A truly legendary destination, Egypt conjures images of pharaohs and kings, sphinxes and pyramids. The nation is a vast, arid desert at the top of Northern Africa, populated mostly around the life-giving Nile River that bisects it.
You'll feel Egypt’s history in the labyrinthine street markets of Cairo and the towering minarets of its mosques. You'll see it in the temples of Luxor and the waterfront fortresses of Alexandria. It’s further exemplified in Abu Simbel, the site of two great temples built 3,000 years ago as monuments to Pharaoh Ramses II. And of course, you see it in Giza, where ancient Egyptians built their famed pyramidal tombs to inter their monarchs for eternity.
When is the best time to visit?
You’ll find the most pleasant weather in Egypt between October and April. This being a desert nation, the summer months (June through September) can be oppressively hot, especially if you venture down to Luxor and further south to the temples of Abu Simbel near the border with Sudan. Know that December and January are peak tourist months and the Easter period is popular too—try to book your trip as far in advance as possible, no matter when you plan to visit.
Where should you go?
It wouldn’t be a visit to Egypt without spending time in Cairo—and not just to see the Great Pyramid of Giza. Egypt’s capital is massive in scope (it’s home to about 20 million people), and there’s a cultural experience every corner. For incredible views head to the top of Mokattam Hill, where the Saladin Citadel fortress overlooks the city. If you want to experience more of the country—and you should—it’s a straight shot north to the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, while in the south you’ll find impressive archeological sites at Luxor and Abu Simbel.
How many days do you need?
To really experience Cairo and make an excursion to the Great Pyramids of Giza, you'll want to spend a minimum of four or five days in the area. In a week, you can see the pyramids, explore Cairo, and make a side trip to Luxor and/or Alexandria. Spend longer than a week and you can see all of the above plus make an excursion to the southern border and see the impressive Abu Simbel temples. If you solely plan to visit Giza's pyramids, you could technically do so in two or three quick days—this is a whirlwind experience, and we highly recommend spending more time.