Delve into Egypt's cultural heritage and natural beauty in just under two weeks, starting in the capital, Cairo. Watch the sunset from the city's highest point, take a day trip to the waterfalls of Wadi el-Rayan, and visit landmarks like the Egyptian Museum. Step off the beaten path to visit ancient ruins in Alexandria and the Siwa Oasis, then cruise down the Nile for three nights, stopping at temples along the way. Back in Cairo, finish with a Nile dinner cruise and cultural show aboard a Pharaonic barge.


  • Visit the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx 
  • Unwind in Bir Wahed, a hot spring in the middle of the Western Desert
  • Sample local delights on a food and walking tour of Cairo
  • Stop at landmarks, like the Temple of Edfu and Karnak, on your Nile Cruise
  • Witness the colorful spinning "tanoura" dancers of Cairo

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo, Watch the Sunset from Cairo Tower Cairo
Day 2 Explore the Giza Pyramid Complex, Guided Tour of Old Cairo  Cairo
Day 3 Day Trip to Wadi el-Rayan's Valley & Waterfalls Cairo
Day 4 Full-Day Tour of Cairo's Landmarks Cairo
Day 5 Transfer to Alexandria, Tour of the Ancient City's Landmarks Alexandria
Day 6 Transfer to the Siwa Oasis via El-Alamein & Marsa Matrouh Siwa
Day 7 Full-Day Tour of the Siwa Oasis Siwa
Day 8 Transfer to Cairo, Food & Walking Tour of the City Cairo
Day 9 Fly to Aswan, Tour Aswan Highlights, Board Nile Cruise Aswan
Day 10 Cruise to Edfu via the Temple of Kom Ombo Edfu 
Day 11 Cruise to Luxor, Visit Karnak & Luxor Temple Luxor
Day 12 Disembark Nile Cruise, Fly to Cairo, Nile Pharaoh Cruising Dinner Cairo
Day 13 Depart Cairo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Watch the Sunset from Cairo Tower

Head to Cairo Tower to watch the sunset over Egypt's capital and the winding Nile River 

Welcome to the vibrant capital of Egypt, Cairo! Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel. After refreshing, venture out with your guide to Gezira Island in the Nile River to watch the sunset from Cairo Tower—the city's highest point at 614 feet (187 m). Take a high-speed elevator to the observation deck and watch the sun slowly set over the city and winding river. When darkness falls, head down a few floors and choose from the stationary or revolving restaurants for dinner overlooking ancient monuments, bustling streets, and towering minarets.

Day 2: Explore the Giza Pyramid Complex, Guided Tour of Old Cairo 

Discover the Giza pyramid complex and its protector, the Great Sphinx

Begin your full-day guided tour with a 30-minute transfer to the Giza Plateau, home to three of the most iconic pyramids in Egypt. Start at the Pyramid of Khufu (or the Great Pyramid of Giza), the largest of the three main pyramids and the only survivor of the Seven Great Wonders of the Ancient World. Continue to the Pyramid of Khafre, the best-preserved pyramid, to see the original, smoothly finished stone at the tip. The final pyramid is the smallest, the Pyramid of Menkaure, offering a more intimate look at ancient Egyptian funeral practices. 

Step inside the dimly lit passageways to discover the sacred chambers that once cradled Egypt's rulers and marvel at the engineering prowess of ancient Egyptians. Adjacent to the pyramids, the Great Sphinx guards the plateau. Admire the colossal limestone statue depicting a lion's body with a pharaoh's head, then return to the city for lunch and a visit to the Egyptian Museum, home to a collection of over 120,000 artifacts spanning over 5,000 years. Wander through the vast halls housing statues, jewelry, mummies, and the mask of the renowned pharaoh, Tutankhamun.

Continue to Old Cairo, where you'll visit landmarks like Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church, built on top of a Roman fortress. Look up at the church that appears to be hanging over the street below, granting it the apt nickname of the "Hanging Church." End the tour at the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, believed to have provided refuge to the Holy Family during their flight into Egypt. Enter to see the vibrant frescoes depicting biblical scenes and the wooden wall of icons before returning to your hotel to rest after an action-packed day.

Day 3: Day Trip to Wadi el-Rayan's Valley & Waterfalls

Swim in the natural pool below Wadi el-Rayan Waterfalls

Spend the day discovering Wadi el-Rayan, a protected reserve 2.5 hours south of the city. When you arrive, start the tour in the UNESCO-listed Wadi al-Hitan, also known as "Whale Valley," as the fossilized remains of the earliest suborder of whales, archaeoceti, were found here. Follow your guide down the designated trails to look for fossilized skeletons embedded in the rocky terrain and learn about the region's geological history. On the way to your next stop, look out at Mudawara Mountain's jagged peaks rising to an elevation of around 5,740 feet (1,750 m). 

Admire Wadi el-Rayan Waterfalls next, the only waterfall in the country, formed in 1970 by an overflow of drainage water from the farmland in Fayoum. Cool off in the natural pools, wander down one of the scenic trails, or climb to the upper falls for sweeping views of the surrounding desert and cascading waters below. If you're feeling adventurous, grab a sandboard and the necessary gear and slide down the golden slopes of nearby dunes. Afterward, enjoy a late lunch at a local restaurant, then transfer back to your hotel in Cairo to relax. 

Day 4: Full-Day Tour of Cairo's Landmarks

Explore the 12th-century Cairo Citadel and Mohamed Ali Mosque within

Get ready for another full-day guided tour exploring Cairo's landmarks, starting with a visit to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Browse the array of artifacts from prehistoric times to the modern era, then continue to the Cairo Citadel, a 12th-century fortress built atop the Muqattam Hills to protect against Crusader invasion. Step through the formidable gates and admire the towering bastions, age-old ramparts, and intricate carvings adorning the walls.

Head to the Mohamed Ali Mosque within, also known as the "Alabaster Mosque" because of the pristine marble paneling lining the interior and exterior walls. Enter the serene space to see the ornate domes, elaborate chandeliers, and stained-glass windows. Your next stop is Al-Muizz li-Din Allah al-Fatimi Street, or Al-Muizz Street for short, in Old Cairo. Follow your guide down the pedestrian street lined with medieval Islamic architecture and art, creating an open-air museum.

Listen to stories about the historic mosques, mausoleums, and palaces while you walk before turning down another historic street, Haret al-Darb al-Asfar—commonly known as the "Street of the Tentmakers." Watch the artisans continue the centuries-old tradition of tentmaking, using colorful hand-stitched textiles and intricately embroidered fabrics. End the tour at Khan el-Khalili, a bustling 14th-century bazaar, where you'll find a treasure trove of items for sale, from handmade carpets to delicate jewelry and Egyptian street food.

Day 5: Transfer to Alexandria, Tour of the Ancient City's Landmarks

Discover the Citadel of Qaitbay with panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea

It's time to explore more of Egypt's iconic ancient ruins, this time in Alexandria, the second-largest city in the country. Set off on a 2.5-hour transfer to your starting point, the Serapeum of Alexandria, erected in honor of the Roman Emperor Diocletian but also known as "Pompey's Pillar" due to a misinterpretation of an Arabic inscription found nearby. Admire the towering 88-foot (27 m) pillar, then sit down for a delicious seafood lunch. After refueling, head to the Catacombs of Kom el-Shoqafa, which served as burial chambers for wealthy Alexandrians.

Descend into the underground labyrinth and admire the elaborately decorated tombs, chambers, and corridors adorned with intricate reliefs, frescoes, and statues. Continue to your last stop, the 15th-century Citadel of Qaitbay, perched majestically on the Mediterranean coastline. Built by Sultan al-Ashraf Qaitbay on the site of the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, the citadel served as a defensive bastion against naval invasion. Explore the well-preserved courtyards, ramparts, and towers offering far-reaching views before heading to your hotel to check in.

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Day 6: Transfer to the Siwa Oasis via El-Alamein & Marsa Matrouh

Stroll along one of Marsa Matrouh's pristine beaches to stretch your legs

After just one night in Alexandria, transfer 6.5 hours to your next destination, the Siwa Oasis in the heart of the Western Desert. Break up the drive with a stop at the El-Alamein Military Museum, situated on the site of the Second Battle of El-Alamein that took place during World War II. Step inside to explore the vast collection of artifacts, weaponry, uniforms, and archival materials that provide insight into the strategies, tactics, and personal stories of those involved in the conflict. 

Back in the car, continue to the coastal town of Marsa Matrouh for a seafood lunch at a local restaurant. Then, stretch your legs with a walk along the beachfront promenade before completing the journey to the oasis. When you arrive in the late afternoon, check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Stay in to enjoy the hotel's amenities or make your way to the town center, lined with traditional Berber architecture, to find somewhere for dinner. Try a Siwan tajine casserole, made with tender meat, vegetables, and aromatic spices, to end the night.

Day 7: Full-Day Tour of the Siwa Oasis

Wander through Shali Old Town to admire the traditional Berber architecture

After breakfast, venture out on a full-day tour of the Siwa Oasis, starting in Shali Old Town, an ancient Berber settlement perched atop a natural rock outcrop. Wander down the narrow alleys lined with mud-brick buildings, some of which are still in use, and learn about the daily life and customs of the local community while you climb up to Shali Fortress, overlooking the town. Admire the traditional Berber architecture and panoramic views of the surrounding oasis and the vast Sahara Desert in the distance. Then, gain more insight into the local Berber community at the Siwa House Museum.

Browse the range of artifacts, handicrafts, and household items before continuing to Amon Temple, dedicated to the god of wind. Look at the towering columns, intricately carved reliefs, and sacred sanctuaries evoking reverence. Move on to Cleopatra Spring, a freshwater spring believed to have been frequented by Queen Cleopatra. Enjoy lunch overlooking the natural pool, then unwind in Bir Wahed, a desert hot spring, while the sun slowly sets. When darkness falls, transfer to a Bedouin camp for dinner under the stars, then return to the hotel.

Day 8: Transfer to Cairo, Food & Walking Tour of the City

Sample an array of local delights on your food and walking tour across Cairo

Bid farewell to the Siwa Oasis very early this morning as you return to Cairo on an eight-hour transfer with stops to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat along the way. When you arrive, refresh at your hotel, then head out on an early evening food and walking tour to eat like a local. Follow your guide down bustling streets lined with colorful markets and ancient landmarks, stopping to try local delights like savory falafels, succulent kebabs, or Egypt's national dish, koshary, made with lentils, rice, chickpeas, macaroni, and tomato sauce, then covered with crispy onions.

While you eat, learn about the city's rich history, customs, and traditions. Then, when you're done with the savory dishes, move on to dessert, like om ali, a rich bread pudding infused with nuts, raisins, and aromatic spices, or mahalabiya, a creamy milk pudding flavored with rosewater or orange blossom water. At each stop you make, wash your food down with a traditional drink, such as tamarind juice, hibiscus tea, or sugar cane juice. After four hours of eating and drinking, return to the hotel to relax.

Day 9: Fly to Aswan, Tour Aswan Highlights, Board Nile Cruise

Roam the Philae Temple, dedicated to the goddess Isis

Trade Cairo's bustling city streets for the winding Nile River as you head to the airport this morning for a 1.5-hour flight to Aswan. When you land, meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to the cruise ship—your transportation and accommodation for the next three nights. After checking in, rejoin your driver for a four-hour tour of the city's landmarks, starting at the Aswan High Dam. Built in the 1960s, the dam was a modern engineering feat as it provided improved water storage, doubled the country's electricity supply, and increased cultivable land by 30 percent.

Continue to the Unfinished Obelisk, a colossal 138-foot (42 m) obelisk that lies unfinished in the quarry where it was being carved until the granite cracked. Walk around the massive structure to truly appreciate the ancient Egyptian's engineering prowess before heading to a nearby dock, where you'll board a small boat to the Philae Temple. Explore the complex dedicated to the goddess Isis, who embodies love, magic, and motherhood in Egyptian mythology. Then, return to the ship to enjoy dinner while you slowly cruise down the river.

Day 10: Cruise to Edfu via the Temple of Kom Ombo

Explore the Temple of Edfu, dedicated to the falcon-headed god of the sky, Horus

Enjoy breakfast on the ship while you cruise to Kom Ombo, home to the iconic Temple of Kom Ombo. Disembark and explore the temple, dedicated to both Sobek, the crocodile-headed god of fertility, and Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky. Explore both temples' duplicated halls, courtyards, and sanctuaries adorned with hieroglyphs that provide insight into the rituals and ceremonies that once unfolded within this sacred space. After exploring the twin temples, board the ship to enjoy lunch while you cruise down the Nile to the Temple of Edfu.

Here, you'll discover another iconic temple dedicated to Horus. Approach the temple's entrance, flanked by colossal statues of the falcon-headed god, and step inside the vast courtyard adorned with towering columns and intricate hieroglyphs. Discover the inner chambers and sanctuaries, housing shrines and statues of Horus, then trace the footsteps of ancient pilgrims along the sacred processional route. In the evening, return to the ship for dinner while watching the sun slowly set over the Nile.

Day 11: Cruise to Luxor, Visit Karnak & Luxor Temple

Follow the Avenue of Sphinxes from the entrance of Karnak to Luxor Temple

Cruise to Luxor this morning, where you'll disembark to explore the East Bank, starting at Karnak, an awe-inspiring temple complex dedicated to the deities of Thebes. Look up at the towering obelisks adorned with hieroglyphs and soaring great halls lined with statues and vibrant reliefs depicting the exploits of pharaohs and gods. Navigate through the different precincts dedicated to Amun-Re, Mut, and Montu to witness the evolution of the complex over centuries. 

Back outside, follow what's left of the Avenue of Sphinxes to arrive at Luxor Temple, dating back to the New Kingdom period, when it was used for religious worship and royal ceremonies. Admire the imposing facade before entering to see the sanctuaries, chapels, and shrines. Be sure to visit the temple's centerpiece, the grand colonnade, with rows of towering columns adorned with hieroglyphics. After exploring both temples, return to the cruise ship for your final night on the Nile.

Day 12: Disembark Nile Cruise, Fly to Cairo, Nile Pharaoh Cruising Dinner

Board the Nile Pharaoh Cruising Restaurant to enjoy dinner and a show

Say goodbye to the cruise ship and your helpful crew this morning as you disembark and transfer to the airport for a one-hour flight back to Cairo. Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel, where you can relax until this evening's dinner cruise. When it's time, meet your guide in the lobby and head to the dock to board the Nile Pharaoh Cruising Restaurant—a luxurious vessel that resembles a Pharaonic barge. Head up to the top deck for panoramic views of Cairo's iconic skyline while the sun begins to set over the Nile. 

For dinner, choose from a variety of Egyptian and international dishes and desserts served buffet style. While dining, enjoy live music with traditional belly dancing and Cairo tanoura dancing. Be mesmerized as the tanoura dancers (or whirling dervishes) spin faster and faster for up to 30 minutes at a time, their colorful multilayered circular skirts blurring like spinning tops. After the dinner and show, head up on deck to enjoy the breeze and the city's glittering landmarks before returning to the dock, after two hours on the water, and transferring back to your hotel. 

Day 13: Depart Cairo

Spend your last few hours in Cairo exploring the Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hassan
After visiting some of Egypt's most iconic landmarks and natural landscapes, your 13-day adventure draws to a close today. If you have time before your flight, you could explore more of the city on your own. Visit landmarks you may have missed, like the Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hassan in Salah al-Din Square, or revisit Khan el-Khalili to shop for last-minute souvenirs and enjoy another taste of authentic Egyptian street food. When it's time, return to the hotel to grab your bags and meet your driver, then transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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