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The Perfect Egypt Itinerary – 10 Days of Exploring History

Egypt has been at the very top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It’s always been a goal of mine to visit all the world wonders, but Egypt has always held a special place in my heart for personal reasons. When I had the chance to spend 10 days in Egypt, I had to take it.

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember my grandmother telling me stories of growing up in Egypt, and how they would spend summers at the country club on the Nile. Looking through old black and white photographs of my dad growing up in Alexandria, it always sounded so luxurious. Immersing myself in the rich history of my ancestors, I had no idea how connected I would feel to this place. 

The Sphinx in front of the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

Fresh off the plane, I’m ready to dive into my full Egypt itinerary. The 10 days I spent in Egypt allowed me to connect to my past and see many of the top destinations in Egypt. This post will break down our journey through the country with Travel Talk Tours day by day and give you some hot tips on the best photo locations!

***This trip was sponsored; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. Purchasing through these links earns me a commission at no extra charge to you.

Map of Our 10 Day Egypt Itinerary

This map shows the various stops we made through our 10 day Egypt itinerary. You can save the map to your account to use for your own Egypt trip one day.

Day 1  – Welcome to Egypt

In preparing for this trip, I did a ton of research for my first real trip to the Middle East. I say “real trip” because I’ve visited Dubai twice before, but Dubai is very different from other middle eastern countries. It is much less conservative.

After a day of packing and worrying if I packed the right things, I was standing at the airport ready to board the red-eye from Montreal to Casablanca and then Casablanca to Cairo. About 15 hours later, we finally arrived to our hotel close to 7 p.m. We made it just in time to meet the rest of the group over a light dinner before calling it a night to get some rest for the jam-packed schedule for the next day.

Day 2 – Cairo

Our first day in Egypt was nothing short of epic! At 10:15 a.m., we hit the ground running! After a traditional breakfast of Foul Medames (beans) and falafel, we drove to Saqqara. This was the start of an amazing day spent exploring the pyramids.

Visiting Saqqara: The First Pyramid

Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. from May 1 – Ramadan; 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. from start of Ramadan – April 30
Cost: £25 EGP (about $1.55 USD)

A woman in front of the step pyramid at Saqqara.
@jessihoffy at Saqqara – The Step Pyramid

Built-in 2500 BC, Saqqara was the first pyramid ever built, also known as the step pyramid. This pyramid has a pretty unique story to its unique look. In Egyptian history, they built pyramids as a place to be reborn for the afterlife. Completion of the pyramid meant meant it was time to die and move into the next life.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser, the most well-known of the monuments at Saqqara, was built for the first king of the 3rd Dynasty. The pyramid was built quicker than expected so they kept adding levels until the king died, hence the steps. 

The pyramid was cool but definitely not the most epic you’ll see, I swear it only gets better!

A woman sitting in front of the step pyramid at Saqqara
Saqqara – The Step Pyramid

By 11:45 a.m., I saw my first hieroglyphics by stepping inside the Pyramid of Unas. If you’re someone who gets claustrophobic, this might not be for you. However, if you can handle it, it’s quite the experience seeing the inside of a pyramid.

You have to crawl through a 100 ft tunnel with a 4 ft ceiling. Once you reach the center of the pyramid, the ceiling opens up and you can stand. This is when you get your first glimpse at some of the oldest hieroglyphics. 

Whether you are claustrophobic or not, you won’t want to be in there for long as there is no air. It gets hot quicky! To exit, you’ll have to endure the mini leg burn workout to climb back out of the pyramid.

Note: Please be respectful when visiting. You can only take iPhone photos inside and you cannot touch the walls. In the photo below I am hovering my hand over them, but never touching).

A woman looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics inside a pyramid in Egypt at Saqqara.
Seeing my first hieroglyphics

Visit the Great Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx

Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., hours for inside of pyramid differ slightly
Cost: £100 EGP ($6.20) for complex; £360 EGP ($22) for inside of Great Pyramid; £100 EGP ($6.20) for inside of Khafre Pyramid or Mers Ankh Tomb

After we finished at Saqqara, we headed to the Great Pyramids. I had no idea that you can actually stand on the Great Pyramids of Giza. It is only the first few steps but still. While it isn’t the best photo opp, it’s definitely a must-do to say you’ve stood on something that was built over 3000 years ago.

I didn’t get any photos here but my beautiful friend did, see below!

A woman sitting on the Great Pyramid of Giza
@christinagalbato sitting on the Great Pyramid

Beware that the base of the pyramid stays crowded with tourists and people trying to haggle you. They will almost always tell you it’s a “gift” but trust me, no gift is free. It’s always best to avoid eye contact and politely decline (something I have a hard time doing because I’m so chatty). 

A little later than expected (around 2 p.m.), we finally made it to the Pyramid shoot location we all wanted to visit. Look for it on Google Maps as “Giza Panorama.” There is a great view of the pyramids from there.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for an epic shot of the pyramids, I’d recommend going a little earlier in the day (around 10 am) to get a more dramatic shadow on the pyramids. That’s what really gives it that 3D look and makes your photo pop! We, unfortunately, we went later in the day and the result is the Pyramids looking more 2 dimensional (see below). Nonetheless, still incredible!

A woman sitting by a camel in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt
Great Pyramids of Giza

Personally, if you’re really looking for that WOW factor photo I prefer this angle more (see below). This way you’ll be able to get all 4 pyramids in the frame. I love this photo of my friend Hayley!

A woman sticking her tongue out at a camel in front of the Great Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt.
@haylsa nailing it at the Great Pyramids of Giza

Our last stop of the day was the Sphinx around 4 p.m. We made it just in time for sunset. Note that the Sphinx closes at 5 p.m., and they are very strict about getting you out on time.

It is said that the Sphinx’s nose was damaged when Napoleon’s men fired a cannon at it. No one really knows what happened though. No matter what happened, it is still an impressive sight! It actually left me singing ‘A Whole New World’ and imagining seeing it from a magic carpet!

A woman walking away from the Sphinx in front of the Great Pyramid in Cairo, Egypt
Great Sphinx of Giza
A woman in front of the Great Sphinx and Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
Great Sphinx of Giza

After all the day’s excitement, we sat down for a very late lunch/ early dinner. Our guide Sam took us to this incredible local spot called Sphinx located in the Barcelo Cairo Pyramids Hotel.

We feasted on some of the best hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, fatouche salad and so much more. If you go, ask for the set menu and not the buffet. You won’t regret it, it was delicious!

Sidebar: We quickly discovered how much better Egyptian falafel is than back home and became hooked. We had falafel every day on this trip! Falafel as you know it is traditionally made with chickpeas but Egyptian falafel is made from fava beans offering a less dry and more flavourful ball!

A group sitting down for Egyptian food in Cairo, Egypt, at Sphinx
Traditional Egyptian Dinner at Sphinx

At the end of the second day, we decided to pay more and fly from Cairo to Luxor and avoid the 7-hour drive. We all agreed we wanted to get to Karnak Temple as soon as it opened, which meant an early wake up call for us.

Day 3 – Luxor, Karnak Temple, & Nubian Village

Karnak Temple for Sunrise

Hours: 6 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Cost: £50 EGP ($3)

Today was the day I was waiting for, Karnak Temple! This was the temple I was the most excited to shoot at on the trip. This temple blew my socks off, it was even more breathtaking in person than I imagined! Karnak is also the biggest temple in Egypt and the second biggest temple in the world. (Angkor Wat, Cambodia being the biggest.)

Karnak temple was also the place we had the hardest time shooting at because the workers all thought we were doing commercial shoots. Note if you’re planning to shoot here only take what you need. We had to pay them off to let us take photos.

A woman among the columns at Karnak Temple in Luxor at sunrise
Karnak Temple

With 10 creators and 10 cameras on the trip you can only imagine how long we took to shoot at each location. Between photos, video, IG stories, GIFs… Egyptians didn’t know what hit them!

This temple won’t disappoint you! We were the first ones in and got to enjoy the quiet and the early morning sunlight and birds chirping. It was perfect for photos, but we could see the crowds coming not far after us.

Can you believe this light flare was real!?

A woman walking through Karnak Temple in Luxor
@mvandersluis at Karnak Temple

Nubian Village Near Aswan

In the evening we did a sunset cruise to a small village. We had some snacks (more falafel and wine) on the boat as we cruised down the Nile.

In the village, a local opened up her home and welcomed us for an incredible dinner. She made all traditional food, including some of my faves my grandma makes! One of being Molohiya; a green spinach-like soup that tastes amazing. Everything was so good, it was nice to have a home-cooked meal.

After dinner, some of the village children gathered and sang for us as we all danced. It was really a special moment.

Day 4 – Aswan to Abu Simbel

After a few days of early wake-up calls, this was a rough morning, but it was totally worth it once there! We all piled into our bus and made the 3-hour drive from Aswan to Abu Simbel, just on the border of Sudan.

Abu Simbel Temples

Hours: 6 a.m. – 5 p.m. from October to April; 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. from May to September
Cost: £160 EGP ($10)

Abu Simbel actually has two temples. One was for Ramesses II. The other was for his royal wife, Queen Nefertari. On the way there our guide explained to us the history of the temples. Can you believe this temple was carved out of one single piece of stone?!!

The craziest piece of history he shared was that with the building of the dam in 1960 the temples were at risk of flooding. So in 1964, the temples were cut into 836 pieces and moved to higher ground! I couldn’t take my eyes this temple trying to imagine how they could move something so massive and put it back together so flawlessly. 

A group of women in Egypt in front of the Abu Simbel temple for Ramesses
The king with his queens!
Myself, @explorerssaurus_, @mvandersluis, @halysa outside of Ramesses temple

I loved this temple for its history. Each of the human figures on the outside of the temple represents Ramesses in a different stage of his life. The adolescent one crumbled only 15 years after the temple was completed thanks to an earthquake.

A woman posing in front of the temple at Abu Simbel in Egypt.
Temple of Ramesses II – Abu Simbel
A woman walking away from the Temple of Ramesses in Abu Simbel, Egypt.
Temple of Ramesses – Abu Simbel

You can go inside both of the temples and make sure to leave enough time for that. The interiors are covered in hieroglyphics with columns and statues. It is truly impressive what they could do!

A woman poses in front of the Temple of Queen Nefertari in Abu Simbel, Egypt
Temple of Queen Nefertari – Abu Simbel

Day 5 – Felucca Cruise on the Nile River & Nubian Village

The next morning we left our hotel in Aswan and took a short boat ride down the Nile to visit a colorful Nubian Village. You’ve most likely seen this place on Instagram before.

A woman with a local in a colorful Nubian Village in Egypt
Nubian Village
Women exploring the colorful Nubian Village in Aswan, Egypt
View of the local men taking a coffee break

We learned that the Nubian people make their homes out of clay as it stays cooler under the heat, and they paint their homes in bright colors to reflect their personality. It was one of the most beautiful things to see.

A woman with local children in the Nubian Village in Aswan, Egypt
Made friends with some of the local kids

We walked through the market area and met some of the local kids, they loved playing around with the puppy filter on Instagram! 🙂

In the village, we watched a local craftsman weave a scarf out of Egyptian cotton. I even got to take a turn working on the scarf! I wasn’t the best at it but his face lit up when I showed interest in learning from him.

A woman learning to weave a scarf in the Nubian Village in Aswan, Egypt
Trying my hand at weaving a scarf
A view of the market and Nile River with a Felucca boat
View of the boat from the spice market in the village
The local market in the Nubian Village in Aswan
Local shops in the village

That afternoon we boarded a traditional boat called a “Felucca”. Our guide told us this is one of the most popular things to do and people come specifically for this experience when in Egypt. How could we miss it?

We boarded the Felucca just before sunset. First impressions: SLUMBER PARTY! The boat is one massive mattress that can sleep up to 14 people. Typically people board the boat late afternoon and spend time jumping in the Nile while getting to know your bed mates!

You eat all meals on the boat, and at night the boat docks onshore. The best part was once we docked, the staff made a bonfire and played traditional music as we danced and drank wine around the fire.

Egyptian food for a meal on the Felucca
Lunch on the Felucca

Day 6 – Edfu Temple & Driving to Luxor

We woke up with sunrise on the Felucca. Full disclosure, it isn’t the most comfortable sleep but the experience really is one of a kind. After breakfast on board, we made our way to Edfu Temple, also known as the Temple of Horus.

Temple of Horus

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: £100 EGP ($6)

The temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus and was built over a 180-year period. Horus is the son of the gods Isis and Osiris. The temple complex is huge! It is the second largest temple in Egypt. It is also one of the tallest and best-preserved of the temples in Egypt.

Located between Aswan and Luxor, it made for a perfect stop on the way back. From the temple, it was a 2 and half hour drive back to Luxor where we spent the night.

Christina Galbato in front of the Temple of Horus or Edfu Temple in Egypt
@christinagalbato at Temple of Horus

If jewelry is your thing and you’re looking for something authentic our guide took us to Sam’s House. A local jewelry shop located in the Luxor market, right across from Luxor temple. Gold especially is really cheap in Egypt so I ended up picking up a cartouche for my sister and I with our names on it in hieroglyphics. As well as an eye of Horus, a symbol of protection.

They didn’t happen to have the length of chain I wanted so I ended up getting just the pendant and picked up a chain in Dubai at the gold souk. The cartouche was $90 USD each and the eye was $80 USD.

A cartouche with a name on it and the eye of Horus
Cartouche with my name on the left and the eye of Horus on the right.

Day 7 – Valley of the Kings

Today was a full on day! Not everyone made it, but those of us who could push through the early wake-up call at 3:30 a.m. did not regret it!

Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Valley of the Kings at Sunrise

We woke up before the crack of dawn to experience the most magical hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings. I’ve had some experience with hot air balloons but there’s nothing like flying over some of the greatest temples in history! You will never regret waking up for sunrise!

If you plan to do a hot air balloon ride in Luxor, they start at about $70 per person. The views are worth the price. You can an amazing and unique view of the well-known landmarks of Luxor.

Explorerssaurus - a couple in a hot air balloon over the Valley of Kings in Egypt
@explorerssaurus_ high above Valley of the Kings

Pro Tip: If you’re going for photos take your widest lens with you! Unless you book a private tour the hot air balloon can accommodate 12-16 people making it a tight squeeze for photos. If you’re good with photoshop it’s easier to fix the image in post-processing. If not, well then you may need to get creative with your angles. (I was leaning as far out of the balloon as I safely could to get this photo of Raquel & Miguel).

The Valley of the Kings

Hours: 6 a.m. – 5 p.m. (last ticket sold at 4 p.m.)
Cost: £160 EGP ($10)

After heading back to the hotel for a quick shower and breakfast, we ventured back out around 10:30 a.m. to discover the Valley of the Kings! The landscape was amazing from above, and it is just as amazing on the ground.

Valley of the Kings was by far my favorite temple for history! To date, 63 royal tombs have been discovered here. However, there is one tomb that they know is buried here but has yet to be discovered, the tomb of Ramesses VIII. I was secretly hoping we brought good luck and they would discover it while we were visiting!

Every month in Egypt there are at least one or two new discoveries. Egyptians say that they’ve only uncovered 30% of their history!

In Valley of the Kings, we went inside the tomb of Ramesses IV. Because the temples are underground, the colors are vivid without ever being touched up or repainted. It is incredible to see something so well preserved thanks to being untouched by outside elements.

Hieroglyphics inside the tomb of Ramesses IV in the Valley of Kings
Hieroglyphics inside the tomb of Ramesses IV

Due to many tombs getting robbed, the royal tombs were quickly moved and hidden in what’s now known as the Valley of the Kings. Because the royals were buried with all their treasures, pyramids drew so much attention and clearly marked where tombs were. The mountains in this area are shaped like pyramids which symbolize success in the afterlife, making it a natural fit as a burial ground and hiding them from tomb raiders.

Luxor Temple at Night

Hours: 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Cost: £100 EGP ($6)

After a long day, we finished off the day by exploring Luxor Temple at night. The temple at night was is beautiful, but it’s also the busiest time to visit. So many people crowd in to watch the temple light up at sunset. This made photos a little bit of a challenge.

To get photos without the crowd, visiting during the day would have been best. However, if you can think outside the box and find a different angle, you can make anything work. I love this photo of Hayley and I even more than the entrance where everyone shoots!

Two women in Luxor Temple at night in Luxor, Egypt
@haylsa and I at Luxor Temple

Day 8 – Sharm El Sheikh & Dahab

Visiting Al-Mustafa Mosque in Egypt

We flew out from Cairo and landed in Sharm El Sheikh around 10am. We were supposed to drive straight to Dahab about an hour away. However, in researching, we came across this incredible mosque in Sharm El Sheikh, that we had to see for ourselves.

A woman in front of Al Mustafa Mosque in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt
Al Mustafa Mosque

Al-Mustafa Mosque was so impressive! I borrowed a turquoise dress from my friend and we bought headpieces at a nearby souvenir shop. It was totally unplanned but I felt (and looked) like Princess Jasmine in her palace!

A woman looks like Princess Jasmine in front of Al Mustafa Mosque in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Al Mustafa Mosque
A woman outside of Al Mustafa Mosque in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
Al Mustafa Mosque

Experiencing a Bedouin Dinner

At night we went into the mountains for a traditional BBQ Bedouin dinner under the stars. It was so good! Not only was the food they prepared delicious but I was also among great company. It was such a great experience and really bonded us as a group!

Day 9 – Diving in Dahab

I was so excited for this morning. We got to go diving in the Red Sea! Did you know that there are only two places in the world that have a blue hole and Egypt is one of them?

Two people diving in the Blue Hole in Dahab, Egypt in the Red Sea.
Diving in Dahab

Two of us from the group were certified scuba divers so we went off while the rest of the group did an intro to diving course. Ever since I got certified I have wanted to dive in the Red Sea. Egypt is even beautiful underwater with the reefs and bright-colored fish. But I will say that the coral was a little more bleached than I had hoped it would be.

A group preparing to dive in the Red Sea in Dahab, Egypt
The crew getting ready for their first scuba lesson

Note: If you are planning to head to the sea please make sure you bring some reef safe sunscreen with you. Ensuring your sunscreen is reef safe helps protect the coral as well as the marine life. These sunscreens are slightly more expensive than you’re typical brands but so much better for the environment. They don’t leave the toxins and residue in the water like other sunscreens brands.

My fave reef-safe sunscreens are: Supergoop, Coola, Ren Skincare

 

The town of Dahab is a tiny little beach town, with a laid back island vibe. I was pretty surprised to see girls walking in bikinis, guys walking barefoot carrying surfboards. It felt like a little piece of Tulum with some Egyptian flare. I found a new vegan cafe spot that just opened up, and we all got yummy smoothies. I also bought the biggest and juiciest fresh mango to eat at breakfast the next day!

An area with lounge chairs and umbrellas on the beach in Dahab, Egypt by the Red Sea
The beach in Dahab

Day 10 – Dahab to Cairo

We had breakfast at our hotel, Dahab Paradise, before flying back to Cairo for our last day. I asked the hotel staff to cut up the fresh mangoes I had bought the day before and I ate them before we took off. They were some of the best mangoes I’ve ever had!

A market in Dahab, Egypt

The Egyptian Museum of Antiques

Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; closed on Monday and Tuesday
Cost: $9

We landed in Cairo and went straight to the Egyptian Museum of Antiques. After a full 10 days of history, it was so cool to finally see everything we’ve been learning about in the Egyptian Museum. And we got our first glimpse at mummies!

An Egyptian mummy child in the Egyptian Musuem of Antiques in Cairo, Egypt
A mummy of a child

Did you know it took Egyptians 70 days to mummify a body? It was such a process. Can you imagine waiting that long to be buried? Learning all about the mummification process and seeing how well preserved the bodies remained really impressed me!

Hot Tip: If you want to visit the Royal Mummy Room, you’ll have to pay an additional fee of £150 EGP ($9.30 USD).

Is Egypt Safe & When to Visit Egypt

During my trip, I got a lot of questions about safety in Egypt through Instagram. I decided to answer some of the most commonly asked questions here:

Did you feel safe in Egypt?

Yes, I felt safe the entire time I was in Egypt. However, keep in mind that I was with a group and on a tour the entire trip.

I wrote more in-depth on this Instagram post about staying safe in Egypt as a woman, so if you have any questions about my experience please feel free to message me on Instagram! I’m happy to answer any questions you might still have!

Would you recommend hiring a guide?

I loved our tour with Travel Talk Tours and our guide Sam was the BEST! He is actually one of the most highly rated guides on Tour Radar. If you’re looking to book with Travel Talk Tours, ask for him!

Typically I avoid group guided trips, but because Egypt is a country so rich in history, I wouldn’t have had the same experience if I didn’t have someone to give me a history lesson. I can’t recommend him enough.

When is the best time to visit Egypt?

December and January are the busiest months in Egypt. Visiting just before or just after this time means cooler weather and fewer crowds. However, still expect it to be warm.

In the summer months, the heat can be unbearable, but there are fewer tourists. I visited the first two weeks of November, and the weather felt comfortable, but it definitely felt crowded at the monuments.

Drink lots of water and carry a bottle with you as you explore. You want to stay hydrated and not overheat with the high temperatures. If you burn easily, sunblock is a must!

What should I wear in Egypt? How conservative should I dress?

Make sure to take lightweight clothing to help stay cool. In packing for Egypt I made sure to pack more conservatively with dresses that covered my shoulders and knees, flowy pants and light sleeved tops.

Once we arrived there our guide told us that since we are visiting mainly touristy spots, wear whatever you want. However, I felt it was important to remain respectful of the culture. I also think it helped us stand out less as tourists.

Final Thoughts

Egypt is an incredible country, and I am so glad I finally got to visit. It was amazing to experience the culture that is part of my heritage. I highly recommend Egypt as a travel destination.

Curious to see more from this incredible trip? Check out my Egypt highlight in my Instagram stories to see why Egypt should be on your bucket list!

I hope this post inspires you to visit more of the Middle East! For another amazing Middle Eastern country to visit, check out my Oman itinerary to discover this country before it becomes more popular.

xx Lisa

Egypt is an amazing country full of beautiful places and rich history and culture. Check out the ultimate Egypt travel guide with a full 10 day Egypt itinerary + map. #egypt #travel #travelguide | best places to visit in Egypt | Egypt travel itinerary | Egypt in 10 days | Egypt travel tips | Egypt photography | Egypt outfits | things to do in Egypt | Egyptian pyramids | Egypt temples | Egypt 10 day itinerary | Egypt travel beautiful places | what to wear in Egypt | Cairo Egypt | Luxor Egypt

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7 Comments

  1. January 3, 2020 / 5:53 PM

    I love this blog post Lisa! It’s so in depth and I love the photos!

    • lisahomsy
      Author
      January 3, 2020 / 9:45 PM

      Thanks so much Aubrie! It’s definitely the most in depth post I’ve ever written haha

  2. January 4, 2020 / 9:16 PM

    Omg! This is an amazing blog post – a ton of detail (I felt like I was there) and your pictures (as always) are fantastic. This makes me want to go to Egypt!!!

    • lisahomsy
      Author
      January 5, 2020 / 9:43 AM

      Thank you so much!! Yes it’s packed with info but there is just so much to share about this country

  3. January 9, 2020 / 9:11 AM

    Thank you Lisa for such an amazing post for travelling to EGYPT. It’s full of information, photo and feelings as well.

    • lisahomsy
      Author
      January 10, 2020 / 12:29 PM

      I was blown away it was hard to not to over share haha! I’m glad you found the post full of value

    • lisahomsy
      Author
      January 13, 2020 / 10:55 AM

      Thank you so much!! I loved egypt so much I hope I get to return

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