Egypt is a country unlike any other. It’s true that all great historic nations are rich in culture and architecture, but none can match Egypt for how the past and the present blend together today.
While many famed historic sites in countries such as Italy, Greece, or Mexico, sit in ruin and require imagination, in Egypt, temples, pyramids and sculptures all stand tall and complete, surrounded by modern cities as if they were still in everyday use.
Because there’s so much to see in Egypt, it’s difficult to know where to start! So we’ve put together an overview of the most important sites, so you know what to prioritize.
That’s why we’ve put this short treasure hunter’s guide together for you; the treasures of Egypt are something that every traveler should see with their own eyes at least once in their lives.
The Best Historical Sites To See In Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza
This is stating the obvious, but if you go to Egypt without seeing the Pyramids, you’re wasting your journey!
The Pyramids are the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and as such are a physical connection between the old world and the new. They’re arguably the most famous historic monuments on the planet – and we still don’t know for sure how they were built, or even why they were built in their geometric arrangement!
At the heart of each pyramid is a tomb built for a pharaoh. Some of them are still there today, and at if you’re willing to crawl through claustrophobic corridors to pay your respects you can actually stand inside a tomb.
Visiting the pyramids is also a ‘two for one’ deal for tourists, as you’ll also get to lock eyes with the Sphinx, which has been guarding these unique tombs for thousands of years.
Be prepared for how close they are to the city around them though – modern Giza has expanded almost to the foot of the Great Pyramid. There’s even a McDonalds so close you have a pyramid view.
You’ll have to make specific plans to travel to Abu Simbel as it’s a little isolated, but it’s well worth the journey.
Built for the great pharaoh Ramses II, when you stand and look at this glorious temple you’re appreciating not one but two incredible feats of engineering.
The first feat, of course, was to put the incredible temple together in the first place. It’s monolithic in size, and so well-preserved that much of the original artwork inside is still as detailed and colorful today as it was on the day it welcomed its first visitors.
The second was the unbelievable fact that this entire temple has been moved from its original location and put where it is now because it was at risk of disappearing underwater during the 1960s. There are many stunning old temples n Egypt. Abu Simbel is the pick of them.
Siwa Oasis doesn’t turn up on many travel guides to Egypt, and we think that’s a crying shame. People still live here, going about their day to day lives in an environment that look like it’s come straight from the pages of a fantasy book.
As the name implies, this is an oasis, but there’s far more to it than just water in the desert. The enormous ruin of the old citadel, which is made from mud brick, makes for a beautiful photo opportunity.
If the busy markets of Egypt’s larger cities are a little too much for you, you’ll find Siwa to be the perfect antithesis. It’s calm, it’s relaxing, and it’s also very well placed to be a strategic base camp for you if you have any interest in what the neighboring deserts offer to sight-seers.
Luxor is a hot spot for Ancient Egyptian sight-seeing. We mean ‘hot spot’ literally, by the way; on some days, Luxor can be the hottest place on the surface of the planet. Take plenty of water with you if you’re visiting.
There are several noteworthy temples in Luxor, including the Temple of Hatshepsut and Karnak Temple, but what most people come here to see is the Valley of the Kings. In antiquity, Luxor was the power base of all of Old Egypt. That’s why so many of the best-known rulers are buried here.
If you’re a careful schedule planner, you may want to allow yourself two days in Luxor as opposed to one; you’ll never get around everything it has to offer in a single twenty-four hour period, even if you don’t sleep!
For all the tombs, temples, and other marvels that Luxor currently has to offer, it’s still considered to be an active archaeological dig site. You can even consult the latest plans if you go to a visitors center here, where they’ll talk you through all the most recent discoveries, and what they hope to find next.
The Pyramids Of Saqqara
Here’s another lesser-known fact for those who go looking for Egypian wonders; Giza doesn’t have the nation’s only pyramids. You can also find some of the awesome structures at Saqqara – and they look very different.
Saqqara is a stone’s thrown from Cairo (which contains Giza), so you can fit in both in the same day if you plan carefully. Saqqara is effectively a vast cemetery, which might sound a little morbid, but as all of the Pyramids are tombs that shouldn’t bother you now if it hasn’t done so before!
Some people refer to the pyramids here as ‘practice pyramids’ because they’re so different in structure to the ones found in Giza. There’s a bent pyramid and also a step pyramid – you can see how the process was refined and improved from one to the next.
While the Pyramids of Giza were reserved for the ruling elite, Saqqara is where senior officials were buried. The murals on the walls depict day to day life in the kingdom, giving you an insight into the lives of these workers that you won’t find elsewhere.
Image: Dennis Jarvis (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
THESE BOOKS WILL INSPIRE YOU TO TRAVEL! ↓