We all know what a bucket list is right? This figurative or possibly literal list is filled with items that are intended to complete by the end of a certain time period or lifetime. This list can include ideas that inspire learning a new task, daring to complete an adventurous assignment or traveling to new places. I, myself, don’t necessarily have a bucket list, but I do mentally keep a travel checklist.
I honestly want to travel the entire world like Jessica Nabongo, the first Black woman to travel to every country. Currently, my time and resources are limited, being a full time physician, so I prioritize which places I would like to visit sooner rather than later. Egypt has been at the top of my travel checklist for some time, so I was very excited at the opportunity to finally visit this ancient land. Once I was able to get the much needed time off for my African adventure, I booked my flight and got to planning.
Egypt encompasses so much rich history and culture, and I was determined to see as much as I could in the time allotted. I spent a little over a month researching where and what to see. My trip to Egypt was seven days full of adventure and ancient history. I was able to fly and travel by bus and train to 4 different cities in Egypt to see the most notable and distinguished sights in the world. I decided that for my trip I wanted to follow the flow of the Nile river since it served as the root of civilization and resources for Egypt. As I continued with my research I also learned that the further south one traveled down the Nile river the more Nubian the surrounding people.
I visited Egypt this past February and it was the perfect time to go. The heat was bearable and the tourist attractions where less crowded for the most part. I spent 2 days in Aswan, did a 1 day tour to Abu Simbel, spent 2 days in Luxor and ended my trip in Cairo. I had an amazing time being able to see so much on my solo trip. I thoroughly enjoyed my jammed packed Egyptian adventure, so I thought I would pass on my Egyptian information. Hopefully it will encourage you to visit Egypt as soon as you can and also not be afraid to see the world by yourself.
Check that off your bucket list. See my Egypt Travel Guide and itinerary below.
Day 1 Flight from Cairo to Aswan. 1.5 hour travel time. Flight cost was approximately $35/ one way.
Egypt Air and Nile Air are main airlines of Egypt.
Arabic is the official Language in Egypt.
Tea is the official drink of Egypt. I recommend drinking as much hibiscus tea as you can.
Drones are STRICTLY prohibited in Egypt so don’t even consider bringing it.
Your money goes a long way in Egypt, 1 Egyptian Pound, EGP= $0.0521
You do need a visa to visit Egypt. I recommend applying online before you visit. (CLICK HERE)
Aswan (Day 1 and 2)
I loved Aswan because it was less touristy than Luxor and Cairo. It is also more affordable than the bigger cities. The city is filled with Nubians as this is the area where ancient Egyptians still reside.
Where I stayed: Mango Tree House; This fabulous guest house is located on Elephantine Island. I actually had to take a ferry across the Nile river to get to the guest house, which was thrilling. The cost for the ferry was 5 Egyptian Pounds round trip. The guest house offers a wonderful breakfast in the morning. I highly recommend earplugs as sounds from the train station continue around the clock.
Things to do in Aswan:
- Nubian Museum
- Nubian Village
- Elephantine Island
- Tourist Marketplace
- Aswan Dam
- Philae Temple
- Aswan Botanical Garden
Places to eat: Bob Marley Restaurant- This place is literally overlooking the Nile River so the view alone is worth it. The food is also tasty and VERY reasonably priced. I ordered the fish tagine, which came with fresh bread, salad, vegetable tagine, potatoes and rice for 15 Egyptian Pounds EGP. (See food video below). The staff are super friendly as well. I stayed here almost all day eating and reading a book on the Nile and I was greeted with a smile all day long.
Naser Cafe- Located close to the train station. This place is great for people watching. I recommend ordering the falafel sandwich and hibiscus drink (20 EGP). Sit outside and snack on these delish vittles while watching Egyptians pass by.
Day 3, Day Trip to Abu Simbel
I booked my day trip to Abu Simbel through Trip Advisor. There are several operating tours to take you to the site. It takes about 3 hours (one way) to get to Abu Simbel from Aswan but it is definitely worth the trip. I would surely devote some time out on your trip to visit. (Book your tour here).
There are not many transportation options to get from Aswan to Luxor. After doing a bit of research I decided on taking the train. I would suggest the same if you are crunched for time and want to see more of Egypt.
Helpful information about Egypt train system. 1. If you don’t speak Arabic I recommend purchasing your tickets online. There is not much assistance once you arrive to the train station.
2. You may only purchase your Egypt train ticket up to 10 days in advance online. (Make sure you print out your proof of purchase as this will be needed and checked to get on the trains and at different train stops. (PURCHASE Train tickets here)
Day 3/4 Train from Aswan to Luxor. 3.5 hour travel time. Train cost was approximately $20/ one way for first class.
Luxor (Day 4 and 5)
Luxor, although small in area has thee most ancient Egyptian artifacts and temples than the other major cities in Egyptian. You can technically see everything worth seeing in one full day with the right tour guide. Make sure your guide is credentialed in Egyptology to assure you get as much information and history as you can during your tour. I booked my guide through Trip Advisor. My tour and my guide were amazing. I had a personal driver and guide escort me around Luxor. My guide, Mohammed was the absolute best. Not only was he super knowledgeable and shared so much history, he also was a great photographer as well. Mohammed bought me tons of Egyptian snacks and water throughout the day. He also made a special stop to make sure I had the opportunity to taste some Egyptian cakes and sweets once he found out I was a baker. The only downside to the tour is that is did not include ticket prices to all the cultural stops. In total I spent around 1000 EGP (cash only) to see all the tombs, temples and etc. (Book your tour here).
Where I stayed: I used my airline miles and stayed at the Hilton Luxor right on the Nile River. My taxi ride from the airport to the hotel cost me around 100 EGP and took about 25 minutes. I loved this location because my room balcony, although tiny, was overlooking the Nile River. I was able to see the West Bank of Luxor from my room and watch the hot air balloons take off in the morning. You could also see the tombs lit up overnight, which was beautiful. Breakfast was included as well.
Things to see in Luxor:
- Temple of Hatshepsut
- Valley of the Kings
- Karnak Temple
- Luxor Temple
- Tomb of King Tutankhamun
- Temple of Medinat Habu
- Tomb of Queen Nefertari
- Colossi Memnon
- Avenue of Sphinxes
Cairo/ Giza (Day 6 and 7)
Day 6 Flight from Luxor to Cairo. 45 minute travel time. Flight cost was approximately $30/ one way.
Cairo/ Giza was the last leg of my Egyptian journey and I must say I’m glad I planned it this way. The saying goes “save the best for last” and it some ways it definitely applies and in others it does not. Cairo/ Giza is of course the land of the pyramids, but it was also my least favorite city in Egypt. Cairo itself is over populated, dirty and overpriced in my opinion. It took about an hour to get from the airport to my hotel in Giza and cost me 600 EGP after some bargaining. The taxi ride from the airport and the traffic was a terrifying escapade. That says a lot for someone who currently lives in LA. What I did enjoy about this city the most was arriving at my sanctuary hotel and being able to view the Pyramids of Giza from my balcony. That experience was incredible in itself. Also there is so much history to see and soak up in between these two cities. If you get the right personal tour guide you can see everything in one full day. I booked my personalized tour through TripAdvisor or AirBnB as I usually do, and I highly recommend the same. (Book your tour here).
Where I stayed: I stayed at the incredible Marriott Mena House. This fabulous world renowned hotel is located literally across the street from the Pyramids of Giza. I stayed in room 226 I think, which had a fantastic view of the pyramids from my balcony. This resort also has other great amenities such as multiple pools, a spa and the fitness center was pretty decent as well with up to date and modern equipment. This resort also has multiple restaurants on site. I ended up eating at the Indian restaurant two nights in a row because the food was really that good! If you’re going to come to Cairo I don’t suggest you stay anywhere else. This place is the ONLY option!
Things to see in Cairo/ Giza:
- Pyramids of Giza
- Muhammed Ali Mosque
- Khan el-Khalili Bazaar
- National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
- Pyramid of Djoser/ Saqqara
Other places to visit in Egypt if you have more time to spend: Sharm el-Sheik, Siwa salt lakes.
Egyptian Food: Ancient Egypt was located on the original spice route, so there is a great deal of influence from surrounding nations. Egyptian cuisine relies heavy on the rich soil surrounding the Nile as well, so there is a heavy portion of vegetables and grains. If you enjoy Mediterranean cuisine with a mixture of African, Indian, French and Chinese then you’ll definitely find Egyptian cuisine quite enjoyable. Everything that I tried in Egypt honestly taste superb because everything is so fresh. Make sure to try all the Egyptian sweets too. The cakes and pastries were amazing!
What other information would like to know about my trip to Egypt? Let me know in the comments below.