One week in Egypt is the perfect amount of time to soak up the hum of the ancient world. An ideal first visit will include a combination of exploring archaeological highlights, cultural adventures, and relaxation. From floating down the Nile to touring temple ruins, our 7 day Egypt itinerary offers authentic experiences and bustling bazaars combined with tranquil evenings watching the sun dip beyond the sand dunes.
Morning / Afternoon
As the heart of Egypt, many airlines offer direct services to Cairo, making the capital the best place to begin your holiday. After arrival, you will probably be buzzing to explore the city – but you’ll need a hearty meal first. Head to Cairo’s beloved Zooba, a restaurant serving up delectable traditional street food bites with a modern twist.
After you’ve satisfied your appetite, the best place to spend a scorching hot Cairo afternoon is indoors at The Egyptian Museum. Showcasing over 100,000 antique relics, the museum is a must-see for every first time visitor to Egypt. Home to the Gold Mask of Tutankhamun and a plethora of mummies, history buffs may want to leave an entire day for a visit to the museum.
After your trip into the ancient world, head down to the banks of the Nile and grab a steaming hot cup of coffee from one of the smiling vendors. Spend your sundown taking in the views of the Nile Corniche, before heading back to your hotel to relax.
A great way to spend your first evening in Cairo is to dive deep into the culture. Exploring Cairo by night is a whole different way to see the important landmarks of the city. Take a walk around to see the Al Hakim mosque, the Old Market, and other landmarks illuminated in the dark.
Your first full day in Cairo is the perfect opportunity to explore the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Rise bright and early to grab a quick ta’ameya sandwich from a Giza street vendor before heading to the Giza pyramid complex. As the complex closes at 14:00, your best bet is to arrive early to mid-morning, while the temperature is cooler and the lines are shorter.
Expect to be exhausted after ticking the pyramids off your bucket list – so now it’s time to relax. Wind down by kicking back at Al-Azhar Park, one of the largest green spaces inside urban Cairo. Stroll through the manicured gardens, sit by the lake, or splurge on a nice treat at one of the decadent cafes on offer amongst the emerald green.
If you like to shop ’til you drop, Khan el-Khalili market is the place for you. The evening is a great time to explore the winding alleyways, as the weather is cooler and the ambiance is cozy. The market has been open since 1382 and boasts an amazing range of artisan gifts, incense, gold, and antiques. While you’re at the souk, be sure to check out one of Cairo’s oldest haunts, El-Fishawi cafe – established in 1797.
After taking some time to explore Cairo, it’s time to head 2.5 hours north to the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. It’s an easy day trip that can be organized with the help of a private driver, and is well worth it for the intriguing Roman history and stunning sea views. Once you arrive, grab a quick coffee and head to Pompey’s Pillar, one of the largest monoliths of ancient times. The column was dedicated to Serapsis, a deity who was believed to be the protector of Alexandria.
A short distance from the pillar is the Catacomb of Kom el Shoqafa. Used as burial grounds for the dead for over 200 years, the site is considered one of the Ancient Wonders of the Medieval World and should definitely be on your Egypt itinerary.
After a long morning of transiting and exploring, head down to the harbor area (near the citadel) and settle down for a scrumptious fresh seafood feast at any local restaurant. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the seafood market yourself to stock up on the freshest catch of the day. Simply take your catch to one of the grills located next to the market, pay a cooking fee, and enjoy. You will be gobsmacked by the tantalizing tastes of fresh Mediterranean seafood, finished with a generous squeeze of lemon.
Consider checking out some of Cairo’s nightlife after arriving back from your day trip. Whether you want to hit the dance floor or wind down over a wine, coffee, or a shisha, there’s something to suit everyone.
For a relaxing evening out, head to one of Zamalek’s famous bars and lounges. Try Crimson for rooftop views and delectable food, or Mezcal for eclectic Latin-Egyptian fusion. For a cultural evening out, there are many alternative events like belly dancing, Sufi music, or photography exhibitions.
Before jetting off to Luxor, grab a quick ful breakfast from one of Cairo’s beloved breakfast eateries like Ne3ma or Alaa. You have a big day of traveling ahead, so make sure to fill up! To travel to Luxor, you can opt for a simple one hour flight, or buckle up for a 7-hour adventure on the train or with a private driver.
Once in Luxor, put on your comfiest walking shoes and find a driver to head on out to the Valley of the Kings. The site is located around a 15-minute drive from central Luxor and boasts some of Egypt’s finest tombs and burial chambers that are a must-see on any Egypt itinerary.
As the sun sets on Luxor, head down to Luxor Temple, a mesmerizing complex constructed in 1400 BC. With the cobblestones glowing and the Nile lit up, settle into your first night in Upper Egypt. After the light show, head to Sofra Restaurant & Cafe, located in downtown Luxor. Complete with antique tilework and delectable rooftop views of the Nile, their takes on classic Egyptian fare are unbeatable.
The perfect time to escape the crowds at the Karnak Temple complex is bright and early, so head there for sunrise or just after. Regarded as one of the most important religious complexes on earth, expect to spend a good few hours perusing the many impressive temple, chapel, and pylon ruins. The complex was developed over a one thousand-year period, making it one of the most spectacular sites of ancient Egypt. Wind your morning adventure up with a fresh ta’ameya or hawawshi (meat-stuffed sandwich) from one of the many local vendors beside the complex.
Make your way up the Nile to the next destination on your adventure, Aswan. Hailed as the gateway to Egypt, Aswan is located a three-hour drive from Luxor, making it an easy afternoon trip with your driver or on the train.
For an even more unique experience, you may want to opt for a Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan. There is nothing better than cruising down this beautiful body of water that has been a life force for Egyptian civilization for thousands of years. It’s an experience not to be missed while in Egypt.
Head over to Elephantine Island, Aswan’s largest island, for an evening stroll. From Aswan bank, take a boat to visit the dusty, sleepy, traditional villages. The island is home to the Nubian people, an ethnic group from Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. Take your time exploring the winding streets before heading back to your hotel for a well-deserved night of relaxation.
Morning / Afternoon
Rise and shine early for your final full day of sightseeing in Egypt before heading home. Begin your morning with some of Aswan’s best local breakfast, and afterwards, make your way to Philae Temple.
The temple sits on the island around eight kilometres from Aswan, accessible by sailing only. The island is peaceful, secluded, and filled to the brim with intricate hieroglyphics and colours. You’ll want to spend around an hour soaking up the sights before heading back to the mainland to begin the journey back to Cairo.
Ready to relax after a long journey up the Nile? Head to the Cairo Tower at dusk, the perfect way to say farewell to Cairo. Soak up the peaceful bird’s-eye view of the glistening city at dusk before making your way to Abou Tarek in Downtown to sample some of Cairo’s best koshari, one of Egypt’s national dishes. Open since the 1950s, this authentic local restaurant is a must-try.
Morning / Afternoon
After a bustling few days sifting through ancient relics and enjoying the rich flavors of Egyptian cuisine, why not add a day of pampering to your Egypt itinerary? Spend your last morning at La Rose Spa, a charming day spa specializing in body and skincare that makes luxury accessible to everyone.
If you’re flying out in the evening, spend the rest of the day soaking up Cairo and visiting any other sites on your personal Egypt itinerary that you missed. As the city of a thousand nooks and crannies, there is always something new and exciting to discover.
Travel time to the airport from Cairo city is around 30 minutes with a taxi, Uber, or private driver, but during peak hours, this journey can easily double. Public transport options are available but not recommended due to sporadic timing.
For those looking to make their time in Cairo seamless and easy, there are many one day and multi-day tours available that will help ease the burden of planning and transport, especially if you’re arriving by land from neighboring Israel. Plan your Egypt itinerary by splitting into a few days exploring on your own and a few days on a guided tour to get the most out of your week in majestic Egypt.