How to Plan Your First Trip to Egypt — 5 Easy Steps
Planning a trip to Egypt can be intimidating, even if you are quite an experienced traveler. Don't worry! Here, we have prepared five simple steps to help you plan your first trip there according to our rich experience in designing over 5,000 visits to Egypt.
1. Choose Your Destinations in Egypt
With our knowledge of Egypt and the suggestions from our clients, Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan are the top three destinations for your first visit to the country and you can include Alexandria, Hurghada, and/or Sinai if time permits for more diversity in your experiences.
Cairo — the Modern Capital of Egypt
As the modern capital of Egypt and the ancient capital for decades, Cairo is definitely a must on your list. Most travelers visit Cairo as a cursory stop before or after visiting the pyramids. But whether you take the time to discover the most beautiful vantage points in the aptly-named "city of a thousand minarets" or simply choose to explore the underrated parts of Egypt's capital, such as Cairo Citadel and the Christian neighborhood of Coptic Cairo, it is going to exceed your expectations.
Must-see attractions: If you only have one day there, make sure you set foot in front of the pyramids and the Sphinx and visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities.
If you have more days, Cairo alone can take about 3 days to enjoy a few pyramids, take a camel ride, visit some mosques, and enjoy the medieval core of its nooks and souks.
Aswan and Luxor — Windows on Ancient Egyptian Civilization
After the capital, you should move on to discover the origin of the nation. Visit Luxor and Aswan, where the very first Egyptians founded their country and created the local culture.
Luxor is an ideal place to include something from the pre-Cairo dynasties. Visit the grand temples (both Luxor Temple and Karnak as well as the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and the Colossi of Memnon) that are more than 3,000 years old.
In Aswan, you can not only experience the ancient Nubian culture but can also enjoy Lake Nasser and the Abu Simbel temples plus a wonderful sunset along the Nile River.
Alexandria — the Mediterranean City
It could be a good side trip from Cairo as the city of Alexandria has an amazing amount of history. It was founded by Alexander the Great. There is a famous library called the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina because the Great Library of Alexandria was created and destroyed there.
The city was home to one of the original wonders of the ancient world: the Pharos of Alexandria.
Sinai — a Paradise of Beaches and Sunshine
For the best beaches in Egypt, it is suggested to check out Sharm el-Sheikh (the tourist capital of the Sinai Peninsula) for the most enjoyable Red Sea beaches. You will have gorgeous places to swim and dive that are unlike anywhere else in the world.
Please note: The news often reports terrorist activities in Sinai; therefore, you should consider your safety when planning your trip and follow the government's suggestions.
Hurghada — the Best Place to Meditate and Relax
This is the perfect replacement for Sinai if you want to focus on sunshine, beaches, and relaxation.
2. Decide How Many Days to Stay
After a long journey to reach Africa, you probably won't want to just scratch the surface of Egypt and just take snapshots of the landmark attractions.
We suggest you take at least a week for your first trip to experience a spectrum of the highlights in the top three cities.
3. Be Aware of the Visa Policy and Gateway Cities
Cairo and Sharm el-Sheikh are the top two gateway cities for international flights. Most customers choose these cities.
Visa on Arrival Policy
In addition to the UK and EU nationals, citizens of the following countries can obtain a Visa on Arrival at any of the Egyptian ports of entry: Australia, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, North Macedonia, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Ukraine, and the USA.
Step-by-Step Tips to Get an Egyptian Visa on Arrival:
The process is relatively quick and easy, although you may need to wait in a queue for some time.
- When landing at the airport in Egypt, go to the Visa on Arrival window before getting in the queue for immigration. Complete the application form, present your passport (which must be valid for at least another 6 months and have a free page for the visa sticker), and pay the US$25 fee for a Visa on Arrival sticker.
- Place the sticker on a blank page in your passport and get in the immigration queue.
- That's it — get your stamp, collect your luggage, and head off to explore Egypt!
Please note: The fee must be paid in USD only — no other currencies will be accepted. It is best to have the exact change as this will make things easier. Do not plan on using your credit card as this will not be accepted.
Travelers Who Do Not Belong to the Above Nations
If you are not a passport holder from one of the above countries, you will not be eligible for a Visa on Arrival. Instead, you must arrange your Egypt visa in advance before traveling to Egypt.
- A Visa on Arrival has a maximum stay of 30 days.
- An e-Visa has a maximum stay of 30 days.
- A tourist visa has a maximum stay of 30 days.
- When traveling visa-free, a maximum stay of 90 days is allowed.
4. Consider When to Travel to Egypt
Egypt's historical and cultural attractions are good to visit all year round. The sightseeing in Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan is seldom affected by the seasons (but it could be quite hot in summer so visiting attractions in the mornings is recommended).
Spring (mid-March to mid-May) and autumn (mid-September to mid-November) are generally the coziest and recommended times for an Egypt tour. They are neither too hot nor too cold and fall is generally drier and warmer than spring, with easily manageable crowds.
5. Private and Tailor-Made Tours Ensure the Best Experiences
Could you save money with a package tour? Maybe. But would you have the same flexibility and personal attention? Definitely not. Consider the coziness — a private tour is recommended.
If you don't want to visit the pyramids of Giza with a group of 30 people and have just 20 minutes at the site, a private and tailor-made tour is a better choice.
You will have the chance to ride a carriage through the ancient alleys of Luxor, walk on “wild” untouched ancient ruins, or visit a local family with your own local guide.
With a private guide and transportation, you can maximize your time. You can focus on the sightseeing you want to do and skip the long queues in the most crowded attractions.