Cruise deep into the heart of Egypt on this laid-back, 9-day itinerary. After exploring the many charms of Cairo—from the Great Pyramids to bustling Khan El Khalili Bazaar—you'll catch a quick flight south to Luxor to board an unforgettable Nile River cruise towards Aswan. By day you'll discover ancient sites and antiquities, while nights are spent falling asleep to the gentle rhythms of the river.

Highlights

  • Tour the museums, mosques & markets of Cairo
  • Stand in the shadow of the Great Pyramids of Giza
  • Spend four unforgettable nights cruising down the Nile
  • Walk in the footsteps of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo Cairo
Day 2 Tour the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan El Khalili Bazaar Cairo
Day 3 Discover the Great Pyramids: Giza & Memphis  Cairo
Day 4 Fly to Luxor, Board Nile River Cruise, Tour the Temples of Luxor & Karnak Luxor
Day 5 Explore the Valley of the Kings, Cruise to Esna Esna
Day 6 Cruise to Kom Ombo via the Temple of Edfu Kom Ombo
Day 7 Cruise to Aswan, Visit the Temple of Philae, Aswan Dam & Unfinished Obelisk Aswan
Day 8 Disembark from Nile River Cruise, Fly to Cairo Cairo
Day 9 Depart Cairo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo

Modern meets ancient in the Egyptian capital
Welcome to Egypt! Upon your arrival at Cairo's airport, you'll be met by your guide who will assist you through customs and arrange a transfer to your hotel. Get settled in and rest up for a full day of sightseeing tomorrow.

Day 2: Tour the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan El Khalili Bazaar

Stroll through the colorful stalls of Cairo's Khan El Khalili Bazaar
Hit the ground running this morning with a tour of the Egyptian Museum. The finest museum of Egyptian antiquities in the world, it contains pharaohs' treasures dating back more than 5,000 years. The building is rectangular with a large rotunda on the ground floor containing massive exhibits, including colossal statues of Ramses II—you'll get the best views by looking down from the upper galleries. The gold and alabaster trappings from the tomb of Tutankhamun (Tut) always draw crowds, too. Many of the Tutankhamun tomb treasures have been on display in museums around the world—including the golden mask—yet this one exhibit has always remained in Cairo. 

Then it's onto a tour of Islamic Cairo's historic city streets, starting at the massive medieval Salah El-din Citadel and its enclosed Mohamed Ali Mosque, once a stronghold against the Crusaders. The brilliant domed ceilings, suspended lights, and views of the city from this ancient fortress are sure to captivate. Keep going to the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, built during the Mamluk period of the 12th century, and then hunt for treasures in the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, a bustling souk in the historic center where you can find lamps, rugs, jewelry, and more. 

Day 3: Discover the Great Pyramids: Giza & Memphis 

Stand in the shadow of the Great Pyramids

Meet your Egyptologist guide this morning and set off for a tour of some of Egypt's most iconic sites. Start at the Great Pyramids of Giza, where you'll explore the pyramid of Cheops, the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built as a tomb, its shape was intended to help the spirit of the dead pharaoh rise to heaven. Continue to the pyramid of Chephren to see the best preserved of the main Giza pyramids, and to Mykerinos, the smallest of the three.

After seeing the magnificent Sphinx up close, it's on to Memphis, the first unified capital of the ancient world. Here you can visit the stepped pyramid of Saqqara, explore its 4,350-year-old tombs, and see the ancient hieroglyphics engraved on its walls. At the end of the day, you'll head back to the city where you can enjoy the rest of the evening in Cairo at your leisure.

Day 4: Fly to Luxor, Board Nile River Cruise, Tour the Temples of Luxor & Karnak

Marvel at the sheer size of Luxor's temples and tombs
After breakfast, it's time for the next phase of your journey as you board a short one-hour flight to Luxor, a small city in the Nile Valley located 420 miles (676 km) south of Cairo. Once the capital of the pharaohs, it's home to the famed Valley of the Kings and Luxor and Karnak Temples. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to the shores of the Nile River to board your cruise ship and get settled into your cabin.
Plan your trip to Egypt
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
 
Return to dry land in the afternoon to explore the wonders of Luxor's East Bank. Starting at the Temple of Karnak, you'll stroll through the Avenue of Sphinx to enter the complex, where you can see each legacy left by the various pharaohs as the complex grew even larger. The deeper you go into the complex, the further back in time you will travel, with the oldest ruins dating back over 3,000 years. Walking through the Great Court into the Great Hypostyle Hall, it's hard not to be overwhelmed by the 134 columns towering above you like an ancient forest.
 

Continue to Luxor Temple which was once joined to the Temples of Karnak by the grand Avenue of Sphinx, a portion of which marks the entrance to the temple. Dominated by statues of the great warrior pharaoh Ramses 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 Luxor 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 evening falls, return to the ship to spend a peaceful evening on the river.

Day 5: Explore the Valley of the Kings, Cruise to Esna

Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan-West Bank - Overnight in Esna
Explore the spectacular Valley of the Kings
Start this morning with a visit to Luxor's West Bank and the famed Valley of the Kings. Discover rock-cut tombs for kings and powerful nobles (including Tutankhamun) used for nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BCE. Then stop 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. Finally, you'll head to Hatshepsut Temple. The memorial of Queen Hatshepsut is the focal point of Deir el-Bahri, a complex of mortuary temples and tombs.
 
After a morning of exploration, it's time to reboard the ship and cast off, cruising south towards Esna.

Day 6: Cruise to Kom Ombo via the Temple of Edfu

Enjoy stunning Nile views as you cruise downstream
Wake to the sounds of the Nile this morning as you approach Edfu, where you'll disembark to tour the Temple of Horus. Back on board, enjoy lunch as the cruise continues, reaching Kom Ombo in the late afternoon. Built during the Ptolemaic era, Kom Ombo was dedicated to the crocodile god (Sobek) and falcon god (Haroeris). Admire its many intact courts and halls, along with wall carvings and statues, then return to the boat for dinner with a view.

Day 7: Cruise to Aswan, Visit the Temple of Philae, Aswan Dam & Unfinished Obelisk

Aswan's beautiful Temple of Philae

This morning you'll cruise into Aswan, an archaeologically rich city on the banks of the Nile. Disembark for a tour of its many highlights, starting at the Temple of Philae, dedicated to the worship of the goddess Isis. Continue to Egypt's remarkable engineering achievement of the modern era, the Aswan High Dam, and marvel at the Unfinished Obelisk, still located in the ancient stone quarry where it was carved.

Spend your final evening of the cruise enjoying a spectacular Nile sunset and a celebratory dinner on deck.

Day 8: Disembark from Nile River Cruise, Fly to Cairo

Enjoy a final evening exploring Cairo
Bid the Nile farewell as your driver transfers you to the airport for the flight back to Cairo. Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel and have the remainder of the afternoon free. Visit any highlights you may have missed, pick up some last-minute souvenirs, or enjoy a farewell dinner of Egyptian specialties.

Day 9: Depart Cairo

Palms lining a street in downtown Cairo

After breakfast this morning, it's time to say your goodbyes and transfer to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Egypt Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Egypt? Check out these other Egypt itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.