The Top 10 Egyptian Monuments (From Pyramids to Temples)

The Top 10 Egyptian Monuments (From Pyramids to Temples)

By Margaux | Updated Sep. 28, 2023

Many of Egypt's monuments are amongst the most famous in the world, including the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx of Giza, the Tomb of King Tut in the Valley of the Kings, and the temples at Abu Simbel.

Read on to find out the top 10 Egyptian monuments that you absolutely must not miss when you are planning your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Egypt!

1. The Pyramids of Giza (Near Cairo)

The Pyramids of Giza will top most tourists' lists of monuments to see when they are in Egypt. You'll need a full day to explore the pyramids as well as the Sphinx of Giza, which is on the same site: the Giza Necropolis.

The pyramids on the site are tombs for pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. The only pyramid that you can enter is Khufu's pyramid, which allows 300 visitors a day. It is the largest pyramid in Egypt, otherwise referred to as the Great Pyramid of Giza, or sometimes referred to as the Pyramid of Cheops. It was built in approximately 2560 BC, and it was said construction took between 10 and 20 years.

The Pyramid of Khafre is the second-biggest pyramid at Giza, frequently referred to as Khufu's sister structure. It may look bigger than the Pyramid of Khufu, but that's because it was built on upstanding bedrock making it look much taller.

Recommended tour: 1-Day Egypt Pyramids and Museums Tour

2. The Sphinx of Giza (Near Cairo)

Located near the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the most recognizable monuments in the entire world, and a must-see while you are in Egypt.

The Sphinx has a human head on a lion's body, representing the pharaoh Khafre, one of the pharaohss who also built a pyramid at the site in Giza. It is Egypt's oldest sculpture, and was built between 2558 and 2532 BC, originally from bedrock. It has since been restored with layers of limestone blocks.

This monument is larger than you might think, measuring 74 meters (240 feet) long and 20 meters (66 feet) high from top to bottom.

3. The Step Pyramid of Djoser (Near Giza)

In a village close to Giza called Saqqara, you'll find many tombs as well as the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser. While not the most famous of Egypt's pyramids, the Step Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest pyramid in Egypt, originating in the 27th century BC. The Pyramid of Djoser is a huge structure with 6-tiers and 4-sides.

In 2020, following restoration that took 14 years, the Step Pyramid of Djoser was reopened for tourists to visit.

On site, you'll be able to understand more about how the plan of the construction of this pyramid changed as time went on, while it was being built, as seen by the inner walls. You can also see an amazing view over the Nile from there.

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

4. The Temple Complex of Karnak (in Luxor)

Located in Luxor, Karnak, known also as Ipet-isu, is the largest temple in the entire world and thus a must-see monument in Egypt. It took over 2,000 years to build this temple, and there are four different sections, with only one open to visitors at the moment: the Temple of Amun.

Apart from the Temple of Amun you will be able to see ruins of temples, pylons, chapels, and remains of other buildings, making the entire complex a breathtaking sight. A total of over thirty different pharaohs contributed to the construction of the Karnak complex, explaining the uniqueness of this complex, which is not seen at other religious complexes anywhere in the world.

The 134 columns at 21 meters (69 feet) high are probably the most famous spot at the Temple of Amun.

In 1979, Karknak was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, making it worth spending an entire day exploring the complex of Karnak.

5. The Valley of the Kings (in Luxor)

The Valley of the Kings is one of the best-known tourist destinations in Egypt, where kings and royalty were buried for almost 500 years between the 16th and 11th centuries BC.

There have been around 63 tombs discovered there, most recently in 2005 and 2008. The most famous monument there is undoubtedly the tomb of King Tutankhamun, which is also the only one that wasn't emptied fully by grave robbers prior to being discovered by archaeologists.

Tombs there vary in size and shape, some being just one chamber, while others contain over 120 separate rooms with traps to keep robbers out and complex constructions under the ground.

Recommended tour: 4-Day Layover Tour

6. Luxor Temple (in Luxor)

During your time in Luxor, we recommend visiting Luxor Temple one evening. Located on the east bank of the Nile River, Luxor Temple was built by Amenhotep III, but it was actually completed under King Tutankhamun, and it is the city's second-biggest temple after Karnak.

This temple differs from many others seen in Egypt, because it is not dedicated to a single cult god or a pharaoh in death, but instead it is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship. Historians think that pharaohs of Egypt might have even been crowned there.

The reason for recommending an evening visit is because it lights up beautifully!

7. The Temple of Hatshepsut (Near Luxor)

Another monument you won't want to miss (right opposite the city of Luxor) is the Temple of Hatshepsut, a mortuary temple built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. The temple is located close to her tomb.

The beautiful temple has three massive layers, rising above the desert and into the cliffs, and it faces the Eighth Pylon, which was Hatshepsut's best-known addition to the Temple of Karnak.

A visit to the Temple of Hatshepsut will help you understand how its construction is different from many of the other temples.

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

8. Abu Simbel (Three Hours' Drive Away From Aswan)

About 300 kilometers (190 miles) or three hours' drive away from Aswan, Abu Simbel, near the border of Sudan, is a site containing two monuments: two massive temples. The temples are different from other temples you'll see in Egypt because they are carved out of huge rocks.

Their construction was initiated in the 13th century BC by Pharaoh Ramses II, and they are collectively known as the Nubian Monuments, which are protected by UNESCO.

These temples are also special because they were moved in 1968 by UNESCO, as they were at risk of being flooded after the construction of Lake Nasser — a massive water reservoir created as part of the Aswan High Dam Project. To relocate them they were carefully taken apart and rebuilt by specialized engineers, which took over 4 years, in what is known as one of the greatest challenges and feats of archeological engineering in history.

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

9. The Red Pyramid (in Dashur)

Located in Dashur, the Red Pyramid was built by Pharaoh Sneferu between 2613 and 2589 BC. It was one of the earlier pyramids, which were instrumental in the ancient Egyptians gaining the knowledge to build pyramids as we know them: with smooth sides and without steps.

While mummies were found inside of the Red Pyramid, further investigations are yet to be done in order to determine whose bodies were found.

The Red Pyramid is the largest of the pyramids at the Dashur Necropolis (the Bent Pyramid is another famous pyramid on this site), and it is the third-largest pyramid in Egypt, after those of Khufu and Khafre at Giza.

10. The Bent Pyramid (in Dashur)

Also located in Dashur, just like the Red Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid was constructed under the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu (around 2600 BC). It is another great example of early pyramid construction in Ancient Egypt, and it was Sneferu's second pyramid.

It rises from the desert at a 54-degree inclination, but the top section is at just 43 degrees, which is why it is called the Bent Pyramid. It is especially interesting to visit because archaeologists believe that the difference in inclinations in this pyramid are representative of the transition between step-sided and smooth-sided pyramids that we see in the many different pyramids that are dotted around Egypt.

Numerous sarcophagi were found inside the Bent Pyramid, many of which had well-preserved mummies inside of them.

Why Travel with Global Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)

  • Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
  • Hassle-free travel and peace of mind: Every aspect of your trip will be carefully planned and organized by your 1:1 travel consultant.
  • Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.
Popular tours
Make the most of your time
Choose the best time to visit

Get Inspired with Some Popular Itineraries

1-Day Egypt Pyramids and Museums Tour 4-Day Cairo Layover Tour 12-Day Egypt Luxury Tour with Abu Simbel Peru Weather in September 2023: A Good Time to Visit 10 Days in Kenya -  4 Unique Itineraries with Special Experiences 8-Day South Morocco & Sahara Desert Tour from Marrakesh How to Plan a Desert Trip in Morocco? Morocco Weather in November 2023: Warm to Mild, Places to Go

More Travel Ideas and Inspiration

How to Plan a Trip to Alexandria - 7 Things to Know How to Plan a Trip to Cairo (6 Things You Need to Know) 10 Best Places to Visit in Egypt (Can't Be Beaten for First-Timers) Step-by-step guide to obtaining a visa for Egypt South Africa Weather in August 2024: Mild; Places to Go  The Best Domestic Airlines in Egypt How to Plan a 10-Day Israel, Jordan, Egypt Itinerary Thailand Tour to Rain Forest and Beach Resort
We are here to help you...
start planning your tailor-made trip with 1-1 help from our travel advisors.
Create Your Trip

Sign up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to receive exciting updates, exclusive promotions, and valuable travel tips from our team of experts.

Where Can We Take You Today?