Famous Places to Visit in Egypt
January 25, 2012
Egypt boasts of various famous places to visit and things to do, which are bound to mesmerize any visitor. It is a land which offers more than just pharaohs, papyrus and the pyramids. More than crowded coffee-scented, spice-redolent souks and spectacular ancient temples. Welcome to Egypt: a country of contrasts, all the way from chaotic cities and idyllic beach resorts to vast deserts holding ancient secrets in their wombs.
Places to visit in Egypt
Seeing the many awesome sights that Egypt has to offer could well take a few weeks- and more. But if you’re short on time, at least make sure you don’t miss the top places to visit in Egypt: the stunning Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, the spectacularly grand ancient temples of Luxor and Karnak, the Necropolis of Thebes and the impressive Valley of Kings. Take a felucca ride through Aswan, along the Nile and to the famous Temple of Abu Simbel; sunbathe or go diving at the beach resort of Hurghada, considered one of Egypt’s finest dive sites; and spend a few days in historic, happening Cairo. The very stuff of sequin-spangled dreams, Cairo’s chockfull of medieval mosques, Coptic churches, excellent museums and inviting souks, like the exotic Khan-el-Khalili.
Come to a land, which juggles, ancient and modern, east and west with a dexterity that’s amazing- Explore Egypt!
Making your way here…
Travel to Egypt is simple as there are international flights from all over the world. You also have the option of charter flights to Cairo, Aswan and Luxor. The thing to remember is that flying from Egypt to the rest of Africa can be pretty expensive.
From the Middle East there are land crossings from Israel to Sinai in Egypt or you can hop on to a bus from Tel Aviv to Cairo. Then you can enter from Libya- there are buses to Cairo and Alexandria from Benghazi or Tripoli.
Entering Egypt by waterways is another option. In Europe there are ferries from Greece, Cyprus and Turkey and from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
…and getting around
Flying within Egypt is expensive and limited to only major cities like Cairo, Aswan and Luxor. Except for Cairo and Alexandria, which have an effective tram and underground network, a systemized local transport is absent in other cities. Intercity bus service comes closest to a public transport system - its extensive and inexpensive, but also very crowded. Air-conditioned ‘deluxe’ coaches are definitely recommended if it’s a long journey! Taxis (known as bijous) and microbuses are the other ways to get around in the cities.
Then there are the trains. Depending on your budget, you can either travel by crowded third class or by more luxurious modern ‘Wagon-Lits’ sleeper service connecting Cairo, Luxor and Aswan.
A roof over your head…
There is no dearth of accommodation in Egypt. Depending on your purse, you can choose from luxury to budget. It has everything from luxurious international hotels to two-star or unbranded hotels offering some great deals. Else there is always an option to stay in youth hostels or camp out.
…a Good Meal, a Great Bargain and more
You can have anything from an authentic Egyptian meal to a burger in McDonalds.
Egyptian cuisine is a combination of many traditions of Middle Eastern cooking and hence the outcome is quite exotic. For cheap local snack have fuul or fava beans eaten with a choice of toppings- salt, lemon, meat, eggs etc. The local delicacies include ta’amiya, chawarma, kofta and kushari are easily available in both large hotels and small eateries. But don’t forget to visit Port Said, which in a gist is hummus lover’s paradise! There are plenty fast food joints offering Pizzas, but continental fare is restricted the big cities. Both tea (shay) and coffee (ahwa) are available but the local drinks that are a must try include sweet hibiscus tea called karkaday and totally divine sahleb- a delicacy made with nuts, rice flour and grapes.
Egypt is a shopper’s paradise, known for its exquisite carpets, jewelry, dates, painted papyrus scrolls, spices, hand made robes etc. Before you take off on your shopping expedition, the thing to keep in mind is that haggling is a way of life especially in bazaars. Khan-el-Khalili, an old bazaar in Cairo is a good place to buy the typical Egyptian reproductions and artifacts. Gold and silver is widely available and is pretty inexpensive. Walk through the street of coppersmiths, An-Nahassin, in Cairo is the best place to buy brass and copperware. Have your pick from the fragrances offered in the Perfume bazaar. For a cosmopolitan experience, you can shop at the modern shopping malls especially at the Tehrir Square.
Attend a Sufi dance performed at the Madrassa of Al-Ghouri in Islamic Cairo for a taste of local culture or visit the hip nightclubs, discos and casinos in big towns like Alexandria, Cairo and Luxor for a more cosmopolitan entertainment.
…and one Last bit of Advice
Bargaining is a way of life in Egypt so go ahead and haggle for a good deal be it in bazaars, a ride on a felucca or a room for the night. Egypt is a safe destination, but keep a look out for pickpockets. For women, traveling with a male companion is always an added advantage. Common health problems faced by tourists in Egypt are heat related. So arm yourself with a good sunscreen and other sun- protection aids - and don’t forget to drink water at regular intervals to keep dehydration at bay.