The Abu Simbel temple in Upper Egypt has enormous statues of Ramses carved into the mountainside. It's one of the best reasons to visit Egypt.
|

16 Reasons To Visit Egypt In 2024

From ancient temples and pyramids to sandy beaches with crystal-blue waters, Egypt is a bucket-list destination with so much to offer.

And there’s A LOT going on in Egypt this year that makes it a perfect time to visit – from spruced-up attractions to new museums and tours off the beaten path.

Egypt is on CNN’s list of this year’s dream destinations  and it’s also Lonely Planet’s pick for best value.

A residential side street in Giza with local homes and a parked car with an enormous pyramid looming in the background.

Thinking about booking your next vacation? Egypt has bustling souqs, rich architecture and unbeatable seaside resorts. And it’s now more affordable than ever.

I’m an expat living for more than a decade in Cairo and I’ve been travelling around the country for years. And these are all my reasons you should visit Egypt this year – whether it’s your first time or you’re a repeat visitor!

Best reasons to visit Egypt: 

1. Budget friendly prices

Dee looks over a souvenir stand in Khan El Khalili selling metal lanterns and wooden boxes.

The Egyptian pound has fallen against the dollar – and that means even lower prices for tourists in Egypt when you’re converting dollars or euros into the local currency.

Ubers, 5-star hotels and luxurious restaurants will set you back a lot less in Egypt than back home.

And rest assured – yes Egypt is safe.

2. New museums

An enormous statue at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. The statue is of Ramses and the surroundings are sleek and modern.
(photo: Grand Egyptian Museum)

Everyone is talking about the new state-of-the-art Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza, which will showcase the treasures of King Tut for the first time all in one place.

Insider’s tip: GEM is set to open in mid 2024 and it’s already offering limited tours of the Grand Staircase and its collection of Ancient Egyptian statues.

But until GEM opens fully, head to the Egyptian Museum in Tahriryes it’s still open and it’s not closing! It still has King Tut’s legendary gold mask and the world’s largest collection of Ancient Egyptian antiquities.

egyptian museum

Officials there have been working overtime to spruce up old exhibits and add lots of fascinating new items – I was so happy on my recent visit to see lots of new additions.

There’s also the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (opened in 2021) which has 50,000 artifacts including an eerie collection of mummies.

3. The Giza Plateau

A view of the Sphinx in Giza with a pyramid perfectly aligned in the background.

The Pyramids of Giza need no introduction – and yes they’re just as amazing in real life as they are on National Geographic.

The Great Pyramid is about 4,600 years old and it’s the only remaining wonder of the ancient world.

And while Giza is a very crowded suburb, the plateau itself has large stretches of sand where you still feel like an ancient explorer uncovering history (once the camel salesmen back away).

(photo: Khufu’s Restaurant)

Insider’s tip: The plateau recently got a little makeover. There are now two elegant restaurants (Khufu’s and 9 Pyramids Lounge) right on the plateau where you can unwind with a beer and one of the best views in the world.

4. Ancient Egyptian wonders

best things to do in aswan

Explore Luxor with its legendary Karnak Temple and its hypostyle hall full of soaring columns. Descent into the tombs at the Valley of the Kings and their breathtaking hieroglyphics in still-vibrant colors.

And marvel at Abu Simbel (above) with its enormous statues of Ramses II carved into the mountain that can even be seen from the plane.

There’s also the charming Philae Temple perched on a beautiful island in Aswan – it’s the last Egyptian temple where the ancient gods were worshiped.

Insider’s tip: If you’ve been to Egypt once and think you’ve seen it all, then head to Dendera, Amarna or the Ramesseum. These sites are just as fascinating for history buffs as their more popular counterparts.

5. Nile cruising

felucca in aswan

A cruise down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan (or vice versa) is an unforgettable experience – and the easiest way to see all the essential Ancient Egyptian temples in a single trip.

It’s also a great way to enjoy the luscious scenery along the way – and to spot some local Upper Egyptian life along the river banks.

Insider’s tip: Luxury brands like Movenpick and Oberoi operate their own cruise boats and they are spectacular. Or take a cruise in a wind-powered wooden dahabiya for an ultra-luxurious experience right out of Agatha Christie.

When you’re not sightseeing, enjoy your boat’s rooftop deck and swimming pool, delectable food and nightly entertainment (like folk dancing and cooking classes).

6. Red sea beaches

A beach on the Red Sea in Egypt with blue water surrounded by lounge chairs and sandy cliffs.

Egypt has an entire Red Sea riviera that’s especially popular in winter, when thousands of Europeans come to trade in the snowy days of their homelands for eternal sunshine and blue waters.

Sharm el Sheikh (above) and Hurghada have resorts to fit every budget along with family-friendly water parks and romantic restaurants for the adults.

Insider’s tip: Other quieter gems like Dahab and Marsa Alam are perfect for getting away from it all.

7. Year-round sunshine

A cruise boat on the Nile River in Egypt speeds off into a golden sunset.

Overcast days are few and far between in Egypt. And while summers are hot and brutal, the rest of the year is a paradise of mild temperatures and sunshine.

That means you can book your trip and rest assured you won’t fly into an unexpected week of rain storms. And life just feels better when you’re getting enough vitamin D.

8. Desert adventures

The white desert in Egypt is filled with rock formations and splatters of white sand on top of beige sand.

Egypt has huge expanses of desert dotted with palm groves, oasis, majestic sand dunes and waterfalls.

Hop on a sandboard in Fayoum for a thrilling ride to the bottom (or a soft landing in the sand). Or head to Wadi Al Hitan to see some incredible whale fossils perfectly preserved in the dry sands.

The Siwa Oasis (my all-time favorite place in Egypt) has stunning salt lakes, Ancient Egyptian tombs and breathtaking eco lodges.

9. Scuba diving and snorkeling

An underwater scene in Egypt showing colorful reefs and tiny yellow fish.

The Red Sea is known for its well-preserved coral reefs and crystal clear waters. And it has some of the world’s best dive sites and vibrant marine life.

From thrilling dives to spot illusive sea creatures to beginner-friendly house reefs, Egypt has something to offer divers of all levels.

You’ll even spot colorful clusters of fish in the Red Sea when you’re standing in the waters of your hotel beach – the sea is that clear and perfect.

10. Egyptian street food

egyptian street food

Egypt has incredible street food from falafel (aka ta’amiya) and fava beans (ful) to heaping bowls of koshari (pasta piled with chickpeas, lentils and more).

It’s cheap, plentiful and delicious. You’ll find a street food joint on nearly every corner of major cities. And it’s very vegetarian-friendly too.

And don’t forget Egyptian desserts like Om Ali and basbousa to savor over cups of Turkish coffee or pots of mint tea.

11. Medieval marvels

The tall minaret and dome of the Qalawun complex loom over a small sidestreet.

Moez Street in Cairo is packed with historic mosques, palaces, hammams and religious complexes that make up the world’s most dense collection of Islamic architecture.

There’s also the historic Khan el Khalili souq with its historic gates, bustling street life and shops lined with local handicrafts.

Moez Street was founded in the 10th century and built up with each successive ruling dynasty right up through the 19th-century Ottomans.

Explore medieval city walls and climb atop minarets for sweeping city views at this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Insider’s tip: Get off the beaten path and explore Al Darb Al Ahmar, a historic district at the tip of Moez lined with historic gems that are now restored to their medieval splendor.

12. Authentic culture

aswan handicrafts

Egypt has an authentic culture that hasn’t been entirely Americanized and globalized.

Sure you’ll find plenty of McDonalds and Zara scattered about. But you’ll also hear Egyptian music in your Uber and meet people wearing galabiyas not jeans.

You’ll also discover an array of cultures from the Upper Egyptian traditions in Luxor to the vibrant Nubian customs and handicrafts of Aswan.

Places like Siwa with its Amazigh culture are especially unspoiled with their old shali and eco lodges (and not one hotel chain in sight).

13. Friendly locals

what to buy in aswan

Egyptians are very friendly and they go the extra mile for tourists – tourism is a huge industry and entire cities like Luxor revolve around it.

That means you’ll be welcomed and treated well, from warm service at restaurants to accommodating tour guides (though the internet loves drama so the bad stories sometimes get a lot more attention).

Insider’s tip: do you research and read reviews when you’re picking out a hotel, tour guide, restaurant, etc. And get off the beaten path to experience Egypt outside the tourist sites to meet locals.

14. Fascinating cities

A tall ornate building stands on a corner of downtown Cairo. It has intricate architecture and balconies.

Cairo has an incredible downtown built in the 19th century full of unique architecture, bustling city life and belle epoque treasures.

Built by the era’s top European architects to rival the world’s glitziest capitals, downtown Cairo today maintains a weathered charm. And it’s experiencing a renaissance with hip cafes, film festivals and art galleries.

Alexandria on the Mediterranean has its famous library (built on the site of the old one), gorgeous architecture, beaches, historic cafes and the breezy Citadel of Qaitbay.

15. Religious history

things to do in coptic cairo

Egypt has a rich Christian history – from sites like Mount Sinai and desert monasteries to the historic monuments of Coptic Cairo.

Hike Mount Sinai to see the fabled mountain where Moses received the 10 commandments. Or take a day trip from Cairo to explore the quiet and majestic Wadi Natrun Monasteries dating back to the 4th century.

And don’t miss Coptic Cairo with its historic Hanging Church and site where the Holy Family is believed to have taken shelter (known as Abu Serga).

16. Vibrant handicrafts

Elaborate lanterns piled high and lit in colors of blue, orange and red at a shop in Khan el Khalili.

From the colorful cushions at the Tentmakers Market to wooden boxes inlaid with mother-of-pearl, Egypt has a rich (and often underrated) tradition of authentic handicrafts.

Shop at Khan el Khalili for lanterns with intricate metalwork. Don’t miss the souqs of Luxor for the best alabaster and Ancient Egyptian figurines. And browse the markets in Aswan for colorful baskets and Nubian jewelry.

Insider’s tip: Enjoy the haggling at these tourist souqs or head to the leafy suburb of Zamalek in Cairo for upscale boutiques and modern designers.

Best things to do in Egypt

best things to do in egypt

Egypt boasts centuries of history, from pharaonic tombs to medieval mosques and offbeat museums.

Read 30 Incredible Things To Do In Egypt (A Local’s Guide!) for my ultimate guide to plan your perfect Egypt itinerary.

Best things to do in Cairo

best things to do in egypt

Pyramids, mummies, souqs, museums. There’s a lot to do in Cairo. And planning your perfect itinerary can quickly get overwhelming.

Where do you even start? Read 25 Best Things To Do In Cairo (A Local’s Guide) for my ultimate guide.

More resources

Grand Egyptian Museum: Opening Date in 2024

10 Incredible Things To See At The Egyptian Museum

Is Egypt Safe? (An Expat’s Honest Opinion For 2024)