10 Best Places to Visit in Egypt (Can't Be Beaten for First-Timers)

By Margaux | Updated Aug. 10, 2022

Visiting Egypt and not sure where to start? We've listed 10 of the most popular destinations within Egypt to help you figure out where to go on your Egypt tour.

The top destinations listed below are:

1. Giza: Home to the Pyramids of Giza

Probably one of the best-known spots in Egypt, if not the entire world, Giza is a magical sight. It is home to both the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, making it a must-see on any trip to Egypt, and most visitors' most desired stop on a tour of Egypt.

Located (around 30 minutes by car) to the west of Cairo, Egypt's capital, Giza is its own city but with Cairo's rapid growth has blended into Cairo's suburbs. Its three main pyramids were the tombs of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, three ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

Khufu's pyramid is the one you can also enter at the moment. Only 300 visitors a day are allowed in though, so you'll have to plan properly. Contact us to make appointment.

The Pyramid of Khufu, largest pyramid in Egypt, is also known as the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Pyramid of Cheops. It was built in 2560 BC after between 10 and 20 years of construction, it is believed.

Giza's second-biggest pyramid is the Pyramid of Khafre, "the sister structure of Khufu". It looks bigger but being built on a bedrock upstand gave it a height advantage. It is steeper, giving it a more pointed top.

Pyramids of GizaPyramids of Giza: a must-see on any trip to Egypt

2. Luxor: From Ancient Tombs to Vast Temple Complexes

Hotair Balloon in LuxorTake hotair balloon over the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Luxor is a city located on the east bank of the Nile in the south of Egypt. This is where Thebes was, the pharaoh's capital of between the 16th and 11th centuries BC, which explains why there are so many amazing sights to see — from ancient tombs to vast temple complexes.

Karnak Temple, known also as Ipet-isu, was built over a period of around 2,000 years (20th–1st century BC). Of its four parts, only one is currently open to the public: the Temple of Amun. It is the largest religious building ever built, encompassing 134 columns standing 21 meters (69 feet)high, making it an impressive sight to see.

At night, be sure to visit Luxor Temple, on the east bank of the Nile River, the city's second biggest temple. This temple is different in that it is not dedicated to a cult god or a pharaoh in death, but instead to the rejuvenation of kingship. Historians speculate that it might have been the case that pharaohs of Egypt were crowned there.

Another popular sight in Luxor is the Valley of the Kings. This is where you'll find many of the beautiful tombs and burial chambers, including the famous King Tutankhamun's mummy, some of which are open to the public (different tombs will open during different time periods to ensure they are all able to be preserved properly).

Get to know more information about planning a trip to Egypt>>>

3. Cairo: Home to the Egyptian Museum

Egyptian MuseumDon't miss the Egyptian Museum after you land in Cairo.

As the capital of Egypt, Cairo is a bustling hub best known as being home to the Egyptian Museum, probably one of the most incredible museums in the entire world. It is full of ancient Egyptian antiquities, storing over 120,000 items.

Other things to do in Cairo include seeing the Nile riverbank, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali built in the 1800s, as well as the famous Tahrir Square.

For shopping we recommend going to Khan Al-Khalili, a bazaar in an older part of town, where you'll also be able to get a taste of local life as there are plenty of shisha cafés and restaurants selling local dishes.

*Please note that the Egyptian Museum is set to move from Cairo to the Grand Egyptian Museum in nearby Giza around November 2022 (this date is estimated and has been delayed a few times). Once the museum moves, we recommend spending an extra day in Giza, and a day less in Cairo.

Suggested read: How to Avoid Crowds When Traveling in Egypt

4. Aswan: A Popular Spot to Take a Boat Trip

Aswan High Dam: the largest embankment dam in the worldAswan High Dam: the largest embankment dam in the world.

In the south of Egypt, you'll find the city of Aswan. On the Nile, it's a popular spot to take a boat trip, and the city has a much calmer atmosphere than Luxor and Cairo, making it popular with tourists starting or ending their Nile cruises. From there, you'll see beautiful cliffs overlooking the Nile, which during ancient times was the entrance to the rest of Africa.

Aswan is often used as a base to visit the Sun Temple of Ramses II in Abu Simbel, listed underneath as the 5th best place. It is also a good starting point to visit the temples of Kom Ombo and Adfu.

Must read: The 10 Worst Tourist Traps to Avoid in Egypt

5. Abu Simbel

Abu SimbelAbu Simbel: the most famous spot in Egypt after the Giza Pyramids

Approximately three hours from Aswan, Abu Simbel, near the Sudan border, contains two massive temples: the Great Temple and the Small Temple. The temples have beautiful exteriors, which are unique in that they are cut into two djacent cliffs externally and internally. This was done in the 13th century BC during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II.

These temples were relocated in 1968 as part of a UNESCO campaign. They would have been inundated after the creation of Lake Nasser behind the Aswan High Dam. Carefully moved in parts over 4 years by an international team of engineers, it was considered one of the greatest challenges and feats of archeological engineering. That story alone makes the visit worth it.

6. Dahshur: Lesser-known and Less-crowded Pyramids

The Red PyramidThe Red Pyramid

Dahshur, a small village approximately 40 kilometers (25 mi) south of Cairo, is where you'll find some lesser-known and thus less-crowded pyramids. Dahshur was part of the ancient necropolis of Memphis.

The best-known pyramids in Dahshur include the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid, both of which were built by Pharaoh Sneferu (between 2613 and 2589 BC). These pyramids were part of Egypt's journey to building pyramids, demonstrating the transition from building step-sided pyramids to gathering up the knowledge that helped them build smooth-sided pyramids. It is this experience that led them to be able to build the Great Pyramid of Giza.

  • Top sights: The Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid
  • Recommended visiting duration: 1 day
  • Tour recommendation: Contact us to include Dahshur in your own private tour

7. Sharm el-Sheikh: Beach Allure and Scuba Diving

romantic sunset beside the Red SeaEnjoy a romantic sunset beside the Red Sea

If you want to include some time to rest and recharge during your time in Egypt, Sharm el-Sheikh is the place to do it. Known as the most popular resort town in Egypt, Sharm el-Sheikh boasts warm, deep blue water and beautiful sandy beaches along the Red Sea.

While historically Sharm el-Sheikh was an important naval base, today it is primarily known for its beach allure and scuba diving potential, as it is one of the best spots to get under the water in the world, home to beautiful corals and colorful fish.

This is also a great place to start a trip to Mount Sinai from, as well as Egypt's desert Bedouin camps.

  • Top sights: Tiran Island and Ras Mohammed National Park
  • Recommended visiting duration: 2–7 days (depends on if you are a scuba diver, and how long you would like to enjoy the beach for)
  • Tour recommendation: Contact us to include Sharm el-Sheikh in your own private tour

Suggested read: Is Egypt Safe for Travelers?

8. Saqqara: The Largest Archeological Site in Egypt

Step Pyramid of Djoser: the oldest pyramid in EgyptStep Pyramid of Djoser: the oldest pyramid in Egypt

A village close to Giza, Saqqara holds vast ancient burial grounds for many Egyptian royalty, which recently featured in the popular Netflix documentary "Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb". It also has pyramids, making it the largest archeological site in Egypt. It was an important complex for approximately 3,000 years.

Most tourists will visit Saqqara's highlight: the Step Pyramid of Djoser, as it is the oldest pyramid in Egypt. From there, you'll catch some of the best views of the Nile, too.

  • Top sights: The Step Pyramid of Djoser
  • Recommended visiting duration: 1–2 days
  • Tour recommendation: Contact us to include Saqqara in your own private tour

9. The Siwa Oasis: A Destination for Pilgrims

Enjoy the cliff view in Siwa OasisEnjoy the cliff view at the Siwa Oasis.

The Siwa Oasis, just 50 km (30 mi) east from the Libyan border, is popular with tourists because of its vast, beautiful landscapes, freshwater springs, as well as historical significance.

The oasis was home to an oracle of Amun Ra, a major ancient Egyptian deity. The ruins of the Temple of Amun, built in the 6th or 7th century BC, it is thought, made the Siwa Oasis a destination for pilgrims. One was Alexander the Great, who sought wisdom there.

  • Top sights: Lake Siwa and the Temple of Amun
  • Recommended visiting duration: 1–2 days
  • Tour recommendation: Contact us to include the Siwa Oasis in your own private tour

10. Alexandria: Home to the Lighthouse of Alexandria

Caitbe Castle in AlexandriaVisit the Caitbe Castle when you're in Alexandria.

As Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria's location along the Mediterranean gave it an important role in history. It even served as Egypt's capital after Memphis, and before Cairo.

The city was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, and was also the location from which several ancient Egyptian pharaohs ruled Egypt, including Cleopatra.

Alexandria gained fame for having one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which was destroyed in an earthquake, and the Great Library, one of the largest in the ancient world, which unfortunately burned down.

A city of 5 million, it is a dusty seaside city that doesn't quite look like it would have done in its glorious past, but is still worth visiting because of its history.

Its museum, the Alexandria National Museum, has beautiful artifacts dating back to the Greco-Roman era.

If you are a scuba diver, you'll also be able to see the stones from the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria in the sea.

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