The sands of Egypt have inspired travelers for millennia. 5,000 years ago, this northeast African nation was home to one of the world’s oldest and greatest civilizations, and remnants of its grand past are felt all across the country. Whether caught in the rhythmic pulse of rejuvenated cities, mesmerized by the beautiful stillness of a sprawling desert, sailing past historic temples and monuments along the Nile River, or relaxing along the Red Sea shores, Egypt is an awe-inspiring and eternally memorable honeymoon destination. Its sand-covered tombs, impossibly-sized temples, mystifying pyramids, and proud past will bring out the intrepid explorer in you.
The capital and largest city in Egypt, Cairo is called home by 22 million Egyptians, most of which lovingly refer to it as the Mother of the World. This metropolis has long been a cradle of civilization, with an infectious buzz that brings truth to the testament of a city that never sleeps. A blend of old and new, Cairo is a perfect first base to explore and appreciate Egypt’s extensive culture.
The Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo offers an all-encompassing walk through the country’s mystifying past, with a dazzling display of ancient artifacts, mummies, jewelry, tools, toys, household trinkets, and royal treasures (much of which will be securely transported for permanent display in Egypt’s newly constructed $1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum, set to open late 2020). Khan el-Khalili in the heart of Old Cairo is a maze of a historic market where everything from hundred-year-old cafes to souvenirs and authentic street shows can be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. But Cairo’s star attraction is undoubtedly the ancient pyramids of Giza. These tombs just ten minutes out of town are the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World and stand in perfect symmetry as a proud symbol of the strength and organization of ancient Egypt.
None of Egypt’s magnificent past or its tantalizing present would be possible without the Nile River. The longest river in the world helped to cultivate prior civilizations as it does today’s – without it, Egypt would be entirely desert. A vital source for agriculture, trade, and transportation, the River Nile is a strategic stronghold that runs vertically through Egypt, much like a spine, with expansive deserts both east and west of the water. 90% of all Egyptians live along the river, and many of the country's most famous temples and historic sites reside on its banks, which makes a river cruise an essential part of any trip to Egypt.
Two of the most influential riverside cities are Luxor and Aswan. Previously known as the ancient city of Thebes, Luxor displays the enormous wealth and power that passed through Egypt’s former capital. Like a well-preserved antique town, Luxor has lured visitors for hundreds of years with its display of tombs and temples and has even attracted some with its temptations of treasures. Visit the Valley of the Kings to witness 63 royal tombs, or board a hot-air balloon to soak in the cityscape from above – Luxor, after all, has been dubbed the world’s greatest open-air museum.
Aswan, further south, is at once jam-packed with native culture and laid-back with a river breeze and rooftop panoramas. Local Nubians are incredibly hospitable, and their colorful homes and villages are a beauty to behold. The Nile is wide here, and Elephantine Island in the middle of it is as pleasant to explore as it is pretty to admire. Most Nile River cruises conveniently travel between Luxor and Aswan, making the two important destinations easy to visit together.
The Nile flows south to north and eventually lets out into the Mediterranean Sea at Egypt’s northern coast. Deep-blue beaches and an increasing number of world-class resorts can be found along this 600-mile stretch of coast, particularly in Alexandria. Named after its founder Alexander the Great, the city has been both an archive of the ancient world and a crucial commercial hub along the Mediterranean. As a visitor, this second city is a natural draw thanks to its storied past, cultural attractions (like the Bibliotecha Alexandrina, where arts, science, history, and philosophy collide), colorful gardens, deep blue sea (and the fresh seafood that it offers) and close proximity to Cairo.
But if a beach-centric honeymoon is your top priority, no region in Egypt is better suited than the Red Sea. Along the country’s eastern coast, and even on the southern tip of its far-east Sinai Peninsula, the beaches of the Red Sea have brought life to unsuspecting towns and have placed Egypt on the honeymoon radar of travelers that prioritize palm trees, golden sands, and crystal seas. Hurghada has become the most developed of these resort towns, where top-notch hotels and restaurants line its sandy shores, and an Old Town offers quaint coffee shops and souks for shopping.
Over on the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm El-Sheikh has long been Egypt’s top choice for holiday-makers, with a wild nightlife and the beauty of the Sinai desert opposite its premier location along the Red Sea. With Vibrant coral reefs and excellent visibility, the entire coast of the Red Sea is especially attractive for scuba divers, though snorkelers, swimmers, water sport enthusiasts, or couples that just like to lounge on the sands are sure to appreciate a visit to this thriving tourist region.
Egypt is reliably warm and dry all year-round, though temperatures can swell to an uncomfortable level in the thick of summer. Relative low humidity inland, a bit of a breeze along the Nile River, and Red Sea beach resorts make summer a viable option for budget-conscious travelers (when hotel rates and airfare are at their lowest), but all-around Egypt is enjoyed best in winter. November–February bring comfortably cooler temperatures which allow for an all-day mix of sightseeing, desert explorations, and seaside relaxation. Peak season is smack in the middle of winter, culminating in December and January. Consider early autumn or spring to combine the best of Egypt’s weather with fewer crowds and more affordable rates.
Egypt is well serviced by multiple international airliners which operate entry routes to key destinations all across the country. Just 9 miles outside of the capital city’s heart, Cairo International (CAI) is easily the largest hub and a wise choice for a first-time visitor. Borg El Arab (HBE) services Alexandria in the north, while Hurghada International (HRG) and Sharm El Sheikh International (SSH) are great entry points for coastal holidays. Stick with the skies for continuing on with domestic travel – EgyptAir offers frequent flights at extremely modest fares. Buses are a safe, clean, and reliable alternative – and how most Egyptians move from place to place – if you prefer a slower approach, but more often than not, a cheap and quick flight is the way to go.
Cruise Across the Nile River
The Nile River has brought life to Egypt for millennia, and the rhythm of cultures that have formed along the banks of the river are incredibly unique. From bustling markets to open-air museums and ancient temples, taking a day cruise or even a multi-night trip to experience life on the Nile is wholly worthwhile. Ranging from all-suite luxury cruises to dazzling private yachts, and offering a wide variety of itineraries, Memphis Tours will help you do the Nile River right.
Explore the Ancient Pyramids of Giza
The bedazzling pyramids of Giza, just on the outskirts of Cairo, have sparked wonder and amazement from visitors to Egypt for thousands of years. The Great Pyramid – the oldest and largest – is, in fact, the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World. Carve out a day to visit this great site, along with the other pyramids, the watchful Sphinx structure, and even the neighboring Giza Solar Boat Museum. Open daily from 8 a.m., we recommend arriving at the dunes early to make the most of this magical and mysterious world site.
Swim, Scuba, or Sail in the Red Sea
Despite being one of the warmest seas on the planet – with summer temperatures sometimes gracing 100°F – the Red Sea is still unimaginably refreshing to dive into during a hot day in Egypt. Ideal conditions continue on with excellent visibility, vibrant coral reefs, and thriving marine life, all throughout Egypt’s eastern coastal towns like Hurghada and over to the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Sharm El-Sheikh. Scuba divers will love exploring the sea’s depths, filled with world famous wrecks from World War II, and first-timers will appreciate low certification costs.
Rich History in Luxor
The former city of Thebes and capital of Ancient Egypt, Luxor is the second most visited city in all of Egypt. Visit the Luxor Museum first to scratch the surface of the city’s significance, which spans six millennia and tells the tales of kings, queens, mummies, and more. Afterward, pick and choose which sites to explore – this Nile-side city is often referred to as an open-air museum considering there is so much for your eyes to feast on. Not to be missed are the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings (where dozens of pharaohs were laid to rest), and the stunning Temple of Luxor, built by famous pharaohs like King Tutankhamun and Hatshepsut. Can’t decide where to go? Take to the skies in a hot air balloon for a panoramic view of the entire ancient city.
Desert Oases and Healing Sand Baths
Egypt’s deserts are vast, barren, and sometimes brutal stretches of land, but they can also give way to beautiful oases. These small settlements are built on water, and offer sanctuary and inspiration in a place so close to being uninhabitable. Imaginably, Egypt’s most picturesque oasis is also its most isolated: Siwa. The small region in the Western Desert is gaining traction in the hearts of adventure tourists with activities like sand boarding, desert jeep safaris, natural spring baths, and candlelit dinners. Luxury eco-lodges (like Adrère Amellal) continue to evolve and help make these once forgotten lands increasingly attractive.
For an unrivaled experience, opt to get buried neck-deep in the scorching hot sands – the 15-20 minute sand bath treatment is heralded by locals as a cure for everything from joint pain to infertility. Whether you’re looking for a cure or not, an Egyptian sand bath is one of the most soothing and unique desert experiences on the planet.
Le Pacha 1901 – Hop aboard this permanently docked ship for a lively evening along the Nile River. Located off the coast of Cairo’s affluent Zamalek district, the floating palace houses 9 restaurants ranging from Italian to Asian as well as authentic and exotic Egyptian. Stick around for live music, or unveil your couple’s duet for karaoke later on.
Zooba – Street food in Egypt is the best way to experience the nation’s boldest and proudest flavors short of being invited into a local’s home for an authentic dinner. But sometimes navigating cart menus on the curb of a busy intersection can be a bit confusing. Enter Zooba: the Cairo staple restaurant serves its take on some of Egypt’s most notable street food (like shawarma, koshari, ful, and hawawshi) in the comfort of an air-conditioned, sit-down restaurant.
Sofra – For authentic Egyptian flavors with classic Arabic design, Sofra in Luxor is well worth seeking out for a breezy lunch or dinner. From marinated and charcoal-grilled kebabs to moussaka and even stuffed pigeon, Sofra serves up hearty portions at reasonable prices throughout all of its 3 uniquely decorated dining rooms. On a hot afternoon, aim for a table in the spacious rooftop terrace.
Byblos – Situated inside Alexandria’s Four Seasons hotel, this elegant restaurant serves up authentic Lebanese and Syrian flavors in utter class, with an unparalleled view overlooking the deep blues of the Mediterranean Sea outside. An abundance of hot and cold mezzeh, along with perfectly cooked staples like kofta, kebab, and lamb chops help make Byblos a must-visit when in Alexandria.
El Kababgy – As pleasing to your palate as to your eyes, the authentic Egyptian cuisine at El Kababgy is certainly something to experience when visiting coastal Sharm El-Sheikh. Tucked inside the Mövenpick hotel, the restaurant is rich in Oriental atmosphere and proudly heralded as the best grill restaurant in the entire resort town.
Marriott Mena House – A storied history is met with modern luxury in this 5-star hotel perfectly situated for exploring the Pyramids when visiting Cairo. Originally built as a royal hunting lodge, the palace has hosted everybody from Frank Sinatra to Winston Churchill. Today, under the Marriott group, Mena House has been tastefully updated with balconies for all of its rooms (many of which face the pyramids), its own 18-hole golf course, and a full-service spa.
Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano – With its ideal waterfront setting on the edge of San Stefano Beach, the Four Seasons Alexandria is both a romantic seaside escape and a convenient base to explore buzzing Alexandria. The hotel’s unbeatable location is coupled with elegant rooms reflective of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea which they face, as well as some of the best restaurants, cafes, and lounges in all of the city.
Al Moudira – The Arabian palace Al Moudira is decorated in exquisite Oriental fashion. From hand-painted walls inside its 54 unique guest rooms to ceramic fountains, lush gardens, high domes, and furniture that is more resemblant of eastern treasures, the palace captures the magic of Arabian nights at every turn. The result of photographer and jewelry-designer Zeina Aboukheir, the hotel is the only palace west of the Nile and a must-visit for any travelers in or around Luxor or the Valley of the Kings.
The Royal Savoy – Just off of the sandy shores of the Red Sea, this Sharm El-Sheikh resort is practically tailored for honeymoon visitors. Private limousine pick-up, adults-only pools, and a wide array of pampering activities like couples massages and body wraps are all at the ready. Enjoy long days snorkeling or scuba diving just off of the hotel’s private beach, or trying your hand at one of the on-site tennis courts. In the evening, head for a walk or utilize the free shuttles to enjoy lively SOHO Square. This award-winning plaza hosts an array of restaurants, bars, and lounges, as well as panoramic movie experiences, indoor ice-skating, bowling and more.
The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh – The Oberoi Group is guided by its founding principle: the guest is everything. Sticking true with this belief, guest service is unparalleled at this all-suite, beachfront paradise. Just 20 minutes from Hurghada airport, the Oberoi boasts 44 acres of shore along the Red Sea. Its location is put to great use, with PADI-certified instructors at the ready to help beginner or advanced scuba divers to a world-class underwater experience in the warmest waters on the planet. A slew of other activities – from star-gazing and sand art to pilates and private dinners – help make the Oberoi a destination unto itself.