One of the oldest tourist destinations in the world, Egypt and its collection of world-famous ancient sites and legendary national treasures have been wowing the crowds for centuries. Beauty is of course is subjective but Egypt isn’t short on places that could be considered very beautiful. Here is my list of 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Egypt:
Egypt’s second largest city feels as Mediterranean and cosmopolitan as Marseille or Athens. Known for its époque buildings and grand squares it was once a very fashionable city. Although it charms have faded a little, it still has plenty of interesting places to visit. For peace and quiet head for the regal Montazah Palace Gardens or for your history and architecture fix try Citadel of Qaitbay, an impressive looking 15th century fortress. Alternatively choose one of the many antique coffee houses and sip coffee and puff on a water pipe while looking out over the Mediterranean sea.
Once you get over the chaos, the culture shock and in-your-face touts, this city is a traveller’s dream. History fans will also be in their element here with age old traditions perfectly preserved in every corner of the city. Of course there’s also an endless supply of ancient temples, tombs, churches, monuments and the museums to explore. Don’t leave without visiting the famous Khan el-Khalili souk or other street markets, especially if you feel the need to stock up on everything from exotic looking carpets to brass trinkets.
3. The Red Sea Coast
Sharm el Sheik is a holiday resort filled with luxury hotels, casinos, nightclubs and tourists getting their sun, sea and sand fix. Sharm el Sheikh holidays are very popular although the real beauty of this area is the Red Sea. The Red Sea has clear azure waters and an incredible amount of exotic fish and coral – which is why is so highly regarded as a diving destination. In fact it arguably offers some of the best diving and snorkelling experiences in the world. Get hold of some scuba gear (and an experienced instructor) and take a look for yourself – you won’t regret it.
4. Pyramids at Giza
No visitor should leave Egypt without visiting Great Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza. They are the only remaining seven wonders of the world of the ancient world and over 4600 years old. They’re an imposing sight and the whole complex is still shrouded in mystery. If time is an issue it is possible to see the main parts of the Pyramid site in around 2 hours but spend a full day in this area if your schedule will allow.
There are only a few places in the world that could be called an open air museum but the Egyptian city Luxor is definitely one of them. In fact the number and preservation of the monuments in the Luxor area are unparalleled anywhere else in the world and most Egypt Holidays wouldn’t be complete without a visit. Spend a day or two at both the Valley of the Kings and the Queens which are each home to over 60 carved underground tombs. Make sure you also include a visit to the very impressive Luxor and Karnak temples.
6. The Nile
The best way to explore one of the world’s most famous rivers is by a cruise lasting for more than a few days. The Nile is filled with interesting flora and fauna and the trip will give you an interesting insight into the rural parts of Egypt. You’ll also get to stop at plenty of famous temples and other ancient sites of interest. Although if boats are really not your thing head for the banks of Aswan to watch sunset at one of most beautiful stretches of the Nile.
7. Mount Sinai
If you stay in the Cairo area this will be a 1-2 day trip for you. Although I would say Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is definitely worth the journey and has a different feel to the rest of Egypt. Mount Sinai is a popular attraction in this area. It has huge religious significance having been mentioned many times in the book of Exodus, the bible and the Quran. In Christianity it’s the place where where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Hiking this holy mountain is a popular activity and many even choose to hike through the night or stay in a lodge to wake early (2 or 3am) and watch a sunrise of biblical proportions.
8. Saint Catherine’s Monastery
Saint Catherine’s Monastery can be found just below Mount Sinai. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest working monastery in the world. St.Catherine’s is an unusual and strangely beautiful building juxaposed against acres of dry arrid landscapes. Find the water well where Moses met his wife, see the ancestor of the famous burning bush and take a look at the cage of old monks’ skulls. Macabrely you can also see what is said to be the preserved hand of the real Saint Catherine.
9. Siwa Oasis
The Siwa Oasis is often mentioned as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Egypt. Located off the beaten track between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea (in the Libyan Desert) it has its own distinct Siwan culture which differs from the mainstream Arabic culture. The Siwans speak their own language and this area is known for its hot springs, fine jewellery and tasty dates and olives. Take a trip here and kick back for a while, swim or just try your luck at some sand boarding.
10. The White Desert
The fabled White Desert of Egypt can be found 28 miles north of the town of Farafra. The desert has an other worldly beauty with bizarre, ghost-white rock formations sprouting from the desert sands. The strange structures are actually huge chalk formations created as a result of occasional sandstorms in the area. Take a four-wheel drive through the desert or stay over night for a truly surreal experience.
Before you leave for Egypt please ensure you check up-to-date government travel safety advice.