From mummies to pharaohs and pyramids, the wonders of Ancient Egypt are hard to beat. In fact, the country is home to an astonishing one-third of all the monuments of the ancient world. So it’s safe to say Egypt is known for its archaeological heritage; however, there is so much more to this beautiful country.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing beach holiday, a fun adventure, a thrilling cultural experience or a little bit of everything, a trip to Egypt is bound to leave you with unforgettable memories. Let’s take a look at Egypt’s most famous sites and its best-kept secrets.
Meanwhile, you can also apply for your travel authorisation to visit on our Egyptian eVisa page.
- 1 Egypt Is Famous for Its Pyramids, but What Do We Know About Them?
- 2 What Is Egypt Best Known for Aside From the Pyramids?
- 3 What Is Egypt Famous for That Offers a Unique Way to See the Country?
- 4 What Are Egypt’s Most Important Cities?
- 5 Other Famous Places in Egypt You Must Go To
- 6 Some of Egypt’s Less Famous Landmarks
- 7 Which Is Egypt’s Most Famous Beach?
- 8 3 Things Associated With Egypt That Not Many People Know About
- 9 What’s Egypt’s Famous Food?
Egypt Is Famous for Its Pyramids, but What Do We Know About Them?
The pyramids were built to protect the body and possessions of great pharaohs and some are up to 5,000 years old. Contrary to popular belief, these majestic monuments weren’t built by slaves, but by paid workers.
Ancient Egyptians believed the pharaohs should be buried with everything they needed in the afterlife, including artefacts, furniture, food and even servants and relatives. Over the centuries, these colossal tombs were repeatedly robbed of all their treasures. Nonetheless, countless objects, jewels and mummies have been recovered and are displayed in museums around the world.
The 3 most famous pyramids are located in Giza, about 7 km from Cairo. Built for Pharaoh Khufu, the Great Pyramid is 147 m tall and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The second largest was built for Khufu’s son and it stands out because it’s guarded by a large statue of a sphinx, with the body of a lion and a human head.
Visitors can go inside all 3 pyramids for a fee. There are no decorations in the tombs, but it’s still an amazing experience walking through the tunnels to the burial chambers.
If you are looking for a more intimate experience, you can visit the Red Pyramid. Although it’s much smaller, you will likely be one of the only people climbing into the tunnels here. It’s particularly spectacular at sunset when the sun accentuates the red hue of the stone.
What Is Egypt Best Known for Aside From the Pyramids?
Although the ancient monuments and ruins are Egypt’s pride and glory, they’re not the only thing that attracts millions of tourists to the country every year. Idyllic beaches, world-class diving, colourful markets and a fascinating culture are just some of the other reasons you should visit this amazing country.
One thing you simply can’t miss is having your senses bombarded at the traditional markets, the souqs. Overflowing with jewellery, spices, clothes and pretty much anything else you can think of, the souqs are the best place to pick up some unique souvenirs. Haggling is part of the culture, so get ready to drive a hard bargain with the vendors.
If you want a break from sightseeing, Egypt offers plenty of fun and adventure in its deserts, which cover an astounding 94% of the country. Stargazing, sandboarding and wobbly camel rides across the dunes are just some of the activities you can enjoy. Spending a couple of nights in the desert is a magical experience and a great way to take a break from the busy ruins.
What Is Egypt Famous for That Offers a Unique Way to See the Country?
The Nile is considered the longest river in the world, crossing 11 countries, and it’s the primary source of water in Egypt. It played a central role in the development of ancient civilizations and today many people depend on it for their livelihood. In fact, over half of the entire population of Egypt lives in the delta of the river.
As a visitor, the Nile offers a great way to take in some of the main attractions through a leisurely river cruise. The mighty river passes by the Valley of the Kings, Luxor and Aswan with the opportunity to stop off to explore the sites.
Choosing a cruise down the Nile has the bonus of providing some insight into daily life in the Egyptian countryside. Women washing clothes, children playing in the water, farmers working the land, fishermen collecting their catch – these are just some of the scenes you will enjoy while peacefully drifting down the river. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles and turtles.
What Are Egypt’s Most Important Cities?
Egypt has several major cities, from the bustling metropolises of Cairo and Alexandria to the smaller yet also important cities of Luxor and Aswan.
What Is Cairo Known For?
This exciting city is not only Egypt’s bustling capital, but it’s also the second-largest city in Africa. It’s nicknamed the city of a thousand minarets as it’s jam-packed with mosques, including the first one ever to be built in Egypt.
The city also has many landmarks connected to its Jewish and Christian heritage. In Old Cairo, majestic mosques, churches and synagogues stand side by side creating a fusion of cultures.
A visit to the Egyptian Museum is a must! Mummies of humans and animals, lavish jewellery, household utensils and objects of all shapes and sizes give you a well-rounded idea of the lives of ancient Egyptians and the unique rituals they practised.
Cairo is also home to one of the most famous markets in Egypt, Khan Al Khalili, which will transport you back to medieval times. The capital is also one of the best places to experience the country’s exciting nightlife.
Facing the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria is Egypt’s second-largest city and a modern economic hub. Named after Alexander the Great, this city is rich in history and was once known as the academic capital of the world.
Make sure you visit the El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque, considered the most beautiful mosque in Egypt, and the Alexandria National Museum. Housed in an Italian-style grand palace, the museum shows the complex history of the city through 1800 artefacts.
Aswan was the commercial hub of ancient Egypt and it remains an important economic centre today. Aswan is known for its idyllic scenery, friendly locals and for being one of the sunniest cities in the world.
Visitors can enjoy a laid-back environment while being spoilt for choice of things to do. Don’t miss the striking Abu Simbel Temple, the tantalising spice market and the blissful botanical gardens on Kitchener Island.
What Is Luxor, Egypt Famous For?
Some of the most surprising monuments and tombs of ancient Egypt are located in and around Luxor.
One of the best known is The Valley of the Kings, a vast area of underground mausoleums where some of the greatest pharaohs were buried, including Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. You can opt for a hot air balloon ride at sunrise to take in the remarkable scale of the site, and you will also be rewarded with breathtaking views.
Even if you tried, you wouldn’t be able to miss the Colossi of Memnon. These two enormous statues, decorated with symbolic reliefs, both represent king Amenhotep sitting on a throne. At 18 m in height, each was carved out of a single block of sandstone.
For a magical experience, visit the Temple of Luxor after dark. The temple is lit up at night and stays open to visitors until 10 pm. Like most things in Luxor, the temple is huge with various sections and monuments to explore. The majestic entrance alone is a good enough reason to visit. Four huge statues and a tall obelisk with hieroglyphic carvings stand in front of the mighty walls.
To get the most out of your visit to Luxor’s sites, it’s a good idea to go with a local guide so they can point out all the hidden details and tell you the secrets of the greatest pharaohs in history.
Other Famous Places in Egypt You Must Go To
Sinai Peninsula is best known for sandy beaches and stunning coral reefs, but by travelling inland you will be rewarded with rugged wilderness, lush oases and the chance to experience Bedouin culture.
Moreover, pilgrims travel from all over the world to visit St Catherine’s Monastery, believed to be the location where God spoke to Moses through the burning bush. From the monastery, you can hike to the top of Mt Sinai and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding jagged mountains and deep valleys.
Nubia, also known as the Land of Gold, is an area extending across the south of Egypt and north of Sudan along the Nile. In the area around Aswan, you can visit charming islands and villages.
The friendliness of the people alone is a reason to visit a Nubian community, but it’s not just travellers they are friendly with… Nubians also have a special relationship with crocodiles! They feed them and treat them almost like pets. Look out for crocodile skins hanging on people’s walls, they are believed to keep evil spirits away.
Some of Egypt’s Less Famous Landmarks
The Pyramids of Giza are certainly the largest in Egypt, but they aren’t the only ones worth visiting.
Pyramid of Djoser
For instance, the Pyramid of Djoser claims the title of the oldest best-preserved pyramid in the world. At 60 m in height, it was the tallest building of its time.
Inside, a maze of tunnels lead to the pharaoh’s burial chamber decorated with hieroglyphics, as well as the tombs of his 11 daughters. Sadly, the structure was deemed unsafe and visitors can no longer enter.
Hathor Temple is part of the Dendera complex in Qena. The intricacy of the reliefs covering the temple walls is truly mind-blowing. Some of the striking colours have miraculously survived the test of time, which is even more surprising when you learn that Bedouin tribes sheltered in the temple for centuries lighting fires and cooking food.
Just outside Cairo, the Pharaonic village will enchant children and adults alike. Exhibits include a model demonstrating how the pyramids were constructed and a section dedicated to mummification practices. A highlight is the real scale village where actors in costume bring ancient Egypt back to life by re-enacting scenes from everyday life.
Which Is Egypt’s Most Famous Beach?
With the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the east, you’ll be spoilt for choice of beautiful sandy beaches and warm waters. Until recently, Sharm el Sheik held the spotlight as Egypt’s best resort destination, with its stunning reefs and pristine beaches. Although its popularity has dropped, on the plus side this has made it much more peaceful and easier to find accommodation.
Hurghada is another prime destination for a relaxing beach retreat. Excellent restaurants, a picturesque old town and vibrant markets are just some of the reasons that make it a great place to unwind. Moreover, along with Sharm el Sheik, it’s one of the country’s top diving destinations.
The richness and diversity of the Red Sea and the impressive amount of liveaboard options make Egypt a bit of a Holy Grail for divers. Don’t worry if you’re not a diver, you can go on a snorkelling trip or take your own mask and explore the strikingly colourful coral and 100s of fish species – get ready to be blown away!
3 Things Associated With Egypt That Not Many People Know About
Valley of the Whales
Whether you’re a fossil enthusiast or not, the Valley of the Whales is worth the trip to get there. Located some 150 kilometres south-west of Cairo, the site was considered a ground-breaking discovery as the fossils had small hind legs, demonstrating the evolution of whales from land to sea mammal.
The skeletons are incredibly well preserved and there are plenty of them, so much so that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
White Desert National Park
White Desert National Park is a magical place unlike any other. Located 45 km north of the town of Farafra, witnessing this spectacular landscape is bound to take your breath away.
White rock formations emerge from the orange sand creating dazzling patterns for as far as the eye can see. A little further along, you will find crystal desert where large quirky rocks and quartz crystals will transport you to a different planet.
The high dam is the largest embankment dam in the world and it can be visited booking a trip from Aswan. It’s 3.6 km long and almost 1 km wide at the base, making it a bold sight. The dam provides electricity to the whole country.
What’s Egypt’s Famous Food?
Egyptian cuisine is extremely varied with endless dishes to try. In terms of meat, lamb and chicken are popular, while pigeon is a delicacy served at special occasions. Along the coast, fresh fish is prevalent and often cooked in rich sauces. What’s more, the cuisine is full of vegetables and pulses so vegetarians will be in heaven!
Kushari is impossible to miss when visiting Egypt. This carb-packed dish combines macaroni, rice and lentils. It’s seasoned with spicy tomato sauce, garlic and vinegar, and topped with chickpeas and fried onions. Although it’s an unusual mix of ingredients, you can’t leave Egypt without trying it.
Ful wa Ta’meya is another popular dish, usually eaten at breakfast. Ful is a sort of bean stew and Ta’meya is a falafel made from fava beans, and often coated in sesame seeds. Served with flatbread and salad, this is a great vegetarian option and it’s easy to come by.
Sayadeya is best eaten along the coast where the catch is fresh. The fish filet is marinated in lemon and pan-fried before it’s placed on yellow rice, covered in a tomato and onion sauce and cooked in a traditional terracotta pot.
Meat-lovers must try the Koftas. Seasoned minced lamb or beef cooked on the grill and served with bread, salad and fresh tahini.
What Are Egypt’s Most Famous Desserts?
Egyptians love desserts! If you have a sweet tooth you won’t want to leave this country. Desserts are often filled with nuts or fruits, and one thing most of them have in common is sugar syrup and lots of it… So which ones are you most likely to come across visiting Egypt?
Om Ali, meaning ‘Ali’s mother’, is one of Egypt’s best known and oldest desserts. Made from flatbread soaked in milk, sugar and nuts are then added and it’s baked in the oven. Beach resorts often serve this at the end of a meal.
Basbousa is a dense cake made with semolina, butter and yoghurt. After it’s baked, it’s left to soak in sugar syrup. This dessert is usually served in a diamond shape with an almond on top.
Zalabya are fried dough balls dipped in syrup or honey. They are sold in the street and are best eaten right away while they are still hot. Often you can add a topping like chocolate or icing sugar.
Goulash is a variation of Baklava. In Egypt, it consists of layers of pastry with nuts left to soak in sugar syrup. It’s sticky, nutty and simply delicious.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading! To learn more about visiting this country for your trip, check our Driving In Egypt and Vaccinations for Egypt articles too.