The New Year is upon us and Egypt has been on every list of the best destinations to visit. The country offers a multitude of activities and destinations from stunning beaches to historical sites, from desserts and sandy dunes to forests and vast greenery, you’ll definitely find all that you wish for. So, we thought we’d compile a list of the top new attractions that should not be missed in Egypt this year and the ones that you might not have heard of yet. With plenty to choose from the best Egyptian destinations, it could and should be your next holiday!
Cairo – Best Egyptian Destinations
Cairo should always be among the cities you stop at during your visit to Egypt. Not only is it the capital, but it’s a city that is always offering something new. There are plenty of new attractions that will open to visitors, including the magnificent Grand Egyptian Museum.
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is currently under construction with a planned late 2020 opening that will be a grand international affair. Many of the artefacts and antiquities currently housed at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square will be transferred to this new museum for its strategic location two kilometres from the Giza pyramids.
Described as the biggest museum in the world, the Grand Egyptian Museum is sited on 120 acres of land. The full Tutankhamun collection, including over 5000 pieces, will be found at this new museum with many pieces to be displayed for the very first time. The museum will also display 50,000 artefacts, including pieces relocated from Luxor, Minya, Sohag, Assiut, Beni Suef, Fayoum, the Delta, and Alexandria.
Baron Empian Palace is another well-known attraction in Cairo that has been closed off for years and will soon be open to the public after a major reconstruction and restoration job took place in 2019. The palace’s beautiful structure and long history make it perfect for a visit.
Capital Business Park is an impressive new hangout in the Sheikh Zayed District. You can visit it at Christmas time or New Year’s to see the amazing decorations and lights or around the year to walk around its shops and cafes for a nice time out.
While we’re in the Giza area, you might as well go Camel Riding at the Giza Pyramids but make sure that you haggle with the camel owner, as they tend to price really high. Anyway, it’s a great way to enjoy a great view of the Giza Pyramids.
Next, you can take walk in the past by visiting the impressive Sultan Hassan Mosque, close to the Salah El-Din Citadel, or the Hanging Church, the oldest Coptic Church in the era of Old Cairo that got its name because it’s suspended over the ruins of two old towers from an old fortress called the Fortress of Babylon.
While on a journey to the past, you cannot miss Al-Moez Street, one of the oldest and most amazing stunning places in Islamic Cairo. You can start off from the direction of Al-Azhar Mosque up to El-Hussein Mosque, Bab Zweila and Bab El-Fetouh, all along the street you’ll find numerous ancient houses and schools, so be sure to take your time and look around.
Another great experience would be watching a Tanoura Show at Wekalet El-Ghoury, the Egyptian folk dance performed by Sufi dancers is mesmerizing to be sure and will be an experience to remember. They are performed every Saturday and Wednesday from 8:30 pm, with free admission.
If you’re looking for more invigorating activities, then head to Al-Qataneyah Dunes for Sand-boarding and barbecuing. Located 80 km southwest of the city, you can finally escape all the noise and the traffic and enjoy your time in the cast dessert with your friends while surfing or sand-boarding at high speeds, and barbequing.
As far as room and board, you won’t find a better place to stay than Mena House Oberoi El-Haram in Giza, with its perfect view of the three Pyramids of Giza and hundreds of acres of greenery. The hotel was initially a hunting lodge that was built in 1869 for King Ismail Pasha and now it is one of the most beautiful hotels in the country.
Alexandria – Best Egyptian Destinations
You can’t visit Alexandria without stopping by its world-renowned Library. The Library of Alexandria (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) was inaugurated in 2002, almost two thousand years after its ancient predecessor was destroyed. With the main library that contains up to millions of books, the Library of Alexandria also includes a Planetarium that screens various scientific shows every day for children and adults alike.
And for a glimpse of the grandeur of the royal families that once ruled over Egypt until 1952, head on over to the Royal Jewellery Museum to see the rare jewellery and ornaments that belonged to queens and princes of the Mohamed Ali family.
Stroll through Montaza Park and gaze at the splendour of its Palace. Once the private palace and gardens of King Farouk and the Royal Family, these lush gardens are now enjoyed by the general public on holidays and weekends throughout the year. Although the palace is currently not open to the public, you can still stroll through the extensive gardens that lead all the way to the sea where several beaches and hotels are open to visitors.
Aside from its long intermingled history, Alexandria is known for its delicious food!
So, while there make sure to taste the great breakfast and tasty coffee, along with the mouthwatering ice cream at Délices in Raml Station.
For brunch time, go further along the coast to Greek Club near Qaitbay Citadel right by the sea. Aside from its great view, the restaurant also offers a variety of seafood for a delicious meal.
El Gouna – Best Egyptian Destinations
El Gouna is one of Egypt’s newer cities and it has attracted droves of tourists over the past couple of years for its amazing spot overlooking the Red Sea.
Soak in the sun at one of the beaches like Club 88 or La Maison Bleue. There, you can also do some kite-surfing, diving, fishing snorkelling, windsurfing, waterskiing, water-surfing, or ride a glass-bottom boat and enjoy a great view of the colourful sea bed. You can also hire a boat to go on a cruise or go island hopping.
If you’re more into land sports, El Gouna also offers a multitude of opportunities for horseback riding, biking, beach volleyball, go-karts, mini-golf, tennis, and squash at its numerous sporting venues.
For meals, you can try the food at one of the many restaurants that are open round the clock in the city centre.
Sharm El Sheikh – Best Egyptian Destinations
Sharm El Sheikh is one of Egypt’s most well-known resort cities, for its amazing sites and stunning beaches. It combines history with modern comforts for an unforgettable experience.
Ras Muhammed is Egypt’s most famous national park and diving spot. It is also among the most known diving sites in the world. Its crystal clear waters witness the annual migration of several marine species, in addition to stunning mangroves, and coral reefs with a diversity of vertebrate and invertebrate species.
Oyun Moussa is home to water sources where it is believed that Prophet Moses stopped while leading the Israelites in their escape from the Pharaoh’s wrath. It’s believed by the locals that the water has healing properties, which has attracted people from all over the world to try it for themselves.
St. Catherine Monastery is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. Catherine of Alexandria was a Christian martyr sentenced to death on the breaking wheel. When this failed to kill her, she was beheaded. According to tradition, angels took her remains to Mount Sinai. Around the year 800, monks from the Sinai Monastery found her remains. The monastery has become a favourite site of pilgrimage. People from all over the world climb Mount Sinai to reach the Monastery despite the fact that it is quite a hard climb, especially in wintertime. However, the view from the top when you’re finally there makes it completely worth it.
Don’t forget to walk along the streets of Naama Bay or Soho Square Center and sit at one of their many cafés for a lovely night out.
Dahab – Best Egyptian Destinations
Dahab has increasingly become a haven for people seeking a bit of peace and quiet from their hectic work lives. It not only offers sparkling clear sea waters as far as the eye can see, but it also has some of the best relaxing activities in the country.
The Blue Hole is a world infamous diving spot, that is actually very challenging and is known as the most dangerous and deadliest on earth, but it still attracts many divers every day attempting to free dive through its waters. It is the most beautiful dive where you can spot exceptional marine life, but if you’re not an experienced diver, be sure to take someone with you who is experienced or take a few diving lessons first.
If you do not have the heart to try diving, then you can give snorkelling a try. You can enjoy the beauty of the colourful coral reefs, especially in Abu Gallum where you’ll find colourful reefs of purple, yellow, blue and red that should not be missed.
You can also try windsurfing, kayaking, sand boarding, hiking, going on a safari into the desert and camping for the night where you can also go camel riding or horse riding through the majestic sand dunes.
Taba – Best Egyptian Destinations
Taba is a frequent vacation spot for Egyptians and tourists, and it’s located right on the coast of the Red Sea.
As you enter the city, you’ll come across the Fjord along the coastal route from Nuweiba. The amazing beach and diving spot, offering crystal clear water, dazzling coral reefs and exceptional marine life is perfect for experienced divers.
Island of the Pharoah (also known as Salah El-Din Fortress) can also be spotted across the water from the Fjord. It can be easily reached by boat from the coast.
The Colored Canyon is a hiking haven for those who like to wander into the mountains and is one of the top nature wonders of Sinai. The amazing maze of sandstone rocks reflects beautiful colours of magenta, red, yellow, and purple, but be careful that it can be a long trek, so you might not want to do it when it’s too hot outside.
Ras Shitan – Best Egyptian Destinations
Now, you can’t be in the area without stopping by Ras Shitan (Devil’s Head) in Nuweibaa, right next to Taba. The name of the area comes from the way it is formed on the two sides of a huge rock. What makes Ras Shitan different from other Egyptian cities is that it doesn’t have the luxurious hotels you’ll find everywhere else, it actually has cosy camps where people sleep in either stone rooms or tents and gather around the fire at the end of the day to have a meal together, which is definitely a great experience to have and will guarantee that you will meet plenty of new people.
Marsa Alam – Best Egyptian Destinations
Marsa Alam is a town in south-eastern Egypt, located on the western shore of the Red Sea. Like Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, it has its own airport, so it is easily accessible, which contributed to the high increase in tourism that it witnessed in the last few years.
Among the many interesting sites in Marsa Alam is Wadi El-Gemal Protected Area, covering more than 60km, where you can enjoy hiking, swimming, diving, and bird watching. Wadi Lahami Lagoon is also a great place for some diving and kite-surfing.
Hurghada – Best Egyptian Destinations
Hurghada is a city in the Red Sea Governorate and is one of the country’s main tourist centres and best Egyptian destinations for a vacation on the Red Sea coast.
Walk around the Hurghada Marina in the central district of Sigala at sunset, before heading to one of the many cafés or restaurants for a delicious meal overlooking the Red Sea out onto the horizon.
You can’t miss an opportunity to go on a day trip to the Giftun Islands, one of Hurghada’s most popular boat excursions, offering snorkelling opportunities for those who aren’t scuba diving enthusiasts, to explore the amazing coral reefs surrounding the island shore. You can also relax on the beach and enjoy the sun.
A great excursion that is also offered around the Red Sea is the great submarines that take you underwater to explore the majestic coral reefs and diverse fish life. The submarine can take you down to a depth of 22 meters under the Red Sea’s abundant corals. Trips take about one hour, and we guarantee that you’ll have a great time.
Another extremely popular evening tourist attraction in Hurghada is the Bedouin dinner offered by many of the resorts in the area. This is a must-do for the chance to sample delicious Egyptian dishes in Bedouin settlements while reclining on colourful cushions in a traditional Bedouin tent. It’s a beautiful atmosphere and a great introduction to Egypt’s wonderful array of home-style cooking.
Luxor – Best Egyptian Destinations
One of the richest Egyptian cities in terms of antiquities and historical sites, it was only natural that we should include this city on our list.
The city has an abundance of temples dating back to ancient Egypt, including Hatshepsut Temple, an impressive mortuary temple dedicated to the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut. The panoramic temple is impressive, to say the least, and definitely makes for a great photo op for tourists worldwide. As a result, it is also one of the top sites in Egypt.
After you’re done, step next door to the Valley of the Kings, to visit its beautifully ornamented tombs, of some of the grandest Egyptian pharaohs of all time, like Ramses II, Seti I, Amenhotep II and of course, the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Tens of lavish tombs have been excavated in the valley making for a great experience of walking through the past.
The Karnak and Luxor Temples are two monuments that should not be missed. Karnak is one of the largest temple complexes in the world and was added to over hundreds of years by one pharaoh after the next. Walking through the complex might take an entire day, but we do recommend that you explore every inch, because you will find it to be truly fascinating. Every corner of the temple tells its own story and presents a unique mixture of so many cultures and historical eras.
The Luxor Temple is equally magnificent and contains a plethora of sandstone structures, from statues of gods and pharaohs to stunning murals. It goes without saying that no trip to Egypt is complete without exploring the ancient grounds on which these temples sit.
As for where to stay while there, we have just the place for you!
Built in 1886 by British explorers, the Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor overlooks the Valley of the Kings and was once a retreat for the Egyptian royal family. It presents a unique chance to experience royal living at a Victorian-style Palace, while surrounded by Paranoiac temples and a magnificent ancient civilization.
Aswan – Best Egyptian Destinations
After the mesmerizing trip to Luxor, you have to go further south to the city of Aswan, where the Nile meets the origins of history, making it one of the best Egyptian destinations to visit for a relaxed vacation.
Aswan is known for its beautiful islands, including the Elephantine. In ancient Egypt, the island stood at the border between Egypt and Nubia and was an excellent site for cargo transfer. The island includes ruins of the Temple of Khnum, composed of a granite step pyramid from the Third Dynasty and a small temple built for the local Sixth Dynasty. The Aswan Museum is located at the southern end of the island as well.
The Aswan Botanical Garden can be found adjacent to the island, el Nabatat Island, a small, island in the Nile less than a kilometre long and less than ½ a kilometre wide.
Previously known as Kitchener’s Island (the former owner), the island is filled with exotic trees, many from India, and plants in gardens with view walkways. It is now the property of the Egyptian government and is used as a research station called the Botanical Research Institute.
Another magnificent historical site situated on an island is the Temple of Abu Simbel, found 240 km southwest of Aswan. What makes this temple unique is that it was actually carved in the mountains to commemorate Ramses II’s victory at Kadesh battle. What is truly unique about it is that it was built and positioned in a way that on October 22nd and February 22nd of each year the rays of the sun would penetrate into the sanctuary to illuminate the sculptures on the black wall, except for the statue of Ptah, the ancient god connected to the underworld. People come from all over the world to witness such a stunning phenomenon.
Back in Aswan, Philae Temple (also known as Temple of Isis) is a magnificent temple only reached by boat. It was nearly lost after the construction of the high dam of Aswan. But was luckily rescued through joint cooperation between Egypt and UNESCO, and was moved in big blocks to Agilka Island, its current location. So, do not miss the opportunity to see this amazing site.
Tourists in Aswan are always advised to head to Nubia for a one-day excursion to explore its culture and beautifully colourful houses and kind people.
Nubia is one of Africa’s oldest civilizations. You can take a trip to Sohail Island by felucca to meet locals, visit one of their traditional houses, drink warm tea and have a meal with them, and then explore the village and markets.
One of the most well-known hotels in Aswan is the Old Cataract, a legendary 19th-century Victorian Palace on the banks of the River Nile. The hotel was built in 1899 by Thomas Cook mainly for European travellers. It hosted very prominent guests including Tsar Nicholas II, Winston Churchill, Howard Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, François Mitterrand, Henry Kissinger, Princess Diana, Queen Noor and Agatha Christie, who was actually inspired to write her novel Death on the Nile at the hotel. The 1978 film adaptation of the novel was filmed at the hotel as well.
Siwa – Best Egyptian Destinations
Heading back to the Western desert, Siwa is one of the most beautiful oases in Egypt and the Dakrour Mountain is its most prized attraction. There, you can be buried in the sand up to your neck, for 20 minutes, 3 to 5 times a day, as the sand there is known for its healing powers and tourists from across the globe have been known to try it for themselves.
The site also has a lot of history as it has been in use since the Ptolemaic period, as tombs and dwellings.
You can also visit another extremely popular site known as Cleopatra’s Bath. The majestic pool is fed with water from natural hot springs. It’s a perfect way for cooling off on a summer day. It is said that Queen Cleopatra swam in this pool during her visit to Siwa, hence how it got its name.
Siwa also has its share of ancient history, since you will come across the Temple of the Oracle (known as the Temple of Amun). The temple was built by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE as he wanted to become the pharaoh of Egypt.
North Coast – Best Egyptian Destinations
The North Coast of Egypt extends along the Egyptian coast that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the best Egyptian destinations to visit this summer. The North Coast is littered with major cities, like Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh, along with smaller compounds and resorts usually inhabited during the summer vacation by tourists from inside or outside of Egypt. People are always drawn to the fantastic weather and the beautiful beaches.
Marassi in the North Coast region is one of the newer cities that have attracted droves of local and foreign tourists for the past few years for its gorgeous beaches and exciting activities and nightlife throughout the summer months every year.
Another resort is Sidi Abdelrahman, which is known for its sparkling clear waters and luxurious hotels. It is a few kilometres drive from Marina.
Further along, the coast is Marsa Matrouh city, an older gem that must not be missed. Walk along its Cornish to Agiba Beach for a swim; a small piece of paradise on earth, with its clear, turquoise waters that cannot fail to tempt you to take a dip, or head to its busy markets to see what treasures the locals have to offer.
If you’re looking for a bit of history, check if the Rommel Museum is open for visitors. The Museum displays the remaining possessions of the general who was in charge of the German troops in Egypt during WWII and the location of the museum is actually the cave where he conducted his military operations.
Another great attraction is Cleopatra’s Bath, a natural pool where legend has it that the queen of Egypt and her lover Mark Antony enjoyed swimming.
All of these attractions and more are waiting for you in one of the most enchanting countries in the world. Egypt is not just the land of history; it is also the land of the future. It offers activities and exciting options for people of all ages and interests, so make sure to plan ahead for what is sure to be a wonderful vacation!