First time in Egypt? Lucky you, this place is every bit as magical as you ever dreamed, and more.
This country has a lot of history, culture and landscapes to explore. It may be overwhelming deciding what to see your first time here but fear not, I got you covered.
Here is the perfect 2 week itinerary for your first time in Egypt!
Most nationalities will need to obtain a visa prior to landing in Egypt. Luckily, there are a handful of countries that qualify for the electronic visa, which can easily be applied for online.
As an American, I applied for an E-visa prior to arrival and it was a fairly straightforward process. I was granted a stay for up to 30 days which is way more than most travelers will need.
Cairo – 2 to 3 Days
You will likely begin your journey by landing in Cairo. This city is alive, sometimes chaotic, and there’s plenty to see.
Pyramids of Giza
One reason you probably chose to visit Egypt, was to finally set eyes on this world wonder. It’s best to go early in the morning to beat the crowds and the heat. Although the area is large, you can cover most sites in just half a day.
This neighborhood is buzzing with people, donkeys and hectic traffic. It’s also home to the Al-Rifa’i and Sultan Hassan Mosques, both must-sees for beauty and history. This area is also a good place to try some Egyptian staple foods, such as ful or falafel.
This is the old christian quarter of Cairo. A bit quieter than the Islamic area, it’s where you’ll find the Hanging Church.
Even if you aren’t into museums, I assure you this one is worth it. When else will you have the chance to see the famous mask of king Tut?? That along with numerous other significant Egyptian artifacts, you won’t regret the visit.
The official dish of Egypt, it can be described as something like a pasta with lentils and rice. You can find it anywhere in Cairo for as low as $1. Come hungry; this is no light meal.
The White and Black Desert – 2 or 3 days
Next, head outside the city and into the Western Desert. This journey is long, and there is no airport, so prepare to lose a day traveling. Upon arriving in this martian landscape, you will lose phone signal, but gain mind blowing views.
An overnight camping experience in the White Desert is essential. You’ll get to experience the sunset and sunrise in this moon-like terrain. I would even opt to stay two nights to explore more of this area. There’s nothing like those nights under that desert sky!
For a full guide on how to visit the White Desert, click here.
Situated right next to the White Desert, it’s landscape looks just like its name sounds: black. A drive through this desert will show you conical mountains that you can pull over and hike up without too much difficulty (although there is no trail) , to get the best views of the area.
Luxor – 2 Days
This is your gateway into ancient Egypt. If you aren’t a huge history buff, you could pack all the highlights here into one day by skipping The Valley of the Gods.
You can find all the essentials of an Egyptian temple here, from larger than life Egyptian statues, hieroglyphics and all the crowds. Come early to avoid the crowds!
The most interesting temple in Luxor, and the largest. Again, come early to avoid the crowds. The end of the day is a quiet time to visit as well.
Valley of the Gods Day Trip
Visit the underground tombs of the kings and queens of ancient Egypt. This requires a day trip out of Luxor and into the mountain valleys. Historically impressive, but somewhat underwhelming in reality. It’s worth it if you are interested in the history, but I’d say it’s okay to skip if you need a temple break.
Aswan – 2 Days
I actually liked Aswan more than Luxor, because of its riverside relaxing vibe. I could have spent a week here relaxing next to the Nile.
Another gorgeous temple, and one dedicated to love. This temple is special because it’s situated right on the Nile.
Secluded from the city, but just a short boat ride across the bank. Here you can experience life in a Nubian village on a small island on the Nile. I stayed at The Mango Guesthouse and highly recommend it. It’s affordable, and a great place to relax for an afternoon.
Day Trip to Abu Simbel
This was hands down my favorite temple in Egypt. It’s right next to the sea, and those giant statues of Anubis inside were jaw dropping to see in person. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie.
Red Sea – 2 to 4 Days
Finish your trip by heading to the Red Sea. It has fair sunbathing weather year round, making it an ideal place to relax after an action packed week of temple hopping and adventuring. If you are a diver or interested in it, this is the place to be! If you have 4 days to spend here, you can get your diving certification. It’s one of the most affordable destinations to do so. Which seaside city to choose? Dahab and Hurghada are both popular.
If you aren’t much of a beach bum, shave off 1-2 days in the Red Sea from your itinerary (or delete it completely) and you’ll have enough time to fly to Alexandria in the North for more historical sites. From there, head back to Cairo for your flight home. Another option is to stay around the Aswan area longer and visit some Nubian villages as a day trip, for a cultural experience.
1. Uber is very cheap and affordable, in cities opt for Uber to ensure you don’t get ripped off
2. Domestic flights are the fastest way to travel. They can be pricey, so if you are on a budget and have time, opt take the train sometimes. There are stations in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Alexandria.
And there you have it! The ultimate itinerary for your first time in Egypt. Have you been here? What did you do your first time in Egypt? Let me know in the comments what I missed, and what I should visit on my next trip there!