Home of the ancient Pharaohs, Egypt is a dazzling destination of temples and tombs that wow all who visit. It is not all historic treasures though. With vast tracts of desert, superb scuba diving, and the famed Nile River there is something for everyone here. Beach lovers head to the Sinai to soak up the sun, while archaeology fans will have a field day in Luxor. Cairo is the megalopolis that cannot be beaten for city slickers, while Siwa oasis and the southern town of Aswan offer a slice of the slow pace of the countryside. Egypt has so much for travelers to see and do; it is the perfect country for a mix of activities combining culture, adventure, and relaxation.
The atmospheric, narrow lanes of the capital's Islamic Cairo district are crammed with mosques, madrassas, and monuments dating from the Fatimid through to the Mameluke eras. This is where you will find the labyrinth shopping souk of Khan el-Khalili where coppersmiths and artisans still have their tiny workshops, and stalls are laden with ceramics, textiles, spice, and perfume. Surrounding the market is a muddle of roads, home to some of the most beautiful preserved architecture of the old Islamic empires. Visit Al-Azhar Mosque and the dazzling Sultan Hassan Mosque, and make sure you climb to the roof of the ancient medieval gate of Bab Zuweila for the best minaret-speckled panoramas across the district.
Egypt's most tranquil town is Aswan, set upon the winding curves of the Nile. Backed by orange-hued dunes, this is the perfect place to stop and unwind for a few days and soak up the chilled-out atmosphere. Take the river ferry across to Elephantine Island and stroll the colorful streets of the Nubian villages. Ride a camel to the desert monastery of St. Simeon on the East Bank, or just drink endless cups of tea on one of the riverboat restaurants.
One of Egypt's natural wonders is the White Desert where surreally shaped chalk mountains have created what looks like a snowy wonderland in the middle of the arid sand. The landscape here looks like something out of a science fiction movie with blindingly white boulders and iceberg-like pinnacles.
This oasis is the tranquil tonic to the hustle of Egypt's cities. Surrounded by date palm plantations and numerous fresh water springs, it is one of the Western Desert's most picturesque spots.
Pyramids of Giza:
The last surviving of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza are one of the world's most recognisable landmarks. Built as tombs for the mighty Pharaohs and guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx, Giza's pyramid complex has awed travelers down through the ages and had archaeologists scratching their heads over how they were built for centuries. Today, these megalithic memorials to dead kings are still as wondrous a sight as they ever were.
Luxor's Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings:
Famed for the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut, the Nile-side town of Luxor in Upper Egypt has a glut of tourist attractions. This is ancient Thebes, powerbase of the New Kingdom pharaohs, and home to more sights than most can see on one visit. While the East Bank brims with vibrant souk action, the quieter West Bank is home to a bundle of tombs and temples that has been called the biggest open air museum in the world. Spend a few days here exploring the colorful wall art of the tombs and gazing in awe at the colossal columns in the temples, and you will see why Luxor continues to fascinate historians and archaeologists.
Even in a country festooned with temples, Abu Simbel is something special. This is Ramses II's great temple, adorned with colossal statuary standing guard outside, and with an interior sumptuously decorated with wall paintings. Justly famous for its megalithic proportions, Abu Simbel is also known for the incredible feat, which saw the entire temple moved from its original setting - set to disappear under the water because of the Aswan dam - during the 1960s in a massive UNESCO operation that took four years.
A treasure trove of the Pharaonic world, Cairo's Egyptian Museum is one of the world's great museum collections. The faded pink mansion is home to a dazzling amount of exhibits. It is a place with little labeling on offer and not much chronological order, but that is half of its old-school charm. Upstairs is the golden glory of King Tutankhamen and the fascinating royal mummies exhibits. Every corner of this museum is home to wonderful piece of ancient art or statuary that would form a highlight of any other museum.
Egyptian cuisine is characterized by dishes such as Ful Medames, mashed fava beans; Koshari, a mixture of lentils, rice, pasta, and other ingredients; 'Molokheyya, chopped and cooked bush okra with garlic and coriander sauce; and Fetir Meshaltet.