This 12-day cultural itinerary starts in Cairo, where you'll explore the bustling capital city and visit the pyramids of Giza before embarking on a three-day cruise down the Nile River to discover some of Egypt's most famous temples. Fly to Amman in Jordan to tour the historic city, visit the ruins of Gerasa, and travel to the ancient city of Petra for one night. Enjoy a desert drive across Wadi Rum's otherworldly landscape and spend your final night floating on the Dead Sea.


  • Tour the Egyptian Museum to see its unparalleled collection of artifacts
  • Visit temples, tombs, and a botanical garden on your Nile cruise
  • Explore the Amman Citadel and Roman Theater on a city tour
  • Wander through the ruins of the UNESCO-listed city of Petra

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo (Egypt), Explore the Capital at Leisure Cairo
Day 2 Visit the Giza Pyramid Complex & Egyptian Museum  Cairo
Day 3 Fly to Luxor, Board Nile River Cruise, Tour Luxor Temple & Karnak Luxor
Day 4 Explore the Valley of the Kings, Cruise to Esna Esna
Day 5 Cruise to Kom Ombo via the Temple of Edfu Kom Ombo
Day 6 Tour Aswan's Highlights, Nubian Village Experience Aswan
Day 7 Disembark Cruise, Fly to Cairo, Enjoy a Free Afternoon Cairo
Day 8 Fly to Amman (Jordan), Explore at Leisure Amman
Day 9 Half-Day Amman City Tour, Explore the Ruins of Gerasa Amman
Day 10 Transfer to Petra, Explore the UNESCO-listed Archaeological Site Petra
Day 11 Transfer to the Dead Sea via Wadi Rum Jeep Tour Dead Sea
Day 12 Transfer to Amman, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo (Egypt), Explore the Capital at Leisure

Wander through Coptic Cairo on your own, stopping at landmarks like the Hanging Church

Welcome to Cairo—one of the largest cities in Africa and Egypt's capital. Meet your tour coordinator outside the airport and transfer you to your hotel, where you can stay to relax and fight off jet lag or venture out to explore the area on your own. A good place to start is in Coptic Cairo, where some of the oldest churches and Christian landmarks reside. Wander along the narrow alleys and ancient streets, stopping at Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church, better known as the "Hanging Church." Its position atop the ruins of a Roman fortress gives it the illusion of hanging above the street level below. 

Nearby is the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, believed to have been built on the site where the Holy Family sought refuge during their flight into Egypt. You can find Jewish landmarks in this area as well, like the Ben Ezra Synagogue, built in the ninth century, making it one of the oldest synagogues in the city. End the tour at the Coptic Museum, housed in a 19th-century mansion. Step inside to see the extensive collection of Coptic art, artifacts, and manuscripts spanning centuries of Egyptian Christian history before returning to the hotel for the night.

Day 2: Visit the Giza Pyramid Complex & Egyptian Museum 

Visit the Giza Plateau to see the three main pyramids and the Great Sphinx

After breakfast, meet your Egyptologist guide, who will accompany you on your day exploring the city and its surrounding sites. Head to the Giza Plateau, just 30 minutes outside of Cairo, to visit the area's iconic pyramids. Start at the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built as a tomb, with the shape intended to help the spirit of the dead pharaoh rise to heaven. Continue to the Pyramid of Khafre, the best preserved of the three main pyramids, as the top portion still retains the original face of smoothly finished stone.

Then, stop by the Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of the three. Beside the pyramids is the Great Sphinx of Giza, which was carved out of a single limestone block. Admire the colossal stature of a lion with the head of a pharaoh, believed to be King Khafre of the Fourth Dynasty. Then, return to the city to wander through the Egyptian Museum, home to an unparalleled collection of artifacts spanning over 5,000 years. Step inside to see the array of relics, including the golden mask of Tutankhamun, colossal statues, and preserved mummies. 

Day 3: Fly to Luxor, Board Nile River Cruise, Tour Luxor Temple & Karnak

Look up at the 134 towering columns in Karnak

Say goodbye to Cairo for now as you head to the airport to catch a one-hour flight to Luxor. This small city in the Nile Valley is located 420 miles (676 km) south of the capital. Once you arrive, make your way to your cruise ship to check in, settle into your cabin, and enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking the Nile River. Return to dry land in the afternoon to explore the wonders of the East Bank. Start at Karnak, one of the largest temple complexes in the world. Stroll along the Avenue of Sphinxes to enter the Great Hypostyle Hall, where 134 columns tower above you like an ancient forest.

Continue to Luxor Temple, which was once connected to Karnak by the grand Avenue of Sphinxes, a portion of which still marks the entrance to the temple. Dominated by statues of the great warrior pharaoh Ramesses II, Luxor Temple has survived Nile floods, foreign invasion, and thousands of years exposed to the elements. Find out how Alexander the Great wrote himself into the temple's history, and see one of the original pair of obelisks, the second of which now stands on the Place de la Concorde in Paris. As darkness falls, return to the ship to spend a peaceful evening on the river.

Day 4: Explore the Valley of the Kings, Cruise to Esna

Leave the cruise ship behind for the morning to visit the UNESCO-listed Valley of the Kings

Continue your exploration of Luxor today, this time on the West Bank, where the famed Valley of the Kings awaits your visit. Discover rock-cut tombs that pharaohs and powerful nobles used for nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BCE. Descend to the tombs below to see the carved entrances adorned with colorful hieroglyphics and murals depicting scenes from each person's journey to the afterlife. Don't miss the tombs of Tutankhamun and Ramesses VI, where you can see well-preserved treasures and artifacts that accompanied the pharaohs into the afterlife.

Then, head up to Deir el-Bahari, a complex of mortuary temples adjacent to the tombs dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut, one of Egypt's most famous female pharaohs. Admire the elegant interior, with its colonnaded halls, towering statues, and sweeping views of the surrounding cliffs. End the tour at the Colossi of Memnon to admire the magnificent ruins of Amenhotep's memorial temple. What remains are two imposing statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that were erected to guard the temple's entrance. After a morning of exploration, it's time to reboard the ship and cast off, cruising south toward Esna

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Day 5: Cruise to Kom Ombo via the Temple of Edfu

Explore the Temple of Edfu, dedicated to the god of kingship, healing, protection, the sun, and the sky

Enjoy breakfast on board as you cruise to your next stop, the Temple of Edfu, which you can visit by sailboat. Disembark and explore the temple dedicated to Horus. Built between 237 BCE and 57 BCE, the temple stands as a testament to the Ptolemaic period's architectural prowess. Step through the grand entrance adorned with colossal statues of Horus and discover the hypostyle hall, surrounded by towering columns. Wander through the well-preserved sanctuaries and chapels within the complex, looking at the hieroglyphics narrating the god's life and struggles.

After exploring the temple, reboard your ship and continue cruising south to reach the Temple of Kom Ombo on the Nile's shore. Dedicated to both Sobek, the crocodile-headed god of fertility, and Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky, the temple features duplicated halls and sanctuaries for each deity, creating a harmonious layout. Admire the intricately carved reliefs and hieroglyphics that narrate stories of ancient rituals and medical practices, then return to the cruise ship for dinner.

Day 6: Tour Aswan's Highlights, Nubian Village Experience

Explore Philae Temple, dedicated to the goddess of healing and magic

Your adventure continues as you set sail for Aswan, where you can disembark and explore some of the city's landmarks, starting at the Aswan High Dam, an engineering marvel that increased Egypt's cultivable land by 30 percent and doubled its electricity supply. Continue to the Philae Temple, dedicated to the goddess of healing and magic, Isis. Board a small boat to get to the temple to see its towering colonnades and ornate reliefs up close. Jump back on the boat and sail to El Nabatat to visit the Aswan Botanical Garden, a lush paradise brimming with exotic flora from around the world.

If you're looking to experience more local culture, you also have the option of joining a guide for an immersive visit to a Nubian village on the Nile's west bank. Tour the village and meet a local family to learn about their lifestyle, culture, and traditions. You'll also have the chance to observe their traditional crafts, from intricate pottery-making to vibrant textile weaving, offering insights into centuries-old practices passed down through generations. Thank the villagers for their time, and return to the ship for your final dinner on board. 

Day 7: Disembark Cruise, Fly to Cairo, Enjoy a Free Afternoon

Enjoy panoramic views of the city from Cairo Tower's observation deck

Bid your ship farewell as your driver transfers you to the airport for a 1.5-hour flight back to Cairo. Upon arrival, meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel. After refreshing, venture out to explore more of the city independently. You could head to Cairo Tower on Gezira Island for panoramic views of the city. Take the high-speed elevator to the top and look out at the sprawling cityscape and meandering Nile River. If you're hungry, sit down for a meal in the tower's revolving restaurant, where you can savor delicious Egyptian cuisine while taking in the ever-changing scenery below.

If you want to learn more about the country's artistic past, visit the Museum of Islamic Art in the historic neighborhood of Bab al-Khalq. Step inside to discover one of the most extensive collections of Islamic art in the world, spanning over a thousand years of artistic and cultural achievements. Admire the dazzling array of artifacts, including intricately patterned textiles, exquisitely crafted ceramics, delicate metalwork, and ancient manuscripts. In the evening, wander through the historic district and choose from the mix of local and international restaurants for dinner.

Day 8: Fly to Amman (Jordan), Explore at Leisure

Discover the King Abdullah I Mosque at your own pace

Trade one capital for another this morning as you head to the airport to catch a 1.5-hour flight to Amman in Jordan. Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel to refresh. When you're ready, venture out to explore the city on your own. A good place to start is Jabal Weibdeh, the oldest neighborhood in the city. There are lots of small side streets lined with shops, cafés, and restaurants to explore. Nearby is the King Abdullah I Mosque, which non-Muslims can enter to admire the expansive marble courtyard, main prayer hall, and towering minarets. 

Continue to Rainbow Street, a vibrant thoroughfare full of colorful murals and street art, historic buildings, shisha bars, and art galleries. Look for handmade souvenirs from vendors lining the sidewalks or the quaint boutiques. When you've worked up an appetite, sit down for dinner at a local restaurant or sample street food specialties like manakish, flatbread topped with za'atar or cheese, or sfiha, mini meat pies. End the night with Jordanian tea and sweets, like baklava or knafeh, a cheese pastry soaked in a syrup.

Day 9: Half-Day Amman City Tour, Explore the Ruins of Gerasa

Admire the ruins of the Temple of Hercules within the Amman Citadel 

Join your guide for a half-day tour of the city, starting at the Amman Citadel, an archaeological site perched atop Jebel Al Qala'a, the city's highest hill. Explore the remnants of ancient settlements dating back over 7,000 years, from the Bronze Age to the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods. Wander through the palace complex and admire the towering columns of the Temple of Hercules, one of the site's many landmarks, as you follow the labyrinthine pathways. Continue to the Roman Theater of Amman, built during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius in the second century CE.

Head to the downtown core next to stroll through the bustling markets, where you can find everything from fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts and souvenirs. After your city tour, transfer 50 minutes to Jerash to discover the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa. Some highlights of the archaeological site include the Corinthian Column, Hadrian's Arch, the Circus-Hippodrome, and the two large temples dedicated to Zeus and Artemis. Don't miss the intricate details of the South Theater or the vast Oval Plaza before returning to Amman in time for dinner.

Day 10: Transfer to Petra, Explore the UNESCO-listed Archaeological Site

Admire the imposing facade of Petra's Treasury as soon as you enter

After breakfast, set off on a 3.5-hour transfer to Petra, a historical and archaeological wonder famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Also known as the "Rose City" due to the color of the stone out of which it's carved, Petra was the capital city of the ancient Nabataeans and is seen as a famous symbol of Jordan. UNESCO has described it as one of the most precious cultural properties of man's heritage. When you arrive, walk through the Siq, a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks and serving as a waterway flowing into the city.

After walking through the canyon, you'll reach the famous Treasury, also known as Al-Khazneh. There's a viewpoint opposite it which you can climb up for a view of the towering facade from above. Then, visit the Street of Facades and walk through the Roman area, where you can climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice and follow the path to the Garden Temple Complex. If you have the energy, climb the 800 steps up to the Monastery El Deir, overlooking the ancient ruins. From the top, enjoy panoramic views of the rugged cliffs and dramatic rock formations before heading to your nearby hotel. 

Day 11: Transfer to the Dead Sea via Wadi Rum Jeep Tour

Traverse the Wadi Rum Protected Area to discover its otherworldly dunes and rock formations

Your final stop in Jordan is the Wadi Rum Protected Area, a vast desert full of narrow gorges, natural arches, and towering cliffs just two hours south of Petra. When you arrive, jump in a Jeep and traverse the magnificent desert, also known as the "Valley of the Moon." This valley has been inhabited by humans since prehistoric times and has a significant cultural history, including the Nabateans, who left their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples.

Starting from Wadi Rum Village, visit the desert's highlights including red sand dunes, vast canyons, Nabataean inscriptions, bizarre rock formations, and huge rock bridges. In the afternoon, head to the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea. Here, you have a free afternoon to float in the salty waters, go for a full-body mud treatment, or simply relax in the sun. In the evening, watch the sun going down over the mountains on the other side. When darkness starts to fall, head to your hotel nearby.

Day 12: Transfer to Amman, Depart

Go for one last swim in the Dead Sea before your flight home

After spending 12 days exploring some of the highlights of Egypt and Jordan, it's time to depart today. Depending on the time of your flight, you may be able to spend the morning swimming in the Dead Sea or exploring more of this picturesque area. Your driver will then transfer you four hours to the airport in Amman in time for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Egypt & Jordan Cultural Tour: Cairo, Amman & More - 12 Days
Map of Egypt & Jordan Cultural Tour: Cairo, Amman & More - 12 Days