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BlogDestinationsThe Go Ahead Travel Guide to Egypt & the Nile
Destinations

The Go Ahead Travel Guide to Egypt & the Nile

Aug 26, 2020 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

This destination guide was created for you by our global team here at Go Ahead Tours! Whether we’re designing new trips or writing guides like this one, everything we do is handcrafted. Read on to get our staffers’ insider tips from their travels.

With its over 7,000 years of history, unique culture, and out-of-this-world cuisine, it’s no wonder that Egypt is at the top of everyone’s bucket list. If it’s on yours (and we’re sure it is!), check out our team’s expert tips for what to experience when you travel to Egypt.

Languages: Standard Arabic is the official language, but the Egyptian Arabic dialect is most commonly spoken.

Currency: The Egyptian Pound, although the U.S. Dollar is also widely accepted. That brings us to one of our best travel tips for Egypt: It’s a good idea to keep $1 bills on hand for tipping and small purchases throughout your tour.

Etiquette tip: Tipping is expected everywhere when you travel to Egypt. It’s called “baksheesh” and is an important part of the culture. Egyptians believe in giving small tips to everyone from bathroom attendants to tour guides to someone taking a photo for you.

UNESCO-listed sites: There are seven, including the ancient cities of Cairo and Thebes, where the Temples of Karnak and Luxor can be seen. (And yes, we visit both of those sites on our Egypt tours.)

Best way to get around: On foot with your Tour Director (who also happens to be an expert Egyptologist!) at your side. Of course, no trip to Egypt is complete without a trip down the Nile River, so hop aboard to boat past some of the country’s most famous sites.

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WHEN TO TRAVEL TO EGYPT

Picking your ideal time to travel to Egypt comes down to two main things: the weather, and the crowds. Egypt’s temperatures range from mild to very hot (it is a desert, after all), and that’s all part of the unforgettable, authentic experience. Here’s when to go on your dream trip to Egypt.

  • October–April for lower temps and more visitors. Cooler days mean that this is Egypt’s busy season, but the trade-off may be more than worth it if you want to soak in a little bit less sun. Just keep in mind that December and January are peak months, when the lines are longest and prices are highest, so plan your trip to Egypt accordingly.

  • Heat-lovers who like shorter lines, May–September is your time to travel to Egypt. This is the country’s off-season, and days can be (very) hot and humid, so you’ll find virtually no lines at iconic sites like the Temples of Luxor and the Pyramids of Giza. Out tip? Sightsee in the early morning before the heat peaks, so you can get the best of both worlds!

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WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO EGYPT

Wondering what to pack for Egypt? With its hot climate and conservative Muslim culture, it’s a place where you want to have the right things in your suitcase. Here are are few things to have on hand on your Egypt tour.

  • For women, a long-sleeve blouse and a head-covering scarf for visiting mosques—this is a must, even on the hottest days. Respecting the local customs (which includes dressing the part!) is important on any trip to Egypt. As a rule of thumb, especially for women, chest, shoulders, and knees should be covered at all times when not at beach resorts. Don’t fret—you can still stay relatively cool by taking a page from the ancient Egyptians and wearing light, breathable fabrics like linen.

  • Sun protection, including sunglasses, a brimmed hat to shield the sun, and a strong SPF.

  • Comfortable walking shoes for all the exploring you’ll be doing!

  • Layers. The weather in Egypt is often much warmer during the day than it is at night. Plus, it’s good to have a light long-sleeve shirt on hand for protection on the sunniest days.

  • Casual yet presentable outerwear. People in Egypt tend to dress smartly and you will stand out if you’re wandering around in loungewear, workout clothing, or revealing, tight-fitting clothing.

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WHAT TO SEE IN EGYPT

Our Egypt tours bring you to the most iconic spots with the help of local guides and a Tour Director who’s a licensed Egyptologist (yes, you read that right!). Here are some of the most unforgettable places our experts will bring you on our Egypt tours.

  • The Pyramids of Giza. Guarded by the Sphinx, this is hands-down the most famous place in Egypt. It’s one of the last surviving Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is an absolute must-see when traveling to Egypt.

  • Elephantine Island, which you’ll boat past as you cruise down the Nile on a traditional sailboat called a felucca.

  • Luxor Temple, situated where the ancient city of Thebes once stood, and known as the world’s largest open-air museum.

  • The Valley of the Kings—famous names like King Tutankhamun, Queen Hatshepsut, and King Amenhotep were buried in these hidden tombs on the West Bank.

  • Cairo. Of course our Egypt travel guide is going to include visiting the capital city, which is filled with mosques, monuments, and madrassas. Cairo is the place to go to for a well-rounded look at the country’s cultural heritage and architecture.

  • Aswan, a tranquil town found along the winding banks of the Nile. This is the perfect spot to stop and relax, soak up the calm atmosphere, and enjoy the views of the orange-toned dunes. You can even take a river ferry to Elephantine Island and stroll through the colorful streets of the Nubian villages.

  • The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, one of the world’s greatest museum collections, and one of the most spectacular spots to visit in all of Egypt. The exhibits of temples, palaces, tombs, and ancient pieces of art will truly blow you away.

Plan your trip to Egypt

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HOW TO SPEND FREE TIME IN EGYPT

We’ll be honest: Our tour of Egypt is so full of discovery that there’s not really too much time to see extra sites during free time. But if you have a spare afternoon, here are a few ways to soak in even more Egyptian culture.

  • See the Bibliotheca Alexandrina on an added Alexandria excursion. This is the modern recreation of the ancient Library of Alexandria, and visiting was one of traveler Audrey’s favorite memories from Egypt. “For a book lover like me, visiting this reincarnation was a highlight,” she says. “The architecture impressed me from the outside, but the real treasures inside provided a window into Egypt and its history.”

  • Visit Abu Simbel on another added excursion—history lovers, we’re talking to you! This is Ramses II and his Queen Nefertari’s great temple, which is guarded by huge statues and has an interior that’s decorated with wall paintings. It even survived a move in the sixties that UNESCO operated before it fell underwater at its original setting. (Good save, UNESCO, good save.)

  • Take a hot-air balloon ride, which staffer Kevin says is one of the top things to do in Egypt. “We rose into the air at sunrise, and floated above the Colossi of Memnon towards the Valley of the Kings,” he says. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime view and experience, and was truly worthwhile.”

  • Stroll through Khan el-Khalili, a unique and traditional bazaar in Cairo. Here, you can buy all types of souvenirs (our favorites are below!) and get a glimpse into the lives and traditions of the Egyptian vendors.

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WHAT TO EAT & DRINK IN EGYPT

Part of experiencing the Egyptian culture lies in tasting the traditional dishes and drinks. And you can take our word for it: You won’t be disappointed. “I have fond memories of Egyptian food, which is a lot of the same fare you’d find in other Eastern Mediterranean countries,” says staffer Angus. Here are a few of our favorite dishes to eat on tour in Egypt.

  • Ful medames, a vegan breakfast dish that you’ll find on almost every Egyptian’s table. This staple is made from stewed dried fava beans, olive oil, cumin, and lemon juice, and finished with a variety of fresh toppings. Fun fact: Even ancient Egyptians ate this dish! If it’s been a favorite for that long, it deserved a try.

  • Kushari, a mix of rice, chickpeas, pasta, and black lentils, topped with thick tomato sauce and friend onions. “I suggest stepping out of the tourist shell and trying kushari at a local stall or restaurant,” says staffer Silvia. “It’s a dish commonly eaten by the working class so it’s unlikely to find it in any of the fancier restaurants on our Egypt tours. Be sure to ask for extra tomato sauce!”

  • Mulukhiya, which is prepared differently depending on the area of Egypt. This dish is made up of a leafy green vegetable that gets chopped and cooked with garlic in beef, rabbit, or chicken stew, then served with rice or bread.

  • Kebab and kofta, two must-try dishes for all meat lovers. Pieces of either grilled lamb or veal make up a kebab, and kofta is minced meat that is prepared on the grill. Both are often served with bread, salad, and tahina.

  • Sugarcane juice called asab. This is one of the most common juices found in Egypt—locals love it because it’s a light thirst-quencher in the hot climate

  • Egyptian coffee, which staffer Angus says is the best coffee he’s ever had. “The whole coffee culture in Egypt is also really neat because they have a unique way of brewing it,” he explained. “It was flavored with cardamom and clove, and was very strong—almost like a spicy espresso.” No wonder sipping this unique brew was one of Angus’ favorite travel experiences in Egypt!

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SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN EGYPT

Egypt’s home to countless ancient treasures, so it goes without saying that you’ll want to bring home a few trinkets to remember your once-in-a-lifetime trip. No matter which souvenirs catch your eye, remember one of the best travel tips for Egypt: Haggling is the name of the game! It’s all part of the fun of being immersed in the local culture.

  • Papyrus. You can find many designs replicated from ancient Egyptian tombs and temple paintings on dried banana leaves.

  • Jewelry. Gold and silver-making are part of Egyptian tradition, so jewelry is a great treasure to bring home with you. You can find many designs inspired by Ancient Egyptians like cartouches, scarabs (amulets in the shape of dung beetles), hieroglyphs, ankh (the key of life), and wadjet (the eye of Horus).

  • Scarves. “I brought back at least a dozen scarves,” says staffer Angus.

Have you ever visited Egypt & the Nile on tour? Share your favorite things to do in Lisbon on our Facebook page!


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About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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