2-Week Egypt Itinerary – Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Nellie Huang

Always dreamt of visiting Egypt? Plan an adventure of a lifetime with my 2-week Egypt itinerary, designed for first-time visitors.

Egypt is the stuff of dreams: it’s home to the ancient Giza pyramids, the sprawling Valley of the Kings where over 63 ancient Pharaohs were buried, and the newly opened Grand Egyptian Museum. Plus vast deserts, Nubian villages and miles and miles beaches along the Red Sea coast.

Like the Nile, Egypt is overflowing — overflowing with treasure-filled tombs, thousand-year-old mummies and immaculately preserved temples. It is nearly impossible for the casual traveler to see everything. Having just returned from a second trip to Egypt, I’ve found that its historical treasures are still as impressive, but Egypt needs tourists now more than ever.

egypt itinerary - 2 weeks in egypt

2-Week Egypt Itinerary 

Egypt is a big country — and distances are long. You’ll need a minimum of 2 weeks in Egypt to see and experience the best of the country at a comfortable pace. On both trips to Egypt, I spent 2 weeks and still wished I had more time. This Egypt itinerary will help you make the most of your time there and experience the best of the country.

My Egypt Itinerary Map

 


Is Egypt Safe to Visit?

Safety issues are the main concern for most when traveling to Egypt. In recent years, Egypt experienced one terrorist attack after another in recent years, with many of them targeting tourists. Tourism numbers naturally took a nose dive in the last decade. 

I have never felt that I was in danger at any point on both trips to Egypt. That said, hassling and sexual harassment are common in Egypt, especially for solo female travelers. With the right mindset and expectations, it is possible to travel safely in Egypt. Read my article on whether Egypt is safe for travel here.

egypt itinerary 14 days - karnak temple


Travel Insurance for Egypt

I always recommend getting travel insurance, even if you’re traveling Egypt for just 2 weeks. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

2 week egypt itinerary - red sea coast giftun islands


How to Get to Egypt

The gateway into Cairo is the Cairo International Airport (CAI). Flying into Cairo from most parts of Europe is rather affordable. You can fly from London to Cairo for just £250 return (5-hour flight) or Paris to Cairo (4-hour flight) for as low as €280 round trip. 

If you’re flying from US, return flights from New York to Cairo (10 hours) are as cheap as $570.  Roundtrip tickets from San Francisco to Cairo (16 hours) are around $630.

To get to downtown Cairo from the airport, I suggest arranging a transfer with your hotel. My hotel offered free airport pickup even though it was an hour drive away in Giza. Otherwise there’s no shortage of taxi drivers waiting by arrivals; prepare to haggle and don’t pay more than 100 EGP (US$6).

Search for Flights to Cairo!


Best Time to Visit Egypt

The best time to visit Cairo is between October and April, when temperatures are cooler, but still pleasantly warm across the country. I traveled Egypt in early March and found the weather to be really comfortable, with daytime temperatures around 75°F (23°C) and nighttime 59°F (15°C).

The summer season (May to September) is hot, although the high temperatures are alleviated by very dry air, far fewer visitors and lower prices.There also tends to be a bit of a breeze on the Nile.

2 weeks in egypt - best time to visit egypt

Do You Need to Book a Tour in Egypt?

Egypt is generally quite an easy place to travel — the tourist trail is well marked, and many locals speak English. 

But Egypt can be challenging for solo female travelers. If you’re a solo female traveler who has never traveled in Muslim countries, it might be wise to book a group tour such as this one

Alternatively, you can travel independently and book day trips with knowledgable Egyptologists. I booked the following day tours on my recent trip and highly recommend all of them:

trip to egypt - abu simbel temple

How to Get Around Egypt

By Air

Egypt is a big country and distances are long — but it’s incredibly easy to travel from one city to another in Egypt. The best way to go from Cairo to Luxor/Aswan/Hurghada is flying. Domestic flights on EgyptAir is cheap and saves 10+ hours of travel. Flights from Cairo to Luxor cost around $40 each way and Cairo to Aswan $60.

By Train

For short distances, I recommend taking the train. The Egyptian Railway is good, comfortable and cheap. The best thing about the railway system is that it runs along the Nile River and you get great views as it trots parallel to the waterway.

The night train from Cairo to Luxor is a popular route, but I don’t recommend taking it. First it’s expensive at US$100 each way (flights are cheaper). If you have the time, take the day train instead, it’s much cheaper at only $15-20 each way. Check train schedule and fare here.

By Bus

Buses are the cheapest way to get around Egypt. Go Bus is a popular bus company that runs popular routes like Luxor-Hurghada. It’s cheap and comfortable — first-class seats are wide, reclining leather seats with Wifi, your own screen, and free meals included. 

By Taxi and Uber

Uber only works in certain cities, like Cairo and Hurghada, but it’s a lifesaver for travelers like me who don’t want to be haggling all the time. Uber drivers are respectful and trustworthy. Taxi drivers on the other hand might try to overcharge you — I met one who tried to sell me hashish and offer me “a sexy time”. 

train in egypt - traveling to egypt


Cairo Itinerary Day 1: See the Ancient Pyramids

Most people start their Egypt trip in Cairo as it’s home to the world-famous Pyramids. I recommend spending at least 3 days in Cairo to explore the sights at a comfortable pace. Check out my Cairo itinerary for more details.

On your first day, head straight to the Giza plateau to see the most iconic historical site of the world. For nearly 4000 years, nine impeccably built pyramids have stood on this plateau, built as massive tombs on the orders of the pharaohs. Today they stand as a tribute to the achievements of ancient Egypt.

Of the three pyramids at Giza, the Great Pyramid is the largest — and  it’s the only ancient wonder of the world left. You can actually enter the Great Pyramid (with an extra ticket) and climb the steep stairs that lead to the King’s Chamber. It’s definitely worthwhile to venture inside, but some might feel claustrophobic inside. 

giza pyramids - egypt in 2 weeks

Marvel the Giza Pyramids

Prepare to spend at least three hours at the Giza Pyramids. That should give you enough time to walk all over the plateau, go inside one of the pyramids, take a horse or camel to the panoramic point, see the Sphinx and the visit the Solar Boat.

You’d be forgiven to think the Pyramids of Giza are located in the middle of a desert. The ancient site is actually surrounded by houses, shops, restaurants and dusty roads. You can easily find restaurants just outside of the exit by the Sphinx, including the famous Abou Shakra.

egypt travel blog - giza pyramids

egypt itinerary - the sphinx

Visiting the Giza Pyramids: Things You Need to Know

  • Go early, preferably around 8am. The tour buses start arriving around 10-11 am. During my visit in March, it was close to empty due to the pandemic; but usually Giza plateau gets very crowded.
  • If you’re visiting on your own, you can easily take an Uber to the main entrance. A ride from any hotel in Giza costs around 15 to 20 EGP ($1-1.50).
  • Be prepared for a lot of hassling here — female vendors shoving t-shirts into your bags, men draping scarves on you without asking. Avoid eye contact, smile and keep moving.
  • There’ll be tourist touts following you everywhere. Most say they’re official guides from the Pyramids and that their service is free. At the end of it, they’ll ask for a big tip. 
  • The Sphinx is included in your ticket. The Solar Boat however requires an extra ticket, but I don’t think it’s worth it (based on my first visit there 13 years ago).
  • To explore the Pyramid ground, you can technically walk everywhere. Most people hire a horse cart or a camel (which adds to the experience, though it’s not quite as comfortable as it looks). The official price of a camel ride is 350 EGP ($20) per hour. 

camel ride at the pyramids - cairo travel guide

Visit the Dahshur Pyramids

In the afternoon, head over to the town of Dahshur, about an hour’s drive from Giza. This area is not easy to get to, so I advice booking a day tour. On my first trip to Egypt, I booked this full-day day tour with a guide who really made the history come alive. 

The two main pyramids to visit in Dashur are the Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid. The “bent” pyramid has an unusual appearance is unusual. The first 49 metres, which have largely kept their smooth limestone casing, are built at a steep 54 degree angle, before tapering off towards the top. 

The angular shape contrasts with the straight sides of Sneferu’s Red Pyramid just to the north. The Red Pyramid, named for the rusty hues of the red limestone, was Sneferu’s third pyramid.

what to do in egypt in 2 weeks - bent pyramid

See Egypt’s Oldest Pyramid at Saqqara

Saqqara is the largest archaeological site in the country. The vast necropolis is home to eleven pyramids in total – the burial places of the pharaohs – amongst which several are magnificent examples of ancient art and architecture.

The most prominent site is the Step Pyramid of Djoser, that stands over 200 feet (60 m) tall, with a base of 358 feet by 397 feet (109 m by 121 m). It was the Egyptian’s first successful attempt to build a pyramid, and is one of the world’s oldest monumental cut stone structures.

visit egypt - saqqara

Explore the Ancient Capital of Memphis

Memphis was once the ancient capital of Egypt. It was the country’s center of commerce and trade and an important religious center. Today, what is left of the ancient city is collected in the Memphis Open Air Museum.

The highlight of Memphis is undoubtedly the magnificent fallen colossal limestone statue of Ramses II. At 33 ft (10m) tall, it’s massive and really gives a sense of the magnitude of the temple during its heydays.

memphis egypt - day trips from cairo cairo trip - memphis ramses ii statue

Watch the Pyramids Light Show from Your Hotel

In the evening, head back to your hotel and catch the Sound and Light show at the Pyramids (skip to my recommendations for hotels with Pyramids view). This show takes place every evening at 7pm October – April and at 7:30pm May – September. During Ramadan the starting time is pushed to 8:30pm. 

It’s rather kitsch to be honest, with neon green, red and yellow lights flashing about. I wouldn’t recommend going to the Pyramids for the show (tours cost around $50) — instead just enjoy the view from your room for free.

pyramids sound and light show cairo - cairo itinerary 3 days - cairo pyramids

Where to Stay in Cairo

There are two main areas to stay in Cairo: one is Downtown Cairo and the other is Giza. Downtown Cairo is mayhem, but you’ll be staying within easy reach from the museums and markets. Personally, I prefer to stay in Giza, as it’s much calmer and you can stay steps away from the Pyramids. 

Budget: Giza Pyramids Inn

Located across the street from the Sphinx entrance gate, this is the budget hotel with the best location in town. Sunset on its rooftop is spectacular. Rooms are simple but very cheap. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Pyramids Eyes Hotel

I stayed in this well-priced hotel (pictured) with huge rooms that offer unobstructed views of the Pyramids (around $45/night). It’s still a 5-minute Uber ride from the Pyramids, but waking up to that spectacular sight is priceless. Check rates here.

Luxury: Marriott Mena House Cairo

The closest hotel to the Pyramids, Marriott Mena House is a lavish five-star hotel with landscaped gardens, upscale restaurant and the best sunset views in town. Definitely worthwhile to splurge here! Check rates here.

egypt itinerary - hotel in giza pyramids


 Cairo Itinerary Day 2: Explore Coptic Cairo

Visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

Next morning, head to the Egyptian Museum, where almost all of Egypt’s most highly priced treasures are stored. This is a must visit —preferably with an Egyptologist in tow. Book a guided tour here.

Inside, the grand ground floor features a variety of sacorphagus, giant stone sculptures and coffins. The first floor houses two rooms of mummies. The most intriguing attraction at the museum is Tutankhamun’s tomb, displayed alongside his complex gold coffins, gold trinkets, objects, and jewelry.

NOTE: The museum’s treasures will be relocated to the new Grand Egyptian Museum, scheduled to open in  late 2021 on the Giza Plateau.

egyptian museum - 10 days in egypt

egypt blog - inside the egyptian museum

Go to the Top of Cairo Tower

From there, walk across the Nile River and head up to the highest floor (62nd level) of the Cairo Tower. This is where you get the best view of the city. Have a simple lunch at the cafe below the panoramic deck and enjoy your meal with a view.

Entry costs 200 EGP ($12). If you want to take photos with a DSLR, you’ll need to pay a whopping 300 EGP ($18) extra for it. I suggest storing your camera in the locker and use your phone to snap photos instead.

TIP: There’s a strong restriction on taking photos with DSLR almost everywhere in Egypt (due to security). Anywhere that allows it will charge a hefty fee for it. BUT taking photos with a phone is allowed and free everywhere!

cairo tower - egypt tour itinerary

Visit the Coptic Museum

Take an Uber or taxi to the Coptic Museum. The Copts follow a denomination of Christianity and Cairo is home to the largest Copts population in North Africa. Copts are actually the closest descendants of Ancient Egyptians.

A great place to learn more about the Copts, the Coptic Museum houses Coptic art from the earliest days of Christianity in Egypt right through to early Islam. It is a beautiful place, as much for the elaborate woodcarving in all the galleries as for the treasures they contain.

cairo coptic museum - egypt 14 day itinerary

Head to the Hanging Church

The most famous church in this district known as Coptic Cairo (Masr al-Qadima) is the Hanging Church. Contrary to what its name implies, the Hanging Church—Al Moallaqa—is not actually suspended from anything. Its moniker comes from the fact that it’s built on top of the gates of an old Roman fortress.

TIP: The Hanging Church is free to enter. It’s open every day from 9am-5pm. There is no strict dress code, but it’s wise to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.

hanging church cairo - egypt travel blog

Catch a Glimpse of Ben Ezra Synagogue

Behind the Hanging Church, you’ll find the Ben Ezra Synagogue, an architectural gem and one of the last remaining testaments to the once-vibrant Egyptian Jewish community.  According to local folklore, this was where baby Moses was found.

For dinner, kick back after a busy day of sightseeing at Zooba. This modern Cairo-based chain is a great spot to try Egyptian street food bites in colorful spaces. It’s so popular among locals that it’s opened up branches in US and Saudi Arabia. 

ben ezra synagogue -egypt things to do


Cairo Itinerary Day 3: Get to Know Islamic Cairo

Get Lost in Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar

Start your day at Cairo’s largest and most vibrant souk, Khan Al-Khalili. You’ll find everything from frankincense to lamps and jewelry shops. Originally built as a mausoleum for the Fatimid caliphs, the complex features Ottoman architectural style.

One place you shouldn’t miss is the hundred-year-old café Fishawi, best known for its Egyptian-style coffee and ambience. The shop has served international celebrities in the likes of Egyptian Nobel Laureate author Naguib Mahfouz and Will Smith.  

khan al khalili - cairo's biggest market cairo tips - khan al khalili

Meander along Muizz Street

A short walk north of Khan Al Khalili is the bustling Muizz Street, dubbed the “world’s largest open-air museum of Islamic monuments”. The street is flanked by some of Egypt’s oldest and grandest structures, as well as a series of antique shops. 

A stroll reveals architecture from dynasties that have ruled the city in different eras—from the Fatimid dynasty in A.D. 970 to the more recent Pasha rule. Home to the Qalawun Complex, it also houses a spectacular mausoleum and impressive Mamluk architecture, including a minaret within a dome.

muizz street cairo - top sights in egypt

3 weeks in egypt - muizz street

Enjoy a Stroll in Al Azhar Park

Catch a short Uber ride to Al-Azhar Park, Cairo’s greenest space. The gated park was originally a landfill, and was transformed into an urban attraction in 2005. Entrance is 25 EGP ($1.50) for adults.

Sprawling over 74 acres of central city land, it is a veritable oasis among the urban hustle of Cairo. After a walk, have lunch at the Citadel View Restaurant, and watch kids splashing in the fountains and locals enjoying a picnic on the green lawns. The traditional Egyptian fare here is fantastic and outdoor terrace is glorious.

al azhar park - egypt itinerary 10 days

citadel view restaurant - where to eat in cairo cairo restaurant - citadel view restaurant

Enter the Cairo Citadel

A short walk from the park is the Cairo Citadel. The medieval fortification was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years from the 13th to the 19th centuries. 

Its location on a promontory of the Mokattam hills commands a strategic position overlooking the city and dominating its skyline. In 1976, it was proclaimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Entrance is 180 EGP ($11) and includes entry to the mosques and museums inside.

cairo citadel - egypt travel blog

Visit the Impressive Mosque of Muhammed Ali

The biggest attraction within the 12th century Citadel walls is the Mosque of Muhammed Ali. Situated on the summit of the citadel, this Ottoman mosque was the largest to be built in the 19th century. 

With its animated silhouette and twin minarets, this is the most visible mosque in Cairo. The best time to visit is right before sunset as you can see how the city transforms from this elevated view.

mosque of muhammed ali - trip to egypt cairo mosque - things to do in cairo


Egypt Itinerary Day 4: Fly to Aswan

Next day, catch a morning flight to Aswan in southern Egypt. The flight on Egypt Air usually takes 1.5 hours and costs around $100 each way. If you prefer slow travel, catch the night train from Cairo and watch the backcountry of Egypt through whisk by (at the same price as the flight).

Coming from Cairo, you’ll welcome the slower pace and calmer vibes. Located across the border from Sudan, low-key Aswan offers the chance to catch your breath after the nerve-fraying, car-horn-tooting bedlam of Cairo. For more details, check out my list of things to do in Aswan.

Stroll Along the Corniche

One of Aswan’s great joys is simply strolling the east bank’s Corniche, watching traditional feluccas weave their way through the islands. Aswan’s real charm has always been its ambience rather than its sights. After checking into your hotel, spend some time aimlessly ambling along this Nile-side promenade.

aswan corniche - egypt travel itinerary

Hop on a Felucca

If you’re only going to board a felucca on the Nile once, it better be in Aswan. There’s so much to see in this part of the Nile that you can easily weave many sightseeing spots into a half-day felucca ride. (Continue reading for what to see on a felucca journey.) A 1-hour ride costs around 80 EGP ($5), while a full-day felucca journey will set you back around 500 EGP ($30). 

take a felucca on the nile - egypt top things to do

Visit Elephantine Island

One of the most popular spots to visit on a felucca ride is the Elephantine Island (Gharb Aswan) on the west bank. You can also take a public ferry, which leaves next to the KFC on the Aswan quay and costs just 5 EGP.

The island is a great spot to experience traditional Nubian village life. Elephantine Island’s two neighboring villages of Siou and Koti are a maze of wriggling lanes lined with squat mudbrick houses. The Nubians  traditionally live in houses painted in bright, vivid colors, which are an interesting sight.

While on Elephantine Island, don’t miss Animalia, a little museum brimming with Nubian artifacts and home to a lovely terrace that makes for a great place for a tea pit stop after exploring.

elephantine island aswan - egypt itinerary for first-time visitors

Explore Aswan Botanical Gardens

Next to Elephantine Island is Kitchener’s Island, home to Aswan Botanical Garden. The island was given to Lord Horatio Kitchener in the 1890s when he was commander of the Egyptian army.

A major plant lover, Kitchener turned the entire island into the stunning Aswan Botanical Gardens, importing plants from the Far East, India and parts of Africa. Now covering 6.8 hectares, the gardens are filled with birds as well as hundreds of species of flora.

aswan botanical garden - 10 days in egypt

Take a Camel to the Monastery of St Simeon

If you continue sailing along the Nile River, you’ll get to the 7th-century Monastery of St Simeon on the west bank. Disembark at the river bank and saddle up on a camel to see the monastery up close. 

Surrounded by sturdy fortress walls, monastery was first dedicated to the local saint Anba Hedra. It was rebuilt in the 10th century and dedicated to St Simeon. From here the monks travelled into Nubia, in the hope of converting the Nubians to Christianity.

monastery of st simeon - aswan attractions

Visit the Tombs of the Nobles

Few people visit this ancient site, but if you like going off the beaten path, you’ll enjoy the Tombs of the Nobles, perched on the top of the sand dunes overlooking the Nile. The views of the entire Nile valley from here are spectacular.

These are mainly tombs of Egyptian princes dating back to the Old Kingdom. In the tombs, you’ll find colorful paintings and hieroglyphics. Excavations are also still being made by archaeologists these days, so many of the tombs are closed due to maintenance work. The most prominent tomb is Qubbet el-Hawa, also known as ‘the wind dome’. 

tombs of the nobles - best things to do in aswan

Where to Stay in Aswan

Downtown Aswan stands along the east bank of the Nile, and you can easily find a budget hotel with views of the Nile for under $40/night. Many attractions and restaurants are within walking distance from there.

Budget: Kato Dool Nubian Resort

Located on one of the islands in the Nile, this colorful and quirky Nubian lodge is full of character and great for young, budget travelers. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Citymax Hotel Aswan

I stayed at this mid range hotel, that has modern and clean rooms overlooking the Nile. Great location within walking distance from the center. Check rates here.

Luxury: Sofitel Legend Old Cataract 

The most luxurious hotel in Aswan is an iconic landmark worth splurging on (pictured). In fact, even if you don’t stay here, you should visit at least for afternoon tea. This hotel breathes history like no other in Egypt. Check rates here.

view from sofitel old cataract hotel - aswan travel blog view from sofitel old cataract hotel - aswan travel blog


Egypt Itinerary Day 5: Visit Philae Temple and Museums

Next day, take an Uber and boat to the spectacular Philae Temple. This is my favorite site in Aswan and I cannot recommend it enough. Philae Temple is the single best-preserved temple in all of Egypt, comparable with Karnak Temple in Luxor.

Located on an island, Philae seemingly floats on the water of the Nile. It’s only accessible by boat and you’ll need to haggle for the price but don’t pay more than 50 EGP for the boat trip. Alternatively, book a tour of Philae and combine it with a visit of a Nubian village.

philae temple - egypt itinerary aswan

philae temple - things to do in aswan philae temple - things to do in aswan 

Have a Drink at Solaih Nubian Restaurant

Right across the water from Philae Temple, Solaih Nubian Restaurant is located on Bigeh Island, with awe-inspiring views of the the temple. Just get your motorboat driver to stop here for a short while before returning to shore and order a refreshing iced mint tea while you take in the view. It’s a gorgeous spot for sunset, if you don’t mind getting back in the dark.

Solaih is actually a part of Eco Nubia, a cool ecolodge with traditional mud houses on its very own island. Rooms are simple but the decor is rustic, yet stylish. By night, sit around the fire, enjoy some Nubian fare and watch the light and sound show at Philae Temple.

solaih nubian restaurant - aswan restaurants

Visit the Nubia Museum

Although the river will always be Aswan’s biggest draw, the east bank also has a cluster of sights. On your way back to town from Philae Temple, stop at the Nubia Museum to learn more about the Nubian culture unique to Aswan.

The Nubians are indigenous people of Southern Egypt and they have unique traditions that are distinctive to that of Egyptians. This museum gives an interesting peek into the Nubian culture by presenting the history of Nubia from prehistory to the present day. It’s also home to more than 3000 objects from archaeological sites that were threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

nubia museum aswan - top sights in aswan

See the Unfinished Obelisk

Near the Nubian Museum, you’ll find the Unfinished Obelisk. The obelisk would have measured more than 40m high and weighed an estimated 1200 tonnes if completed, but the stonecutters discovered cracks in the granite and had to abandon the project. It still sits in situ, half chiseled out of the bedrock. 

unfinished obelisk aswan - aswan sights


 Egypt Itinerary Day 6: Abu Simbel Day Trip

Rise very early for a day trip to the magnificent Abu Simbel Temple — one of the most amazing sights of Egypt.  Aswan is the closest city to the famous UNESCO World Heritage site, but it’s still a 3-hour drive away.

Overlooking Lake Nasser, Abu Simbel is among the most famous and spectacular monuments in Egypt. But what makes it so interesting is its backstory: the complex was moved by the UNESCO in 1968 in its entirety to its present location, to save it from inundation after the building of the Aswan high dam.

abu simbel - day trip from aswan egypt itinerary abu simbel - day trip from aswan

How to Get to Abu Simbel:

Abu Simbel is 300km away from Aswan. The easiest way to get there is by plane. There are daily flights from Aswan to Abu Simbel. They take only 45 minutes and leave around 10am and return at 2pm and cost $250 round trip.

Alternatively, there are many tour operators that run daily trips there, leaving at 4.30am and returning by 2pm. I booked this day tour to Abu Simbel and found it cheap and efficient. The drive there takes 3.5 hours each way, and you’ll only get 1.5 hours at the site (though I found it sufficient).

abu simbel day trip from aswan - egypt trip


Egypt Itinerary Day 7: Visit Luxor’s Temples

It’s time to leave Aswan for the crown jewel of Egypt. Luxor is often called the world’s greatest open-air museum, but that comes nowhere near describing this extraordinary place. As the capital of the New Kingdom in Ancient Egypt, Luxor has an overwhelming  concentration of relics. For full details, check out my Luxor itinerary. 

To get to Luxor, I took a 3-hour train from Aswan to Luxor, which cost 55 EGP or US$3.50 in second class. The journey was relatively fast and pain-free. Check train schedule and fare here.

Explore Karnak Temple

Make your first stop the Karnak Temple, just a short taxi ride from the center of East Bank. At its peak, it was the largest and most important religious complex in ancient Egypt. Entrance is 200 EGP ($12). Plan to spend around 2-3 hours here.

Having developed over more than 1,000 years, Karnak Temple is a massive temple complex to which dozens of pharaohs added their own constructions. My favorite part of Karnak Temple is the Great Hypostyle Hall, a wide walkway featuring 134 columns sporting intricate carvings.

karnak temple - visit egypt

karnak temple - 2 weeks in egypt

Wander around Luxor Souk

Head back to the center of East Bank, where you’ll find the entrance to the Luxor Market (marked with a prominent wooden gate). Take a stroll in the shade and browse through the souvenirs, spices and  jewelry. This souk is definitely not as overwhelming as Khan Al Khalili in Cairo.

luxor travel blog - luxor market

luxor travel blog - luxor souk 3 days in luxor - luxor souk

Lunch with a View

For lunch, head to the nearby Aboudi Coffee Break just in front of Luxor Temple for the best view. Service is great, it’s great for lounging, and they’re happy for you to stay as long as you want. Its international menu has everything from sandwiches to pasta and mocktails.

luxor travel blog - view from abou break

Visit Luxor Temple By Night

Luxor temple is one of the very few temples in Egypt that closes late at night. Plan to visit at 5pm — this way you’ll get to see the complex both at sunset and by night. There’s something special about seeing the ancient sculptures illuminated with spotlights at night.

The temple complex is larger than it looks from the outside. The entrance alone is over 200 feet (61 meters) wide. The Avenue of the Sphinxes leads to the various chambers, chapels and courts.

egypt travel guide - luxor temple at night

 luxor travel blog - luxor temple at night luxor travel blog - luxor temple at night

Dinner at Al Sahaby Lane 

Across the road, you’ll find Al Sahaby Lane — a renown rooftop restaurant that I loved on our first trip to Egypt 13 years ago. The place has become a bit shabby, but the Egyptian food is authentic and the evening atmosphere is fantastic. Try their tagine, falafel, or vegetarian moussaka. 

  luxor looftop restaurant - best places to eat in luxor luxor looftop restaurant - best places to eat in luxor

Where to Stay in Luxor

Most restaurants, shops and museums in Luxor are located on the East bank, which is where I recommend staying. Hotels in Luxor are incredibly cheap, with many four-star hotels offering rooms for under $50/night.

Budget: Nefertiti Hotel Luxor

Overlooking the ancient Luxor Temple, this budget hotel is where the popular Al Sahaby Lane rooftop restaurant is located. It’s tucked in the Luxor souk and has a central location. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Sonesta Saint George

Probably my favorite stay in Egypt, the Sonesta Saint George (pictured) is a classic four-star hotel along the Nile River on the East Bank. The pool is excellent and restaurants have great food. Check rates here.

Luxury: Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor

A stunning example of Victorian architecture, this prestigious hotel is a short walk from Luxor Temple and is definitely an iconic landmark of Luxor. Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor has a history of hosting royalty and celebrities throughout the years. Check rates here.

Search for Hotels in Luxor

sonesta saint george - where to stay in egypt


Egypt Itinerary Day 8: Explore the West Bank 

Go on a Hot Air Balloon 

Rise early for the highlight of your Egypt trip: a hot air balloon ride over Luxor. If you’ve never been on a balloon before, this is one of the best places in the world to do it. The 1-hour ride lets you feast on views of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the Nile River, and the surprisingly lush green fields of the West Bank.

I booked my hot air balloon ride here and highly recommend it. It was much cheaper than other hot air balloon rides I’ve taken ($70 compared to $150 in Cappadocia), and the pilot was great and communicative.

egypt two weeks - hot air ballooning luxor tour - hot air ballooning

egypt tour - hot air ballooning

luxor tour - hot air ballooning

Visit the Valley of the Kings

From there, it’s just a short hop to the Valleys of Kings and Queens in the West Bank. This is a sprawling area and a guided tour would be the best way to explore the area. I booked this half-day West Bank tour and really enjoyed my time with my female guide, who was fun, engaging and knowledgable. 

The Valley of the Kings was the burial place of the most famous Egyptian pharaohs, including King Tutankhamen. There are over 69 royal tombs here (archaeologists are discovering new ones each year) — many of which are lavishly decorated with painted frescoes and carvings.

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inside valley of the kings tomb - luxor sightseeing inside valley of the kings tomb - luxor attractions

Tips on Visiting the Valley of the Kings

Even though there are 69 tombs in the Valley of the Kings, only a number of them are open to the public. The entry ticket gains access to three tombs — you’ll need extra tickets to see some of the best tombs.

In recent years, the tombs have suffered greatly from mass tourism. The Department of Antiquities has installed dehumidifiers glass screens in the worst-affected tombs. Sadly that doesn’t seem to stop offenders —I still saw many people touching frescoes with their bare hands. 

Best Tombs to Visit:

  • Ramses VI — My favorite tomb (pictured), one of the biggest and most elaborately decorated. Giant burial chamber with astronomical ceiling. Well worth the extra ticket!
  • Ramses IV —Long hallway with detailed, colorful paintings and hieroglyphics (included in main ticket).
  • Merenptah — One of the deepest chambers with a long walkway and large burial chamber (included in main ticket).
  • Tutakhamen — One of the smallest and least decorated tombs, but you can see the mummified body of Tutankhamen.

inside valley of the kings tomb - what to do in luxor in 3 days inside valley of the kings tomb - what to do in luxor in 3 days

Wander around the Temple of Hatshepsut

From the Valley of the Kings, it’s just a short drive to the spectacular Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. This large complex was built to honor the Egyptian Queen who ruled as king. 

Hatshepsut was one of ancient Egypt’s first female pharaohs. After the death of her husband, she she adopted the title of pharaoh and ruled for more than two decades. The temple itself has been rebuilt by Polish archaeologists and doesn’t feel as original as other sites in Luxor, but the grand entrance make it worth a visit.

hatshepsut temple - luxor itinerary 3 days

See the Colossi of Memnon

As you leave the West Bank, you’ll pass by the Colossi of Memnon, two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Both statues are quite damaged, having been flooded by the Nile every year.

The original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep’s memorial temple. With the exception of the Colossi, however, very little remains today of Amenhotep’s temple.

colossi of menon - luxor egypt


Egypt Itinerary Day 9: Explore the Museums

Visit the Luxor Museum

On your last day in Luxor, take it easy and stroll along the Nile Corniche to visit some of Luxor’s museums. The Luxor Museum may not be as impressive as the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but it’s definitely more organized with clear labels.

Among the items on display are grave goods from the tomb of King Tutankhamun and the royal mummies of two pharaohs –Ahmose I and Ramesses I.

luxor museum - things to do in egypt

See the Mummification Museum

Continue along the Nile Corniche and you’ll find the Mummification Museum. It’s a small but interesting museum about the mummification process. You’ll see mummies of birds and crocodiles that were buried together with pharaoahs.

mummification museum - luxor best places to visit

Lunch at Sofra Restaurant

Leave the Corniche behind and walk towards the train station. It’s time for lunch at Sofra Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants in town. Their classic Egyptian fare makes you feel like you’re dining in a local’s home.

Tuck into a variety of mezze platters – babaganoush, hummus, and tahini-based dipping sauces – then feast on hearty main courses, like slow-cooked lamb shanks or even grilled pigeons for the adventurous foodies.

Relax by the Nile

For the rest of the day, relax by the pool at your hotel (you might need a refreshing dip in that heat!) or take a felucca ride on the Nile River. Luxor is an incredibly stunning place, especially at sunset. Take time to kick back, especially after an intense few days in Luxor visiting temples and archaeological sites.

sunset on the nile in luxor - things to do in egypt


Egypt Itinerary Day 10: Take the Bus to Hurghada

By now, you might be “templed out” and exhausted from all the early mornings and history lessons. It’s time to kick back and enjoy the beautiful Red Sea coast in Egypt. 

Hop on a Go Bus, which is a popular bus company in Egypt that offers efficient transport to many parts of the country. I found the bus comfortable and punctual. The bus journey from Luxor to Hurghada took 4 hours and cost 145 EGP ($9).

Relax by the Red Sea

There’s no shortage of amazingly affordable beach resorts in Hurghada — you can find luxury hotels for under $50/night. Many of them are all-inclusives that cater to Russian and Ukrainian tourists who rarely venture out of the resort.

Spend your afternoon relaxing by the beach or pool. You’ll find it a welcoming respite especially since Hurghada is a lot calmer and relaxing (less hassling).

red sea egypt - things to do in egypt

Where to Stay in Hurghada

Downtown Hurghada is centered around Sheraton Avenue and the Hurghada Marina. Most high-end hotels are located in the hotel zone which spreads all along the coast, all the way to Makadi Bay.

Budget: Rivoli Suites

Not too far from downtown Hurghada, Rivoli Suites is a new and affordable hotel with spacious suites. Prices are incredible and location is great. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Sunrise Crystal Bay Resort

I stayed at this all-inclusive resort as the price was really good for a 4-star hotel. My room was very comfortable, with a view of the pool and beach. But it’s a 25-minute drive from downtown Hurghada (though an Uber ride costs only $4 each way). Check rates here.

Luxury: Hilton Hurghada Plaza Hotel

Located close to downtown Hurghada, this 5-star beach hotel offers luxurious, recently renovated rooms and plenty of facilities. It’s definitely one of the best hotels in Egypt with an excellent location. Check rates here.

hilton hurghada - best egyptian beaches


 Egypt Itinerary Day 11: Day Trip to Giftun Island

Wake up early for a day trip to the Giftun Islands (Jazā’ir Jiftūn)! A national park 11km from Hurghada, Giftun Island is the only island authorized to welcome tourists. 

Unfortunately it’s not easy to get there on your own. I booked this snorkeling day trip for just €18 and was really impressed by the standard of service. The boat was a luxurious yacht, the guide was responsible and the buffet lunch was great. 

You’ll get to snorkel twice off one of the islets in Giftun. The visibility in the Red Sea is one of the best in the world. I was seriously blown away by the marine life here. The island itself is very touristy but it’s definitely home to the beach best in Egypt.

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 best beach in egypt beaches in egypt - giftun island


 Egypt Itinerary Day 12: Wander around Downtown Hurghada 

On your last day in Hurghada, I recommend heading out to downtown Hurghada to explore the city. 60 years ago, this was a simple fisherman village where Bedouins lived in tents along the coast and sustain themselves by fishing. The introduction of tourism has completed transformed Hurghada into a popular beach destination.

Explore the Hurghada Souk

Start your walk along Sheraton Avenue, the main artillery of the city that runs parallel to the sea. The road is lined with one shop after another and endless restaurants and cafes. Make a stop at the souk (bazaar) which is located perpendicular to Sheraton Avenue — it’s marked by a brown gate; you won’t miss it.

hurghada market - egypt itinerary

Visit the Mosque

From there, keep walking until you see the Al Mina Mosque, the landmark of the city. As the biggest mosque in town, Al Mina stands regally by the sea with a series of intricately-carved domes and turrets dominating the skyline. It’s actually open to the public so you can walk in and explore if there are no prayer sessions taking place.

al mina mosque egypt

Stroll along the Hurghada Marina at Night

In the evening, walk over to the modern Hurghada Marina. Located next to the mosque, the swanky marina clearly caters to tourists only with plush restaurants, shisha bars and cafes overlooking the sea. It gets lively as night falls.

hurghada marina egypt


 Egypt Itinerary Day 13: Fly Back to Cairo

It’s almost time to head home. Hurghada is about 500km from Cairo and the bus takes around 7 hours. I recommend flying to Cairo as domestic flights on EgyptAir are cheap and only takes 1 hour. My flight from Hurghada to Cairo only cost US$60.

There’s a handful of airport hotels in Cairo in case you have an extra night here. I stayed at the Novotel Cairo Airport Hotel, which was reasonably priced (around US$60) and just a 5-minute drive from the airport. The hotel also provides a free airport shuttle that leaves every 30 minutes.


 How to Dress in Egypt

Egypt is a Muslim country, and it’s best to dress conservatively when traveling in Egypt. In Cairo, where many western women tour and live, you can easily get away with a dress. I wore dresses a few times but always made sure to have a shawl or jacket on me.

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Further Reading on Egypt

I hope this 2-week Egypt itinerary has helped you plan your journey.  Feel free to print out this Egypt itinerary or bookmark this and refer it to it during your trip. If you’re interested in reading more on Egypt, check out these articles I’ve written on the country:

Let me know if you have any questions below. I’d be more than happy to help!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. I’ll get a small commission when you click on those links, at NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. 

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