Imagine seeing the Pyramids of Giza or the Sphinx in person. It was something I had wanted to do for as long as I could remember but Egypt seemed like another world away. Once we finally decided to plan our bucket list trip to Egypt, we needed to make our itinerary. Every travel guide we found seemed geared toward backpackers or people who took guided Egypt Tours. As first time visitors, we had tons of unanswered questions. Our goal is to share our 7 Day Egypt itinerary so you can plan a similar trip or make adjustments to travel for 5, 8 or even 10 days.
How Long Do You Need For a Trip to Egypt?
Depending on the amount of time you have, you can choose your cities and attractions. We originally were planning a 5 day trip until we realized that we would have to choose between Aswan and Luxor and we really wanted to visit both. If you are planning to see Egypt in 5 days, we recommend choosing Luxor over Aswan because Luxor has so many important ancient Egyptian monuments. But it’s so much better to plan at least a one week Egypt itinerary.
- 3 days – Just go to Cairo with a possible day trip to Alexandria.
- 5 days – You can and should add Luxor. The amount of temples and attractions they have is unparalleled.
- 7 or 8 days – Add Aswan or a 3 day Nile River cruise that includes Luxor and Aswan to your Egypt itinerary. With a guided tour or cruise, you will have an easier time visiting the sites in between like Edfu and Kom Ombo Temple.
- 10 days – Add a resort in Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh or Dahab to enjoy Egypt beaches and Red Sea diving.
Best Time to Visit Egypt
Egypt can be very hot or temperate. Make sure you plan your Egypt Itinerary for a time that is comfortable for you.
- High Season is December – February and has the best weather. Daytime temperatures are in the 70-80s but nights can get chilly 50-60s. You can expect more crowds and higher prices overall.
- Shoulder Season is October – November and March – April. The weather is warm to hot. Cairo is typically in the high 80s and Luxor in the high 90s. At this time of year, you will sightsee in the morning and late afternoon, taking a break midday. March and April see some sandstorms but they aren’t supposed to be that bad.
- Low Season is the end of May – September. It is extremely hot and the weather exacerbates the pollution in Cairo. This is not a good time to visit.
Is Egypt Safe?
This was the number one question we got. We felt 100% safe on our entire trip. Being adventurous travelers, we love experiencing places that are different from anywhere we’ve ever been. We just don’t take popular opinion to make our travel choices. We looked up the current Egypt Travel Advisory and talked to other people who had been in Egypt recently. From that research, we felt pretty good about the choice to go and made our plans.
Everything worked out even better than we had hoped and we were so glad we went to Egypt when we did. That said, we live in a crazy world and things are always changing. You have to plan for things to go wrong and have some travel protection. There are 2 ways we protect ourselves. We book our tickets with our Chase Sapphire Preferred that has built in travel protection and we use World Nomads travel insurance. If we had needed to cancel our trip, we were totally covered.
One last note on safety – wherever you go, be alert. That applies to New York, Paris, and any other place you travel in the world. Don’t be a super tourist with your camera around your neck, looking lost, following directions on your phone and not seeing the world around you. There are people all over the world looking to take advantage of people like that. Use good common sense. You can always ask your hotel for safety tips in the area.
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Our Epic Egypt Itinerary for 7 Days
Egypt Itinerary Days 1-2: Aswan
- How to Get There: 1 hour flight from Cairo to Aswan, 3 hour train from Luxor, or a guided tour
- Hotel: Sofitel Legend Old Cataract
- Amount of days: We spent 2 days and 1 night. If you want to go to Abu Simbel, add an extra day.
Aswan was the first stop on our Egypt itinerary for 7 days. Egypt comes with a little bit of culture shock. Since Aswan is less populated, it gives you time to acclimate. You will find that people will follow you around in Luxor trying to sell you things. It can be disconcerting at first until you get used to it. We never had that happen in Aswan.
Depending on the time of year that you visit, it can be very hot. You might not be doing a lot of touring in the middle of the day. It’s nice to book a hotel where you can get some relaxing pool time or somewhere comfortable to get away from the midday heat. Forced relaxation in the middle of your touring turned out to be so nice! The Sofitel was a perfect set up and had easy access to catching a boat on the Nile for the Nubian village.
The Nubian Village is colorful, fun, friendly and touristy. The trip starts with an enjoyable Nile cruise. Many people go at sunset for the obvious reason that they want a sunset cruise on the Nile. If you time it properly and get your sunset part of the cruise on the way back, you’ll miss the crowds and can enjoy the town without so many people. You can also stay at the Kato Dool Nubian Resort shown above.
I was really excited to see the Philae Temple because our son did a project on it for his architecture class in school. Back in my days of helicopter parenting (unfortunate oldest child problem), I learned a ton about this amazing structure in my supervisory role 😂 All kidding aside, the most interesting thing about Philae Temple is that it had to be relocated block by block to a new island after the building of the Aswan High Dam. The island where it was originally built completely flooded and there was a UNESCO project to save the Philae Temple Complex.
Even though we didn’t go, I had to include information about Abu Simbel because you will probably wonder if you should make the time to go see it. To get there you can either fly direct from Aswan ($200+, 45 minutes), take a minibus ($50+ per person, 3.5 hours) or a private car ($200+ for 2-3 people, 3.5 hours). I heard scary stories about the unsafe mini buses in Egypt so we never used them. The mini busses typically leave at 4am to get there for sunrise. A friend of mine took the mini bus tour offered by Sunrise Tours and had a good experience. The flight is the fastest way to get there.
Abu Simbel is probably to most difficult place to get to for your Egypt Itinerary and might not work well if you are planning less than 7 days. It is a full day trip from Aswan to go see the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor. The people that make the trip say this UNESCO World Heritage site is completely worth it. Like the Philae Temple Complex, the Abu Simbel Templex was moved block by block to a new location after it was flooded by the building of the Aswan High Dam.
These temples are a feat of engineering, which you will find to be the case all over Egypt. Somehow, the temple was constructed to have the sun shine through the entrance to illuminate the statue of King Ramses II only on February 22 and October 22, to mark his coronation and birthday. The visitor count and entrance fee are higher on those days.
Egypt Itinerary Days 3-4: Luxor
- How to Get There: 1 hour flight from Cairo to Aswan, 3 hour train from Luxor, or a guided tour
- Hotel: Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor
- Amount of days: We spent 2 days and 2 nights.
Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes was the capitol of Egypt from the 16th-11th centuries BC. Often referred to as the worlds largest open air museum, this city is filled to the brim with important sightseeing. The thing that struck me most was the massive size of everything. These temples were built by various rulers to honor the gods.
My favorite part at Karnak Temple was the Great Hypostyle Hall with 134 columns. They range from 40-70 feet tall and are heavily inscribed. This hall is the largest religious building in the world. The 54,000 square feet covers the same amount of area as Notre Dame Cathedral is just one small part of Karnak.
Karnak Temple is one of the busiest attractions and people get there really early. It’s open everyday from 6am-5:30pm. We showed up at 6:30am and tour busses were already arriving. Get there right when it opens or an hour or two before it closes if you don’t want to see it with big crowds.
Luxor Temple is smaller and less crowded than Karnak. We visited on our 2nd morning showing up at opening and were the only people there for an hour. Many people like to save their visit for the light show at night.
Valley of the Kings
Some of the things in Egypt are hard to wrap your mind around and Valley of the Kings is certainly one of them. It is an unimpressive looking, mountainous area filled with 63 tombs from kings and royals during the 16th to 11th centuries BC, a veritable who’s who of the most important Egyptian men. The tombs were filled with valuable antiquities and decorated extensively with beautiful inscriptions and art.
With your entry fee, you are able to choose 3 tombs to explore. It’s highly recommended to visit first thing or the last few hours of the day to miss the busloads of people. Hours vary by season. Opens at 6AM and closes at 5PM or 7PM.
The temple built for Queen Hatshepsut, one of the first female Egyptian pharaohs, looks vastly different from everything else in Luxor. She went to great lengths to be remembered and her mortuary temple is bigger than all of the other tombs in the Valley of the Kings. She had a successful reign and was responsible for building many important structures in Luxor. If you plan to visit, read more about her story because it will make it more interesting for you.
I read that this spot is one of the hottest in Egypt and it sure felt like it. It’s right near the tombs at Valley of the Kings so time your visit to be early for both or after 3pm. Open 6AM-5PM.
Colossi of Memnon
These 2 huge stone statues are easily seen from the road on the way to Valley of the Kings. They seem completely out of place and random where they are but they used to be set at the entrance of an impressive temple. Tourists swarm them in the morning. If you want to get up close, do it at the end of your West Bank sightseeing and it will be empty. Or just see them from the road if you prefer.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Whether you are planning to do a hot air balloon ride or just watch, they take off from the West Bank at dawn. This will give you a completely different view of Luxor and an experience that will be a lifetime memory. We recently did a hot air balloon trip in Cappadocia Turkey so we were happy to watch the beautiful balloons from the ground.
Nile River Cruise from Luxor to Aswan
For people taking a Nile Cruise, this is often the starting point. We opted not to do a cruise for a few reasons even though we were almost swayed to do it. The main reason is that we are not really cruisers. Second is the only boats we were only interested in the smaller Dahabiya or the very fancy Oberoi and they didn’t work with our schedule. I read some negative things about the mid-range boats that would have been deal breakers for me like when people boarded, they were on a ship that was parked next to another one for 24 hours and their view was another person’s room on the boat next door.
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Egypt Itinerary Days 5-7: Cairo & Giza
- How to Get There: 1 hour flight from Aswan, Luxor or Amman, 3 hour train from Luxor, or a guided tour
- Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza
- Amount of days: We spent 2 days and 3 nights. Plan an extra day if you want to go to Alexandria.
Cairo is the 2nd biggest city in Africa with 20.4 million people. Even though its so large We started in Aswan and worked our way to Cairo, which was the best decision and seems to be the opposite of what everyone else does.
Egypt is the place to enjoy amazing hotels which might normally be out of your budget. The Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza was such a treat. It’s an oasis of calm, beauty and luxury in a city filled with traffic and craziness. We stayed here at the end of our 7 days in Egypt and it was our favorite hotel on our Itinerary.
We wanted the best location and the Four Season has it in spades. In fact the Nile view is so jaw-dropping, we were either on the balcony or staring out the window constantly. Of course we had to do the insanely delicious room service breakfast overlooking the Nile! Then we were right back there at sunset enjoying cocktails and appetizers while we watched the beautiful feluccas doing sunset cruises. The other nice thing about the Four Seasons is the pool area in case you want a mid day break from the heat.
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Pyramids of Giza
This is probably the biggest draw for everyone to Egypt and it doesn’t disappoint. The Pyramids of Giza are spectacular. They are so big that you can see them from multiple points around the city. Up close, it is mind blowing that they exist. The largest of the 3 pyramids, Khufu is made up of more than 2.5 million blocks of granite and limestone, each weighing approximately 5,000 pounds. It’s hard to imagine that the blocks got there and then were stacked up to 455 feet tall.
We opted to not go inside the pyramids. It’s an additional cost beyond the entry ticket. Many people say it’s claustrophobic and overwhelmingly hot. If you are heading to Luxor, the tombs in the Valley of the Kings are a better choice. The Sphinx is in the same complex. There is a line to go on the viewing platform up close to the Sphinx or you can easily see it a little further back without waiting.
Photo Tip: Taking photos at the Pyramids of Giza is easier than you would think because the area is so large that you can easily get photos without other people in them. The trick is getting to the hill that overlooks the Pyramids because it is pretty far to walk in the heat.. If you are taking a tour, they will drive you there or they may send you in a buggy.
Khan el-Khalili Bazaar
If you love shopping, you will have the best time at the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, It is crazy crowded and practically a show with store owners calling out one liners to tourist to get them in their shops. This is a great place to load up on souvenirs. Make sure to haggle for the best price. There are also plenty of restaurants to grab a bite to eat. Pro tip: Get your camera ready to take a video before you head down the small alleys if you want to capture a hysterical video.
Right across the street, you will find Al-Azhar mosque. Cairo’s first mosque was recently renovated and is so pretty inside with super shiny white floors. It’s definitely worth a few minutes to pop inside. You can walk upstairs to get a great view of the area. Ladies, make sure you bring a head scarf or they will make you borrow an abaya. The one they gave me was smelly so we took a pic and left quickly. This mosque wasn’t on any Cairo lists of things to do and it was such a treat.
Muhammad Ali Mosque
If you go to one mosque during your time in Cairo, this is a great choice. It is at the top of the Cairo Citadel above the city so you will see great views of Cairo. It’s very welcoming for visitors and a beautiful building. As with any mosque, you must have appropriate attire to visit. Women and men should wear long sleeves and pants. Long skirts are also acceptable for ladies and you will need a head scarf to go inside. Shoes are not allowed inside.
Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
If you have time and you’re a history lover, definitely check out the Egyptian Museum. It is the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world with over 120,000 items.
Egyptian Visa & Money
Egypt offers Visa on arrival to many countries. That means, you can show up at Cairo airport and purchase your visa to enter the country. If you decide to do that, bring 25 USD. with you to pay at the window, BEFORE you get in the customs line. You need to have exact change. We had a $50 bill for the 2 of us and it was super easy. We did arrive at 6am so it might get more crowded later in the day. You can get your Egypt Visa in advance here. If you are taking a tour, they will probably coordinate your Visa for you.
The currency is Egyptian pounds. You will need cash. ATMs are easily accessible but there is a limit on how much you can withdraw so we ended up at the ATM 3 times in 7 days.
Getting to Egypt
Almost every person entering Egypt will fly into or through Cairo. If you are continuing to another destination, you will go through customs in Cairo first.
If you are doing a combined trip with Egypt/Jordan or Egypt/Israel, the fastest way to get to Egypt is flying from Amman or Tel Aviv. We were in Wadi Rum and had to drive all the way back to Amman, Some people take a ferry and a bus from Dahab. If you opt to do that, just know that while it may be cheaper, it will take longer. Your other option if coming from Jordan or Israel is to take a multi country tour and let the tour operator coordinate it for you.
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How to Get Around for 7 Days on Your Egypt Itinerary
There are one hour flights almost everywhere. We highly recommend flying from Luxor to Cairo instead of the overnight train. The flight was cheaper $50 USD and so much faster. If you are planning an Egypt trip for 7 days, you need to use the time in your itinerary wisely.
For the places that are 3-4 hours away, you can take the train in the first class compartment called AC1. The prices for those trains are really cheap. We went from Aswan to Luxor, a 3 hour trip in a comfy compartment for 90 EGP ($5.50). Foreigners can buy train tickets online in advance (you can’t get same day tickets online). Foreigners cannot buy tickets at the station so ask your hotel get them for you. We were charged a 50 EGP ($3) service fee to have someone get the tickets for us.
You can get taxis easily outside of train stations and airports. In Cairo, we preferred using Uber. It was 1/3 of the taxi cost and the drivers seemed much more responsible.
This Egypt Itinerary for 7 Days will take you to all the important spots for the bucket list trip. If you’re like us, you’ve wanted to go to Egypt for awhile but you aren’t sure how to make it all happen. If we haven’t answered all your questions here and in our Egypt Travel Tips post, feel free to post them in the comments. A big question we get asked is what to wear in Egypt so we put together an Egypt Packing List.
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