Egypt for decades, is located in Dier al-Bahari, which is a short distance as the crow flies from the Valley of the Kings, but quite distant by road.  Hatshepsut's Temple has an unusual  design compared to the other temples as it was built using a completely different plan.  It is quite lovely, but the scene you see today is a construction by modern craftsmen, as the original buildings from Hatshepsut's Temple were destroyed by her son, who believed that his mother had kept the throne at his expense.  The tomb, however, is incredibly popular with tourist and is a dramatic sight.  See our detailed guide to Hatshepsut's Temple for more details and a photo gallery.

  The Temple of Hatshepsut at dawn as seen from a hot air balloon flying over the Theban Necropilis

Medinet Habu is a large funerary complex built by Ramesses III. The temple is entered through a once fortified gatehouse that leads to an impressive Grand Pylon with numerous reliefs of the pharaoh and the gods.  The Courtyard and the Hypostyle Hall are very impressive, although much of the temple was damaged by a severe earthquake.  The reliefs are quite interesting and focused on the pharaoh's martial prowess and victories over his enemies.  See our detailed guide to Medinet Habu for more details and a photo gallery.

The Colossi of Memnon are a common stop on the road to the Valley of the Kings or on the way to see Hatshepsut's Temple.  These two large seated statues of Amenhotep III once guarded his mortuary temple, although the temple no longer exists.   Time and the elements have not been kind to the Colossi, but they remain a stunning sight.

Other Diversions in Luxor

One of the most popular side-attractions of a visit to Luxor is the option to take a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Dead at dawn.  During the flight you will see the sunrise over the Nile and many of the major tombs in the Theban Necropolis.  See our section on the balloon flights and a photo gallery of the sights you may see on these aerial  journeys.

While we are discussing diversions, Luxor is a great place to buy Alabaster and you will find several Alabaster "factories" on the West Bank.

Further Afield from Luxor

Dendera Temple is an attractive temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor (the goddess of the sky).  Although there were earlier temples at this site, this temple is Greco-Roman rather than Pharaonic (Egyptian).  Dendara Temple is known for the quality of its reliefs (including some of Cleopatra) and the beauty of the paintings that adorn the temple. The hypostyle hall at Dendera is stunning, as this is one of the few locations where the hypostyle hall ceiling is intact,  In addition, there is an upper level that was used for other religious celebrations. According to early Egyptian mythology once a year the statue of Hathor housed in the sanctuary at Dendera Temple was floated up the Nile to Edfu where Hathor was reunited with her consort Horus, who resided in his statue at Edfu Temple.  See our page on Dendera Temple for more details on this interesting temple.

Next

Our guide to the Best Places to visit in Egypt is continued on page II of this section, where we cover Nile River Cruising, Aswan and its many treasures, Lake Nasser, Abu Simbel and other interesting temples that can be visited on a Lake Nasser Cruise.  We have some incredible photo galleries of these locations on our detail pages for these attractions that you won't want to miss.

Or, click our index at the top right of this page for a direct link to the places to visit and topics that we cover in our Egypt Travel Guide.

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Best Places To Visit in Egypt

Overview
Cairo
Giza
Luxor
Nile - Luxor to Aswan
Aswan Area
Abu Simbel
Lake Nasser Temples

Other Topics

Nile River Cruising
Travel Tips
Things to know about Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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