Top Attractions in Egypt
The Great Pyramids of Giza
The only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to have made it into modern times, the Great Pyramids are truly worthy of the over-abused adjective awesome. Everyone's got a theory as to their true purpose, but whatever you believe, your first glimpse will be truly breathtaking.
Saint Catherine's Monastery
Protector of the biblical burning bush and the approach to mystical Mount Sinai, Saint Catherine's has been constantly inhabited for more than 1,600 years. Christians, Jews, and Muslims revere the pilgrimage site. The resident monks still live the simple life, but the monastery is an important reliquary for priceless art and rare ecumenical documents.
Cairo's Khan al-Khalili Bazaar
The best souvenir-hunting spot in Egypt—if not the whole Middle East—this sprawling Cairo bazaar has been hawking since the late 14th century. Known locally as the Khan, Bloomingdale's it ain't. Haggling is compulsory, so go armed with a supply of cash and your sense of humor. When you're all shopped out, retreat to the El Fishawy café for a soothing glass of sweet tea.
The Karnak Temple
The largest religious complex in Egypt—a kind of Vatican City meets Salt Lake City—Karnak gives up the secrets of the gods that sustained the ancient world and the human dynasties that built the ancient empire. Whether you can understand the hieroglyphs or not, you'll marvel at the sheer scale and beauty of the temple here. Stroll around aimlessly to find a less busy corner for quiet reflection.
The Valley of the Kings
You may feel a little Howard Carter-ish when you enter this arid cleft on the Nile's West Bank. You'll be bowled over by the sheer beauty of the decoration and scale in some of the burial chambers of the pharaohs—true subterranean palaces, these were in effect waiting rooms for the start of the journey to the afterlife. New secrets are still giving themselves up.
The Red Sea Reefs
Hundreds of miles of coral, a wealth of sea life, and crystal-clear waters put Egypt's Red Sea Coast near the top spot on the list of the planet's best dive destinations. Whether you're a novice or you want to upgrade your diving skills, you'll find excellent instructors here.
The River Nile
A serene journey along the Nile in Upper Egypt drops you on the doorstep of many of the country's finest temples and monuments—though you'll also pass equally fascinating glimpses of traditional rural life along the way. Your boat is your home for the duration, at once mode of transport, hotel, restaurant, and entertainment venue. Sitting on deck watching the ruby-red sunset across the river will be one of the magical moments of your trip.
The Egyptian Antiquities Museum
Nowhere else on earth brings you so close to ancient Egypt in its multifarious guises—from the mundane chores punctuating daily life to the elaborate rituals surrounding death, from the smallest item of jewelry to monumental public statuary. Bask in the glow of Tutankhamun's golden funerary mask until it moves to its fancy new digs, or come face-to-face with the mummified remains of the great Pharaoh Ramses II.