4 Places to Go in Egypt That Aren’t the Pyramids

 

As the only surviving wonder of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid of Giza has rightfully earned its place on bucket lists worldwide. But once you’ve paid your respects to old Khufu, that’s no reason to call it quits with the land of the pharaohs. Egypt is full of other attractions to fill out your Middle Eastern holiday.

Alexandria

While exploring the mysteries of ancient Egypt, you’d be remiss not to make at least a day trip to the coastal city of Alexandria. During the days of Antony and Cleopatra, this critical Mediterranean port was home to a famed lighthouse – one of the now ruined wonders of the ancient world – and one of the largest libraries across the globe. The Lighthouse or Pharos of Alexandria is long gone, but the library has been reconstructed. The modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina combines the old royal library’s historic reputation with stunning contemporary architecture. Add a little natural beauty to your visit at Montazah Palace Gardens, a romantic spot full of palm trees swaying in the breeze and phenomenal Mediterranean views.

The Qaitbay Citadel, Alexandria, Egypt
The Qaitbay Citadel, Alexandria, Flickr © Stephen Friday

Aswan

From the modern glory of the Aswan Dam to the ancient temples of Abu Simbel, Egypt’s southern commercial gateway has plenty to offer travelers interested in getting slightly off the beaten path. To get here from Cairo, take the train, hop on a short flight, or for an extra special Egyptian experience, join a felucca sailing tour down the Nile. For the best preserved ruins, head out to Philae Island one evening for the temple’s sound and light show. While you’re in the south of the country, don’t miss the chance to explore the Nubian Village and its fantastic museum. Savor an authentic meal among traditional culture.

Aswan Nile View, Egypt
Aswan Nile View, Flickr © Tracy DeLuca

Luxor

Want some serious pharaoh sightings? Head south to Luxor. The Valley of the Kings is home to five hundred years’ worth of royal tombs, including Rameses II, Hatshepsut, and the famed boy king Tutankhamun. Be sure to visit with a guide, as tombs open to the public on a rotating basis and you may not be able to see the burial sites you want on your own. Reserve an evening for the Temple of Karnak, Luxor’s most popular tourist attraction. Like many temples, it presents an interactive show after dark. Once you’ve had your fill of the ruins, view some of the antiquities that didn’t make their way off with grave robbers at the Luxor Museum.

Temple of Karnak, Egypt
Temple of Karnak, Flickr © Michael Tyler

Hurghada

You’ll still run into plenty of tourists in Aswan and Luxor, so if you’re serious about getting off the beaten path, head away from the Nile to the eastern resort town of Hurghada. This Red Sea port is a world-renowned scuba diving spot with ample nightlife and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. If you’re not a certified diver, you can still have plenty of fun on the water with sailing, wind surfing, snorkeling, and deep sea fishing. If you need to clock in some time indoors, try the city’s museum or aquarium.