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Land of hieroglyphics, pyramids, and riverside temples, Egypt is one of our top destinations for anyone who loves ancient history. Most tours focus on the millennia-old landmarks around Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, but how you explore them is entirely up to you.

You might choose to spend a few days cruising along the Nile, stopping off at temples with an Egyptologist guide. Or perhaps you’d prefer to travel by land, staying in history-steeped hotels and luxury waterfront properties. You could also take time to relax beside the Red Sea or extend your Egypt trip into Jordan to witness the living-rock ruins of Petra.

Along the way, we can add in experiences according to your personal interests. You could visit the Giza pyramids at sunrise before they’re open to the public, enjoy a private felucca ride to Aswan’s botanical gardens, or taste traditional Egyptian cuisine on a food tour of Cairo.

If you’re planning a trip to Egypt, take a look at our specialists’ best Egypt tour ideas below for inspiration.

1. Highlights of Egypt Nile cruise

Sipping sundowners on deck, falling asleep to the gentle sound of water lapping against your boat, and soaking up timeless landscapes away from the crowds… A cruise along the Nile is one of the best ways to experience Egypt. Your specialist will help you choose a vessel to suit your style, whether it’s a luxury ship with a spa or a more intimate traditional dahabiya.

Where the trip could take you:

You’ll start in Egypt’s frenetic capital city, Cairo, just a short drive from the country’s best-known pyramids. We suggest staying here for a couple of days before flying to Aswan for your cruise, which will take you to an array of tombs and temples along the river. You can then catch a flight from Luxor back to Cairo.

Experiences you can have:

Throughout your journey, you’ll step off your ship or boat with expert Egyptologist guides. They’ll share stories of ancient Egyptian pharaohs and gods, decoding the hieroglyphics you encounter along the way. Depending on which vessel you choose, you’ll probably stop to see Philae Temple, the Temple of Horus, and the Valley of the Kings.

Before or after your cruise, you can explore the country more deeply. You might ride a camel on the Giza Plateau for an alternative perspective on the pyramids. Or, try your hand at bartering in Cairo’s chaotic souqs with the help of a local guide.

Alternatively, if you’d like even more time on the water, you can glide along the Nile on a felucca, a traditional wooden sailboat, to visit Aswan Botanical Garden or Elephantine Island’s mud-brick ruins.

M.S. Sonesta St. George I
MS Sonesta St George cruise boat, River Nile

2. Cairo, Luxor & Aswan by land

If you’d rather keep your feet on solid ground, it’s easy to see Egypt’s historical highlights without boarding a boat. Unlike a cruise, there are no fixed timings, so you have more flexibility and freedom to explore what you want at your own pace. You can also visit nearby sights, like the laidback city of Alexandria or the temples at Abu Simbel, built by Ramses the Great.

Where the trip could take you:

As with most Egypt tours, you’ll fly into Cairo to spend a couple of days in the city and at the pyramids. Then, you’ll take a short flight to Luxor for the driving portion of your journey to Aswan (we’ll arrange a private driver for you). En route, you can make as many stops as you’d like to explore the nearby temples with an expert guide. Once you’re ready to head home, you’ll fly back to Cairo’s international airport.

Experiences you can have:

Privacy is the ultimate luxury in Egypt, so you’ll have your own private guide with you as you tour the country’s ancient sites. You could wander Giza’s pyramids at dawn before the site officially opens to visitors, and venture into quieter temples in the Valley of the Kings that fly under the radar on standard tours.

For something a little different, wind your way through Aswan’s narrow market streets searching for traditional Nubian handicrafts. Then, visit the Nubian Museum, where you can further delve into the culture and history of the Indigenous people who’ve lived in this region for thousands of years.

Giza Pyramids, Cairo
Pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza, near Cairo

3. Egypt city & beach break

Vibrant souqs and delicately spiced street food, followed by coral-fringed shores — Egypt’s draw goes well beyond its ancient monuments. For a cultural trip with time to unwind on the coast, you might enjoy combining Cairo with a few days by the Red Sea. A great option for divers, this route balances adventure and relaxation.

Where the trip could take you:

After landing in Cairo, you’ll meet your private driver and guide, who’ll help you see the capital through the eyes of a local. From there, it’s a short flight to the bustling beachside resorts of Hurghada, or a 90-minute drive from Hurghada’s airport if you’d like to relax on the sleepier El Quseir coast instead.

Once there, you’ll probably spend most of your time at a resort (your specialist can help you choose one with plenty of character). For jaunts outside the resort, you can opt for a taxi.

Experiences you can have:

While you’re in the capital, we can, of course, arrange for you to visit its relic-filled museums and nearby pyramids with a private Egyptologist guide.

However, there’s more to the city than its ancient roots. You can join a street-food tour that takes in the city’s best places for koshari, fresh juices, and baklava. Or, take a guided tour of the twinkling Khan El Khalili bazaar at night, where you can soak up the atmosphere and learn how to haggle like a local.

Along the Red Sea coast, you can spend your days stretching out on the sand, relaxing at the spa, and snorkeling above kaleidoscopic coral reefs teeming with fish, turtles, and octopuses. Some of our favorite hotels, like Mövenpick El Quseir, also offer adrenaline-filled 4x4 tours into the desert.

View, Mövenpick Resort El Quseir
Mövenpick Resort El Quseir, Red Sea

4. Luxor & Red Sea relaxation

If you want to combine Egypt’s history with a beach stay, we recommend splitting your time between Luxor — ancient Egypt’s most important city — and Hurghada by the Red Sea. These two places let you explore hieroglyphic-adorned tombs on the West and East banks with an Egyptologist guide, before swimming, diving, and unwinding along the coast.

Where the trip could take you:

This route allows you to forgo the rush of Cairo, flying straight into Luxor. We’ll arrange for a driver to take you to its historic landmarks, accompanied by a private guide. Then, they’ll drive you four hours northeast along vast swathes of desert to Hurghada’s reef-fringed shores.

Experiences you can have:

Though you won’t see any pyramids on this trip, Luxor boasts a large concentration of well-preserved tombs, temples, obelisks, and hundreds of sphinx statutes. As you explore, your private guide with help you decipher hieroglyphics, tell tales of the pharaohs, kings, and queens who are buried there, and give you an insight into ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife (the West Bank is known as the ‘Theban Necropolis’).

We can also arrange for you to visit tombs that are often missed if you’re taking a cruise, like the highly decorated Tomb of Seti I and Tomb of Queen Nefatari. You can also visit Howard Carter’s mud-brick residence. He lived here for around 20 years, searching for and eventually finding and documenting the Tomb of Tutankhamun. There’s an exact replica of the tomb next to the house — an impressive project that aims to preserve and protect the original burial place.

Tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun, Valley of the Kings
Tomb of Tutankhamun, Valley of the Kings

5. Egypt & Jordan’s ancient civilizations

From ancient Egypt to the Nabatean Kingdom, this trip idea takes you to two wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza and Jordan’s Petra, ending with a cruise on the Nile. You’ll get to experience Egypt’s historical highlights, including the main tombs, temples, and pyramids, as well as Jordan’s ancient city ruins at Petra and Jerash and its stark desert environment at Wadi Rum.

Where the trip could take you:

You’ll fly into Amman’s airport for the Jordan portion of your trip. We’ll arrange for a private driver and guide to take you from place to place, including Petra, Jerash, and Wadi Rum. Then, you’ll catch a short flight to Cairo, followed by a domestic flight to Aswan for your Nile cruise. You can then relax on the Red Sea coast in Hurghada.

Experiences you can have:

Much like Egypt’s ancient sites, Petra can get busy. To avoid the crowds, we’ll arrange for you to visit with a guide at dawn, when there are far fewer people around and light dances off the city’s rock-carved façades.

For an alternative perspective, you can hike the ‘back way’ to Petra. Against the stark mountain backdrop, your guide will steer you towards Petra’s Monastery before the throngs arrive, sharing expert insights into its 2,000-year-old history as you walk. Then, you can finish the day with a private Jordanian dinner in a Bedouin cave.

To make the most of Jordan’s Mars-like desert landscapes, you can also take a 4x4 tour with a local Bedouin guide in Wadi Rum. Or, if you’d rather experience the burnt-orange scenery at a slower pace, go for a hike or a camel ride instead.

Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan