Egypt is on the up in 2020. After a tumultuous decade of political revolution and violence that kept tourists at bay, the country is once again considered safe to explore. Ready to capitalize on this newfound stability, the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum is set to finally open its doors this year. But that’s not the only reason why you should take the time to explore this fascinating country! From the ancient tombs and pyramids to the mesmerizing coral reefs of the red sea in Sharm El Sheikh, this country offers everything from history and culture to R&R on the beach. Get it on the bucket list, before the secret is out!
Before we get started, is Egypt safe to travel to?
Yes, the country is now considered safe to visit. In 2019 the British government lifted a ban on direct flights to the tourist region of Sharm El Sheik after a plane traveling to Russia was bombed in 2015. The country has made significant improvements in airport security and safety and the threat of extremist violence is considered low in many of the tourist areas and there are no warnings regarding travel there from the British Foreign office. There are still certain regions travel is not advisable, but as a tourist, it is rare you will travel here. These areas include North Sinai, South Sinai (except Sharm El Sheik) and the area west of the Nile Valley and Delta Regions. If you are concerned about safety when traveling to Egypt always refer to your government’s travel advice and do not stray away from the tourist areas.
Egypt is a destination that will suit every budget. The overall cost of living in Egypt is low compared to the west, with your money going a lot further than it would at home. This means you will be able to afford luxury accommodation for a fraction of the price you would pay in Europe. Food, accommodation and transport are all low cost, with your main holiday expenses being spent on tours of historic sites, museum entrance fees, a Nile cruise or diving activities in the Red Sea.
Egypt has an ancient history that draws in tourists from around the world. It was once one of the greatest civilizations in the ancient world that has fascinated explorers and visitors for hundreds of years. The most popular period of Egypt’s history that we often learn about in school is the time of the Pharaohs and their mummified remains, the pyramids, the temples of Luxor and of course Queen Cleopatra and Egypt’s demise at the hands of Alexander the Great. But Egypt’s history stretches a lot further than that and even today new tombs are being unearthed that will help us learn about their day to day life in ancient times.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Egypt’s history, is that as a tourist you come face to face with is. You have the chance to wander around the remains, gaze at the mummified remains of Pharaohs, walk amongst the Sphynx and grandeur of Luxor. The history here is all around you and you can’t help but be mesmerized with all it has to offer.
Egypt is best known for the Pyramids of Giza. The oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world, they were built over 4,500 years ago in 2550 BC. They were created as tombs to Egypt’s Pharaohs, in Egyptian Mythology, Pharaohs would become gods in death, so they needed a huge tomb to house all the treasures they would need to rule in the afterlife.
They are the country’s most popular tourist attraction and are an iconic symbol of the country’s ancient past. The best way to access the pyramids is from Cairo. From here you can catch a tour or travel independently to Giza. Here you will be able to marvel at the last resting place of many of Egypt’s Pharaoh kings and queens. You can travel the paths once walked by royalty and immerse yourself in the history and majesty of their reign and demise. You will literally be walking in the footsteps of history.
You cannot visit Egypt without exploring the ancient tombs of the Pharaohs. The most popular are found in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens where some of the largest and most intricate tombs are located. Peek into the tomb of Ramses IV and marvel at the mummy of the famous boy-king, Tutankhamun. Still an active archaeological site, new items are still being regularly discovered, meaning this place is a living, breathing monument to Ancient Egypt.
The beaches & scuba diving
Egypt isn’t all museums, temples, and pyramids, it also has an incredible beach and scuba diving region on the coast of the Red Sea. The most popular cities by the coast are Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada and Dahab. In each, you can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving taking in the sights of pristine coral reefs and tropical fish. The Blue Hole, in Dahab, is a diver’s favorite, this 120m deep sinkhole is a coral paradise, it is one of the most popular diving sites in the world, but novice divers should tread carefully and not attempt it without an experienced guide.
A cruise along the Nile is the most popular way to get a glimpse of Egyptian life on your way to Luxor or Aswan. Spend your day taking in the sights from the boat, enjoying Egyptian cuisine and watching farmers tending to their crops at the riverbank. Cruises cater to a variety of budgets and tastes, some can focus on sight-seeing whereas others have the emphasis of rest and relaxation, you can even find the odd cruise that is all about having a good party. The boat will stop off at different ports along the way, so choose a cruise that will hit all the stops on your itinerary.
The Sahara Desert
Egypt is home to a section of the Sahara Desert which covers two-thirds of the country. Visiting this area offers tourists an opportunity to experience another side to Egypt not often seen by tourists and a chance to escape the pollution of the capital. Take a tour from Cairo and visit the white and black desert and the Bahariya Oasis. A popular spot for migrating birds, the Bahariya Oasis was once a renowned site for ancient Egyptians and Romans alike for its agriculture opportunities. Today this area is still a popular producer of dates and thanks to an irrigation system that goes back to ancient times, with plenty of natural springs so you can escape the heat of the desert sun with a quick dip.
Historical religious sites
Egypt is home to many important religious sites, with Christianity, Judaism and Islam all having places of important religious significance here. Egypt’s population is 90% Muslim and 8-10% Coptic Christian and both religions play a role in shaping Egyptian society.
Cairo is sometimes called the ‘city of a thousand minarets,’ as it is home to many mosques and churches. It’s important to visit these sites to build a better understanding of Egyptian culture. Make sure you visit the Mohamed Ali Mosque, which sits on top of the Citadel and offers panoramic views across the capital. It is open to visitors and has a museum on site. After seeing this, then visit the Church of St George, which is the most famous Coptic Christian Church in Egypt. The site dates back to the 10th century and it is the only round church you will find in Egypt, making it a site of architectural importance.
When visiting religious sites in Egypt remember to dress conservatively. Men and women should wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers. Shoulders should also be covered and if you are a woman you should bring a scarf to cover your head for when you enter the mosque.
Egypt may not be famous for its cuisine, but you can expect hearty meals that are cheap and tasty. The country has an eclectic mix of food, with plenty of vegetable focussed dishes, giving vegetarians plenty of choices. One of the most popular dishes you should try is Kushari, which is a noodle-based dish made up of onions, lentils, tomato and chili sauce. Another favorite is Ta’meya, which is a type of falafel, served with tahini sauce, salad and wrap bread. Egypt is also known for its kebabs and kofta, which will give carnivores a chance to get their hands on some meat. If you are traveling to the coast, then you will be able to enjoy plenty of fish and seafood dishes.
The Grand Egyptian Museum will open in 2020
The highly anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum will open its doors in 2020. A must for any fan of Egyptology or those interested in history, the new museum will offer plenty of space to display all the treasures of Ancient Egypt, including unseen relics from Tutankhamun’s tomb. It will also offer panoramic views of the Pyramids, offering plenty of views of the wonder. There have been delays regarding the opening in the past, but it has been confirmed the museum is 88% finished and will open this year.
Planning a trip to Egypt?
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