cultural tourism in egypt

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Your Guide to the Different Types of Tourism in Egypt

Egypt has many kinds of tourism, each showing a different side of this wealthy country. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the different types of tourism in Egypt , where to find them, and how to enjoy them. Tourism in Egypt makes up more than 11% of the country’s GDP and 40% of its non-merchandise exports, and it also employs 12% of the country’s workers and serves up to 15 million tourists each year.

Egypt has always been a popular place for tourists, mainly because it has so many beautiful artifacts from the time of the Pharaohs. This made Egypt more beautiful, and people from all over the world set up tours to see the country’s unique beauty and the interesting religious and cultural sites all over the country.

Egypt is also a great country because of its location and the weather’s pleasant all year, especially along its long coastline. Egypt has a lot of amazing things that make it a great place to visit, especially if you want to see some of the most impressive ancient sites and have a magical vacation.

Egypt’s oldest type of tourism is archaeological or cultural tourism. Egypt is mainly known for its unique ancient civilizations, which can be seen in the beautiful buildings and achievements it has made since the beginning of history.

Egypt has over a third of the world’s most impressive monuments, meaning other countries can’t compete in this type of tourism. There are many different kinds of tourism besides cultural tourism, like religious, sports, desert, ecotourism, medical, marine, festivals, diving centers, and exhibitions. Here are the four main kinds of travel that people do in Egypt.

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Cultural Tourism

Types of Tourism in Egypt

Since great attractions were found in ancient Egypt, this is Egypt’s primary type of tourism. Through cultural tourism, every tourist will learn about the history of the ancient Egyptians and their way of life. Egypt has a lot of beautiful cultural and archaeological tourist sites that date back more than 5000 years and always attract people.

The beautiful capital of Egypt, Cairo , is one of the incredible ancient cities because it has some of the best places to see, such as the fantastic three pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menekure, which were the tombs of the pharaohs, which were part of the Giza pyramid complex , one of the most famous archaeological sites in Egypt.

Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of King Khufu is the last pyramid still standing. Undoubtedly, this makes visiting such an excellent site even more important, and tourists love seeing this beautiful place.

Near the complex is the famous Grand Egyptian Museum , which is the most important archaeological museum in the world, containing tens of thousands of artifacts from ancient Egypt. Inside the complex, you can also see the Hypnotic Sphinx, who watched over the complex when Khufu built it. It would be an excellent opportunity to see the Valley Temple, which tells a fascinating story of how ancient people mummified their dead to prepare them for the journey to the afterlife.

Visit the Step Pyramid of Saqqara , the first pyramid built in Egypt, to see the other pyramids. You will be close to the city of Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, and you can take a beautiful cultural tour of the Pyramids of Dahshur , where you can see the Red Pyramid and the Pyramid of Bent.

Cairo is not the only city with many unique historical sites. It would be worthwhile to also go to Luxor , home to some of the most important and impressive temples ever built by humans. The enchanting Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut , the magnificent Karnak , Luxor Temple , the Colossi of Memnon , and the stunning Valley of the Kings , including the massive ancient tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, and many other significant cultural sites are some of the best things to see while in Luxor.

Not only that, but the landmarks in two Egyptian cities also show an essential part of Egyptian culture. One of them is the beautiful city of Aswan , which follows the glory of the cities of Egypt and has some of the most famous places that tourists love to visit, such as the magnificent High Dam , Philae Temple of the ancient goddess Isis, and Abu Simbel . Beautiful Nubian temples and villages, where you can meet wonderful Nubians and learn about some of the best Egyptian traditions and customs.

Alexandria is another excellent historical tourist city in Egypt. It has some of the best places to see and things to do, such as the Citadel of Qaitbay , Pompey’s pillar , the Catacombs of kom el shoqafa , and last but not least, the magical Library of Alexandria , where you can find a copy of every book ever written in the world. Next, you’ll move from Egypt’s historical attractions to fun things to do along the coast.

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Religious Tourism

Types of Tourism in Egypt

Egypt is the home of heavenly religions, where people of different faiths met and lived together for many years. As a result, the land of the pharaohs had gathered all the dominions. So, if you like religious tourism, Egypt is an excellent place to go because it has a rich religious history that will meet your needs. Let’s divide the religious sites in Egypt into:

Islamic Sightseeing

Egypt is an Islamic country, so most rulers worked hard to build more Islamic landmarks during the Islamic Empire. Most of these landmarks were built in the shape of mosques, and here is a list of the most famous mosques in Egypt’s history:

  • Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque 
  • Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque
  • Sultan Hassan Mosque 
  • Mohammad Ali Mosque 
  • Al-Hakim Mosque
  • Sayyida Zeinab Mosque

Castles and citadels are also important Islamic landmarks. They were mostly built to protect the country from attacks by enemies. Here are some of Egypt’s most common defenses:

  • Salah El-Din Citadel
  • Citadel of Qaitbey in Alexandria
  • Castle Aqaba
  • Al-Arish Castle

Coptic Landmarks

Several Christian and Coptic sites in Egypt are popular with tourists and adventurers worldwide:

  • The Hanging Church
  • Church of St. Mary
  • Church of Abu Serga
  • Church of the Holy Virgin
  • Church of Saint Menas
  • Monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt

Jews Landmarks

There are also some historical sites related to the Jews, such as 

  • The Ben Ezra Synagogue
  • Mount Sinai
  • and the Jewish Alley or such is called “Haret AL Yahood” in Arabic, which gathered hundreds of Jews to this day exists now.

Leisure Tourism

Types of Tourism in Egypt

Egypt is the best vacation spot in the world, so it is on the Red Sea , the Gulf of Suez, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Mediterranean Sea. So, if you like to relax or spend time by the sea, you can have the most fun and relax in Egypt. You will love the clean, clear waters of the Red Sea and the beautiful beaches in tourist cities like Hurghada , Sharm El Sheikh , Marsa Allam , El Gouna, Dahab , and Al Ain EL Sokhna.

In these cities, you can be amazed by the beauty of the Red Sea while snorkeling or scuba diving on well-equipped boats with a highly qualified instructor. You can also take a beautiful desert safari on a quad bike, where you can take pictures and learn more about the Egyptian deserts. On the Red Sea, you can also swim in the pool and relax on the sands of the beautiful coastal beaches.

Medical Travel

Types of Tourism in Egypt

Egypt’s holy waters and sacred lands have always been known to have magical and healing powers. Egypt’s best and most famous thing is its mineral water, which has no moisture. Staying in the sand is the best way to treat many diseases, like bone and skin diseases, problems with the digestive system, and many others.

There are many signs that the water from the Red Sea can help people with psoriasis get better. Some might wonder where medical tourism is in Egypt. 16 places, both inland and on the coast, are popular with medical tourists. Hurghada, Helwan, Ain El-Sira, Aswan, Sinai, Safaga, Al-Ain El-Sokna, the Oasis, and Fayoum are some of the most famous. Here are the best medical places in Egypt where you might be lucky enough to spend some of your vacation time:

Baharia Oasis

You’ll find the fantastic springs of Halfa, which have the best warm water, and a lot of tourists from all over the world who come here to relax.

Beaulac Wells

In addition to the fantastic dunes near the wells, the water there is full of minerals that are good for you. These minerals can cure many diseases, such as rheumatism, joint pain, and rheumatoid.

Nasser Wells

There are three bottomless wells, and they are all connected to make a pool. Warm water often treats rheumatism, skin inflammation, kidney stones, and other digestive problems.

Farafra Oasis

The new Valley Oasis has a lot of herbs and plants, like Al-Ashaar Karkade and Dammsesa, which are used to treat rheumatism and diseases of the digestive system. The catnip herb can help with stomachaches, and the Egleeg herb is the best way to treat diabetes.

The Sands of Safaga

Because Safaga has a mild climate, its magical sands can treat psoriasis. Its unique radioactive mineral elements, such as Uranium, Potassium, and Thorium, can also treat joint pains and skin inflammation. People who have had liver, heart, or kidney disease in the past will like it most because the low gravity helps people with high blood flow.

We hope this article for Egypt Tours for Seniors has helped you figure out how to plan your trip. If you want your trip to Egypt to go well, don’t miss these essential guides that will help you plan from start to finish:

  • Is it safe to travel to Egypt? Safety & Security in Egypt
  • Best Time to Travel to Egypt – Your Guide For 2023

Tipping in Egypt: How to deal with it

  • Weather & Climate of Egypt | Temperature in Egypt

Top 35 Traditional Egyptian Food To Try

  • Entry into Egypt – All Documents you need
  • Can I apply for an Egypt visa online?
  • Top 15 Egypt Museums you have to visit – Hidden Gems
  • Top 7 Cities Must Visit in Egypt

Is Nile Cruise worth it? Travel tips about sailing the Nile

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15 best experiences in Egypt for history, adventure and culture

Monica Gerges

Aug 16, 2023 • 9 min read

Young Caucasian woman standing on the  terrace on the  background of Giza pyramids

From food tours in Cairo to floating in a desert oasis in Siwa, here are the best things to do in Egypt © Oleh_Slobodeniuk / Getty Images

One day you’re climbing the desert’s highest peak, the next you’re walking amid remnants of the world’s oldest civilization or diving into the depths of the Red Sea. Whether Egypt 's on your travel radar for the history, the adventure, the beaches or even just the pyramids, when it comes to things to do, you are spoiled for choice.

Here's our guide to Egypt's very best experiences. 

1. Have breakfast at the pyramids 

8. Why not kick your visit to the pyramids  up a notch with some falafel, hot mint tea and a vast picture-perfect panoramic view of the ancient wonder? Head to the 9 Pyramids Lounge  for influencer-worthy photo ops and a solid Egyptian breakfast of freshly baked bread, feta cheese or a Tahini salad. 

2. Watch an authentic Tanoura performance in Cairo

Old Cairo is also home to the beautifully restored Wekalet el Ghouri Arts Center that hosts a wide array of cultural events. Here you can see an unforgettable Tanoura show – a whirling dervish performance that merges Egyptian folklore and Sufi spiritual chants. This colorful and mesmerizing one-hour experience is a must-see for anyone visiting Cairo. 

Planning tip: The show runs every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 7pm, but make sure to show up at 6pm to snag your tickets before they’re gone.

3. Experience Egyptian street food at Cairo's Kebdet El Prince 

Situated in the heart of Cairo’s Imbaba neighborhood is Kebdet El Prince, a haven of Egyptian street food with a side of quintessentially Cairene sensory overload. This bustling joint is ideal for anyone looking to experience Egyptian street food. 

Start with the basics: molokhia (jute mallow), kebda (liver), and sogo’ (sausage). More adventurous foodies should try mombar (stuffed sausage), makhasi (bull tesitcles) and shorbet kaware’ (cow’s foot soup).

Detour: If you can still breathe, have dessert next door at El-Malky and top it off with a mint tea from the cafe across the street. 

interior Egypt, Cairo, Khan El-Khalili Bazaar in the evening with muted light

4. Wander through the alleys of Old Cairo

The ancient streets of Old Cairo are mazes of narrow alleys filled with monuments, mansions, museums, and mosques. Start at El Moez Street and soak in how the rich architectural, religious and cultural history fuses with the vibrant din of daily local life in this bustling neighborhood. 

Walk until you reach the Khan El-Khalili bazaar where you can shop for everything from soap powder to ornate clothing and small trinkets. Then head to Bab Zuweila – one of three remaining gates from the Old City of Cairo.

Planning tip: Time your arrival to watch the sun setting over the ancient buildings from the towering minarets of Bab Zuweila – one of the best views you’ll find in the city. 

5. Camp in the Fayoum Desert 

Disconnect from the mayhem of modern life with desert camping in  Fayoum . Experience the dunes on a 4WD safari ride with stops at the Wadi el Rayan waterfalls and the crystal blue lakes in the middle of the desert, and top it off with a freshly prepared Bedouin dinner under the stars. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a light jacket if your trip is in the summer; for winter, pack your whole closet – the desert gets cold at night. Fayoum is just two hours south of the capital, so this trip can easily be done as a weekend getaway from Cairo.

Planning tip:  For an optimal night of clear stargazing without light pollution, time your visit to Wadi el Rayan or Wadi al Hittan (Valley of the Whales) for when there’s no moon.

A solo kite-surfer on a turquoise lagoon surrounded by sand-colored hills

6. Go kitesurfing at the Blue Lagoon  

Time stands still at the turquoise Blue Lagoon. Located between the shadows of the Sinai Mountains and the crystal waters of the Red Sea, the Blue Lagoon has flat waters and strong winds, making this Red Sea sweet spot a kitesurfer’s paradise. 

Novices can book a private kitesurfing course upon arrival. If you’re not into kitesurfing, the Blue Lagoon is a perfect spot to do absolutely nothing by laying on the beach, enjoying the sea and serenity.

7. Float in Siwa’s picturesque Salt Lakes 

Picture this: floating in a perfect pool of crystal blue waters in the middle of the desert, surrounded by shimmering towers of sea salt. The Siwa’s salt lakes have long been a treasured local spot. Float effortlessly in an otherworldly pool with the highest water to salt ratios that’s not just picture-perfect, but it's said to clear sinuses and treat infections. 

Siwa Oasis is dotted with hundreds of turquoise salt pools – a stark contrast against the oasis’ palm greens and desert yellows, all laid against the backdrop of stunning sunsets that earned it the title of Sunset Oasis.

Local tip: Keep a few bottles of clean water with you to wash the layers of salt off your body and avoid any skin irritation. Or, even better, go for a dip in Cleopatra’s Spring afterward.

8. Snorkel or dive in the Red Sea's Sataya Reef 

Marsa Alam is great base for divers looking to discover the riches of the Red Sea. Horseshoe-shaped Sataya Reef  ranks as one of the most beautiful dive spots on the planet, with its striking sea life and colorful corals. This wonder of the natural world is suitable for snorkelers too.

Egyption man walking through the towering pillars of the Karnak Temple.

9. Temple hop in Luxor

Luxor , the world’s greatest open-air museum, is a testament to the ancient Egyptian civilization through its sheer wealth of temples and monuments. 

Begin your temple-hopping at the Temple of Karnak – the perfect manifestation of pharaonic ambition. A few kilometers southwest of Karnak is the stunning Luxor Temple . If you can, visit at night when the temple lights are turned on. About 40 minutes northwest of the Luxor Temple lies The Valley of the Kings – a popular tourist destination and includes the tombs of Ramses III , Seti I and Ay .  

At the southern portion of the Theban hillside and about 7km (4mi) from the Valley of the Kings is The Valley of the Queens . A 75-tomb area that includes the final resting places of Nefertari and one of the five wives of Ramses II.      

Detour: Other major points along the way include: Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, the Luxor Museum and Ramses III’s Medinat Habu on the West Bank.

10. Eat like an Egyptian with a local food tour in Cairo

Food is an international love language and Cairo is bursting with culinary gems, but where do you start? What do you try? Where do you go? Connect with local culture on a food tour where you immerse yourself in Egypt’s history and local life, one authentic dish at a time. 

Ideal for solo female travelers, Bellies En-Route is a female-owned food tour provider that skips the culinary tourist hot spots and takes visitors to local mom-and-pop spots or neighborhood favorites known for fantastic street fare. You can even help out in the kitchen at some of the restaurants, an excellent opportunity to connect with the community while preparing food. 

An ancient large stone statue at dawn with hot air balloons in the sky

11. Float above Luxor in a hot-air balloon  

Dozens of balloons take to Luxor’s skies every day at dawn for a view that’s literally breathtaking. Watch the sun rise and light up the Theban hills, local farms and ancient monuments. See the Nile River glistening in the distance and wave at locals watching from their balconies. Trust us, it’s definitely worth that 3am wake-up call and pre-ride anxiety. 

12. Take a sunset felucca ride along the Nile  

The world’s longest river is best experienced floating peacefully in a felucca (traditional wooden sailboat) at sunrise or sunset, whether you’re in Cairo or Aswan or anywhere in between. 

In Cairo, docks line the corniche in Maadi, Zamalek and Garden City, and give you a gorgeous view of the Cairene skyline; if you’re in Aswan, feluccas are your go-to mode of transportation between the city’s 20 islands. Either way, grab a few friends, snacks, and drinks and spend some time taking in the stunning serenity of the Nile. 

13. Hike the Sinai Trail or Red Sea Mountain Trail 

Experience Egypt’s most iconic mountain peaks and untrodden wildernesses by hiking alongside local Bedouin guides through the country’s two sister trails: the Sinai Trail and the Red Sea Mountain Trail. 

The Sinai Trail is Egypt’s first long-distance hiking trail, a circuit that runs 550km (342 miles) through the territories of the eight Bedouin tribes of South Sinai. The 170km (106 mile) Red Sea Mountain Trail , located just outside the beachside resort town of Hurghada , showcases the best of the region’s inimitable beauty – from vast desert plains to deep gorges, and from crumbling Roman towns to prehistoric rock art and chapels of Egypt’s Desert Fathers. 

Local tip: Both trails are sustainable tourism initiatives that directly support the local Bedouin communities by creating jobs and help keep the region’s traditional Bedouin knowledge, skills, and heritage alive. And don’t worry, the trails are divided into segments so you can choose whether to take between two- and five-day hikes as part of your trip. 

A woman snorkelling on a coral reef near Dahab in the Red Sea, Egypt.

14. Dive and snorkel near Dahab

Dahab , South Sinai’s token beach town, is ideal for divers and snorkelers to experience mind-blowing marine life. If you're not already a qualified diver, you can start your PADI certification process at one of Dahab’s many dive centers.

A few kilometers north of Dahab is Egypt’s Blue Hole , a submarine sinkhole that drops straight down to a depth of over 100m (328ft), and attracts experienced divers from all over the world. It’s a fascinating but risky dive that’s unfortunately claimed many lives, and it should be left to pro and advanced divers only. 

15. Relax with the view from Castle Zaman 

Come for the view, stay for – well, the view. This medieval-style castle that’s actually a slow-food restaurant, is nestled between Sinai’s signature mountains and lies somewhere between Nuweiba and Taba by the Gulf of Aqaba – an unparalleled vantage point across the Red Sea that spans the shores and mountains of Egypt, Jordan , Israel , and Saudi Arabia . 

Spend a full day at Castle Zaman chilling in the pool, having a drink at the bar, and enjoying a slow-cooked lunch or dinner that includes items like a meat tagine or the catch of the day. Although Castle Zaman doesn’t offer overnight accommodation, you can make use of its amenities such as the sauna and massage treatments.

Planning tip: And for an overnight stay, head to Dayra Camp , a collection of wildly decorated straw huts and wooden bungalows located in the coastal town of Nuweiba  – just 23km (14mi) away.  

This article was first published January 2022 and updated August 2023

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  • Ultimate Guide To Egypt Holidays

The Ultimate Guide to Holidays in Egypt

Planning a trip to Egypt? Choose Culture Trip as your guide into the heart of Cairo and beyond

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The art, history and culture of Egypt has made it a tourism hotspot for centuries, and the new Grand Egyptian Museum has made it a bucket-list topper once more. Here is everything you need to know about trips, tours and holidays in Egypt .

Browse the full itinerary for our nine-day Ultimate Egypt trip here.

Best time to visit Egypt

This very much depends on a few simple factors, predominantly your tolerance for heat, and for tourists. The summers here are truly scorching, so July and August aren’t really worth thinking about. Hot season lasts from April to October, so do take temperatures into consideration before booking in this time. In terms of climate, November to April is the best time to visit, with temperatures a little cooler.

If you want to avoid the swathes of tourists that come to Egypt every year – or at least experience it at its quietest – then you need to book in shoulder seasons outside of traditional school holiday periods. November and March are often perfect, both for taking advantage of the calmer tourist climate and the cooler geological climate.

What to do in Egypt

The best attractions in Egypt range from absolute, must-see-in-your-lifetime classics to underrated gems often overshadowed by the big guns. Visiting Cairo is a must. It’s a city as ancient as it is massive, and the architectural gems of Moez Street and the vibrant chaos of Khan Al-Khalili bazaar are both joys to behold. In nearby Giza you’ll find the real travel classics – the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx.

Many people focus only on Cairo and Giza, but don’t neglect Egypt’s other famous attraction, the Nile. The world’s largest river flows right through the country, and the best way to take advantage of that is on a river cruise, which allows you to cover vast swathes of desert in maximum comfort, connecting you to the southern regions of Luxor and Aswan.

That’s where you’ll find underrated gems like the temples of Karnak, Luxor and Kom Ombo, the Souq of Luxor, plus the Valley of the Kings, where multiple famous Pharaohs are entombed. Natural beauty, meanwhile, is at its finest throughout the islands of Aswan, which you can explore by kayak or boat along the Nile.

Culture Trip has your back when it comes to planning the ultimate Egyptian escape

Is it safe to go to Egypt?

It is perfectly safe to travel to Egypt, and millions of people do so every single year. However, there is a significant terrorism threat, particularly in some parts of the country. At the moment going to North Sinai, South Sinai, as well as the borders with Libya and Sudan, are not advised. Fortunately, pretty much all of the main tourist regions are considered okay to visit, namely Cairo, Giza, Luxor, Aswan and basically all of the Nile. It is incredibly important to keep up to date on your government’s travel advice ahead of any trip to Egypt.

Other safety factors worth considering when visiting Egypt are visa requirements and any other entry requirements. Be sure to check latest advice on which vaccinations are worth having – famously Western travellers have had some issues with reactions to the food here. Ensure you have all the necessary jabs and only eat in trusted establishments. Then there are the general rules of travel – watch out for pickpockets in crowded areas, only use reputable transport and accommodation, and always abide by local laws and customs.

Make sure you’re clued up, follow the basic common-sense safety practices and you can enjoy a perfectly calm, totally safe trip to Egypt!

Is Egypt cheap or expensive?

The cost of living here is relatively low, so you shouldn’t have to blow the budget. It is a country that experiences a lot of tourism, so expect flights and accommodation to hike the prices up during peak seasons. Entrance fees can vary depending on the location – although the famous sights are rarely overpriced. Food, transport and general living costs while you’re out there are nice and cheap, so don’t worry too much if you’ve stretched your budget with that fancy hotel.

Trips to Egypt – the ultimate package with Culture Trip

Egypt is a vast nation and not a particularly easy one to traverse. It’s safe, but still a bit nerve-wracking, while its ancient tourism industry means that there are more than a fair few tourist traps to fall into. That’s why booking a package holiday is always a great idea when visiting Egypt. When it comes to Culture Trip, however, we’re not talking about your traditional idea of package vacations. Our trips are immersive, authentic experiences that cut straight to the heart of a destination, showing a hidden underbelly to famous sights and introducing travellers to amazing places they’d never heard of. Best of all, our trips are all led by knowledgable Local Insiders , armed with a lifetime of cultural insights and local tips.

Local Insider Mudi is on hand to show you some of the best spots in Cairo

Our nine-day Egypt itinerary covers all the big sights and attractions, as we wind our way down from north to south. We start in Cairo, with a Giza day trip to visit the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Our guide will show you the very best of Cairo, including an ancient bookbinding store and a stunning Koshari lunch spot. Then it’s down to Luxor, where we’ll visit Karnak Temple in daylight and Luxor Temple at nighttime, so you can see its incredible sandstone structures glowing gloriously in candlelight.

We’ll see a range of ancient burial sights and monuments along the west bank of the Nile, including the Valley of the Kings and the tombs of Ramses V and VI. From there we’ll hop onto a gorgeous luxury river cruiser – our home for the next four nights – from which we’ll explore the Souq of Luxor and the temple of Kom Ombo. Our final full day will also be spent on the Nile, but swapping the cruiser for a kayak to explore the pretty little islands of Aswan, followed by an enriching night of Nubian hospitality and cuisine – the perfect way to end our Egyptian odyssey.

Sold on our Ultimate Egypt tour? Browse the full itinerary and book your spot on a trip today!

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

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20 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Egypt

Written by Jess Lee Updated Oct 16, 2023

Home of the ancient Pharaohs, Egypt is a destination full of dazzling temples and tombs that wow all who visit. It's not all historic treasures and tourist attractions, though. With vast tracts of desert for 4WD adventures, the Red Sea's world-class coral reefs and wrecks for divers, and cruising on the famed Nile River, there are plenty of things to do in Egypt for all types of travelers.

Beach lovers head to the Sinai or the Red Sea Coast to soak up the sun, while archaeology fans will have a field day in Luxor.

Cairo is the megalopolis that can't be beaten for city slickers, while Siwa oasis and the southern town of Aswan offer a slice of the slow pace of the countryside.

With so much to see and do, Egypt offers visitors a chance to create itineraries that combine culture, adventure, and relaxation all on one trip.

Plan your sightseeing with our list of the top attractions and places to visit in Egypt.

1. Pyramids of Giza

2. luxor's temples & tombs, 3. cruising the nile, 5. abu simbel, 6. diving the red sea, 7. explore historic cairo, 8. south sinai's beach life, 10. egyptian museum, 11. white desert, 12. alexandria, 13. abydos temple, 14. siwa oasis, 15. st. catherine's monastery, 16. red sea beaches, 17. coptic cairo, 18. wadi al-hitan, 19. temple of hathor, 20. monastery of st. anthony.

Pyramids of Giza

The last surviving wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza are one of the world's most recognizable landmarks.

Having awed travelers down through the ages, these tombs of the Pharaohs Khufu (Cheops), Khafre (Chephren), and Menkaure (Mycerinus), guarded by the enigmatic Sphinx, are usually top of most visitor's lists of tourist attractions to see in Egypt and often the first sight they head to after landing.

Today, sitting on the desert edge of Cairo's sprawl, these megalithic memorials to dead pharaohs are still as wondrous a sight as they ever were and an undeniable highlight of any Egypt trip.

To beat the crowds , get here around 7:30am and enter through the main Pyramid of Khufu site entrance (rather than the Sphinx entrance). This means you can have finished exploring the interior tunnels and burial chambers of the Pyramid of Khufu by the time the tour buses start pulling in at 8:15am.

Most visitors limit their site visit to the three pyramids and the Sphinx, but there is plenty more to see on the Giza Plateau. If you can, reserve time to explore the funerary complexes of the eastern cemetery (on the east side of the Pyramid of Khufu). The tombs of 6th dynasty high officials Qar and Idu and the tomb of Meresankh III (who was one of Pharaoh Khafre's wives) are all open to the public.

  • Read More: Pyramids of Giza: Attractions, Tips & Tours

Karnak Temple

Famed for the Valley of the Kings , Karnak Temple , and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut, the Nile-side town of Luxor in Upper Egypt has a glut of tourist attractions.

This is ancient Thebes, the power base of the New Kingdom pharaohs, and home to more sights than most can see on one visit.

Luxor's east bank is home to the modern city, with its vibrant souq; the two temples of Karnak and Luxor; and the museum. The west bank's lush farmland and barren cliffs are where the vast majority of Luxor's tourist attractions sit, with so many tomb and temple sights that it has been called the biggest open-air museum in the world.

Spend a few days here exploring the colorful wall art of the tombs and gazing in awe at the colossal columns in the temples, and you'll see why Luxor continues to fascinate historians and archaeologists.

The Valley of the Kings is one of Egypt's most visited sites but, if you are willing to get up extra early, you can beat the crowds . All of Luxor's archaeological sites open at 6am, but hardly any visitors (and no large tour operators) take advantage of this.

Kick off your sightseeing with a 6am start at the Valley of the Kings, and you'll get to experience the interiors of Luxor's famed New Kingdom tombs with hardly anyone else (except the handful of other wily early risers) there.

Cruising on the Nile at Luxor

Egypt is defined by the Nile. For many visitors, a multi-day cruise upon this famed waterway that saw the rise of the Pharaonic era is a highlight of their Egypt trip.

Cruising the Nile is also the most relaxing way to see the temples that stud the banks of the river on the route between Luxor and Aswan, plus sunrise and sunset over the date-palm-studded river banks, backed by sand dunes, is one of Egypt's most tranquil vistas.

The two famous sights on a Nile Cruise are the Temple of Kom Ombo and Edfu's Temple of Horus , where all the big cruise boats stop.

If you'd prefer a less crowded and slower experience, though, and don't mind "roughing it" a bit, you can also cruise the Nile by felucca (Egypt's traditional lateen-sailed wooden boats), which also allows you to create your own itinerary.

The vast amount of cruise boat itineraries depart from either Luxor or Aswan, but feluccas can only be chartered for multi-day trips from Aswan.

Feluccas on the Nile at Aswan

Egypt's most tranquil town is Aswan, set upon the winding curves of the Nile. Backed by orange-hued dunes, this is the perfect place to stop and unwind for a few days and soak up the chilled-out atmosphere.

Take the river ferry across to Elephantine Island and stroll the colorful streets of the Nubian villages. Then ride a camel to the desert monastery of St. Simeon on Aswan's east bank. Afterwards, relax in one of the riverboat restaurants while watching the lateen-sailed feluccas drift past.

Make sure to jump aboard a felucca at sunset to sail around Aswan's islands. This is by far, Aswan's most popular activity and the most relaxing way to take in the local sights.

There are plenty of historic sites here and numerous temples nearby, including Philae Temple on its island, but one of Aswan's most popular things to do is simply kicking back and watching the river life go by.

Abu Simbel

Even in a country festooned with temples, Abu Simbel is something special. This is Ramses II's great temple, adorned with colossal statuary standing guard outside, and with an interior sumptuously decorated with wall paintings.

Justly famous for its megalithic proportions, Abu Simbel is also known for the incredible engineering feat carried out by UNESCO in the 1960s, which saw the entire temple moved from its original setting to save it from disappearing under the rising water of the Aswan Dam.

Today, exploring Abu Simbel is just as much about admiring the triumph of this international effort to save the temple complex as it is about gaping in wonder at Ramses II's awe-inspiring building works, itself.

Most people arrive in Abu Simbel on organized day trips from Aswan, which all have an early morning start to get to the temple complex at 8am or 9am.

After 11am, nearly everyone has cleared out and headed back to Aswan. To wander through Ramses II's colossal monument without the crowds, overnight in Abu Simbel village itself and visit the temples after midday.

Divers enjoying the underwater beauty of the Red Sea

Below the Red Sea's surface is another world as fascinating as the temples and tombs on land.

The coral reefs of the Red Sea are renowned among scuba divers for both the soft corals on display and the vast amount of sea life, ranging from colorful reef fish and nudibranchs to sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays, and even dugongs.

For divers, the most famous town to base yourself in is Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, closest to the reefs of Ras Mohammed National Park, as well as the reefs of the Straits of Tiran.

To dive the sites of the Straits of Gubal head to Hurghada or El Gouna on the Red Sea coast, while advanced divers should check out the resort of Marsa Alam, the nearest base for diving Egypt's "deep south" dive sites.

Thistlegorm wreck dive

As well as fish life and coral, the Red Sea is a major wreck-diving destination. The most famous wreck is the Thistlegorm, a British WWII cargo ship that was on its way to resupply Allied troops when it was bombed by the Germans in 1941.

Today the site is regarded by divers as one of the top five wreck dives in the world due to the vast cargo of cars, motorbikes, and WWII memorabilia that can be seen both scattered on the sea bed around the wreck and inside the ship itself.

Dive boat trips to the wreck are organized from both Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.

The Red Sea offers year-round diving but for the calmest sea conditions and best underwater visibility, July and August are the best months . This is high summer in Egypt though with its accompanying sweltering on-land temperatures. If your Egypt trip doesn't solely revolve around diving, it's still best to avoid these months.

Read More: Diving in the Red Sea: Best Dive Sites

Islamic Cairo

The atmospheric, narrow lanes of the capital's Historic Cairo district are crammed full of mosques, madrassas (Islamic schools of learning), and monuments dating from the Fatimid through to the Mameluke eras.

This is where you'll find the labyrinth shopping souq of Khan el-Khalili, where coppersmiths and artisans still have their tiny workshops, and stalls are laden with ceramics, textiles, spice, and perfume.

Surrounding the market is a muddle of roads, home to some of the most beautiful preserved architecture of the old Islamic empires.

There is a wealth of history here to explore. Visit Al-Azhar Mosque and the dazzling Sultan Hassan Mosque , and make sure to climb up to the roof of the ancient medieval gate of Bab Zuweila for the best minaret-speckled panoramas across the district.

Mornings are the best time to visit this district as the narrow lanes are at their quietest. If you're planning to visit the area's mosques though, avoid visiting on Fridays (the Muslim holy day) . If you want to enter mosques as a tourist, dress conservatively (covering arms and legs) and bring along a scarf to throw over your head if you're female.

Keen shoppers should head to Khan el-Khalili in the evening: the shops here are all open until late and the souq is at its most vibrant after dark.

  • Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Cairo & Easy Day Trips

South Sinai

Egypt's South Sinai region, on the Sinai Peninsula, offers a beach for every type of traveler.

Sharm el-Sheikh is a European-style resort town packed full of luxury hotels, international restaurants, and bags of entertainment options. A favorite with Europeans on winter-sun vacations, many of the resorts here cater to families on one- or two-week sun-and-sand breaks.

Dahab is a low-key beach town with a budget-traveler heart, which is just as much about desert excursions and adventures as the sea. It's particularly known for its cheap dive-package deals and for its lagoon beach area where windsurfing and kitesurfing are the top activity.

Up the coast, between the port town of Nuweiba and the border town of Taba are the bamboo hut retreats that offer complete get-away-from-it-all respites from life and back-to-basics beach life.

Pyramid and ruins at Saqqara

Everyone's heard of Giza's Pyramids, but they're not the only pyramids Egypt has up its sleeve. Day-tripping distance from Cairo , Saqqara is a vast necropolis of tombs and pyramids that was utilized during every era of Pharaonic rule.

It's best known for its Old Kingdom Step Pyramid, which shows how the architects of Ancient Egypt advanced their engineering knowledge to finally create a true pyramid shape.

There's much more to see beyond the Step Pyramid, though, with some of the surrounding tombs, such as the Mastaba of Ti, showcasing some of the finest tomb paintings you'll see in the country.

Nearby, the pyramid site of Dahshur is home to the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid, which should be included on any Saqqara visit.

  • Read More: Exploring Saqqara: A Visitor's Guide

Egyptian Museum

A treasure trove of the Pharaonic world, Cairo's Egyptian Museum is one of the world's great museum collections . The faded pink mansion in downtown Cairo is home to a dazzling amount of exhibits.

The museum's exhibits cover the breadth of the Pharaonic era with highlights including its artifacts from pre-dynastic Egypt, the Old Kingdom galleries displaying the fine statuary from Egypt's period of pyramid builders, and the displays of glittering funerary goods unearthed from the country's most famous tomb finds.

Make sure to reserve enough time at the museum to fully view the galleries devoted to the grave goods of Yuya and Thuya and the royal tombs of Tanis (both upstairs).

Until Giza's much-delayed Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) opens, the Egyptian Museum is also where you come to see a selection of the riches from Tutankhamen's Valley of the Kings tomb. When the GEM finally does open, these will be moved there (and the entire Tutankhamen collection will be displayed in full for the first time).

Everything else though in the Egyptian Museum's collection will be staying in place.

White Desert

Egypt's kookiest natural wonder is White Desert National Park, out in the Western Desert, just south of Bahariya Oasis. Here, surreally shaped chalk pinnacles and huge boulders loom over the desert plateau, creating a scene that looks like icebergs have found themselves stranded amid a landscape of sand.

This highly scenic environment looks like something out of a science fiction movie and is a favorite destination for 4WD desert trips and overnight camping , which are both easiest organized in Bahariya Oasis.

For desert fans and adventurers, this is the ultimate weird playground, while anybody who's had their fill of temples and tombs will enjoy this spectacular natural scenery.


Alexandria has a history that not many others can match.

Founded by Alexander the Great, home of Cleopatra, and razzmatazz renegade city of the Mediterranean for much of its life, this seafront city has an appealing days-gone-by atmosphere that can't be beaten.

Although today, there are few historic remnants of its illustrious past left to see, Alexandria's long seafront Corniche road leading to its fort (sitting on the site where its famous ancient lighthouse once sat) remains a favorite summer destination to capture cooling sea breezes for Egyptians and foreign visitors alike.

Underwater archaeological projects here have imbued Alexandria's museums with interesting exhibits. The modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a contemporary interpretation of Alexandria's famed ancient library, and the handful of historic sights in town include an atmospheric catacombs site.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Alexandria

Abydos Temple

The Temple of Osiris in Abydos is one of Ancient Egypt's most fascinating artistic treasures.

The temple, begun by Seti I, sits amid a vast necropolis site where archaeological excavations are ongoing. There a various other temple remnants to see here but for most visitors, the Temple of Osiris is the main reason to visit.

Its hypostyle halls, graced by papyrus-headed columns, contain some of the finest relief-work in Egypt, with various scenes portraying the pharaoh and the gods of Ancient Egypt.

As the temple lies north of Luxor, it isn't on the main Nile cruise ship route, so it receives much fewer visitors than the temple sites in Luxor itself and the Nile-side temples to the south. This means you are often lucky enough to wander through the temple's halls with only a few other visitors on site.

  • Read More: Exploring The Temples of Abydos: A Visitor's Guide

Siwa Oasis

Sitting in isolation, in the western corner of the Western Desert, Siwa is the tranquil tonic to the hustle of Egypt's cities. This gorgeous little oasis, surrounded by date palm plantations and numerous hot-water springs, is one of the Western Desert's most picturesque spots.

Siwa town is centered around the ruins of a vast mud-brick citadel, known as the Fortress of Shali, which dominates the view, while various temple remnants, including the Temple of the Oracle where Alexander the Great is said to have come to receive advice, are scattered throughout the wider oasis area.

This is a top spot to wind down and go slow for a few days, as well as being an excellent base from which to plan adventures into the surrounding desert.

St. Catherine's Monastery

One of the oldest monasteries in the world, St. Catherine's stands at the foot of Mount Sinai, amid the desert mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.

This desert monastery is home to an incredible collection of religious iconography, art, and manuscripts (some of which can be seen in the on-site museum), as well as the burning bush.

For most visitors here, a trip to St. Catherine's also involves a hike up Mount Sinai to see sunrise or sunset. Take the camel path for the easy route, or climb the famous Steps of Repentance if you want better views.

Umbrellas on the beach in Hurghada

Egypt's Red Sea coastline offers swaths of sand for travelers who want a time-out from temple viewing.

During winter, the resorts scattered along the shore surrounding Hurghada jump into life as European families arrive on package tourism breaks.

The big bonus of choosing a resort on the Red Sea coast over one on the Sinai Peninsula is that you are within day-tripping distance to Luxor, so this is the best place to visit for beach life if you still want to easily see some of Egypt's most famous monuments.

Hurghada and El Gouna are the two main resort towns, while the smaller, and still being-developed, town of Marsa Alam is much farther south.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in the Red Sea Region

Fortress of Babylon walls

The Cairo district known as Coptic Cairo is one of the most important Christian sites in the country.

Originally the Fortress of Babylon, dating back to the Achaemenid Empire's conquest of Egypt in 525 BCE, this district is home to Cairo's oldest surviving church, synagogue, and mosque, as well as the excellent Coptic Museum, which holds the world's largest collection of Coptic Christian art and antiquities.

A section of the Fortress of Babylon's walls, which were repaired and expanded under Roman rule, are also still standing and are the entrance into the district.

Make sure to visit the Hanging Church, which holds a fine collection of icons and was built half over the Roman-era water wheel (hence the church's name). Then thread your way down the narrow alley to the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus which, according to local tradition, was built atop the site where the Holy Family with the infant Jesus lived in refuge after fleeing King Herod.

Nearby, the Ben Ezra Synagogue is famous for being the site where the Geniza documents cache were discovered.

A short walk away is the Mosque of Amr Ibn Al As, built by the Arab Muslim army commander (and later, first governor of Egypt) after conquering Egypt.

Wadi Al-Hitan's fossils

Wadi Al-Hitan is in the Fayoum area, a lush and fertile depression fed by ancient canals and surrounded by desert.

The Fayoum itself, with Lake Quran, the pottery village of Tunis, and Pharaonic ruins scattered across the hinterland, is an interesting place to visit, but the main tourist attraction here, in the nearby desert, is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wadi Al-Hitan.

Amid the orange dunes and jagged rocks of this desert valley, a vast fossil cache of the oldest prehistoric whales (the basilosaurus and dorodontus) were discovered, hugely aiding human understanding of the evolution of whales.

Some of the finds have been kept in situ, with walking tracks radiating out from the visitor's center to skeleton sites sitting amid the sand.

In the visitor center itself, a museum dedicated to the site does an excellent job of explaining Wadi Al-Hitan's importance, and displays many of the site's other finds, including a skeleton of a basilosaurus whale that measures 18 meters long.

Temple of Hathor

The Temple of Hathor at Dendara was built in the late Pharaonic era and extended during the Roman period, though Dendara itself was an important cult center from early on in the period of Ancient Egypt.

A trip here is well worth a day trip from Luxor, as the temple's youth (in comparison to other Pharaonic temples) means that it is one of the most complete surviving temples in Egypt.

The reliefs and decoration here are in an excellently preserved state. In particular, while in the hypostyle hall, which was built by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, note the columns topped by heads of the Egyptian god Hathor, and the wall reliefs of the emperor paying tribute to the Egyptian gods.

Dendara is just outside the city of Qena, 80 kilometers north from Luxor.

Monastery of St. Anthony

Secreted within the jagged northern mountains of the Red Sea coast, the Monastery of St. Anthony has been a working monastery since the 4th century, and today is still home to around 120 monks.

The Church of St. Anthony, within the fortress-like compound, has an interior of secco wall paintings that are considered one of the most important collections of Egyptian Coptic art in the world and date from around the 11th and 12th centuries. The church is also home to the tomb of St. Anthony (the father of monasticism) and is a major pilgrimage destination for Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Monks run tours of the monastery that include visiting the church and some of the monastery's gardens, as well as allowing you to head up and walk on top of the monastery's walls.

St. Anthony's Monastery is very isolated. If you don't have your own transport, the easiest way to get here is to hire a driver from Cairo or Hurghada.

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More on Egypt

Egypt Travel Guide: Plan Your Perfect Trip

cultural tourism in egypt

Cultural tourism in Egypt

the cultural  Tourism and archaeological sites  are  the most important and oldest types of tourism in Egypt.

Egypt has many of the effects of the Pharaonic, Greek, Romanian, museums, has created cultural tourism since the discovery of ancient Egyptian monuments decoding hieroglyphs, and even now does not break missions effects, travelers, tourists and authors of books, tourism to Egypt has published hundreds of books in different languages ​​and was a means to attract tourists from all over the world to see Egypt and its effects and the ancient civilizations through the national museums and archaeological and artistic The most important areas of archaeological tourism in Cairo and Giza: The Pyramids: The three pyramids are one of the seven wonders of the world as it is considered a unique architectural achievement Sakkara: set up the first stone structure in the world is on the Saqqara pyramid built by King Zoser in 2816 BC.


Area of ​​Dahshur: of the most important archeological sites in Egypt, which includes the most important archaeological treasures, and most important of these pyramids, Bent Pyramid, known as the Pyramid yellow pyramid curve of King Sneferu, the Black Pyramid of King Amenemhat III, and pyramid King Senusret III has begun this region in the global tourism after the reception prepared for that. more info click here: Egypt holidays The most important archeological tourism in Alexandria: Catacomb of kom el shokafa : graves is the largest Romanian general found in Alexandria is located on the border of West Alexandria cowardly old and due to the second century AD.

The most important areas of archaeological tourism in Luxor:

Luxor: the most important cities in the southern third level, which includes the effects of the world and was known in the old state in 270-280 BC. M and was famous in the Middle Kingdom when the foundations laid and the temple of Karnak was the capital of the modern state and is known by several names (and AST) good and Luxor and Luxor is a civilian serves as a museum open to the effects of ancient Egyptian and most important features:

Karnak Temple: It is a wonderful complex of beautiful temples, which is unparalleled and includes Karnak temples of goddess gods Amon and his wife’s death and her son, the god Khonsu, the moon god. Luxor Temple: was opened after the restoration project complete it, and is the lobby of Amenhotep III the most beautiful courtyard exists between the Egyptian temples, where surrounded lobby 64 columns and hall of columns by 32 columns and has been called the yard the sun because it was open to the sky and the courtyard was surrounded by corridors roofed afford these columns .

Temple of Habu: The inauguration of a substantial addition on the tourist map because of its importance massive in terms of technical, aesthetic, and is the largest building to the King of Egyptian stayed intact so far and called Karnak, the western view of the magnitude which is a large temples remaining mainland western Luxor, which includes temples of great importance historical and archaeological sites, one of the largest funerary temples devoted to the commemoration of the pharaohs in the modern state, has been set up by King Ramses III on the left of the beach south of Thebes.

Valley of the Kings: It includes a huge number of tombs, including Tutankhamun’s tomb and its contents, which transferred to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is the most important archaeological cemetery tombs of Ramses I, Ramses III and Horemheb and Tuthmosis III.

Valley of the Queens: it comprises a significant number of tombs of the Queens of the most important tomb of Nefertari, Queen Tiye.

Deir el-Medina: and include the city workers who had built the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and is packed with graves.

Mummification Museum in Luxor: is the first of its kind in the world, comprising 150 pieces between the mummies and coffins and embalming tools.

The most important archeological sites in Aswan tourist:

Aswan City: The city of Aswan, the most beautiful winter resorts of the world and includes several historic monuments, namely: the temples of Abu Simbel temples which are built by Ramses II months Pharaohs Egypt between 1223 BC 1290 AD. The two most important temples of Nubia The two temples of architectural wonders have been completely carved inside the mountain, namely:

Temple of Abu Simbel: It was dedicated to the worship of the god Ra Poplar Acht the God of the Rising Sun. published by:  Egypt shore excursions

Abu simbel

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buildings and city roads sit at the feet of egyptian pyramids


New reasons to visit Egypt now

Just discovered mummies and the upcoming opening of a blockbuster museum make the ancient land worth rediscovering.

The largest archaeological museum in the world, the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), is due to open later this year (or early in 2023) outside Cairo . This dazzling showplace near the pyramids of Giza cost more than a billion dollars to build. It will hold a large chunk of Egypt ’s ancient artifacts, including the treasures of King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

cultural tourism in egypt

The museum isn’t the only attraction drawing tourists back to the North African country. New openings include the Mummies Hall in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, and two tombs in nearby Saqqara, including the newly restored Tomb of Djoser, with its labyrinth of hieroglyphic-covered corridors. The promise of fresh discovery means trip bookings for Egypt are up more than 100 percent from some countries.

( Egypt is one of our 25 best places to visit in 2023. See the full list here .)

“So many sites are getting revamped, conserved, and preserved,” says Egyptologist and National Geographic Explorer Nora Shawki . “Even going to the pyramids is smoother, with electric busses getting you there and more dining and services.”

Though it suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, Egypt has a robust tourism infrastructure, making trips here easier than you might expect. Here’s what to know before you go.

Is Egypt safe?

The biggest danger in Egypt may be getting hassled for business, from the ad hoc tour guides just outside temples and tombs to hawkers offering “free” souvenirs and camel rides beside the pyramids at Giza. Otherwise, street crime is almost unheard of. “The riskiest thing you’ll do in Egypt is crossing our busy streets,” says Shawki.

While terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula and Western Desert mean the U.S. Department of State currently classifies Egypt under a Level 3, or “reconsider travel” advisory these areas aren’t close to typical tourist attractions including in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan .

How can I see the top sights?

Egypt is large—about twice the size of France—and you’ll need a combination of air, river, or overland travel to see Cairo, Luxor, and the Nile River-side temples.

You can rent a car, but it’s not recommended. Although millions of dollars have been invested in road improvements, signage is inconsistent and road congestion common. Some areas, like the Nile Valley, require security convoys, and military checkpoints are the norm. Guided tours and taxis are the best ways to get around; Uber also operates in Cairo and Alexandria.

A 10-day trip focused on the highlights of ancient Egypt could include time in Cairo (the pyramids, museums), Luxor (Valley of the Kings, Temple of Karnak), and a cruise along the Nile.

Additional spots worth adding to your itinerary include resort areas like Sharm El-Sheik on the Red Sea for diving and snorkeling or oasis towns such as artsy, archaeology-rich Tunis Village (about two hours by car from Cairo).

What can I see in Cairo besides pyramids?

Most travelers start in Cairo, where a clutch of museums gives a crash course in Egyptian history. In a sprawling contemporary building designed to resemble an ancient sailing ship, the Grand Egyptian Museum took 20 years and more than a billion dollars to construct. Within its 870,000 square feet are more than 100,000 artifacts including 5,000 objects from the tomb of “boy king” Tutankhamun.

The golden light of dawn illuminates the Avenue of Ancient Egyptian Sphinxes at Luxor Temple

( See why the Grand Egyptian Museum is fit for a pharoah .)

Open since 1902, the Egyptian Museum has 100 galleries and more than 170,000 artifacts, including animal figurines, funerary papyri, and stele decked in colorful hieroglyphs. The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization , which debuted in 2017, covers the entire history of Egypt from pre-historic times until today. It’s the new resting place of the ancient Egyptian royal mummies, relocated with great pomp , last year.

“The Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism has made a phenomenal effort to open new archaeological sites and make older places accessible, such as the Serapeum at Saqqara, and the underground galleries beneath the Step Pyramid of Djoser,” says Colleen Darnell, an American Egyptologist and coauthor of the upcoming Egypt’s Golden Couple: When   Akhenaten   and Nefertiti Were Gods on Earth .  

Just outside of Cairo, Saqqara is the country’s largest archaeological site and home of its oldest pyramid. It also offers new discoveries, including 59 sealed sarcophagi and the ornate tomb of Wahtye, a high priest who died in the 5th century B.C .

What about all those famous tombs and temples?

Luxor, a 90 minute direct flight from Cairo, holds the grand Temples of Karnak and Luxor as well as the tomb-filled Valley of the Queens and Valley of the Kings, including the dazzling burial space of King Tut.  

Luxor’s 1.7-mile, statue-decorated Avenue of the Sphinxes recently reopened, showing off decades of excavations and renovations. You’ll need a day or two to explore it all. Luxor is also the launch point for cruises on the Nile.

( Learn how epic feats of engineering saved Egypt’s Abu Simbel temples .)

It’s worth the quick flight or three-hour drive from Aswan (the terminus of most Nile cruises) to see the 13th-century B.C. rock-cut temple at Abu Simbel on Lake Nasser. Because the temple looks particularly dazzling during the evening light and sound show, Kerry Ann Derwin, a Middle East travel specialist with Audley Travel , often books her clients into a local guesthouse such as the Eskelah Nubian Ecolodge .“It gives a more intimate look at the temple,” she says.  

cultural tourism in egypt

Should I take a Nile cruise?

Boats have cruised along the Nile River since pharaonic times, and a two- to five-day cruise takes in ancient ruins and modern village life. You can book trips on river barges, steamboats, private yachts, or dahabiyas , elegant two-masted sailing ships with four to 10 cabins each. Generally boats travel between Luxor and Aswan.

“Going down the Nile gives you a glimpse into the past, and it’s also a quick way to see many of the riverside temples,” says Shawki. You’ll glide past farms where workers still plow fields with oxen and spot birds like cranes and egrets.

When should I go?

Most of Egypt has a desert climate, meaning hot days and cooler nights. The most comfortable times to visit are between March and June or in early fall (late September through early October). “But if you want the sites to yourself, July and August are great,” says Jasmine Padda, an Egyptian specialist with Kensington Tours .

What should I wear?

In Egyptian cities, you’ll see women dressed in everything from burqas to jeans and tank tops. Tourists can get away with modest casual clothing in most places, but both men and women must cover their knees, shoulders, and chests while visiting mosques or other religious sites. It’s a good idea to bring a lightweight scarf.

It’s also nearly always sunny and often hot, so pack a hat and high-SPF sunblock.

Where can I stay?

In Cairo, there are a range of four- and five-star hotels catering to international visitors with well-oiled security teams and concierges who can offer advice and book tours. Properties (many from chains such as Hilton and St. Regis) in the Zamalek and Garden City neighborhoods are well-located for both sightseeing and safety. For pyramid views and nostalgia, the Mena House has been open since the 19th century; it’s now renovated and expanded.  

Two luxe historic properties also lure travelers in Luxor and Aswan: the circa-1905 Winter Palace Luxor and the circa-1899 Old Cataract Aswan . Both offer Egyptian-style decor and atmosphere as well as modern comforts. Smaller guesthouses are also an option in these smaller cities, particularly in the Nubian villages around Aswan.

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Boosting tourism in Egypt: Developing a more enhanced, local experience

Steps away from Bab Zuweila, one of the last-standing ancient gates to Historic Cairo, is a narrow alleyway lined with vibrant fabric and handmade artisanal items. Known as Sharia Khayamiya (Street of the Tentmakers), where one-of-a-kind handcrafts have been designed, made and sold since the 17th century, it is a living testament to Egypt’s rich cultural heritage.

The area’s name is taken from the Arabic word for the intricately appliquéd textiles used to decorate the interior of tents. Ayda Abdullah, who has a shop in the middle of Khayamiya, spends hours every day making pillows, mattresses, table runners and other specialty cloth items.

“People working in this ages-old market do everything by themselves, from designing a product to actually producing it,” Abdullah says. “Nothing is manufactured. Everything is handmade, which means more hours are put in to produce high-quality traditional products representative of Egypt’s historic culture.”

Abdullah has been running the shop on her own for the past 10 years, since the death of her husband. She supports her three children, and her livelihood depends entirely on tourism, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, she is struggling to promote her business.

“I realize I have a role to play in cultural tourism, but I am also aware of some impediments in pursuing that role, including marketing skills and platforms for exposure,” she says. “I cannot market my work and I am at the mercy of merchants. I also have a hard time purchasing raw materials as they are very expensive.”

Abdullah will be participating in a workshop, hosted by the Integrated Management of Cultural Tourism (IMCT) project, to hone her skills. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by FHI 360, IMCT is endeavoring to create more authentic experiences for people traveling to Egypt while bolstering the country’s tourism industry and improving the quality of life for those living and working in Historic Cairo and Luxor Governorate.

“Learning by doing is one way that tourists can make a deeper connection to Egypt’s history and culture.”

Learning by doing is one way that tourists can make a deeper connection to Egypt’s history and culture. Photo credit: Motaz Bellah/FHI 360

FHI 360 is collaborating with the government of Egypt to improve the sustainability of the sector and forging public-private partnerships to help stimulate investment in cultural heritage sites and nearby businesses. But the communities around those sites — the voices of local shop owners and employees — are guiding the project’s work. In November 2021, FHI 360 held community engagement workshops, inviting local artisans, shop owners, employees and aspiring entrepreneurs to share their greatest challenges and goals around strengthening and growing their businesses.

Using the information gleaned at those sessions, FHI 360 will host trainings to help community members build their skills in areas considered most important for success — marketing, branding, product design, communications, storytelling and English. FHI 360 has also partnered with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to connect local business owners with microfinance institutions for the funding they need to develop high-quality products and expand their operations.

“I have great hope that through the project I will be able to have a sales outlet and great marketing skills to promote my work from my own stance, sell my products away from merchants and earn a decent living,” says Abdullah.

Community coordinators like Hayam Abdel Ma’soud ensure that the biggest needs and priorities of the communities are understood.

“Marketing is one of the major impediments that people here in Historic Cairo face,” says Ma’soud. “They do not really have their own sales outlets to market and sell their products. They are not even linked to expos to showcase their products. Many local artisans and business owners working in heritage and cultural tourism are deciding to move on from their current work, given the low levels of revenue.”

Five minutes down the street from Abdullah’s shop, Eid Saleh hand-knots carpets and rugs using the art of Egyptian and Iranian embroidery. Often he will sit for eight hours straight to produce a single knotted line. It is tedious work, and turning a profit is rarely guaranteed. Most of his creations are sold through merchants, who take a steep cut of his earnings.

“I need as many people as I can find to know me and realize the piece of work I’m producing,” he says. “I am very keen on attending the IMCT marketing and communications workshops. I believe these workshops will provide me with the perfect skill set to promote myself and my work and help me retain my workers in this valuable industry.”

Through IMCT, FHI 360 will support about 500 shop owners and employees like Saleh and Abdullah, helping them to reap the rewards of their unique crafts, engage with tourists and ensure the preservation of heritage sites for decades to come.

FHI 360

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Egypt is often referred to as “Um Al-Dunya,” or “Mother of the World,” as its cultural heritage has an importance on an international scale. Egypt’s ancient sites and Red Sea coast attract visitors from across the globe, with tourism accounting for about 10-15 percent of the Egyptian economy and millions of jobs. 

Through decades of partnership, the U.S. Government has invested more than $100 million to protect Egypt’s extraordinary cultural heritage and ensure local communities benefit from the growing tourism industry. USAID has partnered with the Government of Egypt on large-scale engineering projects to protect some of the country’s most iconic archaeological sites from rising groundwater and flooding. These include the Sphinx, Karnak Temple Complex, Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings, Coptic Cairo, Bab Zuweila Gate of Fatimid Cairo, Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo Temple, and the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa in Alexandria. USAID has also supported conservation efforts at dozens of other sites around the country; including the Red Monastery, Medinet Habu, and Theban Tombs of the Nobles. In addition, USAID has invested millions of dollars in environmental conservation efforts to boost sustainable and eco-friendly tourism and protect the coastal ecosystem along the Red Sea.


RED SEA INITIATIVE: USAID’s decades-long partnership with the Government of Egypt has ensured ongoing protection and long-term strategies to preserve the natural environment and helped local communities build resilience to the shocks of climate change. In 2022, USAID launched the Red Sea Initiative – an ambitious climate action aiming to conserve the Red Sea’s coastal ecosystem, while promoting high-value, low-impact ecotourism. The Red Sea Initiative plans to: protect the Red Sea’s coral reef and surrounding coastal ecosystem against the impacts of climate change and human activity; empower local communities to lead on climate action; establish a blended finance mechanism to support businesses in building resilience against climate change, reducing emissions and creating jobs; and partner with private businesses and other donors to leverage up to $50 million in total funding. To advance the work of the Red Sea Initiative, USAID will collaborate with the United Nations Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) to enlist additional donors and investors from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to conserve the Red Sea’s coastal ecosystem for future generations.  

INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT OF CULTURAL TOURISM: Current global trends demonstrate a growing preference among visitors for more experiential and authentic travel versus traditional package tourism. Building a platform for unique and sustainable tourism in Egypt is critical to the industry’s long-term success and is in line with USAID’s commitment to sustainable development. Through the Integrated Management of Cultural Tourism project, USAID partners with the Government of Egypt to streamline laws and regulations and develop public private partnership models that incentivize private sector investment in cultural tourism. The approach seeks to not only restore physical structures, but also add economic value by incorporating business opportunities, such as entertainment and event spaces. The program builds the capacity of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises to capitalize on cultural tourism. Focusing on Historic Cairo and Luxor, the program will increase Egypt’s tourism revenues, benefiting the local communities that live in and around historic sites. 

Implementing Partner: FHI 360; Life of Project: November 2020 – October 2024; Total Estimated Cost: $13 million; Governorates: Cairo and Luxor.

VISIT-Esna: Esna, a city rich in cultural heritage, was forgotten by tourists when a new dam built in 1994 allowed for faster passage by cruise ships. In the ensuing years, businesses closed and unemployment skyrocketed, forcing residents to abandon the area in search of new jobs and leaving the city center in a state of disrepair. To put Esna back on the map and create sustainable jobs, USAID and Takween are partnering with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Luxor Governorate, the Ministry of International Cooperation, and other public and private stakeholders to restore historic landmarks, revitalize Esna’s tourism infrastructure, and showcase Esna as a prime tourist destination for tour operators, investors, and the public. The program developed a new Esna brand to highlight the city’s diverse heritage assets, ranging from traditional cuisine to historic sites. In Esna, USAID restored an 18th century caravansary (Wakalat El Geddawy), Al Qisariya Market, and several building facades. The program trained and integrated the local community in an array of activities, from guiding tours to reviving local handicraft traditions, with an aim to generating new job opportunities, increasing revenues, and advancing economic benefits for the community.

Implementing Partner: Takween Integrated Community Development; Life of Project: October 2016 – September 2024; Total Estimated Cost: $8.6 million; Governorate: Luxor.

MEDINET HABU AS OPEN-AIR MUSEUM: Located on Luxor’s west bank (ancient Thebes), Medinet Habu is best known for its well-preserved mortuary temple of Ramesses III, who reigned from 1186 to 1156 B.C.E. The site also houses archaeological monuments spanning from 2100 B.C.E. to 900 C.E. Chicago House has been working at Medinet Habu off and on over the last century to document and conserve all of the monuments in the complex. Since 2015, USAID has supported Chicago House’s restoration of the archaeologically-rich Medinet Habu to increase tourist interest in the temple complex. Site improvements include a walking path and an open-air museum.

Implementing Partner: University of Chicago Oriental Institute - Chicago House; Life of Project: October 2015 – September 2023; Total Estimated Cost: $6 million; Governorate: Luxor.

Cultural Heritage and Tourism in Egypt II: Khonsu Temple is situated in the south-west corner of the Karnak temple complex in Luxor. It was built during the reign of Ramses III and dedicated to Khonsu, son of Mut and Amun. In neighboring Sohag, Abydos was the most important burial site of ancient Egypt and has a history extending back some 7,500 years. It served as the cult center of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris, ruler of the land of the dead, and was a place of great religious importance. USAID is partnering with the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) on physical improvements to Khonsu Temple in Luxor and the Osireion in Abydos through conservation and restoration efforts, thereby improving the quality of tourists’ experience. ARCE will also build the capacity of the Ministry’s staff to better protect and manage the sites as well as provide employment and training for semi-skilled labor from the local population.

Implementing Partner: American Research Center in Egypt; Life of Project: February 2023 – September 2024; Total Estimated Cost: EGP 32.4 million (equivalent to $1.1 million); Governorate: Luxor and Sohag.

A field school trainee cleans a chapel wall at Khonsu Temple at Karnak in Luxor.

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Cultural heritage at risk: Egypt

cultural tourism in egypt

The Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo was damaged by a bomb in 2014. It reopened in January of 2017. (Photo:  Gérard Ducher , CC BY-SA 2.5)

For centuries, Egyptian archeological sites have been looted to feed the black market trade in antiquities. With so many priceless artifacts wrenched from their home in Egypt, it feels as though we are fighting an impossible battle.

This situation is particularly acute following the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and the ensuing political instability. Having experienced two revolutions in as many years, the majority of Egypt’s key archeological sites have fallen victim to looting. According to the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities , around $3 billion worth of Egyptian antiquities have been looted since the troubles began in January 2011. Subsequently the antiquities market has been inundated with artifacts of Egyptian origin, as reported in the  Washington Post .

It is not only archaeological sites at risk; extensive damage has been inflicted on the country’s leading museums. Over a hundred valuable artifacts were destroyed at the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo in early 2014 when a car bomb detonated outside the building. Likewise nearly all of the collections, numbering more than a thousand artifacts, were looted from the Malawi National Museum in Upper Egypt in 2013 amidst the unrest.

cultural tourism in egypt

Left: Looting has been documented near the pyramid of Amenemhat III at Dahshur, Middle Kingdom, 1860–1814 B.C.E.  (12th Dynasty) , (photo:  Tekisch , CC BY-SA 3.0); Right: Satellite view of the pyramid and looted areas to the south (©Google, 2018)

What is at stake for Egypt?

There are seven cultural and natural properties in Egypt inscribed on the World Heritage list, in addition to  32 sites on the tentative list . One of these properties includes the pyramid fields from Giza to Dahshur, a region known to be brutally pockmarked with holes dug by looters in search of saleable artifacts. BBC Cairo reporter Aleem Maqbool reports vertical shafts and tunnels, presumably dug in the hopes of finding archaeological material scattered across the landscape.

Armed robbers have also attacked storehouses holding antiquities from ongoing excavations, most of which were unregistered , meaning we have no idea just how many objects were lost. This loss of knowledge is incalculable.

“We are losing a lot of the monastic graffiti (Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, and Demotic) and several other archaeological features. Egyptian history is being destroyed….” Archeologist Monica Hanna told SAFE.

Before the Arab Spring revolution in 2011, tourism accounted for more than ten percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product. Since then, the tourist industry has struggled to find its footing amidst economic and political uncertainty. According to official statistics, foreign tourists have been returning to Egypt slowly but surely, with over a million visiting in April 2013. Although these numbers are increasing, they nevertheless remain well below pre-revolution levels, putting a serious strain on an industry that used to support a substantial portion of the population. Moreover, in a country where unemployment is rife , the budget deficit continues to grow, and the currency has lost much of its value, looting can appear to be a “get rich quick” occupation. It is of the utmost importance to protect Egypt’s cultural heritage in this turbulent time.

Egypt’s cultural heritage endangered

Egypt is home to one of world’s the oldest civilizations whose millennia of recorded history have had a profound influence on the cultures of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Although Egyptian archaeological sites have for centuries been looted to feed the black market trade of antiquities, recent upheavals in the region have led to the exposure of its material to the ravages of rampant looting. While the market demand remains strong, Egyptian antiquities are among the most valuable—and vulnerable—in the world.

To meet this demand, looters are even breaking the taboo of going into a tomb to store their loot in a location others won’t have the audacity to enter. Betsy Hiel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported about a family of looters who stored their artifacts in an already plundered tomb because “ [n]o one would dare to take it .” One member of the family even bragged that “we don’t need fakes anymore” because there are so many vulnerable originals up for grabs. Armed criminal gangs have also been known to ravage the endangered sites in search of both antiquities and valuable land.

The pyramids of Abusir (Abu Sir al-Maleq) (photo: Francesco Gasparetti, CC BY 2.0)

The pyramids of Abusir (Abu Sir Al-Maleq) (photo: Francesco Gasparetti , CC BY 2.0)

Archeologist Monica Hanna believes that many of the  looters are looking for quick gold  due to a mistaken belief that gold is readily available. At the site Abu Sir Al-Maleq, a burial ground about 70 miles from Cairo, there are piles of bones and mummy wrappings that have been hastily discarded as looters pick through on the hunt for quick cash. Although these looters might gain a small sum of money, what they are losing is far greater: the ability to understand past cultures. Hanna says the case of Abu Sir Al-Maleq is even more tragic because it has not been fully excavated, meaning that only salvage archeology can be conducted at this point.

Other threats  to archaeological sites include encroachment on the land by residents trying to expand their homes or property, or repurposing of the land for use as landfills or car parks. This damages unexcavated sites, forcing archeologists to expedite their work and potentially miss crucial discoveries. After a new structure has been built on top of an unexcavated site, ancient artifacts might not be found for decades or even centuries, if ever.

Objects in museums are not immune to destruction. In August, 2013 thieves broke into the Mallawi Museum in the Upper Egypt city of Minya , destroying 48 artifacts and stealing 1,041 objects. Although nearly 600 artifacts were recovered, another museum became the target of destruction only months later. In January 2014 Cairo’s   Museum of Islamic Art —home to one of the world’s most important collections of its kind— was hit by a bomb blast .

Market demand for Egyptian antiquities

Egyptian archeologist Heidi Saleh has stated that as long as the market continues to drive demand for Egyptian antiquities, the looting will continue. As she says in a newspaper article from June 2013 , “antiquities have become a low priority for the average Egyptian” and that unless foreign collectors stop purchasing unprovenanced artifacts, the looting will continue—perhaps indefinitely.

After the revolution in 2011, international museums were on the on the lookout for artifacts that were potentially illicitly obtained. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London released a statement saying that, “All of us who are friends of Egypt can help the efforts to stop looting of archaeological sites, stores and museums, by focusing on the international antiquities trade.”

In December 2010, a mere 13 Egyptian artifacts sold for a reported total of $9,789,500. With a market demand capable of driving prices to such dizzying heights, it seems unlikely that auction houses or dealers will stop trading in Egyptian antiquities any time soon.

The sale of illicit artifacts is also taking place online. In February 2014, SAFE commented on the progress of curtailing sales of Egyptian antiquities on the world’s largest online auction site, eBay. According to a report in the Cairo Times , eBay has agreed with the U.S. Egyptian Embassy to stop the sale of Egyptian antiquities.

There is an ongoing debate surrounding the St. Louis Art Museum’s Ka-nefer-nefer mummy mask , purchased in the late 1990s. Other prominent cases include the conviction of antiquities dealer Frederick Schultz  and the looting of the Mallawi Museum south of Cairo. Some of the objects looted from Mallawi have been recovered, but many more are still lost, vulnerable to the illicit trade.

What is Egypt doing to protect its cultural heritage?

Relevant laws and treaties

Protecting Egypt’s cultural heritage is enshrined in the country’s constitution, with Articles 12 and 49 committed to protecting Egyptian heritage through education and artistic freedom. Yet while the excavation and exploitation of ancient Egyptian sites dates back hundreds of years, the UNESCO Database of Cultural Heritage Laws indicates that it wasn’t until 1912 that the “Regiement pour l’Exportation des Antiquites” established a structured system for the exportation of antiquities.

The 1983 Law on the Protection of Antiquities clearly states that, “all antiquities are considered public property.” Any antiquity originating from Egypt belongs to the government and may not be obtained, purchased, or sold by a private individual. The 1983 law also gives merchants a grace period of a year to liquidate any antiquities that they might have in their possession—a time limit that has clearly been violated for more than two decades.

International treaties include the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (with Regulations for the Execution of the Convention) and the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property .

Other Efforts

In May 2013,  ordinary citizens joined together to protect the site of Dahshur around the clock  in response to the reports of looting around the pyramids .

After looters broke into the Cairo Museum in 2011, hundreds of people formed a human chain  around its perimeter to prevent the looters from escaping. This kind of story is inspiring, and it demonstrates the public’s desire to protect Egypt’s cultural heritage, although it is not feasible for such actions to be taken at every site in Egypt.

In June 2013, the National Committee of Egyptian Archaeological Sites was established to oversee the protection of Egypt’s World Heritage sites. The committee includes representatives from the Ministry of State for Antiquities as well as regional representatives. However, this committee provides little respite for uninscribed sites from the epidemic of looting and destruction.

Fekri Hassan, the Cultural Heritage Director at Egypt’s French University, is working with the United Nations to train “heritage guardians” as guides for Dahshur, a site that has taken the brunt of much of the looting .

According to this report in the Cairo Times , the world’s largest online auction site, eBay, has agreed with the U.S. Egyptian Embassy to stop the sale of Egyptian antiquities. This could mean a significant deterrent to the illicit trade, and in turn, a disincentive to loot.

Archaeologists such as Monica Hanna have spoken out in defense of Egypt’s cultural heritage and made important issues part of a public discussion. There have also been efforts via social media, such as the Facebook page “ Stop the Heritage Drain ” and “ Egypt’s Heritage Task Force ,” which post pictures and live updates of sites damaged by looting.

Other efforts to protect Egypt’s heritage

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) published the  Emergency Red List of Egyptian Cultural Objects at Risk , listing categories or types of cultural items that are most likely to be illegally bought and sold. This adds to other Red Lists of objects from twelve other countries produced by ICOM.

In March of 2014, the Egyptian Antiquities Minister and the U.S.-based International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities (ICPEA)  signed an agreement  to protect Egyptian cultural heritage sites and antiquities from looting and cultural racketeers. According to  ICPEA’s website , they have agreed upon a series of short-, medium-, and long-term programs to strike at the core of the cultural racketeering.

There are dozens of Facebook groups that aim to support Egypt’s cultural heritage, where members share news of the latest looting incident and aim to support those in Egypt by calling for greater protection of sites. Some of these include  Protect Egyptian Cultural Heritage ,  The Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities ,  Egypt’s Heritage , and  Save El Hibeh Egypt . Monica Hanna’s active Facebook page  Egypt’s Heritage Task Force  has thousands of followers from around the world.

Continuing media coverage of looting and destruction of heritage sites in Egypt shows a desire to learn about and prevent such incidents from happening. Nevine El-Aref’s  roundup of the damage that happened during 2013 demonstrates that protecting Egypt’s cultural heritage is as relevant an issue as ever. Increased public awareness in and out of Egypt, facilitated by social media tools, will no doubt play a critical role.

On April 16, 2014 the U.S. State Department announced that  Egypt  requested that the U.S.  impose import restrictions  on Egyptian antiquities, made under Article 9 of the  1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property , to which both Egypt and the U.S. are state parties. The  Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC)  received public comment on this request in an open session on  June 2-4, 2014  in Washington.

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Culture tourism in egypt thrive since its resumption in september.

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Tue, 20 Oct 2020 - 12:37 GMT

cultural tourism in egypt

Tourists visiting the Pyramids of Giza - photo via Egypt's Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities

CAIRO – 20 October 2020: In light of the resumption of cultural tourism in Egypt, starting from the beginning of the previous September, a number of tourist groups from France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ukraine and Belarus flocked to Luxor from Hurghada as part of the "one-day" trips, to enjoy visiting various archaeological sites.

These groups visited the temples of Karnak and Luxor on the East bank, then went to the west bank to visit the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Colossi of Memnon, and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings.

The tourists expressed their happiness to visit these places and to learn about the ancient Egyptian civilization and enjoy Egypt's warm and sunny weather.

Head of the Domestic Tourism Sector at the Egyptian General Authority for Tourism Promotion Iman Mahmoud explained that since the resumption of the cultural tourism movement, tourists have been received on a regular basis.

In a related context, the Egyptian Museum welcomed a number of tourist groups coming from several countries, including Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Director General of the Museum Sabah Abdel Razek explained that the visiting programs of these tourist groups included tours of the museum’s various halls, including the Tutankhamun Hall, Yuya and Tuya Hall, among many others.

For his part, Director General of the Antiquities of the Pyramid Ashraf Mohieddin said that the area was visited by groups from Belarus, Ukraine and Serbia, and that during the visit they praised the precautionary measures applied in all archaeological sites and museums, the hotel and other tourist facilities in Egypt.

cultural tourism in egypt

Giza Pyramids

Valley of the kings, culture tourism, hatshepsut temple.

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cultural tourism in egypt

The human-headed sphinxes along the 2700-metre-long "Rams Road" leading from the Temple of Luxor (background) to the Karnak Temple (unseen) further north, in Egypt's southern city of the same name. AFP

Nada El Sawy author image

Egypt has spent billions of pounds opening new museums, restoring archaeological sites and putting on two spectacular parades in a bid to preserve and promote its cultural heritage, its tourism and antiquities minister has said.

“Even during Covid when we didn’t have tourists, I’m getting the full budget I’m asking for…I’m getting billions and billions of Egyptian pounds,” said Khaled El Enany at the American University in Cairo on Tuesday night. “We are paying like we never paid before to preserve our heritage.”

The country has experienced a cultural renaissance in recent years, with government support, he said, speaking at the annual Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture.

On the occasion of International Museum Day on May 18, two museums opened at Cairo International Airport, Egypt. Reuters

On the occasion of International Museum Day on May 18, two museums opened at Cairo International Airport, Egypt. Reuters

Tourism , which accounts for about 12 per cent of Egypt’s gross domestic product, on average, has suffered badly during the pandemic. Travel restrictions and lockdowns wiped out $17.6 billion from the Egyptian economy in 2020, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

But the government is counting on its greatest asset to cancel out these losses: a priceless treasure trove of antiquities.

Egypt has more than 2,500 archaeological sites, 60 per cent of which are ancient Egyptian, while the remainder belong to the Abrahamic religions, comprising 40 per cent Islamic, Coptic, Jewish and modern sites.

“Among the 2,500 sites in Egypt, only dozens are visited by tourists,” Mr El Enany said.

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El Anany spoke at the American University in Cairo about the country’s efforts to preserve and promote its cultural heritage. Nada El Sawy / The National

He became antiquities minister in 2016 and was appointed the first tourism and antiquities minister in 2019 when the ministries merged.

In 2017 he requested 1.3 billion pounds ($80 million) to revitalise the museum sector, re-opening shuttered sites and building new museums at a cost of 40m to 70m pounds ($2.5m to $5m) each.

Among them are the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation, which opened in 2017, and the Naguib Mahfouz Museum in Old Cairo, that opened in 2019. Hurghada Museum, Sharm El Sheikh Museum, Kafr El Sheikh Museum and the Royal Carriages Museum in Downtown Cairo all opened in 2020.

Museums inaugurated in smaller cities included Sharqia, Marsa Matrouh and Sohag in 2018, and Tanta in 2019.

“When I open museums in Sharqia, Tanta, Sohag, El Minya, it doesn’t bring me tourists, but it’s very important for awareness and to preserve the Egyptian identity,” Mr El Enany said.

Opening “very soon” and “ready 100 per cent” is the Capitals of Egypt Museum in the New Administrative Capital east of Cairo, he said. The museum will highlight the stories of the different cities that have served as Egypt’s capital.

Other planned openings this year include the Mohamed Ali Palace in Cairo, the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria and the highly anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

GEM is a separate budget in itself, costing about $1bn for the 490,000-square-metre building, a sum that covers the 55,000-plus artefacts, as well as security.

Mr El Enany said the museum will open in the second half of the year if coronavirus-related conditions are stable, hinting that it could coincide with the 100-year anniversary of Tutankhamun tomb's discovery in November.

“I’m receiving requests every day from all over the world to give them the exception to visit the gallery. I promise you nobody will visit the galleries before the official opening,” he said. “It’s a surprise.”

Mummies' parade

Last year, the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade in April that transported 22 royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation and the Avenue of Sphinxes parade in Luxor in November made international headlines.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to show the world that we respect our heritage and our ancestors,” Mr El Enany said.

He had submitted the idea of the mummies’ parade to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in 2019, with planning taking more than 19 months.

Both events were seen as a success on the global stage and a source of pride for Egyptians .

“I’ve been a minister for six years, and when I meet someone, they say, thank you and congratulations for the two parades,” Mr El Enany said.

Mr El Enany has championed several restoration projects, such as the Al Azhar mosque in March 2018, the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria in January 2020 and the Baron Empain Palace in Heliopolis in June the same year.

Major archaeological discoveries have also taken place during his time in office, such as an Egyptian mission discovery of more than 150 coffins in Saqqara in October and November 2020.

There are around 250 archaeological missions from more than 25 countries working in Egypt, as well as about 80 Egyptian archaeological missions.

“I’m very proud that the majority of archaeological discoveries in the last few years were done by Egyptian missions,” Mr El Enany said. “This is a renaissance for Egyptian archaeology as well.”

He said another discovery will be announced by the Supreme Council of Antiquities as soon as March “that will attract a lot of attention from the world”. He did not share further details.

The Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture has hosted a range of speakers from the world of global affairs since 2005, such as former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the first female president of Ireland Mary Robinson. It commemorates Ms Younes, who had a 30-year career at the UN and was tragically killed in the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003.

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Cultural Tourism

  • Archaeological Sites

Sunday، 21 February 2016 11:46 AM

cultural tourism in egypt

Cultural and archeological tourism are considered the traditional kind of tourism in Egypt. Egypt embraces several Pharanoic, Greek and Roman historic antiquities and museums. Cultural tourism has started since the discovery of ancient Egyptian antiquities and the decipher of the hieroglyphics.

Ever since, missions of archaeology, explorers and authors of tourist books were very keen on vesting Egypt and documenting its astonishing past and promising future.

The important cultural tourism areas at Cairo& Giza, Alexandria, Upper Egypt, Sinai, Fayoum city, oasis and musuems as follows:

1-Cairo,Giza : Sud Al-kafara, Aon city,  Pyramid plateau, Sakara and, Dahshour.

2-Alexandria: Sawari Column, the Roman Theater, the Roman Baths, The Black Head temple, Kom Shoqafa tomb.

cultural tourism in egypt

3-Upper Egypt:

Luxor City: Karnak Temple, Luxor temple, Happi temple, Valley of  kings, Valley of  Queens, Dir El medina, mummification Museum at Luxor.

Aswan City: Abu Simbel Museum the big & small, Philae Island, Plants Island (EL Nabatat Island).

Biliana City: Abidous

Qina City: Nadra Museum

Menya City: El Amarma hill 

Beni Suef City: Archaeological Modern area.Al- Ashmounin City, Tunna el-Gabl.

cultural tourism in egypt

5-The Oases:

El-kharaga oasis: Hipis temple, Elbagwat tomb, El Queta temple, El Riyan Qasr , El Riyan temple, Qasr el Dine. 

cultural tourism in egypt

 El Bahariya Oasis: It contains 268 sulpher & minerals springs.           Paris Oasis: Doush temple,El Farafara Oasis,It contains ElFarafara Qasr, Abou Manakara Qasr.

cultural tourism in egypt

Milita at El Alameen, Mersa Matrouh, Nagi, Railways lines, Mansoura Museum located at Luqman, Donshawi Musuem posts, El Shama (waxen) museum, also the Mummification Museum at the Pharoanic Village.

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Tourism in Egypt is BIG business, but why? Find out why so many people choose to travel to Egypt, what the tourism industry here consists of and what the impacts of tourism in Egypt are in this article. Excited to learn more? Read on…

The geography of Egypt

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Egypt, the land of the Pharaohs and timeless monuments, the pulsating heart of the Arab world, and a melting pot of ancient and modern cultures, offers a travel experience like no other. Known for its warm hospitality and rich heritage, Egypt has attracted explorers, historians, and vacationers for centuries. But there’s more to Egypt than the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx – a lot more.

This article takes you beyond Egypt’s iconic postcard images, guiding you through the country’s bustling marketplaces, serene landscapes, unique culinary experiences, and places where ancient and modern worlds blend seamlessly. Whether you’re an adventurer seeking the thrill of the Sahara’s vast dunes, a history buff hungry for tales of ancient civilisations, or a culture enthusiast wanting to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Egyptian life, this journey is for you.

Egypt is a country located in North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and the Red Sea to the east. It has an area of approximately 1 million square kilometres and a population of over 100 million people.

The geography of Egypt is dominated by the Nile River, which is one of the longest rivers in the world . The Nile flows from south to north through Egypt and is the lifeblood of the country, providing water for irrigation, transportation, and other uses. The Nile Delta, or the mouth of the river , located in the north of the country, is a fertile area that supports agriculture.

Tourism in Egypt

The majority of Egypt’s population lives in the Nile Valley and Delta, which is a narrow strip of land along the river. The rest of the country is largely desert , including the Western Desert, the Eastern Desert, and the Sinai Peninsula.

The Western Desert is a vast expanse of sand dunes and rocky plateaus, while the Eastern Desert is characterised by mountain ranges and deep valleys. The Sinai Peninsula is a triangular-shaped peninsula located between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, and it is mostly mountainous.

Egypt has several important cities, including the capital city of Cairo, which is located in the north of the country on the east bank of the Nile River. Other major cities include Alexandria, located on the Mediterranean coast, and Luxor and Aswan, both located along the Nile River and famous for their ancient temples and monuments.

The tourism industry is a major sector of the economy in Egypt, contributing significantly to the country’s GDP and providing employment opportunities for millions of people. Egypt has been a popular tourist destination for centuries due to its rich history, ancient monuments, and beautiful landscapes.

Tourism in Egypt

Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization, including the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and the temples of Luxor and Karnak. These ancient sites attract millions of visitors every year, making them some of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

In addition to its ancient history, Egypt also has beautiful beaches along the Red Sea coast, including Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada . These destinations offer world-class diving and snorkelling opportunities, as well as other water sports and activities.

Other popular tourist attractions in Egypt include the Nile River cruises, which offer visitors the chance to explore the country’s ancient temples and monuments while enjoying the comfort of a cruise ship. The cities of Cairo and Alexandria are also popular destinations, offering a mix of ancient history and modern culture, including museums, art galleries, and vibrant nightlife.

The Egyptian government has been working to develop the tourism industry in recent years, investing in infrastructure improvements and promoting the country as a safe and attractive destination for visitors. Despite some setbacks due to political instability and the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry in Egypt is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, offering visitors a unique and unforgettable travel experience.

  • In 2019, Egypt welcomed approximately 13.1 million international tourists , generating a total of $13.03 billion in tourism revenue.
  • The tourism industry in Egypt directly supports approximately 2.5 million jobs, accounting for 9% of the country’s total employment.
  • The top five source markets for tourism in Egypt are Germany, Russia, Ukraine , the United Kingdom, and Italy.
  • The average length of stay for international tourists in Egypt is around 10 days.
  • The majority of international tourists to Egypt (approximately 64%) visit the country for leisure and recreation purposes.
  • The most popular tourist attractions in Egypt include the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, the temples of Luxor and Karnak, and the beaches of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.
  • In 2020, tourism in Egypt was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with international arrivals declining by 70% compared to 2019.
  • The tourism industry in Egypt is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, with the government investing in infrastructure improvements and promoting the country as a safe and attractive destination for visitors.

Tourism in Egypt

Egypt is home to some of the most iconic and world-renowned tourist attractions, ranging from ancient ruins and temples to breathtaking natural wonders. Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Egypt:

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza: These pyramids are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and are the most recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt. They are located just outside of Cairo and attract millions of visitors every year.
  • The Sphinx: Located near the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx is a huge statue of a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Egypt.
  • The Egyptian Museum: Located in Cairo, the Egyptian Museum houses an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, including mummies, jewellery, and statues.
  • Luxor and Karnak Temples: These two temples are located on the east bank of the Nile River in Luxor and are among the largest ancient religious sites in the world.
  • Abu Simbel: These two temples, located in southern Egypt, were built during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II and are famous for their colossal statues.
  • Valley of the Kings: Located in Luxor, this valley contains the tombs of many pharaohs and is a popular destination for tourists interested in ancient Egyptian history.
  • Red Sea Resorts: Egypt’s Red Sea coast is home to a number of popular beach resorts, including Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. These destinations offer world-class diving and snorkelling opportunities, as well as other water sports and activities.
  • Aswan: This city is located along the Nile River and is famous for its beautiful temples, including the Philae Temple and the Temple of Abu Simbel.
  • Alexandria: Located on the Mediterranean coast, Alexandria is a historic city that was once one of the most important centres of learning in the ancient world. It is home to a number of ancient ruins, museums, and beautiful beaches.
  • The White Desert: This natural wonder is located in the western part of the country and features unique white rock formations that create a stunning landscape. It is a popular destination for adventure travellers and nature enthusiasts.

Most popular types of tourism in Egypt

Egypt is a diverse destination that offers a wide range of tourism experiences, catering to various interests and preferences. Here are some of the most popular types of tourism in Egypt:

Cultural tourism is one of the most popular types of tourism in Egypt, as the country is home to a rich history and culture that spans over thousands of years. Tourists can explore ancient ruins, temples, museums, and historical sites, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and Luxor and Karnak Temples.

Egypt also offers a range of adventure tourism opportunities, including desert safaris, camel rides, and hot air balloon rides over the Valley of the Kings. The White Desert is also a popular destination for adventure travellers and nature enthusiasts.

Tourism in Egypt

Egypt’s Red Sea coast is famous for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and world-class diving and snorkelling opportunities. Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada are two of the most popular beach destinations in Egypt. Dahab is a less commercial and less developed coastal area that is growing in popularity and the North Coast is popular with locals.

Egypt is an important destination for religious tourism, attracting many visitors to its historic mosques, churches, and synagogues. The Mosque of Muhammad Ali in Cairo, the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, and the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo are among the most visited religious sites in Egypt.

Egypt also offers a range of health and wellness tourism opportunities, including spa treatments, yoga retreats, and meditation classes. Many hotels and resorts in Egypt offer spa facilities, and the country is known for its natural hot springs.

Cruise tourism in Egypt

Nile River cruises are a popular way to explore the ancient sites and monuments of Egypt, such as the temples of Luxor and Karnak. Visitors can enjoy the comfort of a cruise ship while taking in the stunning scenery along the Nile River.

Ecotourism is a growing trend in Egypt, with many visitors seeking out sustainable and responsible tourism experiences. The Ras Mohamed National Park and the Wadi El Gemal National Park are two popular ecotourism destinations in Egypt, offering visitors the chance to experience the country’s natural beauty and wildlife.

Tourism in Egypt

Tourism is a significant contributor to the economy of Egypt, generating revenue, creating jobs, and promoting economic growth. Here are some of the key economic impacts of tourism in Egypt:

  • Revenue generation: Tourism is one of the largest sources of foreign exchange earnings for Egypt. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the total contribution of travel and tourism to Egypt’s GDP was 11.9% in 2019. In the same year, tourism generated USD 16.6 billion in revenue.
  • Job creation: The tourism industry is a major employer in Egypt, providing jobs to millions of people in the country. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the tourism industry supported 2.5 million jobs in Egypt in 2019, accounting for 8.7% of total employment.
  • Small business development: The tourism industry also plays an important role in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Egypt, including hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. This provides opportunities for local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, contributing to the overall economic development of the country.
  • Infrastructure development: The growth of the tourism industry has also led to the development of infrastructure, such as airports, hotels, and transportation systems. This infrastructure not only supports tourism but also benefits other sectors of the economy, such as transportation and construction.
  • Foreign investment: The tourism industry in Egypt attracts foreign investment, which helps to stimulate economic growth and create new business opportunities. This investment can also help to improve the quality of services and products in the industry, leading to increased visitor satisfaction and repeat visits.

However, it is worth noting that the tourism industry in Egypt has faced challenges in recent years due to political instability and security concerns.

Tourism has a range of social impacts in Egypt, both positive and negative. Here are some of the key social impacts of tourism in Egypt:

  • Cultural exchange: Tourism can facilitate cultural exchange between visitors and locals, allowing for the sharing of ideas, traditions, and values. This can promote mutual understanding and respect between different cultures.
  • Employment opportunities: The tourism industry provides employment opportunities for many Egyptians, particularly in areas such as hospitality and tourism services. This can help to alleviate poverty and improve living standards for individuals and families.
  • Preservation of cultural heritage: Tourism can also provide an economic incentive for the preservation of cultural heritage sites and monuments, such as the pyramids and temples of ancient Egypt. This can help to ensure that these sites are protected for future generations to enjoy.

cultural tourism in egypt

  • Impact on local communities: Tourism can have both positive and negative impacts on local communities in Egypt. On the positive side, tourism can bring in revenue and stimulate economic development. On the negative side, tourism can also lead to overcrowding, increased prices for goods and services, and a loss of traditional culture and identity.
  • Environmental impact: Tourism can also have an impact on the environment in Egypt, particularly in areas such as the Red Sea coast where coral reefs are fragile and vulnerable to damage. Responsible tourism practices, such as sustainable tourism, can help to minimise these impacts.
  • Social and cultural changes: Tourism can bring about social and cultural changes in host communities, as they adapt to the needs and preferences of visitors. This can lead to changes in traditional values, customs, and ways of life.

It is important to note, however, that the social impacts of tourism are complex and varied, and depend on a range of factors such as the type of tourism, the scale of tourism, and the level of community involvement and participation. Responsible tourism practices, such as sustainable tourism, can help to mitigate negative impacts and maximise positive impacts.

Tourism can have significant environmental impacts in Egypt, particularly in areas that are popular tourist destinations. Here are some of the key environmental impacts of tourism in Egypt:

  • Pollution: Tourism can contribute to air, water, and land pollution in Egypt, particularly in areas with high tourist traffic such as beaches and cities. This pollution can harm local ecosystems, wildlife, and human health.
  • Resource consumption: Tourism can place significant demands on natural resources such as water, energy, and land. This can lead to depletion of resources and environmental degradation.
  • Habitat destruction: Tourism can lead to habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity, particularly in areas such as coastal zones, wetlands, and forests .
  • Waste generation: Tourism can generate large amounts of waste, including solid waste, wastewater, and hazardous waste. Improper disposal of waste can have significant environmental impacts , including pollution of water and soil.
  • Climate change: Tourism can contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly from transportation and energy use. This can lead to a range of environmental impacts, including sea-level rise, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns.

To mitigate the environmental impacts of tourism in Egypt, sustainable tourism practices are essential. This can include measures such as promoting eco-tourism, encouraging energy and water conservation, reducing waste generation, and promoting the use of renewable energy sources. It is also important to promote responsible tourism practices among visitors, such as minimising waste generation, conserving natural resources, and respecting local ecosystems and cultures.

Egypt is generally considered a safe country for tourists, but like any other destination, it is important to exercise caution and be aware of potential risks. Here are some key points regarding crime and safety in Egypt:

  • Petty crime: Petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft can occur in Egypt, particularly in crowded areas such as markets and tourist attractions. Visitors are advised to be vigilant with their belongings and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuable items.
  • Scams: Tourist scams are also a concern in Egypt, particularly in tourist areas such as Cairo and Luxor. Visitors should be wary of offers that seem too good to be true, and be cautious when dealing with strangers or unofficial tour operators.
  • Political unrest: Egypt has experienced political unrest and demonstrations in the past, which can occasionally lead to violence. Visitors should stay up-to-date on the current situation and avoid large gatherings or demonstrations.
  • Terrorism: There is a risk of terrorism in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula and border areas. Visitors are advised to stay away from these areas and to follow the advice of local authorities and their travel providers.
  • Transportation: Road accidents are a common occurrence in Egypt, and visitors are advised to exercise caution when using public transportation or driving themselves.

It is recommended that visitors to Egypt take common-sense precautions to ensure their safety. This can include being aware of their surroundings, avoiding isolated or poorly lit areas, and following the advice of local authorities and their travel providers. Visitors should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance and emergency contact information in case of any incidents.

Budget requirements for Egypt 

The required budget for a visit to Egypt can vary depending on a number of factors, including the length of stay, type of accommodation, activities and tours, and personal spending habits. Here are some general guidelines on the costs associated with a visit to Egypt:

The cost of accommodation in Egypt can range from budget options such as hostels and guesthouses to luxury hotels and resorts. Prices can vary depending on the location and level of amenities, but budget travellers can expect to pay around $10-$20 per night for a hostel or budget hotel, while mid-range hotels can cost around $40-$100 per night. Luxury hotels and resorts can cost upwards of $200 per night.

Eating out in Egypt can be relatively inexpensive, particularly if you stick to local street food and budget restaurants. Expect to pay around $2-$5 for a simple meal, while a mid-range restaurant meal can cost around $10-$15 per person. Alcohol is generally more expensive, with a beer costing around $3-$5 and cocktails upwards of $10.

Tourism in Egypt

There are a variety of activities and tours available in Egypt, ranging from cultural and historical sightseeing to outdoor activities such as diving and snorkelling. The cost of these activities can vary depending on the type and length of the tour, but budget around $10-$20 for a basic sightseeing tour, and upwards of $100 for a full-day excursion to a popular attraction.

Local transportation in Egypt is relatively inexpensive, with a one-way ticket on public transportation costing around $0.20-$0.50. Taxis, Ubers and private car hire are more expensive, with a taxi ride in Cairo costing around $2-$5 for a short distance, while a private driver can cost upwards of $50 for a full-day tour.

Overall, a budget traveller can expect to spend around $30-$50 per day on basic accommodation, food, and transportation in Egypt, while mid-range travellers can expect to spend upwards of $100-$150 per day. Luxury travellers should budget upwards of $250 per day for high-end accommodation, dining, and activities. It is important to note that these are rough estimates, and costs can vary depending on individual preferences and travel styles.

Tourism in Egypt

Is it safe to travel to Egypt?

Egypt is generally considered safe for tourists, but visitors should be aware of potential risks and take appropriate precautions. Petty crime, political unrest, and terrorism are some of the concerns that visitors should keep in mind.

What is the best time to visit Egypt?

The best time to visit Egypt is from October to April, when the weather is cooler and more pleasant. Summer months (June to September) can be extremely hot, particularly in southern Egypt.

What are the must-visit attractions in Egypt?

Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Egypt include the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings, the Karnak Temple Complex, and the Egyptian Museum.

What are the most popular types of tourism in Egypt?

Cultural and historical tourism are the most popular types of tourism in Egypt, with visitors coming to see the country’s ancient ruins, temples, and artefacts.

What is the currency used in Egypt?

The official currency of Egypt is the Egyptian pound (EGP).

What languages are spoken in Egypt?

Arabic is the official language of Egypt, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Note that Egyptian Arabic is not the same as Arabic spoken in some other countries.

Do I need a visa to visit Egypt?

Visa requirements for Egypt vary depending on your nationality. Some nationalities are eligible for visa-free entry, while others require a visa. Visitors are advised to check the latest visa requirements before travelling.

What is the dress code in Egypt?

Egypt is a conservative country, particularly in rural areas and smaller towns. Visitors are advised to dress modestly, covering their shoulders and legs, particularly when visiting religious sites. In tourist areas, however, it is fine to wear less clothing and ordinary Western swimwear.

What is the tipping culture in Egypt?

Tipping is a common practice in Egypt, particularly in the service industry. It is customary to tip hotel staff, restaurant servers, and tour guides.

What are the transport options in Egypt?

Local transportation in Egypt includes buses, trains, taxis, and microbuses. There are also domestic flights available for longer distances. Visitors are advised to use licensed taxis and to negotiate fares before getting into the vehicle.

As you can see, tourism in Egypt is a significant industry that makes a lot of money for the country, but it isn’t without its issues. The key to ensuring the successful future of the tourism industry in Egypt is sustainable tourism management.

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cultural tourism in egypt

The Ultimate Guide to Egypt: Dos and Don’ts Every Traveler Must Know!

W aving hello from the land of the Pharaohs , it's Kevin Erickson , your trusty travel companion. Ever dreamed of marveling at the Sphinx , floating on the Nile , or relishing in the historic hustle and bustle of Cairo's streets? Ah, Egypt, a majestic place! But, wait – do you know the etiquettes and local customs? Dive in as I unravel the treasures of Egypt and help you navigate potential pitfalls. 🌍

  • Dress modestly and respect religious practices
  • Greet, haggle, and tip like an Egyptian pro
  • Stay hydrated, savor local delicacies, but know where to draw the line
  • Relish history but respect boundaries
  • Dive deep into the culture but keep American sensibilities in mind

Why Egypt Should Be on Every Traveler's Bucket List

According to the World Tourism Organization, Egypt welcomed a staggering more than 11.3 million tourists in 2018. A beacon of history, culture, and cuisine, Egypt promises a travel experience like no other.

Cultural Nuances: Navigating Egypt's Rich Tapestry

1. dress to respect.

Egypt's culture is an intriguing mix of modern and traditional elements. In religious and rural areas, dressing modestly is the key.

Women, consider long skirts or pants and tops with sleeves, while men might ditch the shorts.

Remember, dressing appropriately is not just about blending in, it's about showing respect!

2. Communicate Like a Local

Starting with a warm " As-salamu alaykum" can break many barriers. It’s an essential phrase that means "Peace be upon you".

Plus, trust me; locals appreciate it when you put in the effort.

3. Fun with Finances: Haggle and Tip!

Haggling isn't just a transaction; it's an art form in Egypt .

Dive into the vibrant bazaars, start with half the price, and let the dance begin! And when it comes to tipping, small gestures can bring big smiles.

4. Food, Drinks, and the Egyptian Way

Egypt offers a culinary journey that your tastebuds will cherish.

From falafels to koshary, there's a world to explore. And here’s a zinger for my American friends: while Egypt is a Muslim-majority country, alcohol is indeed legal and available in many restaurants, hotels, and bars.

However, remember: public drunkenness isn't just frowned upon—it can land you in hot water!

5. Dive Deep into the History, but Respect the Boundaries

Egypt is, as Anthony Bourdain rightly said,

" a unique fusion of civilizations, cultures, and religions. Traveling here is like walking through layers of history."

But remember, while the Pyramids might tempt you, climbing them is a big no-no. Let's keep history preserved!

From a Traveler's Eye: Kevin's Secret Tips

  • The Nile - More Than Just a River - The Nile isn't just about those mesmerizing boat rides. Avoid swimming, especially near urban areas, due to pollution.
  • Not Everyone's After Your Bucks - Sure, there are hustlers, but many Egyptians are genuinely warm. Embrace the culture, make friends, and you'll discover the true heart of the country.
  • Step Outside the Tourist Spots - Discover Egypt's hidden gems. Beyond the Pyramids and Sphinx, there’s a whole world awaiting.

Embracing the Egyptian Adventure: A Final Word

The magic of Egypt is something that has enticed travelers for generations. Whether it's the mysterious allure of the Pyramids, the sprawling beauty of the Nile , or the vibrant tapestries of the bazaars, every corner of Egypt is a testament to its rich heritage and captivating culture. But beyond the visual spectacle, the soul of Egypt lies in its people – warm, welcoming, and eager to share their stories.

Traveling here is not just about checking off sites from a bucket list; it's about immersing oneself in a timeless narrative that has shaped much of the world's history. It's about understanding the delicate balance of tradition and modernity that Egyptians navigate daily. By respecting local customs and approaching each experience with an open heart, travelers can forge connections that transcend mere tourism.

Kevin Erickson' s insights and tips are crafted from a place of deep respect and admiration for this land. While the dos and don'ts serve as a practical guide, they also underscore a more profound message: Travel with empathy. Every "do" is an invitation to embrace and every "don't" a nudge to respect boundaries.

In conclusion, as you set out to experience Egypt, remember that it's a journey both external and internal. The monuments will leave you awestruck, the cuisine satisfied, but it's the memories made and the friendships forged that will truly stand the test of time.

So here's to Egypt – an eternal story waiting for your chapter. Safe travels!

What currency should I carry in Egypt?

Egypt uses the Egyptian Pound (EGP). While major cities and tourist areas accept credit cards, it's wise to carry some local currency for smaller vendors, tipping, and haggling in bazaars.

Do I need any vaccinations before traveling to Egypt?

It's recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before your trip. Common vaccines suggested for Egypt include Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever, especially if you're planning to visit rural areas.

Is English spoken widely in Egypt?

While Arabic is the official language, English is widely understood and spoken, especially in tourist areas, major cities, and by younger generations. However, it's always appreciated if you learn a few basic Arabic phrases.

Are there specific cultural or religious festivals I should be aware of?

Yes, Egypt has several religious and cultural festivals, the most notable being Ramadan, a month of fasting. During this time, many shops and restaurants may have altered hours. Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha are also significant festivals with grand celebrations.

Is vegetarian or vegan food easily available?

Yes, Egyptian cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian and even vegan-friendly dishes. Staples like falafel, koshary, and molokhia are both delicious and vegetarian-friendly.

How do I get around within the country?

Egypt boasts a range of transportation options from trains, buses, and domestic flights to more local means like tuk-tuks and horse-drawn carriages. For major attractions like the Pyramids, it's often convenient to hire a taxi for the day or join a guided tour.

Is the tap water safe to drink?

It's advisable to stick to bottled water in Egypt, both for drinking and brushing your teeth, to avoid any potential stomach upsets. Always ensure the bottle seal is intact when purchasing.

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Cultural tourism in Egypt: Egyptian Tourism Authority is focusing on the cultural Egypt

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Ambassador Nasser Hamdy, Former Chairman of Egyptian Tourism Authority

Ambassador Nasser Hamdy, Former Chairman of Egyptian Tourism Authority

Interview with ambassador nasser hamdy, former chairman of egyptian tourism authority.

We hear about the long term damage to the tourism industry and drops in tourists’ arrivals. As the chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Authority, what is your critical assessment of tourism in Egypt at the moment?

The tourism sector has been badly affected during the last 3 years. However, this sector has shown that it is a very resilient sector in Egypt. So, if we look at the numbers during the last 3 years, we can see and analyze that the numbers have been fluctuating from up to down and so on. This shows its resilience. We have been working on planning a strong and a broader strategy about what we want and what we aim to achieve. At the same time, we are working on the tactics of realizing our goals. At the moment, the situation is much better. We have achieved at least a slight increase in the number of tourists coming to Egypt. This brings us back to the idea of our strategy, which is based on two pillars. The first one is to readjust the image of Egypt and second is to get the number of inbound tourists in Egypt back to the number in 2010. The perception of tourism in Egypt was quite negative. People didn’t realize at a certain time that there are lot safe places in Egypt as well. So, we started to invite security officers to check the stability of the country on ground. At the same, we invited the press to write down reports and to explain what was happening on the ground. This has helped to lift up the negative travel trends as far as Egypt is concerned. Recently almost the entire country has been proved to be safe and so the situation is much better now and is improving.

In relation to this, what would be your outlook for end of 2014 and the coming year? Are things finally looking up for Egypt tourism? Is tourism back to where it was before?

We cannot say that, but we are aiming to go back to having a very positive trend. Of course, as you know, the tourism sector has been affected, especially because in the West and most of the other countries, reservations are made 3 to 5 months in advance. So, we are now planning to be back in full force by end of 2015. But we have to “prepare the land” as they say, just to reach those numbers back again.

The latest news talk about the Ministry of Tourism’s taking steps to increase security at different tourist sites. Please comment on that.

The Ministry of Tourism, the Internal Ministry, the Military and all security forces definitely cooperate with each other to safeguard all the tourist destinations and to secure our guests while they are here in Egypt. So, a lot of efforts have been taken during the last few months and we are participating and cooperating effectively to fulfill this goal.  

As a part the tourism industry, what would be your general assessment of the MICE tourism?

MICE tourism is very important and the returns of the MICE tourism are very high. Unfortunately, during the last three years, there was a setback. But we are trying to see that the coming years will have more corporate business and more incentive tourism as well. We will be participating in Imax in the United States. In India we are concentrating on the corporate side and in having the MICE business coming back from India, because the number of multinational and corporate business in India and in Asia is very high in general.

Are there any particular areas of Egypt that you are promoting right now?

We do have two main destinations – the Red Sea and the White Sea and the cultural part. The Sea was doing fine. The leisure was doing fine. We can say that it has been affected, but not as much as the cultural one. Of course cultural tourism has been affected, because all the trouble and incidents were happening in Cairo. Cairo is related with Luxor and Aswan. Thus, these were impacted. Now we are concentrating more on the cultural part. Therefore our promotion and our activity are focused more on countries with a big number of cultural tourists, with people more interested in culture.

What is the breakdown of tourists coming to the country? We heard from many sources that the Gulf countries are leading the list at the moment.

At the moment that’s true, because we started a campaign during summer at the beginning of May, because this is the time when you have all the Gulf countries and the Arab countries coming to Egypt. They come during the summer break, the school holidays. So, we started a big campaign called Wahashtouna , which means “we miss you”. We started it on May 1st. We created a lot of packages for our friends from the Gulf area. For instance, you can book a holiday to Egypt starting from 400 dollars. Of course, after President el-Sisi came to power, there has been an improvement in decision-making, because they felt more confident about what’s happening in the country. Therefore the number of tourists in the Arab countries has increased remarkably during the last 3 months. During August it was the peak - when compared to last year we had an increase by 300%. From the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, we have had around 276%, around 167% from Jordan, around 120% from Lebanon. So, we had a remarkable increase in the number of incoming tourists from most of the Arab countries. Of course now the number has dropped, because schools have started in those countries. But we are aiming at the Eid period and the mid-year vacations. So, we practically started a new campaign in the Arab countries on the 15th of September.  

You mentioned that you now want to focus more on promoting the cultural sides. Which countries are you targeting in particular?

We are mainly targeting the British, the Polish, the Italian, the French, the Spanish, the Indian, the Chinese and the Russian market. So, we are focusing more on those markets for the time being. As well as the Latin American market. It is a far-off destination, but we are also focusing on working there as well. We will be having our new ambassador travelling to Latin America for the first time. By the beginning of the year, we will be having our exhibition of Tutankhamun in Mexico, which will go from Mexico to Brazil and from Brazil to Argentina and to most of Latin America. This would be the first visit of Tutankhamun to the Latin American countries.

What would be your vision for the country? How would you describe the destination Egypt?

The destination Egypt is very beautiful. We have it all. We have sun, sea, desert, nightlife - we have everything. I believe that this kind of diversity is what makes our tourism sector very resilient. I also believe that now we are on the right path politically. We have stability. We have our constitution and a new president. So, I hope that this stability will remain. I am sure it will continue like this. I am very confident that we have a bright future ahead. Insha’Allah .

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cultural tourism in egypt


‘We saw an immediate drop’: Jordan’s tourism industry is suffering amid the Israel-Hamas war

Jordan’s economy relies heavily on tourism but since Hamas’ attack on Israel in October and the ongoing war in Gaza, tourism in the country has slowed down. This is also the case in other countries in the region, including Israel itself, Lebanon and Egypt.

  • By Shirin Jaafari

A general view of the ancient city of Jerash, north of the capital Amman, Jordan, Dec. 6, 2023. Jerash is one of the most popular attractions in Jordan behind Petra. It is considered one of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside of Italy, and its history goes back more than 6,500 years.

The ancient Roman ruins of Jerash, on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan, represent one of the best-preserved Roman cities.

Here, gladiators once competed in chariot-racing contests as spectators watched from the stone seats.

Dhirar Atmeh grew up in the area.

“When I used to come, and you know, see people come in as tourists, I said ‘this is my thing. This is where I should go,’” he said.


Atmeh has been working as a tour guide in Jordan for the past two decades. He said that nothing brings him more joy than telling foreign visitors about the long history and the splendor of this site.

But these are tough times for Atmeh and the thousands of others who work in the tourism industry in Jordan and neighboring countries. The war in Gaza has brought his business to a near standstill, he said: “I lost 80% of my job. I mean 80% of my reservations were canceled.”

Tours from the US, Europe and Australia were canceled one after another. People stopped coming.


Atmeh has five kids and he said he’s struggling to provide for them. For him, what’s happening now brings back difficult memories of the early days of the pandemic, when he lost most of his assets.

“I had a car. I had to sell it. I had a house, I sold it. Many things … I had a piece of land also I sold. So, it wasn’t easy.”

Atmeh said that he’s worried about the weeks and months ahead, as there seems to be no end to the fighting.

Already, Jordan’s unemployment rate, as of last year, was about 23%, according to the World Bank.

man near ruins

If tourists don’t come back, he said, it’s not like he can just find another job.

Tours here are typically part of a package that includes Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Conflict in one of them means that people cancel their whole trip.

Ben Julius is the founder of Tourist Israel, one of the largest tour agencies in Israel.

“From the beginning of the war, we saw an immediate drop, close to zero, from what was expected to be one of the best and busiest periods ever.”

In Israel, flights have been canceled, tourist sites have been closed and hotels have been empty .


“It’s been very difficult for us. Around 70% of our team — we immediately had to send to furlough again. Many of them only came back into the tourism industry and back into the company in the last year because of the recovery from COVID.”

Julius operates tours in Egypt as well, and he said that they’ve had many cancellations there, too.

In Lebanon, the Christmas season is also shaping up to be a loss this year .

tourists in the ruins

Juliuis is seeing signs of improvement for next year. He said that people are booking their trips in advance.

“That’s giving us a little bit of hope going into next year.”


Meanwhile, back in Jordan, the minister of tourism, Makram Mustafa Queisi, predicts an even bigger drop in the number of tourists in the coming months if the war doesn’t stop.

“The problem is that people in the West and elsewhere, actually, when they look at the map, they don’t differentiate between Jordan and the neighboring countries. People don’t understand that we are not in a war zone.”

people at a stand

He said he wants to change that perception and help people understand that Jordan is a safe place to visit. When tourists don’t come, he said, that affects a wide swath of the economy.

“We talk about the bus drivers for example, we speak about restaurants, we speak about hotels, we speak about the tour operators, and the people who work with the tour operators.”

For tourism to survive, he said, this region needs stability and security.

man in office

“This aggression has to stop because at the end of the day there’s no winner.”

In the meantime, Jordan is using this unexpected break in tourism to renovate some of its historical sites.

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  1. Cultural tourism in Egypt

    History. Egypt's cultural tourism trade has fluctuated since the 19th century, increasing in popularity alongside the rise of Egyptology as an academic and amateur pursuit. Successive Egyptian governments have placed great emphasis on the value of cultural tourism, "confident that no other countries could actually compete in this area".

  2. Your Guide to the Different Types of Tourism in Egypt

    Since great attractions were found in ancient Egypt, this is Egypt's primary type of tourism. Through cultural tourism, every tourist will learn about the history of the ancient Egyptians and their way of life. Egypt has a lot of beautiful cultural and archaeological tourist sites that date back more than 5000 years and always attract people.

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    1. Cairo. Egypt's bustling capital city is layered with cultural, religious, architectural and even culinary history. Its wonders stretch far beyond the walls of its famous museums. You can take in centuries worth of sights just by walking down the city streets, and discover untapped wonders just by saying hello to a stranger.

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    9. Temple hop in Luxor. Luxor, the world's greatest open-air museum, is a testament to the ancient Egyptian civilization through its sheer wealth of temples and monuments. Begin your temple-hopping at the Temple of Karnak - the perfect manifestation of pharaonic ambition.

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    The art, history and culture of Egypt has made it a tourism hotspot for centuries, and the new Grand Egyptian Museum has made it a bucket-list topper once more. ... That's why booking a package holiday is always a great idea when visiting Egypt. When it comes to Culture Trip, however, we're not talking about your traditional idea of package ...

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    2. Luxor's Temples & Tombs. Karnak Temple. Famed for the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, and the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut, the Nile-side town of Luxor in Upper Egypt has a glut of tourist attractions. This is ancient Thebes, the power base of the New Kingdom pharaohs, and home to more sights than most can see on one visit.

  7. Cultural tourism in Egypt

    the cultural Tourism and archaeological sites are the most important and oldest types of tourism in Egypt. Egypt has many of the effects of the Pharaonic, Greek, Romanian, museums, has created cultural tourism since the discovery of ancient Egyptian monuments decoding hieroglyphs, and even now does not break missions effects, travelers, tourists and authors of books, tourism to Egypt has ...

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    History Income from tourism (1982-2003) The number of tourists in Egypt stood at 0.1 million in 1952. Tourism became an important sector of the economy from 1975 onwards, as Egypt eased visa restrictions for almost all European and North American countries and established embassies in new countries like Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Finland.In 1976, tourism was a focal point of the Five ...

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    Many local artisans and business owners working in heritage and cultural tourism are deciding to move on from their current work, given the low levels of revenue." Five minutes down the street from Abdullah's shop, Eid Saleh hand-knots carpets and rugs using the art of Egyptian and Iranian embroidery.

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    Egypt is often referred to as "Um Al-Dunya," or "Mother of the World," as its cultural heritage has an importance on an international scale. Egypt's ancient sites and Red Sea coast attract visitors from across the globe, with tourism accounting for about 10-15 percent of the Egyptian economy and millions of jobs.

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    The important cultural tourism areas at Cairo& Giza, Alexandria, Upper Egypt, Sinai, Fayoum city, oasis and musuems as follows: 1-Cairo,Giza : Sud Al-kafara, Aon city, Pyramid plateau, Sakara and, Dahshour. 2-Alexandria: Sawari Column, the Roman Theater, the Roman Baths, The Black Head temple, Kom Shoqafa tomb. 3-Upper Egypt:

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  14. Culture tourism in Egypt thrive since its resumption in September

    CAIRO - 20 October 2020: In light of the resumption of cultural tourism in Egypt, starting from the beginning of the previous September, a number of tourist groups from France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Ukraine and Belarus flocked to Luxor from Hurghada as part of the "one-day" trips, to enjoy visiting various archaeological sites.

  15. Egypt is spending billions to preserve and promote its cultural

    Egypt has spent billions of pounds opening new museums, restoring archaeological sites and putting on two spectacular parades in a bid to preserve and promote its cultural heritage, its tourism and antiquities minister has said. "Even during Covid when we didn't have tourists, I'm getting the full budget I'm asking for…I'm getting billions and billions of Egyptian pounds," said ...

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    Sunday، 21 February 2016 11:46 AM. Cultural and archeological tourism are considered the traditional kind of tourism in Egypt. Egypt embraces several Pharanoic, Greek and Roman historic antiquities and museums. Cultural tourism has started since the discovery of ancient Egyptian antiquities and the decipher of the hieroglyphics.

  17. Tourism In Egypt- An Industry Overview

    Cultural tourism in Egypt. Cultural tourism is one of the most popular types of tourism in Egypt, as the country is home to a rich history and culture that spans over thousands of years. Tourists can explore ancient ruins, temples, museums, and historical sites, such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, and Luxor and Karnak Temples. ...

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    Why Egypt Should Be on Every Traveler's Bucket List. According to the World Tourism Organization, Egypt welcomed a staggering more than 11.3 million tourists in 2018. A beacon of history, culture ...

  19. US Ambassador to Egypt visits cultural tourism projects in Historic

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  20. [PDF] Creative Cultural Tourism in Egypt: Case Study of Papyrus and

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  21. Egypt seeks to boost cultural tourism

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    Creative Tourism is considered as a new generation of tourism that involves tourists themselves and locals in the creation of the tourist products. Egypt is known for its varying productions from clothing, jewelry, weaving embroidery, tentmaking, leather, basketry, pottery, metals, glassblowing, stained glass, sculptured stones, batik, and papyrus…etc. This study aims to explore the benefits ...

  24. Cultural tourism in Egypt: Egyptian Tourism Authority is focusing on

    We have achieved at least a slight increase in the number of tourists coming to Egypt. This brings us back to the idea of our strategy, which is based on two pillars. The first one is to readjust the image of Egypt and second is to get the number of inbound tourists in Egypt back to the number in 2010. The perception of tourism in Egypt was ...

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    April 8, 2024. RAMADAN EGYPT EID. As Eid Al-Fitr's festive spirit envelops Egypt, countless Egyptians look forward to a well-earned holiday, eager to discover the myriad charms within their nation's borders. Egypt's tapestry of historical wonders, stunning natural vistas, and lively seaside havens presents an array of destinations that ...

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    Jordan's economy relies heavily on tourism but since Hamas' attack on Israel in October and the ongoing war in Gaza, tourism in the country has slowed down. ... This is also the case in other countries in the region, including Israel itself, Lebanon and Egypt. Donate. Israel-Hamas war ... ' This cultural center provides a safe space for Jews ...