Egypt – The land of Pharaohs. A place where we get a glimpse of the life thousands of years ago. One of the greatest civilization, a magical place filled with secrets, myths and wonder. This is a dazzling destination for adventure enthusiasts and history buffs alike and there are so many places to see in Egypt to satisfy anyone’s curiosity. Ever since I was little, I remember watching documentaries, reading books, articles about ancient Egypt and the life of Pharaohs. Who built the pyramid built? What was its purpose? How did they achieve such precise accuracy? Visiting Egypt was one of the greatest experience of my life and my curiosity to know more has only increased ever since our trip to Egypt. Here are the Top 10 places to see in Egypt.
This is such an obvious choice and the number 1 destination of the Top 10 places to see in Egypt for any tourist to visit. The Great pyramid‘s immense scale is nothing short of an astonishment. You would have seen pyramids thousands of time on movies, documentaries etc, but nothing really compares to the grandeur, a definite jaw-dropping moment. This alone is a totally worth the complete trip.
The Giza Necropolis is huge and one would definitely need transportation to move around the complex (Scorching heat being another reason). Thankfully there are taxis available in case you are not with a tour group. There is a panorama spot at the south west corner of the complex which provides a magnificent view of the great pyramids. Here you can also take camel rides to a deeper part of desert which would be a photographers dream.
Can you go inside the pyramid?
Yes, you can. But we recommend you don’t! You would have to pay extra for the Entry into the Giza pyramid. But this is not the reason. The inside of the King’s chamber of Khufu’s pyramid is plain and there is not much to see. There are other great places to see cool inscriptions and sarcophagus such as the Valley of Kings or Saqqara. Want to see the inside of a pyramid? Check our blog post here – Inside a Pyramid
The place where it all started – Saqqara!
Saqqara is the first known pyramid structure from the ancient times. It is also known as “the Step pyramid” or “the Pyramid of Djoser”. Constructed between the years 2667 – 2648 BC during the third dynasty. Read more about Saqqara pyramid here – Step Pyramid of Djoser
Ancient city of Memphis
Memphis was the capital city of the old kingdom located south of Cairo. This is a historically significant place, almost to the point of saying this is where it all began. What we see now is only a fraction of how the capital city looked like. Many artifacts displayed at Cairo museum were unearthed from Memphis. Read more about Memphis here – Memphis – The Forgotten City
This was our most favorite place in Egypt. The temple of Abu Simbel has been a wonder since its construction under the reign of Ramesses II. He ruled Egypt for more than 60 years and known as the most powerful pharoh during his time. There are 2 temples here. One dedicated to himself and other to his wife Nefertari. Twice every year, the sun rays illuminates 3 of the 4 statues of the main temple’s inner sanctum. That is Amun, Ra-Harakhty and Ramesses II himself. The god of darkness, Ptah remains in darkness during this epic phenomenon. Thousands of people gather here just that day to see it.
Another interesting fact is that the complete temple structure along with the whole hill was sliced like a cake and moved to higher elevation. They had to move it to prevent flooding from the newly planned Aswan High Dam.
Ah, Karnak! Your Egypt trip is not complete without this. It is the second most visited place after Giza pyramids. This is a massive temple built over a period of several years. It is said over 20 pharaohs contributed to the construction of the temple. The Great Hypo-style hall covers an area of over 50,000 sq ft and has 134 massive columns which are over 70 ft tall.
Valley of Kings
Situated on the west bank of Nile in the ancient City of Thebes, Valley of the Kings was the burial places of Pharaohs and other powerful people in the kingdom. It was used during the later part of the dynasty since the Pyramids were usually plundered. The most famous tomb would be of Tutankhamun since it was untouched for over 3000 years till it was discovered in early 1920’s. Well known Pharaohs who were buried here include Seti I and II, Ramesses II, Hatshepsut and Amenhotep II.
The entrance ticket includes access to any 3 tombs except a few which has a separate fee such as Tutankhamun, Ay.
Temple of Luxor
There are great monuments on Thebes (present day Luxor) east and west banks of river Nile. The Luxor temple is present on the east bank. It was constructed under the reign of famous pharaoh such as Amenhotep III, Tutankhamun and Rameses II. The entrance of the temple has several sphinx statues lined on either sides. It is believed that the avenue of sphinx was connected from the Luxor temple to Karnak. This road was used once a year during the Opet festival.
Old Cairo definitely needs its own day to explore. There is a lot of history in this place. Few key places include:
Fort of Babylon
Church of St Sergius and Bacchus – Did you know that the Holy Family – Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus Christ, rested at the end of their journey into Egypt.
Ben Ezra Synagogue
A specific ethnic group of people from southern Egypt and northern Sudan moved here during the construction of Aswan high dam. The access to this village is via a boat ride from Aswan. This is a very colorful village with interesting construction of houses. They live as joint family by sharing the huge common living room and a common kitchen. The living area just has a semi open roof, sand floor and lots of seating. The bedrooms are arranged around the living. We had the opportunity to visit one of their traditional Nubian home and they were kind enough to offer us some tea & hibiscus drink. They even had a pet alligator from Nile! You should see the view from the rooftop. Its spectacular!
Last, but not the least! From the great Tutankhamun’s trasures to the mummy of King Ramesses II, Cairo museum has it all. They have over 250,000 artifacts and would need 2 complete days if you want to see everything here. If you don’t have much time, we highly recommend you to see the exhibit hall of Mummys. You might need to pay a little extra but its totally worth it. It gave us chills while looking at the actual mummy up so close. For some it might seem disturbing too.
Did you like our post on Top 10 places to see in Egypt. Check out our other post on Egypt below