If you’re keen to explore the land of pharaohs and pyramids to the full, then look no further than our complete 8 day Egypt itinerary. It’s a fully scheduled plan to whisk you through all of the major must-sees of this enthralling nation, with history, shopping, culture, and even a touch of nightlife thrown into the mix.
It begins on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea up north and ends on the edge of the Red Sea in the east. Between start and finish, you’ll cruise long sections of the legendary Nile River and also drop by the unmissable Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings.
We’d say that the overall best time to do our complete 8 day Egypt itinerary is during the winter months, between October and April. That’s when this desert nation in North Africa is at its coolest. Summer trips are likely to be cheaper, but be ready to contend with temperatures well in excess of 100 F most days!
Day 1: Alexandria
We begin our complete 8 day Egypt itinerary on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in the great and ancient city of Alexandria. This important port town has been just that, an important port town, since the moment it was founded by its namesake, a certain Alexander the Great (heard of him?).
In ancient times it was known as a center for learning. The iconic Library of Alexandria once reigned as the first library in the ancient world. Sadly, it burned down sometime around the 1st century BC. There’s now a modern recreation on the site, with a whopping 20,000 square meters of reading space and thought-provoking exterior designs.
Make sure you also see the Greek-Roman ruins of the Catacombs of Kom el-Shuqqafa, which lie underground, and the site of the now-lost Lighthouse of Alexandria. Only then can you justify a stroll between the coffeehouses and beaches of the Corniche.
Day 2: Old Cairo
Don’t be tempted to make the hop over to the pyramids just yet. There’s a real draw to the medieval core of Old Cairo, a part of the capital that oozes character and life. A vast cut-out of the city, it ranges from the Nile banks in Al Manial all the way to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, which is a top alternative to wandering at street level if it’s raining (which is never is!).
Start your tour on Muizz Street. It was once the main drag of the town in the age of the Fatimid dynasty and still sports facades from the 10th century AD. From there, head over to the Hanging Church, a center of Coptic worship that’s dressed in exquisite 8th-century mosaics. Oh, and don’t forget to witness the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, one of the largest in North Africa.
Old Cairo also hosts the bazaar you’ve been waiting for. It’s known as the Khan Al-Khalili, and it spreads through the heart of the historic core of town with sellers touting everything from Bedouin lanterns to silk blankets to shisha pipes. Sharpen your haggling skills for that!
Day 3: Giza (for the pyramids)
Get ready, for today you strike a line from the bucket list. The Pyramids of Giza await on the eastern sides of ever-sprawling Cairo. They are among the most iconic historic buildings on the planet, dating back a whopping 5,500 years in total! Nowadays, they are the centerpiece of a whole UNESCO-tagged necropolis, where visitors can delve inside the structures themselves to see haunting tombs that once housed mummified Egyptian kings and queens.
The pyramids aren’t the only draws in Giza. This is also where you’ll catch a sighting of the iconic Sphinx, one of the more intriguing carvings of the ancient age. And the town is the home of the acclaimed Pharaonic Village, a living museum that recreates some of the mightiest structures of the nation in a bite-sized form – great for families with the little ones in tow.
Day 4: Aswan
Fly down from Cairo to Aswan on day four to enter the region known as Upper Egypt. It’s a land closer to the heart of Africa, flanked by shifting deserts and dotted with some of the most amazing ancient ruins of all.
There’s time to get to those on the next step of the journey, but today is about seeing modern Aswan – or, at least, a more modern Aswan than the pyramids! Start with a jaunt over to Elephantine Island. Washed by the Nile River, this strip of land is known for its old-school adobe houses and palm-lined streets.
We’d also recommend taking an excursion on a traditional Felucca boat here. It’s a wonderful experience that sees you drift over the courses of the Nile between historic villages that ooze charm. Naturally, the Aswan High Dam is also there. Engineering buffs must see that – it’s one of the largest dams of its kind in the whole world!
Day 5-7: A 3-night Nile cruise
We’ve included a Nile cruise in our complete 8 day Egypt itinerary because it’s unquestionably one of the bucket-list draws of this North African nation. It will take three nights and four days in all, which means the bulk of your trip. But it really is worth it. There are loads of different companies that offer such trips. Here, we’ll take a look at a typical itinerary that you can expect to find…
- Aswan-Edfu – You cruise north up the Nile on the first day, usually stopping by the great double temple of Kom Ombo. That’s a 2,000-year-old wonder built during the Ptolemaic era, dedicated to the gods of Sobek and Horus. It’s known for its colossal columns, which are decorated with elaborate motifs and carvings that depict images of the deities. Later on, the boat will move north again to the town of Edfu, where there’s another massive Temple of Horus, one of the most complete ancient worshipping sites in the country.
- Edfu-Luxor – Today is a bit more about the modern side of the river. Highlights as you cruise include the Esna Floodgates, where traders will wait on boats for the timed opening of the quays. Come evening, you’ll also have a chance to explore the modern side of Luxor town, which has bazaars and a lively gastronomic scene.
- Luxor itself – The final day is 100% dedicated to arguably the most famous ancient Egyptian site in the country, more iconic even than the Great Pyramids. Cue Luxor, the home of the Valley of the Kings and the amazing Karnak Temple. You could spend a whole week here exploring the ruins, but a guided tour of Tutankhamun’s tomb and the obelisk-fronted Luxor Temple is a must. Early risers should also be sure to add in a hot air balloon ride over the region at sunrise. It’s something you’ll never forget!
Day 8: The Red Sea coast
You’ll reward yourself with some hard-earned R&R on the final day of our 8 day Egypt itinerary. That comes courtesy of the country’s much-loved Red Sea coast. This is the easternmost portion of the nation and it hosts a series of tempting resort towns where sun-splashed beaches and balmy ocean waters are the order of the day.
We’ll let you pick the specific one to visit. There are a couple worth highlighting:
- Hurghada – Hurghada is the original Egyptian beach resort. It now commands a very long run of the Red Sea coast and is easily accessed thanks to its own international airport. It’s credited with having some of the largest all-inclusive hotels, most of which manage their own private stretch of sand. We especially like the Bellagio Beach Resort & Spa ($$$), a villa-style resort with duplex units, and the Premier Le Reve Hotel & Spa ($$$), a chic option that’s aimed squarely at the honeymoon crowd, but you’ll have hundreds of options.
- Sharm El-Sheikh – Often hailed as the diving capital of Africa, Sharm El-Sheikh is the number one spot to go if you’re keen on donning the snorkels and scuba tanks to complete your trip. There are outfitters here that will help you get out and swimming with whale sharks, reef sharks, and all manner of odd corals. The town also has it’s own top selection of luxury shoreline hotels if you just want relaxation.
- Port Ghalib – One of the more modern resort communities in the Red Sea region offers access to what’s become known as the Coral Coast. As you can imagine, that makes this a great choice for divers and snorkelers, especially as the packages for scuba tend to be a touch cheaper than in aforementioned Sharm. On land, the name of the game is relaxation and then some more relaxation. Spa hotels abound and the beaches are all manicured, private affairs.