How to Plan Your First Trip to Egypt — 7 Easy Steps

How to Plan Your First Trip to Egypt — 7 Easy Steps

By Margaux | Updated Mar. 17, 2023

Egypt consists of beautiful scenery and incredible ancient world wonders that are some of the most recognizable in the world. It is often referred to as the birthplace of civilization, offering a unique experience to lose yourself amongst vast pyramids, huge temple complexes, but also has the incredible Nile River and access to the Red Sea for scuba diving and snorkeling.

There are currently (as of August 2022) no Covid restrictions on traveling to Egypt, and you do not need to provide proof of vaccination.

In order to get started on planning your trip to Egypt, we've broken down this article into the following sections:

1. Choose Where to Go — Make sure you don't miss any sights!

To start off you'll want to decide where to go. We've listed the top 5 cities that we think are a must when you are visiting Egypt, but we do have more information on the top 10 places to visit if you have longer to spend in Egypt.

1) Giza

Giza PyramidsGiza Pyramids

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.

Giza's three main pyramids were built as tombs for three ancient Egyptian pharaohs: Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Khufu's pyramid is the one you can also enter at the moment.

Giza is close to Cairo, and most visitors start their tour of Egypt in Cairo and Giza.

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2) 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 cafes and restaurants selling local dishes.

Recommended tour: 1-Day Egypt Pyramids and Museums Tour

3) Luxor

Karnak TempleKarnak Temple

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 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 is the most popular sight here, known also as Ipet-isu, took over 2,000 years to build, and has four different parts, only one of which is currently open to the public: the Temple of Amun. It is the largest religious building ever built, encompassing 134 columns standing 21 meters high, making it an impressive sight to see.

From Luxor we also highly recommend that you visit 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.

4) Aswan and the Nile

Nile CruiseNile Cruise

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.

Aswan is also a good place to start a trip to Abu Simbel (3 hours by car each way), which is home to two unique temples carved out of rock surfaces.

Recommended tour: 8-Day Egypt Essence with Nile Cruise Tour

5) Alexandria


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

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 — this famous lighthouse landed there after an earthquake.

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2. Decide How Many Days to Stay

To get the chance to see most of the big sights in Egypt, we recommend staying at least 7 days, ideally 10. These are the timeframes we recommend for each of the 5 cities listed above:

  • Giza: 1 day
  • Cairo: 1–2 days
  • Luxor: 2–3 days
  • Aswan and the Nile: 1–3 days
  • Alexandria: 1 day

To visit Sharm El-Sheik, Dahabor another coastal town we recommend adding approximately 3 days to your itinerary, depending on how long you'd like to be by the sea. If you are interested in scuba diving, these are great locations to do so, and you might want to tailor your trip to make the most of the Red Sea's beautiful coral reefs.

Recommended tour: 10-Day Egypt Tour with Red Sea and Nile Cruise

It's worth reaching out to a travel specialist like us to have your requirements planned in for you to fit your needs and as well as your schedule.

Further reading:

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3. Consider When to Travel — Avoid the summer heat!

Egypt can get very hot, and even during the cooler months it will still be sunny. That is why we recommend visiting between October and April, when the temperatures are cooler (between 14℃ or 58℉, and 30℃ and 86℉), making exploring much more pleasant. Even seaside locations like Sharm el-Sheikh are still best visited during spring or autumn when it is warm but not overly hot or humid.

Summers in Cairo can hit a high of 35℃, or 95℉ which can feel like a lot more when you are walking around in the sun during the day.

Must read: Dates You Should Avoid When Planning an Egypt Tour

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4. Consider Your Budget — Don't blow the bank!

In general, you could spend as much as you want while you are in Egypt, with no lack of high-end resorts and hotels all around the country, especially in the beach cities. However, you can also visit Egypt on more of a budget.

If you're looking to go on a lower budget, you can budget for approximately 60–75 US dollars per day per person in Egypt, while you'll want to look at somewhere closer to 150–200 US dollars per day per person if you're aiming for luxury hotels and Western-style restaurants. You could even spend more though, with lots of beautiful hotels opening in the big tourist cities.

Recommended tour: 11-Day Off-the-Beaten-Track Egypt Tour

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5. Check Egypt's Visa Policy — Get your e-Visa sorted before departure!

Most visitors traveling to Egypt will need a visa. Travelers from the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia will need a visa, which you can get online through the Egypt e-visa portal  (check availability for other countries on the portal). The Egyptian tourist visa costs 25 US dollars and you can pay online through the portal via credit card.

You'll need to present a passport with validity for at least 6 months from the arrival date, your travel itinerary, hotel bookings, and the e-Visa print out upon reaching immigration at the airport in Egypt.

Cairo and Alexandria Highlights

6. Getting to and Around Egypt — Flight, train, bus or private car?

Getting to Egypt

Getting to Egypt, you'll want to fly into Cairo, which has direct flights to many cities in the world (particularly in Europe), and indirect flights to the entire world. The local airline is Egyptair, but Turkish Airlines also has great connecting flights from many major cities in the world.

A direct flight from New York, for example, takes 10½ hours, while it will take you around 5 hours from London. A direct flight from Toronto will take 10 hours and 20 minutes.

A few countries' airlines also fly into Luxor directly, particularly with Egyptair from London Heathrow, Neos from Milan, and Egyptair from Madrid at the time of writing (August, 2022).

For those headed to the beach, flights go from many European airports directly into Sharm el-Sheikh, namely London, Birmingham, Milan, Prague, Naples, Rome, Brussels, Manchester, and Verona. You can also transfer in Istanbul if you're flying Turkish Airlines from your home airport.

Getting Around Egypt

Getting around Egypt, there are trains, buses and domestic flights operating between all major cities. Because you can split the country roughly into the northern cities (Alexandria, Cairo, Giza) and those in the south (Luxor, Aswan), we recommend flying between Alexandra/Cairo/Giza and Luxor/Aswan, but taking buses or trains once in the north/south.

For example, from Cairo to Alexandria, we recommend taking a bus which only takes approximately 3 hours and costs between 7 and 10 US dollars. You can also take a train which takes a little over 3 hours and costs between 1 and 6 US dollars.

But, if you're looking to go to Luxor by train from Cairo, you're looking at a journey of approximately 10 hours, while Cairo to Aswan takes 12 hours. These are great options if you're on a budget, but if you're not on a budget, we recommend flying to Luxor from Cairo at around 130 US dollars one way.

For a more comfortable and worry-free experience, we can arrange private transfers between cities and your domestic flight bookings, as well as transport in each city to get you to all the tourist spots you want to go to. Contact us to tailor make an awesome trip. 

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Getting Around Cities

Cairo has a metro system to get around, and we recommend using it over a taxi because of the terrible traffic. The metro is clean, efficient, and very affordable.

Luxor and Aswan do not have a metro system, and we recommend taking a tour bus (on a set schedule, your hotel will have more information) or taxi. Beware some taxi drivers though, as they will likely overcharge tourists who do not negotiate fares. Your local hotel will be able to help give you guidelines for what you should be paying your taxi depending on the ride. Ideally, once you get a taxi, you would negotiate for them to wait at the destination to also take you back — offering a round-trip ride can help your negotiations.

Alexandria has a tram and bus system which is the easiest and cheapest way to get around. You can also take a taxi, but you'll have to negotiate with the driver as you would in Luxor or Aswan.

It's also interesting to note that Uber does operate in Cairo, Alexandria, and Hurghada if you ever get stuck and you have data on your phone. You'll have to pay by credit card via the app.

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

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7. Taking A Guided or Independent Tour?

With Egypt's popularity as a tourist destination, prices for guiding in Egypt are not as low as in many other holiday destinations, but the trip is worth it.

In order to maximize your time in Egypt, ensure you fit the most into your schedule, and make sure that you learn all of the facts behind the amazing sights you are visiting, we recommend going on a guided tour. Not only will your tour guide be able to help you learn more about Egyptian culture, but that way you can also enjoy your trip without having to worry about finding a bus to get to your next destination, or making sure that your allergies are kept in mind when dinner time comes around.

Check more Egypt tours for inspiration. 

Why Travel with Global Highlights During the Pandemic

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