Egypt is the country of sands and pharaohs, the cradle of cultures and religions, the state of the majestic Nile, and luxurious beaches. Egypt is the answer to many questions. Here come both beachgoers and fans of museums, as well as those who like to tickle their nerves. Quality and inexpensive vacations at sea and the opportunity to improve their health are the main reasons to choose Egypt. Tourists are attracted to the Mediterranean resorts of Egypt, especially the popular and favorite resorts of the Red Sea. Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh annually welcome tens of millions of visitors from all over the world. For a quiet, relaxing vacation by the sea, go to Hurghada. Sharm el Sheikh will be loved by the noisy company of young people, fun-lovers, and explorers of the fantastic underwater world of the Red Sea.
The underwater world, professional divers, and those tourists who see a mask and flippers for the first time in their lives will be delighted with the Egyptian waters! The reefs of the Red Sea are officially recognized as the most beautiful on the planet. Explore the richness of the waters near Dahab or in the Ras Mohammed Marine Reserve. But when you do decide to rise from the depths of the sea to the surface, you will find an equally vibrant program of entertainment.
Of course, the most popular are the historical excursions. This is a real journey into the past, thousands of years ago, in a world of pharaohs, ancient deities, riddles, and mysteries. The No. 1 historical site is the pyramid complex at Giza, with its majestic guardian, the unsolved Sphinx. This is the only object from the list of seven wonders of the ancient world that has survived to this day. The uniqueness of the Giza monuments is appreciated by the UNESCO Committee, as is the complex of temples and necropolises of the ancient city of Thebes — now modern Luxor. Do not miss a walk through the capital of Cairo, one of the most bustling and diverse metropolises in the world. And if you are planning a deep dive into the culture of ancient Egypt, go on a cruise on the Nile. Mystical shrines, half-forgotten temples, oases, crocodiles, and the ineffable atmosphere of Agatha Christie's novels — an unforgettable adventure awaits you.
Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in Africa. The Egyptians themselves often call it Masr. It is a noisy, eclectic, and sometimes very dirty metropolis, which gained fame as the Arabian Rome for the huge number of monuments and the same number of tourists.
The Khan Al-Khalili Market (or simply "Khan") in Cairo is considered one of the best in the world. It is one of the oldest bazaars in Cairo, having opened in 1382. Since then, the number of stores, shoppers, curious tourists, and, of course, merchandise has greatly increased. But perhaps the most successful assortment at Khan Al-Khalili is represented by glass, copper, perfume, and jewelry, handmade by local artisans.
What to taste in Cairo?
Cairo has a wide variety of drinking establishments, from the cozy traditional to the plastic and glass ultra-modern. There are traditional ´ahwa´ coffee houses on almost every street, a gathering place for Cairo men for hundreds of years. In addition, you can always find all kinds of fruit shops, pastry shops, bakeries, and modern cafes in the European style. In addition to traditional Turkish coffee and chai tea, you should try drinks such as hibiscus tea karkade served cold or hot depending on the season; sahlab, a milk drink usually served in winter; fakhfakhina (a type of fruit salad), sugarcane juice, mango and tamarind juice (Tamr hindi).
Giza is an area on the western outskirts of the Egyptian capital known for the largest concentration of tourists per square meter. Giza is located on the plateau of the same name, strictly to the west of Cairo on Pyramids Road, which connects the major metropolis with the dust-covered wonders of the world — the ancient pyramids. This is where some of Egypt's, if not the world's, main attractions are located.
Today, every student knows the term "pyramids of Giza", and a little more than a century ago, Pyramids Road was a backwater road that ran along the irrigation fields to a tiny village. Since the 20th century, Giza has begun to grow rapidly, and the number of tourists has increased. The fields were built up with cafes, restaurants, stores, and nightclubs.
Alexandria is Egypt's second-largest city and a popular Mediterranean resort. It is a peculiar symbiosis of ancient history and a modern beach resort. The style and culture of Alexandria are very different from the rest of the country: they are noticeably closer to Europe. The undoubted advantage of rest here - is the ability to combine a busy "sightseeing" with a beach holiday.
All the beaches here are sandy. A rare hotel in the city has its beach with sunbeds and umbrellas; the guests of the majority of such hotels have to content themselves with public city beaches. But all coastal hotels located in the suburbs of Alexandria have their own equipped beaches. The bathing season runs from late May or early June to September inclusive. The city has a strong fort, "guarding" the entrance to the eastern bay (built on the site of the legendary Faros Lighthouse), one of the main attractions of the city. The fort is now located in the Historical Museum. The second unique attraction is the famous Library of Alexandria.
The Greco-Roman Museum exhibits cover the period from the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great to the end of Roman rule in the 4th century AD. In addition, tourists should visit the Palace of Montaza, the Roman Amphitheater, the Museum of Fine Arts, the "Pillar of Pompey" and the palace of Ras al-Tin. Alexandria is not just a seaside resort but also a modern city. There are many cafes, restaurants, casinos, and nightclubs. The price level is lower than in other resorts in Egypt.
Luxor is a real gem in Egypt. It is a small town on the right bank of the Nile, located 500 km south of Cairo, which was once the famous capital of Ancient Egypt. It is the world center of archeology, and there is no other city in the world where so many ancient monuments are concentrated. The honorary status of the "pearl" is confirmed every day by the countless tourist buses arriving here from all the famous resorts of the country and cruise ships traveling along the Nile. Alas, where there are a lot of tourists, there are also many who feel obliged to profit at their expense. Be prepared for this and don't expect that the helping hand offered to you when you get off the boat won't turn into a beggar's hand soon. However, if you ignore such trifles as intrusive traders or beggars, Luxor will certainly impress you — the beauty of this ancient city has been admired for a thousand years BC. Just don't forget to wear long sleeves, a hat, and a bottle of water. The sun here scorches mercilessly, and there is almost nowhere to hide.
Since the city is located on the banks of the Nile, it is easy to divide its attractions into the right bank, the "City of the Living", and the left bank, the "City of the Dead". In the "City of the Living" are the world-famous Luxor and Karnak temples, once united by the alley of sphinxes in a single ensemble. The City of the Dead has a famous "Valley of the Pharaohs", the place of burial (only about 40 tombs). It was here that the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered.
A few more famous attractions in Luxor are the temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the burial temple in honor of the god Amon-Ra. Nowadays, only two statues of Amenhotep, called Memnon, remain from the temple. They are two giant statues, 20 meters high, whose legs alone are 2 m long and 1 m thick.
There are two cute markets in Luxor. Each one is worth a visit because they are completely different from each other. One is an air-conditioned shopping mall with two floors full of stores. Here you can "shop" for those who prefer the comfort and coolness of a bright oriental trade. The second — the oldest in the city — is located on several streets near the Temple of Luxor. From the sun, save only wooden slabs from the crooks and inflated prices of trade.
Beaches of Egypt
All the beaches in Alexandria are sandy. The rare hotel located within the city has its own beach with sunbeds and umbrellas; the guests of most of these hotels have to make do with the public city. But all coastal hotels located in the suburbs of Alexandria have their own equipped beaches.
The beaches in Hurghada are shallow, but not all hotels have open sea, fine and clean sand. Most often, it is artificially deepened lagoons. It is not always noticeable, but sometimes the water in the lagoons is quite turbid. Many hotels have their own "home reef": corals near the beach, where you can watch the fish. However, due to the corals, it is often impossible to enter the sea barefoot.
The beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh in the bay of Naama Bay are "conditionally sandy": swimming without special shoes is not everywhere, but only in specially purified areas (usually they are fenced buoys). The only natural sandy beach in Sharm is Sharm El Maya Gulf (Iberotel Palace and Dessole Seti Sharm): it's the only place you can swim barefoot without fear. But the beaches in the new areas of the resort (Hadaba Bay, Sharks Bay, and Nabq Bay) are not sandy but coral: there is a protected area, and even to build bridges over the coral, hotels need many permits. On almost all the beaches in these areas, coral begins almost at the water's edge and stretches to 15–30 m. This is inconvenient for swimming children, but pleases fans of underwater flora and fauna, who get to watch amazing coral fish and other wonders of the Red Sea right under their feet.
Diving in Egypt
Colorful coral reefs and fish living among them all colors and colors are the greater attractions than the famous pyramids of Egypt. Perhaps most tourists go to the Red Sea coast just because of its fantastic underwater world, but not everyone dares to dive deep. Most travelers lazily swim along the coral reefs with a mask and snorkel, keeping their faces submerged underwater and exposing their backs to sunlight. This type of exploration of marine beauty is called snorkeling.
But to fully experience the moray, dolphins, turtles, napoleon fish, and other inhabitants of the Red Sea, it is worth the risk of diving. Fortunately, dive tours are offered at every hotel. They do not require any special skills or certificates, but if desired, the latter can be obtained by completing here, on the spot, courses. A standard intro-dive costs 100-120 USD. The initial certificate for PADI Advanced Open Water, which includes at least 5 dives, will cost 200 - 300 USD.
Egyptian Natural Reserves
The Egyptian oases, which are actually very worthy sites for excursions, are undeservedly overlooked. So, the three oases closest to Cairo are El Fayoum, Baharia (with its hot springs), and the White Desert in Farafra. It is difficult to put into words the beauty of these places, as well as how to get there in two words. Therefore, Egyptian green corners in the middle of deserts are visited by tourists so little. What can not be said about the natural attractions, which, incidentally, are somewhat closer to the Red Sea coast and the Sinai Peninsula? The most famous local reserve is Ras Mohammed, whose coral reefs were once conquered once and for all by Jacques-Yves Cousteau. No less popular is the Color Canyon, located in the Sinai — bizarre rocky sculptures blown through by the winds. Also nearby is the famous biblical Mount Moses, on top of which the Jewish prophet received the Ten Commandments. An iconic place not only for fans of breathtaking scenery, but also for Christians all over the world.
Shopping in Egypt
As a rule, visitors from Egypt bring only souvenirs: to buy something else is almost meaningless. Typical local knickknacks are basalt, granite, or-more often-painted alabaster statuettes of ancient Egyptian gods; hookah ("shisha"); and papyrus. In the resort areas, the vast majority of stores and shops do not have fixed prices. Therefore, advice to tourists: bargain, bargain, and bargain again. The original price has been knocked down many times.
It is worth paying attention to high-quality Egyptian cotton at ridiculous prices. It is also worth assessing Egyptian carpets: even if they are not as famous as Indian or Persian carpets, you can find some very good quality and beautiful pieces. Egyptian gold can also be a good investment if you buy it in specialized jewelry (rather than souvenir) stores.
What to taste in Egypt?
Egyptian cuisine has everything: the traditional Middle Eastern lamb, spices, couscous rice, and everything that has had the misfortune to swim in the nets of local fishermen, from fish to cuttlefish. At the same time, the Egyptians focus on flavor, not on the spice of the dishes; they generously use aromatic herbs and hot peppers — only occasionally, to slightly tint the taste. National meat dishes are a variety of couscous and stews, while the vegetable dishes include falafel, "koshari" (rice, chickpeas, pasta, tomato sauce), and the classic "ful medames"—stewed beans with olive oil, onions, and garlic.
Festivals and Events in Egypt
The main holiday in any Muslim country is, of course, Ramadan. The ninth is the most important month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims are not allowed to eat food. In the resort areas, Ramadan is practically unnoticeable; life goes on as usual. But to visit the capital or, for example, Luxor during the holiday is an incomparable experience. During the day, almost the entire city becomes quiet and peaceful, only to begin celebrating, rejoicing, and setting tables for the poor and passersby as darkness falls. Ramadan runs from about September 2 to October 2.
On January 7, the small Christian part of Egypt celebrates Christmas, and January 10 is a new holiday - the beginning of the Muslim calendar, Muharram. In late March, the country celebrates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, and on April 9 — a beautiful family holiday called Sham-el-Nessim (approximate translation — "smell the fragrance," "flower smell"), when everyone gathers on a picnic to welcome spring. April 25 is Liberation Day of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, and May 1 is Labor Day, like in our country. July 23 is an important day in the country's calendar, a national holiday — the Anniversary of the 1952 Revolution. October 6 is another event in Egyptian history: Armed Forces Day, reminding everyone of the crossing of the Suez Canal by Egyptian troops in 1973.