Despite the political upheavals of the last 10 years, Egypt remains a much sought-after tourist destination, a land rich in history and charm. On the one hand you can visit the wonderful archaeological sites of the country, to discover the ancient beauty of the pyramids, on the other hand you can relax in the famous seaside resorts, or opt for a cruise on the Nile, to live a unique experience in one of the most beautiful regions of the planet. Here are the main places to see on a trip to Egypt, safety tips and when to leave.
When to Visit Egypt?
Egypt, the land of the pharaohs whose history has fascinated and continues to fascinate students and adults around the world. Among the first advanced civilizations in history, the Egyptians and their world will continue to fascinate you for the wealth of finds and archaeological sites.
Also known for the wonderful coral reef of its Red Sea, a destination very attractive for its proximity and the often economic cost.
You can visit Egypt throughout the year. There is little rainfall in the country, the climate is hot and dry during the winter and almost desert in the summer.
Depending on the area you want to visit, the best times to travel are slightly different. In the northern coastal area, for example in Alexandria, winters are a bit ‘humid and sometimes rainy, but the temperatures remain throughout the year completely acceptable, while from Cairo to Luxor winters are mild with hot summers and dry and temperatures that reach even 35-40 °. But it is in the area from Luxor to the border with Sudan that we find the desert climate that puts a strain on visitors, with summer temperatures between June and August that can go well beyond 40 °, reaching even 50 °. It is useful to pay attention to the strong temperature ranges between day and night, especially in desert areas.
For those who love the sea, especially on the Red Sea coast frequented all year round, to admire the wonders of the coral reefs, the best period is from March to November when the water has a pleasant temperature that facilitates swimming and snorkeling. During the winter, in fact, the temperature in immersion can drop a few degrees.
Egypt can be divided into three different climate zones: a Mediterranean zone in the north, a desert zone in the centre-south and finally the desert climate but milder than the Red Sea. These are their characteristics, season by season.
Spring (March – May)
In the north, spring has pleasant temperatures, with minimums around 15°C and maximums from 20°C in March to 27°C in June. In the inland areas, on the other hand, there is a strong temperature range, the nights are cool while the maximums can already reach 35-40°C. Spring also has pleasant maximums on the Red Sea, and in fact April is one of the best times to visit it.
Summer (June – August)
Although for some local tour operators it is considered a high season, summer is one of the times when fares in Egypt fall because of the excessive heat. In fact, there are peaks around 40°C for areas such as Sharm el Sheikh, and even higher for the center-south (as Luxor). It is on the Mediterranean coast instead of just in summer you have the best climate (23- 30 ° C), and is in effect high season.
Autumn (September – November)
To visit the whole of Egypt is one of the most recommended periods. There are in fact warm but not excessive temperatures in the archaeological sites of Luxor, a still warm climate in the north (especially in September – October) and a very pleasant sea in Sharm, which between October and November sees its best period.
Winter (December – February)
The winter months can be considered high season. Although the night tends to be a bit cool, especially in desert areas that suffer from a wide temperature range, the minimums still remain around 10 ° C while the maximums are more or less everywhere at mid-season values, with temperatures of 23-24 ° C definitely pleasant if you want to spend the whole day on an archaeological site. As far as rainfall is concerned, only in these months do we witness sporadic perturbative phenomena, which however concern more than anything else the north.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel to Egypt?
How much does a small holiday in egypt cost?
Before answering the question, how much does the rest in Egypt cost, define some indicators. First of all let’s say that the trip will leave couple, in love or not is another question. Let’s assume that the couple refers to middle-class people. If you enter below described settings, then almost 100% your holiday will be a place either in Sharm el Sheikh, or in Hurghada.
Probably the couple will stop on holiday in Sharm el Sheikh. The cost of the holiday is not too different from the cost of Hurghada. However, it is believed that in Sharm el Sheikh about to more solid the public. Also here there is an entertainment center of Naama Bay and near the shore are suitable coral reefs.
Also you will be able to visit a couple of excursions. Many, however, believe that if I have to go to Egypt, you need to be sure to visit Luxor. Right here is the famous temple of Amon-Ra. Obviously you can visit and Luxor, being in Sharm el Sheikh, but you have to get there by plane. If the plane is not your option, you can visit other famous landmarks in Egypt.
You can call the approximate amount of how much it is worth to go to Egypt. If it is a couple, the cost of a week’s stay does not exceed $800-$1000. In this amount will enter insurance, hotel accommodation, flights and services according to the principle of all inclusive. However, there are still and pocket. Here it is difficult to determine 100%. Calculate all expenses, since the couple will not spend too much and will be sober to look at the world.
If you intend to travel by bus, the trip will cost you 1.5 pounds, the taxi costs 15 pounds. Bargaining is appropriate, and certainly voice, the better. In Egypt they love to bargain, but they respect the firmness of character. If you are not too active, in a day of spending at the movement do not exceed 30 dollars.
Cost of the service
After you land at the airport, porters will be the first humans, requiring a payment for service. Supplement for a bag of one kilo. It is important to show the hardness, otherwise, the doorman raises the price a couple of times. In the hotel the doorman asks (tacitly) up to three pounds (1 pound Egyptian – 0.16 dollars). He asks so much and the other staff. For a stay of seven days in Egypt is at the service will have to spend about 15 dollars.
What To Do in Egypt?
What to see in Egypt: the ancient city of Alexandria
One of the most representative cities of Egypt is Alexandria, a place where modernity and ancient history coexist. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the north of the African country, this maritime city was founded in the third century BC by Alexander the Great, remaining for a long time to come one of the most important commercial ports in the basin. The catacombs of Kom el-Shouqafa, dating back to the second century AD, the Greek-Roman Museum, which houses a unique collection of Greek statues and mummies, and the National Museum are all worth a visit.
Of great value is the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, where some volumes of great historical importance are kept, the beautiful Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi and the extraordinary Cathedral of San Marco, dedicated to the Coptic cult. Also worth to be added to your things to do in Egypt list are the Opera House and the archaeological site of Abu-Qir, where the remains of the submerged cities of Canopus and Heracleion are exhibited. Not to mention the impressive Palace of Cleopatra, built according to legend by Emperor Mark Antony in honor of the famous Queen of Egypt.
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Among the most interesting districts of Alexandria there is the port area, with the promenade that connects the area of Ras el-Tin to that of Montazah, with the imposing 400-meter long bridge of Stanley Bridge, which stands on the famous Stanley Bay. Here you can find many restaurants, clubs and old Egyptian cafes, otherwise you can spend a day relaxing by the sea, resting on the beaches of Agamy and Maamoura, or in the nearby town of Borg el-Arab, which offers great hotels and beautiful beaches.
What to do in Egypt: Cairo, the capital
The flourishing capital of the country, Cairo, located at the mouth of the Nile River, is definitely a must for a trip to Egypt. Obviously the main attraction are the extraordinary pyramids, direct testimony of the history of the region and the civilization of Ancient Egypt, however there are many other places to see in Cairo. For example, you can visit the Egyptian Museum, with over 135 thousand works of inestimable value, found in archaeological sites in the area, or the flies of Muhammad Ali, one of the most important in the country.
One of the most mysterious places in Cairo is the Al-Azhar Mosque, built in oriental style and dedicated to the cult of Islamism, while it always amazes the grandeur of the Hassan Mosque, built in honor of the sultan of the same name. During your stay in the city you should discover the district of Khan el-Khalili, where there is a market and you can buy unique handicrafts, the famous Tahrir Square, while on the island of Gezira was built the Tower of Cairo, a clear example of modernity of this cosmopolitan city.
What to see in Egypt: Sharm el Sheik
Sharm el Sheik is one of the most popular tourist areas in Egypt, an ideal location to spend a relaxing holiday on the Red Sea. Located within the Sinai Peninsula, the area offers postcard beaches, clubs, excellent restaurants specializing in traditional Egyptian cuisine and many services for tourists. Among the most beautiful beaches of Sharm el Sheik are Naama Bay, where there is the commercial district and most of the nightclubs, always very crowded in all seasons of the year.
Of particular naturalistic interest is Nabq Bay, suitable for those who want to practice water sports and spend a holiday in Egypt in the name of fun. Otherwise, to stay more isolated there is the national park of Ras Muhammad, a protected area characterized by white sandy beaches and rich in fish, or the island of Tiran, both perfect for snorkeling. Sharm el Sheik has a number of historical and cultural sights to visit, including Heavenly Cathedral and the majestic Al-Mustafa Mosque.
Trip to Egypt: Discovering the Pyramids
Of course, the main attraction of a trip to Egypt are the pyramids, an iconic symbol of the glorious past of this North African country. Among the most valuable archaeological sites is the necropolis of Giza, where there is the magnificent pyramid of Cheops, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, a grand building consisting of more than 2 million huge blocks of rock. Equally impressive in Giza are the pyramids of Chefren, which houses the temples of Valle and Alto, Mycerinus and the Sphinx, a statue representing the power of the pharaohs.
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No less important is the pyramid of Djoser, dating back to about 4,600 years ago, located near the town of Menfi, not to mention the Red Pyramid, located at a distance from Giza and Saqqara, located in the architectural complex of Dashur, where there is also the pyramid of Snefru 105 meters high. Finally, it is also advisable to visit the pyramid of Meidum, built in honor of Pharaoh Snefru in the third millennium BC, a structure 144 meters wide and 42 meters high, discovered at the end of 1800.
What to do in Egypt: Berenice
For nature lovers, one of the most attractive destinations is Berenice, located on the east coast of Egypt and overlooking the Red Sea. It is one of the most popular resorts in recent years, with a growing tourism coming mainly from Europe, with thousands of visitors attracted by the unspoiled nature of the area, the beautiful waters of the Red Sea and the beauty of the surrounding landscape. See the beaches of Berenice and nearby Hamata, or join the excursions to Wadi el Gemal Park, Thebes temples in Luxor and the mangrove forests of Hurghada.
What to see in Egypt: Marsa Matruch
One of the most complete locations, to be included in a tour of Egypt, is Marsa Matruch, located between the cities of Alexandria and Tobruch, away from mass tourism. The real attraction of the place are the beautiful beaches of the coast, including those of Cleopatra Beach, Agiba and Ra-as Al Hakma, characterized by numerous caves and natural coves. Also worth a visit are the Roman Museum, the Shali Fortress in the Siwa oasis and the town of El Alamein, living evidence of the naval battles of past centuries.
Holidays in Egypt: Soma Bay, between sport and fun
About 30 minutes away from the town of Hurghada is Soma Bay, a charming place where the desert meets the Red Sea. This fantastic bay, which has a calm sea with crystal clear water, is a true paradise in the middle of the desert, an oasis of peace and tranquility increasingly appreciated by tourists. Soma Bay has excellent hotels and resorts, to spend a few days relaxing between the beaches and water sports, participating in activities such as snorkeling and diving in the countless natural caves in the area.
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Other destinations to visit in Egypt
Egypt is a large and complex country, in fact there are many places to visit, so it is advisable to choose carefully your travel itinerary in Egypt. Among the equally interesting destinations, in addition to those just mentioned, there are also Abu Simbel, an archaeological site of great value located in the south of the country near Lake Nasser, the Temple of Luxor wanted by the Emperor Tutankhamon and the temple complex of Karnak.
To discover the giants of Memnon, giant stone statues made of sandstone, the Sinai Peninsula, at the center of the sacred events of the Old Testament, Siwa for a safari in the desert and the Valley of Queens, an archaeological site where they were buried relatives of the pharaohs. Particularly suggestive are the island of Elefantina sul Nilo, near the ancient Syene and Aswan, a city about 1000 km from Cairo, where there are the Temple of Philae and the Mausoleum of Agha Khan.
What to eat in Egypt
Egyptian cuisine has many characteristics in common with Mediterranean cuisine, and in particular with Turkish, Greek, Lebanese and Palestinian cuisine, although it also has a great influence of Middle Eastern gastronomy, in particular the typical African cuisine such as couscous, kebab and falafel.
It is certainly a very varied cuisine, tasty, colorful, and at the same time recommended for health because it is low in fat.
It presents recipes from ancient origins and local raw materials, especially fruits and vegetables from the delta and the fertile Nile valley. In recent years, the production of wine, which has ancient origins in these areas, and then bread and cheese, is also returning in vogue.
National dish: Kushari and Ful Medames
Most Egyptians consider Ful Medames or kushari as the national dish.
Kushari is a dish of pasta and tomato sauce with rice, chickpeas, lentils, caramelized onions and garlic that brings together different traditions and cultures.
Ful medames is a puree of broad beans mixed with garlic, oil and lemon juice, very similar to hummus. It is usually eaten simply with bread but can be accompanied by boiled eggs, tomato sauce or butter.
The ancient Egyptians are known for the great use in the kitchen of garlic and onion, both crushed fresh and fried, used to prepare many dishes.
Kebab and Kofta
Other typical Egyptian dishes include the famous Kebab and Kofta, made with lamb, minced meat and skewers cooked on coal.
Alternatively there is the Shawerma is a popular meat or chicken sandwich, usually rolled into pita bread with Tahina sauce. Dukkah, on the other hand, is a dry broth of cut nuts, seeds and oriental spices.
Egyptians also use spicy rice in vegetables, green peppers, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes to make Mahshi, which is generally rolled into sheets of vines, Mahshi Warraq Enab, or into sheets of cabbage, Mahshi Koronb.
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As in Greece, appetizers are an important element of Egyptian culinary tradition. They are called meze exactly as in Greece and are served with bread before the main course.
Among the most popular are cumin-scented hummus, baba ghannoug, a sauce made from aubergines (grilled or baked), mixed with tahina, oil, garlic and other flavors, usually accompanied by pita.
Then there is the duqqa, a preparation with dried fruit, spices or seeds.
Excellent Egyptian specialties based on filo pastry, such as gollash where the filling includes cheese or minced meat, very similar to the Tunisian brik. And then the pickles (torshi) and salads, often enriched by the inevitable spices.
Spices are an important ingredient in the culture and cuisine of almost all Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt. Here they use a lot of cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, aniseed seeds, chilli, cloves, bay leaves and parsley, just to name a few.
Cheeses are also very common in Egypt. Think that the first evidence of dairy products in Egypt dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. In fact, some frescoes found on findings in Egyptian tombs tell us that thousands of years ago in these areas milk was drunk and butter and cheese were produced.
Today, cheeses are eaten at breakfast and are used in the recipes of many local sweets.
One of the most popular cheeses is domiati, made from cow’s or buffalo’s milk. In rural areas, on the other hand, mish is especially widespread, which is left to ferment in whey for several months. Then there is the baramily, which is a cheese aged in barrels, the halumi similar to the cheese of the same name in Cyprus, which should be tasted fresh or spicy and preserved in brine. Then there is the rumi, which is a salty cheese similar to pecorino romano.
Bread and Pizza
Egyptian bread, called Eish Masri or Eish Baladi, a word that also means “life”, accompanies most meals and is a key product in the diet of Egyptians.
A pita type of bread is usually used to accompany sauces or to wrap kebabs, falafels, etc.
Especially in rural areas is also widespread the eish merahrah, whose particularity is found in the dough which is mixed with fenugreek seeds flavoured with corn flour, sorghum and wheat. A product included in the Slow Food Ark of Taste list.
The Egyptians, however, are also very good at preparing pizza, whose dough is very similar to that of bread.
Usually in Egypt, after the appetizers, we go directly to the main dish, which is generally a single dish, accompanied or not by a series of side dishes. In Egyptian cuisine there is a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, based on legumes and vegetables. On the coast there is no shortage of fish specialties and there are meat dishes all over the country (in particular chicken, rabbit, duck, pigeon, lamb, beef and sheep).
Among the recipes of the main dishes the one not to be missed is the mulukhiya, a soup of jute leaves and other plants of the area, garlic, coriander and meat broth (or fish on the coast), accompanied by rice.
Then there is mahshi, or vegetables stuffed with spicy rice, onions and cubes of tomato, or mesa’a’ah is a piece of bread covered with grilled aubergines, onions and chilies, baked in the oven.
A trip to Egypt deserves even just for the sweets of this country. Egyptian sweets are all delicious.
Try halawa, a sesame paste and dried fruit reminiscent of our soft nougat, served mostly in the shape of balls. It is eaten at breakfast, after meals or used for other recipes such as sakalans with honey and cream.
Try the konafah or kunafa, from fried or otherwise cooked pasta strands until they become crispy similar to hair, mixed with butter and dried fruit. Pastry shops often have their own variations with dates, mangoes and other fruits.
Basbousa, on the other hand, is a dessert made from semolina, syrup and dried fruit. The latter ingredient is also the protagonist of the sweet couscous and atayef, a crepe served in the month of Ramadan.
Karkadè tea and Coffee
Tea and coffee are the national drinks in Egypt. They are both dark and have an intense flavour. Both tea and coffee are an important gesture of hospitality in Egypt. Another important drink is karkade. It is a hibiscus-based herbal tea, sweetened, served hot or cold even by street vendors.
Drinking tea in the desert is a ceremony in which the Tuaregs wish good luck to their guests or, alternatively, to the travelers they meet on their way. According to tradition, the tea ceremony serves to bring distant cultures closer, to relax after the labors of the desert and to make friends and alliances. Each tasting is dictated by three courses of tea: the first bitter, the second sweet-and-sour, the third sweet and savory. Together, these drinks represent the cycles of existence: death, life and love.
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Wine and Beer
Although the country has a Muslim majority and is therefore forbidden to drink alcohol, there are traditional alcoholic beverages. At the beginning we mentioned wine, an ancient tradition that came back to life recently. The most suitable area has always been that of the Nile delta, particularly near Alexandria in Egypt.
In reality, however, since ancient times, beer was and still is the most popular alcoholic beverage. Millennia ago it was prepared with barley flour and wheat. There was no hops and honey was useful to raise the alcohol content.
So-called breads of beer were prepared, partially cooked and then broken up in a container. Date juice and honey were added and fermented. After being filtered, the beer was often perfumed with different spices. Everyone drank beer in Ancient Egypt. Low alcohol spices were even given to children during weaning if mothers did not have enough milk.
Is it safe to visit Egypt?
Until a few years ago, tourism in Egypt had suffered a sharp decline, due to the most recent accidents and social protests. At the same time, it has clearly recovered in recent years, with bookings increasing by more than 65% in 2018, a sign that fear now seems to have definitively passed. Obviously it is advisable to check before leaving, checking the situation in your destination through the website of the Farnesina, which provides constant updates on safety for travelers.
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At the moment there is a moderate risk related to terrorist acts, so it is advisable to turn to professional tour operators, avoid border areas, not to travel alone and stay within the structures and tourist sites. In particular, it is important not to go, unless strictly necessary in the central and southern regions of the country, it is important to pay attention to the conditions of local transport, avoid places that are extremely crowded and not to use abusive services or not properly reported. As far as documents are concerned, a visa is not necessary, in fact it is enough to have a passport or identity card valid for expatriation, both for adults and for children under 18 years of age. On the Farnesina portal they recommend taking out travel insurance, due to the low standards of the public health service and the high costs of private health care facilities. There are no epidemics or special vaccinations required, but it is preferable to be covered against hepatitis A and B, tetanus and typhoid fever.