tour guides in egypt
Egypt,  Travel

7 Must-Try Tour Guides In Egypt (Off The Beaten Path)

Unique tour guides in Egypt are making little-known destinations popular. If you want to see Egypt beyond the pyramids and Luxor, here’s how.

It’s past midnight and we’re heading to Marsa Alam on a crowded bus.

We’re promised three days of pristine beaches, snorkeling and encounters with the endangered marine mammal Dugong. Organizers pass out chocolate and pins that say, ‘I am an Egyptian Adventurer.”

Most of the group isn’t familiar with Marsa Alam. “I never thought I’d be here,” a woman says after we tour Qulaan’s mangroves and lunch on grilled fish.

For many tourists, Egypt means the pyramids, Luxor – and maybe an old mosque or two.

But this three-day trip to Marsa Alam is an eye-opener.

And it’s one of the many new offerings if you want to explore Egypt off the beaten path.

Here are the best tour guides in Egypt to explore the country’s lesser-known wonders: 

1. Footloose Egypt

marsa alam tour guide

egypt tour guides

marsa alam souvenirs

When Footloose organized its first trip to Marsa Alam, only about 20 people signed up because nobody knew much about the destination, says Sherif Fawzy, co-founder and CEO.

But word of that trip – and Instagram-worthy beach photos – spread quickly on social media. The company’s second trip to Marsa Alam (in 2016) had a packed bus of 45 people.

“We’re no Greece, but we’re better,” organizers had enticed on the trip’s Facebook event page. “Proof? Our Marsa Alam’s shore Hankorab is listed as the 13th most beautiful shore worldwide.”

Footloose has since grown as a reputable and affordable tour agency perfect for youth, backpackers and solo travelers.

To date, Footloose has taken some 4,500 travellers of 36 nationalities to trips around Sinai. They’ve offered off-the-beaten-path itineraries like stargazing in Wadi el Hitan, yoga in Ras Sidr and backpacking in Luxor.

And while major travel agencies are concerned with bringing tourism back to Egypt, smaller agencies like Footloose are brainstorming new destinations. They’re “trying to combine different cities in a way that’s never been offered before,” Fawzy says.

“When we first started, on the very first trip we went to different hotels and camps, and we were the only ones there,” Fawzy says. “On our 10th trip to Wadi Hitan, we had 900 people on Facebook in four days saying they were interested.”

2. Cairo D-Tour

downtown cairo tour

Downtown Cairo isn’t on many tourist itineraries. A typical visit to Cairo includes a few hours in the famous souq of Khan el Khalili, the pyramids and a stop at the Egyptian Museum.

But Cairo’s rich modern history is definitely worth exploring. There are no plaques on historic buildings, cinemas or squares to make a self-guided tour easy.

Cairo D-Tour is a free guided walk held every Friday morning. It’s when the city is most quiet, before Friday prayers.

The tour goes through the city’s famous squares like Tahrir, heritage sites and old cinemas that made Egyptian cinema famous in the Arab world.

You’ll see the Egyptian stock exchange on a sidestreet lined with potted plants. You’ll have a drink at Cafe Riche, where revolutionaries once gathered to plot against the British occupation. And you’ll peek inside the Yacoubian Building, the setting for Alaa Al-Aswany’s infamous novel depicting homosexuality.

The tour goes beyond the iconic sites to offer insights into modern Cairo life. There’s a stop at the hip cafe Kafein, bar El Horryia (a great spot for beer), and bookstores, theaters and art galleries.

3. Walk Like An Egyptian

city of the dead cairo tour

city of the dead cairo tour

city of the dead cairo tour

Cairo’s City of the Dead is a dense Islamic necropolis where people live and work “amongst the dead.”

Founded in 642, it’s the final resting place for generations of rulers, royalty and conquerors. It’s also home to Egyptians who moved to the capital in the 1960s and couldn’t find affordable housing.

Many tour guides skip over this neighbourhood, labelling it a mysterious, impoverished district tinged with danger.

But the City of the Dead is also the signature tour for Walk Like an Egyptian, a tour guide dedicated to Egypt’s hidden gems.

The tour goes through historic tombs and shows real life in the bustling district full of street art and glass blowing workshops.

There’s also another tour of the  Mosque of Ibn Tulun with an itinerary that includes a stop for an authentic Egyptian breakfast and a ride in a tuk-tuk.

The guides are informative and insightful on Egyptian life. And they offer an authentic experience without the tourist cliches.

4. Mosaic Club

abdeen palace tour

abdeen palace tour

Tour Guide Muhammad Zeineddin doesn’t have a marketing department. He markets his initiative Mosaic Club – which offers city tours, trips and cultural exchanges – solely on social media.

Social media has also made researching new destinations much easier, Zeineddin says. Even the smallest towns have their own Wikipedia pages.

And Mosaic Club offers trips you won’t find elsewhere.

Last year, Zeineddin lead a “Banknote Tour” around Cairo that hit an array of mosques found on Egyptian banknotes. Tours of little-explored museums like the Abdeen Palace have also proved popular, Zeineddin says.

The Mosaic Club’s cultural exchange events also give Egyptians an opportunity to experience new cultures. Zeineddin’s posts on volunteer work or scholarships abroad get thousands of shares and inspire many to travel.

Expats and foreigners both love the tours as a safe and hassle-free way to explore lesser known parts of Egypt.

“Egypt needs to promote itself outside of the desert and camels stereotypes,” Zeineddin says. “Tour agencies need to offer more variety. They need to give people something more interesting – because we have a lot of competition.”

5. Yoga With Amr

yoga with amr egypt

yoga with amr egypt

yoga with amr egypt

Yoga With Amr offers yoga retreats in some of Egypt’s most breathtaking natural wonders.

Whether it’s yoga amid the pyramids of Saqqara or in the dunes of the Siwa Oasis, Yoga With Amr’s retreats offer travel off the beaten path while deepening your yoga practice.

They’re also a chance to practice mindfulness and strengthen your connection to nature.

Amr is a certified yoga teacher who teaches at various yoga studios around Cairo. And he’s passionate about practicing yoga amid breathtaking landscapes.

The retreats are held in small groups in a laid-back atmosphere without any tourist rush to see all the landmarks. They’re well organized and hassle-free – and perfect for solo travelers and women.

Amr is a kind and patient teacher who accommodates all students. The yoga and meditation sessions are suitable for all levels.

Hiking, swimming and other fitness activities are often build into Amr’s itinerary.

6. Redefine Egypt

redefine egypt tour

redefine egypt tour

redefine egypt tour

Redefine Egypt is a small community that offers walking tours around Cairo (often free of charge) and trips to further off destinations like Port Said.

From visits to a small Egyptian village famous for harvesting jasmine, to day trips to a rural island in the heart of Cairo’s Nile River, Redefine Egypt’s tours are always refreshingly unique.

They offer a more authentic perspective on non-touristy destinations with a focus on architecture and hidden gems. And the tours are often lead by local guides familiar with the destination. There are also stops for coffee for a chance to meet some local residents.

Redefine Egypt was launched by young Egyptians to counter the negative stereotypes that surround Egypt. By offering occasional tours free of charge, they aim to popularize local travel among Egyptian youth.

The tours are open to anyone, whether Egyptian or foreign, and often attract street photographers and Instagrammers.

Redefine Egypt also hosts occasional photo contests and exhibits for the winners.

7. Meow Tours

meow tours egypt

Meow Tours offer trips to local shelters near Cairo and walking tours in various Cairo neighbourhoods to feed the stray cats and dogs so common in the city.

The Cairo-based initiative focuses on raising awareness of animal rights in Egypt and on fighting misconceptions about street cats and dogs.

If you’re an animal lover, Meow Tours is a great way to spend an afternoon walking a pooch at a shelter or feeding a litter of stray kittens.

The tours often include a few local shelters on the itinerary with a change to donate food or money to the organizations.

Many animal shelters are scattered just outside Cairo. But Meow Tours’ speedy van makes it easy to visit them all in a single afternoon.

Shelter employees often give short presentations during the tours on the plight of Egyptian street animals and the misconceptions about stray dogs in particular.

Read more about Egypt in 5 Must-See Buildings In Downtown Cairo.

31 Comments

  • Iana

    First of all, thank you for the eyes-opening blog about Cairo. Internet is full of stories of how you should not even try to go out on the streets without a tour guide, but you are showing fun and welcoming Cairo! And encorage me to go easy on booking tours! Thank you!)

    Nethertheless, i would like to ask if you can recommend any egyptologist for an inside tour into The Egyptian Museum. I’d really love to go with someone who knows a bit more than Wiki, but I have know clue how to find one with all these shady tour agwncies and so on…

    Thanks in advance!))

    • Dee

      Hello Iana, thanks so much for your kind words! I’d recommend “Walk Like an Egyptian” – they have a Facebook page where you can contact them, and they offer lots of tours off the beaten path and private tour guides too.

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