Cruise deep into the heart of Egypt on this laid-back, nine-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 a memorable Nile River cruise toward Aswan. By day, you'll discover ancient sites and antiquities, like Luxor Temple and the Unfinished Obelisk, while nights are spent falling asleep to the gentle rhythms of the river.


  • Tour the museums, mosques, and markets of Cairo
  • Stand in the shadow of the Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Spend four memorable 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, Explore at Your Own Pace Cairo
Day 2 Tour the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili Bazaar Cairo
Day 3 Visit the Giza Pyramid Complex, Saqqara Necropolis & Memphis Cairo
Day 4 Fly to Luxor, Board Nile River Cruise, Tour Luxor Temple & Karnak Luxor
Day 5 Explore the Valley of the Kings, Cruise to Esna Esna
Day 6 Cruise to the Temple of Edfu & Temple of Kom Ombo Kom Ombo
Day 7 Cruise to Aswan, Visit the Philae Temple, Aswan Dam & the Unfinished Obelisk Aswan
Day 8 Disembark Cruise, Fly to Cairo, Enjoy a Free Afternoon Cairo
Day 9 Depart Cairo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Explore at Your Own Pace

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

Welcome to the bustling capital of Egypt, Cairo! Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer 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: Tour the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

Stroll through the labyrinthine alleys 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 Ramesses II—you'll get the best views by looking down from the upper galleries. The gold and alabaster trappings from the tomb of Tutankhamun always draw crowds, too, as it contains his iconic golden death mask. 

Then, it's onto a tour of Islamic Cairo's historic city streets, starting at the massive medieval Cairo 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 in 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: Visit the Giza Pyramid Complex, Saqqara Necropolis & Memphis

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

Meet your guide this morning and set off for a tour of some of Egypt's most iconic sites. Start at the Giza Plateau, just 30 minutes outside Cairo, where you'll explore the Great Pyramid of Giza, 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 Khafre to see the best preserved of the main Giza pyramids, then on to the Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of the three.

After seeing the Great Sphinx, a colossal statue depicting a lion's body with a pharaoh's head, transfer one hour to the UNESCO-listed Saqqara Necropolis to discover its 4,600-year-old tombs, temples, and pyramids. End the tour in Memphis, the first unified capital of the ancient world, now an open-air museum just outside the capital. Wander through the ruins of this historic city to see the remnants of statues, temples, and royal tombs. Don't miss the colossal statue of Ramesses II, one of the largest remaining statues from ancient Egypt, before returning to your hotel in the city.

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Day 4: Fly to Luxor, Board Nile River Cruise, Tour Luxor Temple & Karnak

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

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. Upon arrival, transfer to the shores of the Nile River to board your cruise ship and get settled into your cabin. 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 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

Leave the cruise ship behind for the day to visit the UNESCO-listed 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 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 above 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

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

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

Wake to the sounds of the Nile this morning as you approach Edfu, where you'll disembark to tour the Temple of Edfu, dedicated to the falcon-headed god of the sky, 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 out at the hieroglyphics narrating the god's life and struggles.

Back on board, enjoy lunch as the cruise continues, reaching the Temple of Kom Ombo. Dedicated to both Sobek, the crocodile-headed god of fertility, and Horus, 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 ship for dinner with a view.

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

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

Cruise into Aswan this morning, an archaeologically rich city on the banks of the Nile. Disembark for a tour of its many highlights, starting at the Philae Temple, dedicated to the worship of the goddess Isis. As you approach the grand entrance, you'll be greeted by intricate pylons, towering columns, and detailed reliefs depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology. Step inside the temple's labyrinthine halls, courtyards, and sanctuaries to see more inscriptions and colorful murals. Don't miss the Kiosk of Trajan and the sacred birth house, where the legend of Isis and Osiris is celebrated.

Continue to the Aswan High Dam, an engineering marvel that increased Egypt's cultivable land by 30 percent and doubled its electricity supply. Then, marvel at the Unfinished Obelisk, still located in the ancient stone quarry where it was carved but never completed. Walk around the massive structure, measuring over 137 feet (42 m) in length, making it the largest known ancient obelisk. Return to the ship to spend your final evening of the cruise enjoying a spectacular Nile sunset and a celebratory dinner on deck.

Day 8: Disembark Cruise, Fly to Cairo, Enjoy a Free Afternoon

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

Bid the Nile 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 on your own. You could head to Cairo Tower on Gezira Island for panoramic views of the city. Take the high-speed elevator to the top and take in 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 9: Depart Cairo

Before your flight home, try koshary, Egypt's national dish

Spend your last few hours in Egypt revisiting the Khan el-Khalili bazaar to shop for last-minute souvenirs or savor local delights like savory falafels, succulent kebabs, or aromatic koshary—Egypt's national dish made of lentils, rice, chickpeas, and tomato sauce, covered in crispy onions. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll also love basbousa, a syrup-soaked semolina cake, or kunafa, a traditional Arab dessert made with spun pastry filled with cheese soaked in a sweet syrup. When you're full, return to the hotel to meet your driver and transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Journey Down the Nile: Cairo, Luxor, Esna, Kom Ombo & Aswan - 9 Days
Map of Journey Down the Nile: Cairo, Luxor, Esna, Kom Ombo & Aswan - 9 Days