Egypt

Egypt Travel Guide

Introduction

Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Egypt has topped the list of travelers for ages. One of its oldest kings was buried in one of the most resilient buildings ever constructed, and today, the Great Pyramid of Giza still stands tall in a modern world where structures often need to be replaced once every few generations.

It is this resiliency that has kept these people around for Millennia, and will likely ensure their survival despite the recent political turmoil which has embroiled Egypt recently. Despite travel warnings, savvy travelers who are capable of heeding advice from local authorities and who has their wits about them has little to fear from visiting one of
Earth’s most fascinating nations.

Currency: Egyptian Pounds
Languages: Arabic

What To Do

Start your trip to Egypt by ticking off its biggest attraction, Great Pyramid of Giza. A ceremonial tomb estimated to be more than 4,500 years old, it is the only Wonder of the Ancient World which remains standing to the present day, making it a bucket list destination for countless travelers from around the world.

Built to house the remains of Pharaoh Khufu (aka Cheops), his queen, family members, and nobles associated with his royal court, the grandeur of this monument was unsurpassed for over 3,800 years.

Standing over 455 feet over the surrounding desert, it was the tallest man-made object on Earth until the Lincoln Cathedral was built in England in the 14th century AD. Today, not only can you view this embodiment of endurance from the outside, you can also enter the complex via the aptly-named Robber’s Tunnel – if you don’t fear the Curse of the Pharaoh, that is!

Luxor is another outstanding destination if you are looking to explore scores of ancient Egyptian temples, tombs, and ruins. The largest collection of historical relics here can be found in the Valley of the Kings, which is where most of the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom (16th – 11th centuries BCE) were buried.

It is here where you’ll find the final resting place of King Tut (Tutankhamun), whose uncharacteristically small chamber was buried by what was believed to be a mass flooding event.

Covered by layers of silt and debris, knowledge of its location was lost, and buildings were later built over what was the entrance to the tomb. This protected his grave from looting, a fate that befell almost every other tomb and palace in Egypt over the ages. There are four other fascinating tombs that can be toured in this area as well, so block off an entire day if you wish to explore the Valley of the Kings at a leisurely pace.

Once you have had your fill of Luxor, head to the deep south of Egypt to check out the Abu Simbel Temple Complex. Moved to higher ground to avoid being submerged by the Aswan Dam project in 1968, these archeological treasures were created by Nubian Pharaoh Ramesses II to commemorate his kingdom’s victory in the Battle of Kadesh in the 13th century BCE.

The scale of the external statues commands attention on approach, and the interior is just as stunning, as it contains hieroglyphs and additional statues within that will make this attraction one of the sleeper hits of your trip through Egypt.

If the punishing heat of the desert interior of Egypt is wearing down your resolve, make the Mediterranean city of Alexandria your next stop. Serving as a vital port city for this country for many millennia, it was home to two ancient wonders, the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Library of Alexandria.

The first was a gigantic marine beacon that was one of the highest buildings in the world alongside the Great Pyramid of Giza until a series of earthquakes in the 14th century caused it to crumble into the Mediterranean.

The Library served as an ancient centre of learning, and it was where the world’s first Greek bible was transcribed from Hebrew and stored. Sacked and destroyed during the invasion of Egypt by Julius Caesar, its loss was a tragic blow for the advancement of human knowledge.

In the present day, the Citadel of Qaitbay is this city’s biggest intact cultural attraction. Built in the 15th century by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay, its imposing walls gave the rulers of this country a powerful first line of defence in the centuries that followed. Want to spend time lazing the day away in the bright sunshine for which Egypt is famous? Sharm El Sheikh is where you’ll want to go. Centrally located on its Red Sea coast, this place is also famous for having some of the clearest water on Earth.

This is excellent news for avid divers and snorkelers, who will be able to see corals, tropical fish, and other marine life with a clarity that will ruin virtually every other dive they do going forward into the future.

What to Eat

Want to sample a dish that considered to be the national dish of Egypt? Kushari is what you’ll want to seek out during your explorations of the local cuisine. A dish consisting of macaroni, rice, lentils, chickpeas, crispy fried onions, and spicy tomato sauce, it traces its origins to Italian and Indian immigrants.

Together with the local population, they managed to create a curious meal that has only been around since the 19th century but has attained widespread appeal across all socioeconomic groups in the present day.

Looking for a meal with deeper roots in Egypt’s past? Ful Medames fits that bill, as evidence of its preparation reaches back into the Neolithic era. Made from fava beans cooked in oil and seasoned with cumin, garlic, chili peppers, lemon juice, and various other flavouring agents, this simple meal has endured through the ages as a cheap source of energy for the workers of Egypt.

Those wanting an authentic dessert while in Egypt will want to have some Kanafeh. Equal parts sweet and savoury, this bite-sized treat is a pastry made with cheese, sugar, pistachio, and kaymak. Often dipped in honey syrup, the competing flavours will make for an awesome last snack of the day.