As the beginning of ancient civilization and home to two 7 wonders of the world, Egypt is RICH in history and has a LOT to offer.
If the massive Pyramids of Giza and vividly colorful tombs of Pharaohs who walked the earth at the same time Moses was alive isn’t enough to peak your interest, hopefully by the end of this blog I’ll have convinced you that Egypt not only should go on your bucket list but that it needs to make it’s way to the top.
With the amount of incredible things to see and do in Egypt, it’s almost impossible to squeeze in everything into a 5 day trip, but I did my best to compile what I think is the best way to get the most out of a quick trip to Egypt.
This 5 day itinerary allows you to see the most famous historical sites and landmarks in a variety of cities in Egypt giving you the best overview of the country and will leave you wanting to come back for more.
So if you’re ready to live out your Prince of Egypt dreams, keep on reading.
What to expect in Egypt:
Language: Arabic is the primary language spoken in Egypt. Most people you’ll encounter at the tourist sites speak some english but I found it helpful to download the Google Translate app so I could easily communicate with someone if I needed to.
Culture: Egypt is in the Middle East so the culture is much different than what we are used to in the states. It’s a beautiful country full of color, sizzling food, decorated alley ways and lots of sights, sounds and smells.
There are no traffic rules (cars go everywhere whenever they want and honk to make it known, so don’t be alarmed) and lots of scammers. When shopping in the markets and especially at gift shops at the sites, expect to be heckled. Keep your money close to you, be firm with your decisions and never pay full price (in the markets) always barter and try to get a deal. It’s fun!!
Currency: Egyptian Pound – EGP (E£) In 2023, when this blog was written, 1 Egyptian pound = 0.032 USD
Credit/Debit Cards: Most places it’s easiest to pay with cash – especially in the markets where you barter but there are plenty of ATM’s throughout the city and most all places accept VISA and Mastercard. AMEX varies from place to place.
Weather: Egypt is a desert so it’s HOT and dry. It has a mild winter season with some rain along the coast lines.
Cold(er) season: October – March (I went in March and the weather was perfect)
Warm season: May – September
Grand Nile Tower: Located right on the River Nile, Grand Nile Tower is the ideal place to stay on your trip to Egypt. With friendly staff, incredible amenities and tons of options of yummy food, this hotel is the perfect home away from home to relax after a long day of exploring. It’s also centrally located so it’s easy to get to a lot of the major sites in Cairo from here easily.
Other hotels that I have heard good things about are, The Four Seasons Cairo, Kempinski Hotel Cairo, The Hilton Cario and Ritz Carlton Cairo
Usually when I travel I go alone, I plan my trip and adventure by myself or with a friend but for Egypt, I HIGHLY recommend hiring a tour guide to take you everywhere because it removes the hassle of finding taxis and with the language and culture barrier, it’s makes it way easier to have someone with you the entire time, explaining what you’re seeing and helping you manage the hecklers.
I am happy to share the tour guide I used but don’t want to post his information online so if you are planning a trip to Egypt – shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to pass along his information.
Begin your day with breakfast at the hotel and then make your way to the Egyptian Museum – here you’ll find King Tut’s golden burial mask, coffin and all the treasures found in his unopened tomb in 1922.
Explore downtown Cairo and wander through the oldest bazaar in the Middle East, Khan el-Khalili where you can find so many fun souvenirs (don’t forget to barter!)
End your day with a relaxing dinner cruise on the River Nile in a traditional Egyptian Felucca Boat.
Day trip to Alexandria
Alexandria is a city on the north west coast of Egypt founded by Alexander the Great. Although the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the 7 wonders of the world, was destroyed many years ago, there is still much to see and do making Alexandria well worth the visit.
It’s about 2.5 hours drive from Cairo and the perfect place for a day trip.
Stop at the Catacombs and learn about the Greek influence on Egypt as you explore the empty chambers.
Grab fresh falafel at one of the street vendors. This was one of my favorite parts!
Visit Pompey’s Pillar.
Wander through the Citadel of Qaitbay and see where the lighthouse used to stand
Visit the Library of Alexandria – the original library was once the largest and most significant library of the ancient world.
To get the most out of your experience, watch documentaries about Egypt and listen to podcasts/read books about the history. There’s a really good series on Disney+ (Lost Treasures of Egypt) that I watched and I also read some books and it made a world of difference when I visited the sites because I actually understood what I was looking at and was able to appreciate it so much more.
Pyramids of Giza
I’m blocking a whole day off for the Great Pyramids of Giza because they are that amazing. You probably won’t need the whole day there but this gives you some flexibility to have down time and explore other parts of Cairo in your free time.
The Pyramids are massive and a marvel to see so give yourself plenty of time to take it all in.
This was my favorite part of my trip and I wish I could have stayed longer. I heard it’s not really worth it to go inside of the pyramids so I decided not to do that. The tombs were raided many years ago so it’s essentially just a big dark, empty chamber that gets really crammed so if you get claustrophobic, this might not be for you. Plus you have to pay extra to enter.
You can ride camels out to the desert for a great view of the pyramid but the people leading the tours will try to scam you so if you choose to do this, make sure you agree on a price BEFORE you get on your camel.
My camel ran away when we got to the desert and I ended up riding a horse back lol (watch the full video here)
There is a light show in the evening at the pyramids but I’ve heard it’s underwhelming so I’ll let you do with that what you want.
Day Trip to Luxor
Located 300 miles south on the Nile River is the beautiful city of Luxor. Luxor is full of color, life and well… death. It’s the home of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens and many other historic temples.
Round trip, nonstop flights from Cairo to Luxor are very reasonably priced and you can make it there and back in a day if you don’t want to stay overnight.
There are so many things to see in Luxor but I would make The Valley of the Kings and Queens, Karnak Temple, and Luxor Temple a priority. For a more detailed itinerary on Luxor see my Day in Luxor Guide HERE.
don’t drink the sink water – when brushing your teeth, use a water bottle to rinse just to be safe! Carry hand sanitizer with you and pack TUMS, melatonin and comfy shoes. Loose, breezy clothing is perfect for this trip because it can be HOT in the desert! (and most churches, mosques will make you have shoulders and knees covered)
On your last and final day, enjoy the beauty of Cairo. I went back to the pyramids one more time because I loved it so much but I also highly recommend checking out Coptic Cairo.
This area of town is one of the most beautiful and historic areas on Old Cairo offering a glimpse into early Christianity in Egypt.
Here you can see the Hanging Church, Babylon Fortress, church of St Sergius and Bacchus and sites that are believed to be places where the Holy family visited during their escape to Egypt after Jesus was born.
Also stop by the Cairo Citadel for incredible photos and jaw dropping sites.
If you aren’t worn out by now or have extra time on your trip, here are a few other note worthy things to see or do that I didn’t have room to squeeze in:
- The Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara – first pyramid
- take a felucca boat overnight down the nile from Cairo to Luxor
- Visit Aswan
- Visit Mt Sinai
- Swim in the Red Sea
- Twin Temples in Abu Simbel
- Temple of Horus in Edfu
Whether you are a history buff or just want to get the most out of life and see some of the most incredible structures from the ancient world, I’m confident you will have the time of your life in Egypt and it will be a trip you will never forget. Have so much fun!
Check out my guide on how to spend the best day in Luxor
See 20 photos to inspire you to travel to Egypt