8 Days in Egypt
DO NOT MISS
The pyramids. The Red Sea Reef.
Day 1: Arrive in Cairo. See the Egyptian Museum.
The Museum is packed with artifacts but offers limited explanation on the exhibits. You can negotiate for a guide but some of the guides didn’t seem too knowledgeable. I would recommend just brushing up a bit on Egyptian history yourself before going.
Day 2: See Islamic Cairo: Get lost in Khan el Khalili, see the Citadel, Mohamed Ali Mosque.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a free show of whirling dervishes at Al-Ghouri Mausoleum near Al-Azhar Mosque.
Day 3: Visit the pyramids & the sphinx at Giza
You can take the metro to Giza station and then hop on a bus to the pyramids, or take a bus from behind the Egyptian Museum and take transfers. Either way will cost you at most 5 pounds. The guidebook says you have to get there early to get tickets for going inside the pyramids but since we went in the hot low summer season, post revolution, there weren’t many tourists. It’s doable to hike around the pyramids on foot yourself and ignore the camel/carriage offers. However if you want to travel further away to get a photo of all the pyramids together you might need their service.
Day 4: Take the train to Alexandria
Take a walk along the shores; catch a bus to see the old fort.
Day 5: See more Alexandria: the new library, Kom El-Shuqafa Monuments and Amud El-Sawari. Take the bus back to Cairo and then catch the night but to Dahab
Day 6: Arrive in Dahab, go Snorkeling at the Blue Hole. Take a stroll in the night market and along the shore.
Day 7: Head to Nuweiba. Eat at Dr. Shesh Kebab’s Restaurant.
Day 8: Take early morning boat to Aquaba, Jordan
In Cairo we stayed at Milano Hotel. It is located centrally within walking distance from the Egyptian Museum and Tahrir Square and metro stops. If you stay a certain number of nights they will pick you up at the airport for free. The hotel rooms facing the street were really noisy. Generally the car honking stops between 3-5 am. Not sure if it was due to Ramadan or it’s like that at all time.
In Alexandria, we stayed at Hotel Acropole, which was right next to the ocean and some rooms had a view of the square but it is pretty run down. The ceiling fans in multiple rooms were broken. The website claimed free breakfast but they refused it to us because we were paying dorm rates. We thought we got the ok for late check out from the grounds keeper but apparently he didn’t know English and the manager tried to charge us for another night and started yelling at us when we tried to leave. He eventually let us go.
In Dahab we stayed at Penguin Village which offered diving/snorkeling packages. The dorms were pretty simple and crowded but that’s what you get for paying $3. The showers were salty. A better choice might be Dahab Dorms in the Red Sea Relax Resort.
In Nuweiba we stayed at a hotel right next to where the bus dropped us off. It is conveniently located near the port where we needed to take an early morning boat but it was away from the beach and center town. (we figured it would be hard to find a cab at 3:30 am)
The metro in Cairo is fairly easy to take though it gets really crowded and you have to fight a bit at the ticket window to get your tickets.
The buses are a bit confusing. Learn to read Arabic numbers if you plan on taking the bus. When asking for directions we found it helpful to find someone to write where we want to go in Arabic and just show people the note since we butcher the pronunciation pretty badly.
Our experience with the one train we took from Cairo to Alexandria was pretty bad. Long story short, it took us 6 hours (1 train, 2 buses and a tuk-tuk) to get to Alexandria. I would recommend taking the bus since they are just as quick. Outside the train station there is an area where buses to Alexandria gather. Just ask around (say “alex” instead because the full pronunciation is different)
Fresh fruit juices in Egypt are amazing! Totally worth the risk of diarrhea (none of us got sick) Koshari is a pretty delicious cheap food. If you stick to street food (shwarma, falafel) you can eat well for less than $5 a day.
TRAVELING WITH LESS TIME…
- Cross the Pyramids off your list and get to know Cairo well.
- Skip Alexandria/Mediterranean shores and see the red sea instead.
TRAVELING WITH MORE TIME…
- Go to Aswan, see Abu Simbil and take a cruise up to Luxor
- See the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh (though people are saying it’s getting too touristy and are heading to Dahab instead)
- Travel southward from the main Great Pyramid and try to see some of the other 100+ lesser known pyramids