I've seen a lot of the great natural wonders, cathedrals, and ruins of the Western world, but none of them have been as impressive as the Pyramids of Giza. My advice is to get a ride out there (your hotel should be able to arrange something) as early as possible. The buses full of tourists and Egyptian schoolchildren (and the pushy peddlers) show up around 10am, so try and get there at 8:30 and you can at least have an hour to yourself. When I got there, there were maybe 20 other people at the most, which is a rare feat if you consider how famous the pyramids are. Alone, you can savor the sheer drama of the place: no sounds excepts for the wind, the sky so bleached with sand that it's practically white, and, of course, the three mysterious giants sticking up out of the sand. If you get there early, you'll get blown away.
Abu Simbel is one of Egypt's most famous monuments, as it should be! This is an amazing work of engineering that is still well-preserved. It's amazing not only because of its amazing sculptures, but also because of the monumental entryways that were built to allow sunlight to illuminate specific parts of the chamber on certain days of the year (while still leaving the god of the underworld in darkness). It was built by Ramsses II and has another historical peculiarity: with the construction of the Aswan Dam, the temple would be submerged in water. So it had to be transported, stone by stone, in its entirety. The trip to get there isn't easy (especially if you take the night bus) but all your efforts will be worth it when you see this wonder of ancient Egypt at the break of dawn!
The famous sphinx is found right next to the pyramids, just a little further down. It's located in what used to be the Temple of Chephren and was therefore joined to the pyramid of the Pharaoh, which can be seen in the background in a straight line if you are looking directly at the nose-less, of course, Sphinx. Theories about the disappearance of its nose range from blaming the Napoleonic troops' target practice to the accusation that the temple was buried by sand and the nose lost its way.
The Karnak temple is the largest in Egypt. It's absolutely amazing, and was never finished. Today there are many well-preserved remains, like the pylon, several obelisks, the enormous room with more than 100 columns and even the popular beetle, whose legend says you need to circle it a few times to give yourself good luck. Strolling through the ruins, along with many people, it's hallucinating to think about what it would be like in full bloom. It's connected to the Temple of Luxor by a 3 kilometre path, which made this area (ancient Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt) truly important in ancient Egypt's history.
The Luxor Temple, positioned in the heart of ancient Thebes, was built mainly during the XVIII and XIX Egyptian dynasties. It was dedicated to the god Amon under his two representations of Amun-Ra. The oldest parts date back to the currently visible Amenhotep III and Ramses II building. Then, new elements were added by Shabako, Nectanebo I and the Ptolemaic dynasty. In Roman times, the temple was partially transformed into a military camp. This building, one of the best preserved of the Egyptian New Kingdom time, still has many structures. Besides the great pylon, visitors can also go through two monumental colonnades and linking these the two patios. The sanctuary itself, which was residence of Amun of Opet, are similar to the rooms that retain much of their tiles. It is a really magical place, especially at night when you should not miss the Sound and Light show.
This place is truly unforgettable. It is a place with lots of charm and history, the perfect place for a unique holiday. Navigating the waters, or walking in your market and the walk to the Nile, you can enjoy this fantastic city enormously. The people of this place are friendly and always willing to help, but always expected to pay them a tip for their help, which you shouldn´t let bother you, because to them it is almost all they have to survive. I recommend to everyone that if you have the chance to travel here, you will not regret it. Here you can see perfectly, the green stripe that separates the Nile desert, it is just wonderful. It has been one of my dreams since childhood, and I celebrated my 50th birthday here. Thank you.
Don't miss the Temple of Edfu on the Nile. If you are going on a cruise, as often occurs in the Kom Ombo, is usually filled by people because it gives them all stop at the same time. Still, this temple is worth because their condition is exceptional. Especially the part of the hieroglyphics and recorded scenes. So much so that this temple come numerous historians and students to learn to interpret the hieroglyphics. To get there from the cruise-in (go you know why) is jump in a buggy Egyptian and getting there like you're in Sevilla. Curious, curious.
The Saladin Citdal is located atop a hill right outside of central Cairo, about a 10min. taxi ride from Tahir Square. It Citadel complex is made up of several mosques, including the impressive Muhammad Ali Mosque. And while the complex has an austere beauty, one of my favorite parts was the view of Cairo from above. It's just of nice to enjoy the sprawling chaos that is Cairo from a nice quiet spot above it all, if only for a few minutes. This is definately a Cairo top-5.
Hatshepsut's temple is nestled within a monumental complex called Deir el-Bahari (the northern monastery). It derives from an ancient Coptic community ve had settled in the temple saving it from complete destruction. The temple has two huge terraces that precede the third, where the temple stands. On the terrace walls, there are scenes from Hatshepsut's life. In the northeastern corner, there is a temple of Anubis, and in the southwestern, there is a shrine dedicated to the goddess Hathor. As a female, Queen Hatshepsut could not be buried in the Valley of the Kings, so she had her tomb constructed here, which pierced the mountain so she could be closer to the Valley of the Kings.
This part of the Nile is the most frequented by cruise ships. Cereals and sugar cane adorn Kom Ombo. The Nubians were relocated here after the construction of the High Dam. The best is the magnificent Greco-Roman temple dedicated to Sobek and Haroeris, and a chapel in honor of Hathor, with mummified crocodiles.
It was really tempting, so we decided we needed to find a way to walk along Felucca on the Nile. We were going on an organized cruise, and the truth is that the prices we were given were rididculous. When you get off the boat you can ask the owners directly about the prices. After haggling for a little while we agreed on € 15 per person trip to a Nubian village, visiting a typical and camel ride. Surely you could have found cheaper, but we are satisfied as it was a third of that we had asked for the tour from the cruise.
Undoubtedly, the souk of Cairo is one of the city's main tourist attractions and at the same time, is one of the world's most famous bazaars, perhaps second only to that of Damascus or Istanbul. Its streets are lined with all types of craft stalls. Although, there are many knockoffs so be careful with what you buy. Of course, the selling technique is bargaining. The advice is usually to try to get the products that interest you for about 60% of what they ask for at the start. In this bazaar you can buy all kinds of handmade pieces (bracelets, necklaces ...), clothes, scents and perfumes, spices, silver, hookahs, djellabas ...
The Alabaster Mosque is the most beautiful mosque in Cairo, even though it isn't the biggest. The city is known as the "thousand minarets" referring to the large number of mosques that you can find. It is famous for several reasons: You are on top of the Citadel of Saladin, it was built by a Christian and it is a replica of the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul. It is a place that attracts a lot of tourists, and inside you will find dozens of tour groups.
Situated near the temple of Ramses III is where you'll find the giants of Memmon. They consist of two huge statues that are the remains of what was then one of the most important temples in the western bank of the Nile. According to legend, in ancient times the temple was destroyed by an earthquake as one of the giants came out of a crack the wind was blowing through, and it sounded a celestial melody that was considered to be a miracle. When the sculpture was restored, that melody was lost in time.
On August 24 in the year 394 under the rule of the Emperor Hadrian, the last hieroglyphic description was written. It was the Philae Temple dedicated to Isis. The construction of the Aswan Dam forced the moving of the temple to the islet of Agilkia. It can be visited in the morning, and evening with light show. It is a good recommendation.
Saqqara is part of the Egyptian pyramid route (also including Memphis and Giza) and while it's not as life-changingly impressive as the Great Pyramids at Giza, it's worth a visit for its historical importance as the oldest pyramid in Egypt.
The Djoser Pyramid a step pyramid of surprisingly large proportions and, to be honest, is in good shape considering its age. There's also a temple-necropolis nearby which is very well-preserved and fun to explore. I'd suggest going to Saqqara second (after Giza) and quite early in the morning. It's in the middle of the desert and the sensation of being there all by yourself under the sandblasted white desert sky will raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
A popular trip in Aswan which is suggested by most tour operators, is close to a Nubian village. A boat trip on the Nile (worth it just for that) to reach a fully Nubian village. The Nubians are an African tribe who came to the south of Egypt for centuries (even to have pharaohs) and after the construction of the Aswan Dam, the tribe lost their land and moved a little further north (without leaving the south of the country) . Since then, they have been mainly engaged in tourism. In the town you can visit a school, a bazaar or go to a house to smoke a hookah. It's an interesting village but too 'prefabricated' for tourism.
It was the first of the great temples we visited in Egypt and, maybe because of this, or perhaps because of its good condition, this place impacted me a lot. It has a huge pylon which overwhelms you on sight. Inside you can find remains of bas-reliefs with gorgeous scenes. He was also one of the temples we visited with fewer people, so the visit was really interesting.