Pyramids and Sphinx Statue in Desert

Egypt Travel Guide: Cairo, Luxor, and Hurghada

In the summer of 2021, I visited Egypt where I traveled through Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada, and it was a trip filled with memories to last a lifetime. This trip will forever have a special place in my heart because it was the trip that inspired me to start traveling more. From discovering the architectural wonders in Cairo and Luxor, to taking in the marine life of the Red Sea in Hurghada, Egypt had various adventures to offer and I certainly took advantage of every single opportunity that came my way! I mean, I found myself parasailing despite the fact that I’m scared of heights. I probably will never do that activity again because it was slightly terrifying BUT, at least now I can add it to my list of travel experiences, so it was still a win.

In this blog, I’ll provide a detailed guide for your first trip to Egypt as I talk about its history, local culture, and adventurous gems.

As I mentioned earlier, I visited three different cities in Egypt, but what did each city have to offer?


When people hear Cairo, I’m sure everyone instantly thinks about the Great Pyramids of Giza. That immediate association perfectly depicts Cairo, Egypt’s busy capital. While you’re there, the opportunities are endless when it comes to experiencing the narratives that are tied to its ancient history. You can explore the iconic landmarks like the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, and visit The Egyptian Museum, where you’ll find the treasures of Tutankhamun. Other than its rich history, you can also experience the delicious local cuisine, visit the largest snow park in Africa, and take a serene Nile River cruise.

The pyramids of giza in egypt
The Pyramids of Giza

Luxor is a city that stole my heart! Known as the “World’s Greatest Open-Air Museum,” Luxor’s architecture is beyond impressive. You can discover the beauty of the Karnak and Luxor Temples, and visit the Valley of the Kings, where ancient pharaohs were laid to rest – don’t worry, it’s really not as chilling as it might sound. This city is also a perfect destination for a hot air balloon ride, because you can experience the breathtaking sunrise over the West Bank, and see a unique view of the ancient cities.

Karnak Temple – Luxor

I like to think of Hurghada as the city of sun, sand, and adventure. It’s an exciting destination for beach lovers and water adventure enthusiasts. Within the first hour that I was there, I was in absolute awe of the crystal blue waters of the Red Sea. In Hurghada you can partake in various water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, or go on a relaxing boat trip to nearby islands. If you’re someone who enjoys marine adventures or simply staying at luxurious beachfront resorts, prepare to have an incredible time in Hurghada. Even if you aren’t, you never know, you just might be tempted to try something new. I’ve never been someone to partake in water activities but I found myself doing quite a few of them on this trip. I guess there’s just something tempting about the stunning waters of the Hurghada Red Sea! 

Marina Hurghada
Best Time To Visit

The ideal time to explore Egypt is during spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) when the weather is pleasant. During peak summer months (June – August), the weather is extremely hot, which can be very uncomfortable, especially if you’re someone who isn’t used to being in hotter temperatures. I went in the month of August and the hot weather was definitely not ideal, with temperatures being as high as 48 degree Celsius on some days. We had to schedule most activities for early in the morning before the sun fully came out, or in the evening as the sun went down. 

Dress Code and Cultural Considerations

With Islam being the dominant religion in Egypt, it’s very important to respect local customs by dressing modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites or non-tourist locations. I spent most of my time in resort areas, where it was more acceptable to wear clothing that is common for westerners on vacation. However, when we visited areas that were open to the general public, we were cautious about our outfit of choice. For my ladies, if you’re worried about not being dressed appropriately, I would recommend carrying a scarf or shawl – just in case.


You can use ride-sharing apps, taxis, or private drivers for convenient transportation within cities. I traveled with a group and we hired a private shuttle for the entire duration of our trip, so we rarely needed to use local taxis. However, on the few occasions that we required one, we asked for assistance from our hotel/resort’s reception. This way, we could ensure that we were getting services from a reliable and trustworthy driver. Also, for every taxi ride, we made sure that we kept the driver’s phone number, so we could call them when we needed a ride back. This helped us avoid the hassle of hailing a cab ourselves when it was time to return to our hotel/resort.

Note: As of January 2024, Uber is only available in Cairo and Alexandria.


The safety of tourists in Egypt is frequently a topic of discussion. personally didn’t have any negative experiences or safety concerns throughout my trip, but I’ve come across numerous instances where individuals, particularly female solo travelers, have shared negative feedback about feeling unsafe during their experiences there. However, keep in mind that I was with a group throughout my trip, so it’s possible that it added an extra layer of protection. Also, on every excursion, we were with a private local tour guide who did a great job of keeping people from bothering us. I can’t speak to the safety of solo travelers, seeing as that wasn’t my experience. However if you’re travelling with a group, you’ll most likely feel safe during your trip. Of course you’ll still have to observe common sense precautions while you’re there.

Currency and Money Matters

The local currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are accepted in most hotels and resort, restaurants, and tourist establishments. For extra caution, I avoided using my credit card at very small and local shops. If this is something you would like to do, I would recommend ensuring that you have enough cash on you.

  • Arrive at your hotel, check-in and use the rest of the day as a rest day after what was most likely a long trip (depending on your departure base).
  • The Great Pyramids of Giza: Start the day by visiting the iconic Pyramids of Giza. Plan to arrive at this destination as early as 8am if you want to beat the crowd and avoid the midday heat. This is especially if you’re there during the summer months. You can walk through the land that holds this incredible architecture, while learning about its history. Also, for an additional fee (around 100 EGP), you can go inside one of the pyramids and admire the view from a panoramic point.
  • The Sphinx and The Valley Temple: After admiring the pyramids, walk over to The Great Sphinx of Giza, which is the famous mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion.
  • Camel Rides: At the site of the Pyramids, you can also partake in camel rides, which cost about 50-100 EGP ($2-$4 CAD). The price you end up paying strongly depends on your negotiating skills. Be very aware of who you’re negotiating with and try to avoid getting scammed, because the camel guides will certainly try to maximize what they can get from tourists.  

Tip: If you plan on doing a self-guided tour, you should give yourself at least 3 hours to explore the pyramid grounds.

The Great Pyramids of Giza
Camel Ride at The Great Pyramids of Giza
Day Three
  • Cairo Museum: Begin your day with a visit to The Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The entrance fee is about 160 EGP ($7 CAD) and you’ll need around 1-3 hours here, depending on how much you want to learn. During our visit, my group opted for a private tour guide, and it turned out to be a convenient decision. We enjoyed having a subject-matter expert who told us about the interesting stories behind each exhibit. Also, the flexibility of a private tour allowed us to set our own pace and focus on what we were interested in the most. I’d recommend hiring a private tour guide for convenience.
  • Ski Egypt: Take a break from the heat and visit the largest snow park in Africa, which is also the home to the only penguins in Egypt. It’s located in Cairo’s Mall of Egypt and features a snow park where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other fun snow activities, no matter what the weather is outside. We took a ski class for beginners, which was definitely one for the books! I’m not sure we did much learning because we spent most of the time falling in the snow and trying to get back up, but we had a great time regardless.
  • Shopping: Since you’ll already be at the mall, treat yourself to a lovely shopping experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection of stores and out of excitement, I may have shopped a little more than I intended to. 
  • Nile River Dinner: End your Cairo experience with a beautiful dinner on the Nile River. The best part of this experience is not only the scenic views while dining, but also the lovely entertainment which includes belly dancers, as well as a Tanoura show.
Cairo Museum
Ski Egypt
Nile River Cruise
DAY 4 – 6 | LUXOR
  • Getting to Luxor: There are various transportation choices to travel from Cairo to Luxor, such as by plane, bus, or  train. I took a flight, which was about a one hour journey. If you would like to explore other options, you can find further details here.
  • After you’ve checked in at your hotel and settled in, take the day to relax and enjoy the hotel’s amenities, as the upcoming days will be packed with exciting activities!
Luxor International Airport.

Start off your first day in Luxor by exploring the architectural wonders of Luxor’s East Bank. I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes, as this day will involve quite a bit of walking. Also, if you don’t mind paying extra for convenience, I highly recommend a private tour so that you can choose the most optimal time that’ll help you avoid the large crowds, and you can also go at your own pace.

  • The Karnak Temple: Known as the largest temple complex in Egypt, Karnak has four main sections. You should give yourself at least 1 -2 hours to explore the chapels, different columns, and temples at this site.
The Karnak Temple
The Karnak Temple
  • The Luxor Temple: With a private tour guide, you can customize your plan for the day and choose to visit this site at sunset, because at the golden hour, there is a beautiful and breathtaking golden overcast that towers the temple’s columns and statues. Otherwise, you can visit this temple right after visiting the Karnak Temple, as it is only 7 minutes away by car.
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple
  • Carriage Ride: Beyond the ancient temples and historical sites, Luxor itself is a beautiful city. A unique way to explore the city is by going on a city tour via a horse-drawn carriage ride. If you are booking your trip through an agent or if you have a private tour guide for the entire trip, you can inquire about this activity.
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride: Start off your second day in Egypt with a once in a lifetime experience that you absolutely can’t miss – a hot air balloon ride over Luxor. This activity starts off very early around 5am, so you can watch the sunrise over the Nile and the Valley of the Kings. Since it’s an early activity, it’ll be too early to get breakfast anywhere, but we noticed tour guides provided snacks, including ours.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Hot Air Balloons in Luxor, Egypt
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Valley of the Kings on the West Bank: This site is known as the burial ground of pharaohs and nobles from the New Kingdom era. The highlight of this tour is getting to explore elaborately decorated tombs, including the famous tomb of Tutankhamun.
  • Valley of the Queens on the West Bank: At this location, you can discover the legacy of ancient royalty. This site is known to be the final resting place of the queens and children of pharaohs from the New Kingdom era. Similar to the Valley of the Kings, it has tombs with incredible artwork, including the tomb of Queen Nefertari.
Valley of the Kings
En Route Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings
  • Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinat Habu: Admire detailed carvings, huge statues, and well-preserved hieroglyphics that all show Egypt’s past. This site is mainly about honoring the pharaoh’s memory and it is truly an incredible historical gem.

**Many tour providers offer a comprehensive full-day experience, combining a hot air balloon ride with visits to the west and east banks.

  • Felucca Ride (Dinner): After a full day of touring, unwind on a traditional sailboat and enjoy dinner on the Nile. For a seamless booking, check with your hotel for available options, or consider pre-booking through reputable third-party websites before your arrival in Luxor. We were able to book ours through our hotel, which made it a smooth process for us.
Felucca Ride at Hilton Luxor
Felucca Ride at Hilton Luxor
  • Getting to Hurghada: We wanted to enjoy the scenes in Egypt, so we opted for a bus ride from Luxor to Hurghada, which took about 4-5 hours. However, to be perfectly honest there wasn’t really much to see other than the sandy dunes and occasional desert landscapes along the way. To ensure a hassle-free journey, we opted for the convenience of a private shuttle that picked us up from our hotel in Luxor, and took us directly to our resort in Hurghada.
  • After you’ve checked in at your resort and settled in, take the day to relax and enjoy the resort’s amenities, because the resort properties in Hurghada are absolutely incredible! Did I mention that they’re mostly beachfront properties? With most of them located on the coast of the Red Sea.
  • Quad Biking in the Desert: For this activity, you can either choose the full day option or the half day option. We opted for the full day tour which was about 5 hours long and included quad biking, a camel ride and a Bedouin Village tour. Note that the quad biking will most likely be offered as a group tour on most booking platforms.
Quad Biking in the Desert
  • Camel Ride & Bedouin Village: After riding the ATVs, you will be given the opportunity to go on a camel ride. If your experience at the pyramids left you wanting more, this is a great opportunity to do it again. After that, the group will be taken to Bedouin Village, where you will be given some traditional treats.

**The Quad biking is often combined with a camel ride and a visit to Bedouin Village, making this a comprehensive experience.

  • Water Activities: After a long day of being in the heat, return to your resort to rest or partake in water sports, which is offered by many of them. I stayed at Steigenberger and I was impressed by their wide range of activities catering to all kinds of travelers. Whether you prefer a leisurely paddle on the water or the excitement of parasailing, they offer a diverse selection of options.
Parasailing at the Resort
Snorkeling in The Red Sea
  • Day Trip to The Ocean Bay Island: Take a boat trip from Hurghada to Ocean Bay Island. During the scenic boat ride, there will be 2 snorkeling stops in the Red Sea, followed by lunch on board. When you get to the island, unwind on the beach, go into the water to explore the vibrant marine life, and enjoy a lovely serving of local dishes offered by various vendors.
En Route Ocean Bay Island
Ocean Bay Island
Ocean Bay Island
  • Return trip home.

Accommodation Recommendations

Where to Stay In Cairo

Hotel Name: Fairmont Nile City Hotel

This luxurious hotel is located along the Nile River and offers stunning views, top-notch amenities and exceptional service. I particularly enjoyed the various restaurants, as well as the incredible view of the sunrise over the Nile River. If you can, definitely opt for a room with a view of the river!

Fairmont Nile City Hotel – Dining Room
Fairmont Nile City Hotel – Lobby
Where to Stay In Luxor

Hotel Name: Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa

Whenever I list the best hotels that I’ve ever stayed at while traveling, this hotel always makes the list. It is located on the east bank and on the banks of the Nile River. Its amenities include eight restaurants and bars, two infinity pools, a fitness center, and a spa. The resort’s exterior property is out of this world with the beautiful palm stress, a uniquely designed pool area, and access to feluccas for rides along the Nile River. In addition to all of that, I found my room to be very comfortable, and the customer service throughout my stay was a solid 10/10. I’d highly recommend staying here.

Hilton Luxor
Hilton Luxor
Where to Stay In Hurghada

Steigenberger ALDAU Resort | Adult-Only

This beach resort absolutely blew my mind from the moment we drove through the gates. It’s located in the center of Hurghada and it is only a 5 minute walk from the closest beach on the Red Sea. It’s also surrounded by quite a few stores, restaurants and resorts, so you can easily step out of the resort’s property and explore the area. The resort itself has very modern and airy architecture, with luxurious rooms that provide incredible comfort. On the beach, there are various water activities including parasailing, snorkeling, and more, which makes things convenient for travelers when it comes to seeking and planning activities. It’s an all-inclusive resort but note that unless you plan on eating at the buffet, reservations need to be made at the restaurants on the property. I didn’t quite like this system because most places were booked most of the time, making it difficult to properly enjoy the all-inclusive perks. Other than that, this is a lovely place to stay at.

Steigenberger ALDAU Resort | Adult-Only
Steigenberger ALDAU Resort | Adult-Only

Despite the assumptions made by many, Egypt isn’t a destination that limits you to only ancient discoveries.  It’s a country that  has a diverse range of experiences, from exploring iconic historical sites to relaxing on serene beaches. I’d love to return to Egypt again to explore more destinations such as The Siwa Oasis, but for now I’ll happily hold on to the memories of this trip.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it helpful. If you’re planning to go on a trip to discover Egypt’s treasures, it’s time to pack your bags, and treat yourself to an extraordinary vacation! Feel free to share this blog with your friends, family and social media networks. 

Happy travels!