Make your dream of Egypt a reality as you set off on a luxury trip to marvel at a few of the greatest sites the world has ever known. Tours of Cairo's highlights and the iconic pyramids are a mere starter, as afterward, you'll board a luxury sailboat for a private Nile cruise. The adventure takes you from the Valley of the Kings in Luxor to the Temple of Horus in Edfu and the 13th-century Abu Simbel in Aswan, all while enjoying first-class dining both onboard the ship and at the country's finest restaurants

Highlights

  • Tour bona fide wonders of the world, like the pyramids of Giza
  • Dine at the finest restaurants in Cairo and learn the art of Egyptian cooking
  • Hop aboard a private luxury sailboat for a few days sailing down the Nile
  • Visit ancient temples, pharaohs' tombs, Coptic churches, and much more

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo, Sunset at Cairo Tower Cairo
Day 2 Day Trip to Giza Pyramids, Memphis & Saqqara, Dinner at Abou El Sid Cairo
Day 3 Tour the Egyptian Museum & Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, Dinner at Felfela Cairo
Day 4 Fly to Luxor, Tour the West Bank Luxor
Day 5 Luxor East Bank Tour, Board Luxury Sailboat Luxor
Day 6 Sail to El Hegz, Village Tour Esna
Day 7 Sail to El Kab & Edfu, Egyptian Cooking Lesson Edfu
Day 8 Sail to Kom Ombo via Gebel el-Silsila, Kem Ombo Temple Tour Kom Ombo
Day 9 Sail to Aswan, Disembark Sailboat, Aswan Highlights Tour Aswan
Day 10 Return Flight to Abu Simbel, Full-Day Temple & Ruins Tour  Aswan
Day 11 Fly to Cairo, Al-Tannoura Dance Show Cairo
Day 12 National Museum & Coptic Cairo Tour, Riverboat Lunch Cairo
Day 13 Visit the Grand Egyptian Museum Cairo
Day 14 Depart Cairo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Sunset at Cairo Tower

Incredible sunset views await at Cairo Tower

Welcome to Egypt! The settled history of this country spans the ages, with its earliest dynasties dating back to 3100 BCE. You've come here to immerse yourself in this nation's rich history—and you'll do so in the lap of luxury, traveling by private sailboat and enjoying the best accommodations. It begins in the capital, Cairo. This famous city is located on the banks of the Nile River, a region that has been the cradle of Egyptian civilization since the Neolithic period. Today, Cairo is a metropolis of around 10 million people, and its iconic skyline is dotted with towering minarets and historic citadels.

From the airport, your private driver will transfer you to Villa Belle Époque. Billed as Egypt's first boutique hotel, this 4-star gem is located in the refined Maadi neighborhood in an elegant 1920s manor. Its homey, romantic rooms feature verandas looking out over lush gardens and a shimmering pool. You can dine al fresco by the swimming pool at the on-site restaurant, which offers a globe-trotting menu offering everything from quinoa goat cheese salad to Thai noodles.

Ater settling into your room, you'll no doubt want to see Cairo in all its glory. The best place to do this is at Cairo Tower, the highest point in the city. Located on the banks of the Nile, the building stands 613 feet (187 m), and from its observation tower and revolving restaurant, you'll be treated to grand panoramic views all the way out to the pyramids of Giza. You'll arrive just in time to catch the sunset gilding Cairo's minarets and the river below, and after snapping plenty of photos, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 2: Day Trip to Giza Pyramids, Memphis & Saqqara, Dinner at Abou El Sid

After checking off the classic Giza sites, head to Memphis to see the Pyramid of Djoser

Rise and shine! This morning, you'll meet your private guide and set off to visit some of Egypt's most iconic sites, starting with the ancient pyramids of Dahshour, constructed during Egypt's fourth dynasty around 4,600 years ago. Then, continue to the famed Giza Plateau. First up is the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the oldest of the three pyramids and the only one to remain largely intact. Built as a tomb in 2600 BCE, its shape was intended to help the dead pharaoh's spirit rise to heaven.

Nearby, you'll find Khafre, the best-preserved of the main pyramids, and Menkaure, the smallest of the three. The next activity involves special insider access to the Great Sphinx, the iconic limestone statue depicting a creature with a man's head and a lion's body. This exclusive tour will take you right up to the statue's paws. Finally, you'll head to the ancient ruins of Memphis, the first unified capital of the ancient world. Here, you'll visit the necropolis of Saqqara, an ancient burial ground, to explore the Pyramid of Djoser and 4,350-year-old tombs with ancient hieroglyphics engraved on the walls.

After a full day of touring, you'll return to your hotel in the late afternoon. In the evening, get a taste of Egypt's renowned hospitality as you enjoy an authentic dinner at Abou El Sid Restaurant. Entering the dining room is like stepping back in time into an elegant Cairo home in the 1930s. The menu complements the decor, as you'll enjoy a traditional mezze (a selection of hot and cold appetizers) followed by comforting classics like moussaka, okra-and-veal tajin, and muammar (savory rice with cream).

Day 3: Tour the Egyptian Museum & Khan el-Khalili Bazaar, Dinner at Felfela

You'll find a dizzying array of colorful ceramics and treasures at Khan el-Khalili 

Meet your Egyptologist guide this morning for a full-day private tour of Cairo's historic sites and cultural landmarks. Begin at the Museum of Antiquities (commonly known as the Egyptian Museum), which houses the world's most extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts, with Pharaonic treasures dating back more than 5,000 years. See highlights including the tomb of King Tut and an exhibit of well-preserved royal mummies, including those of famous pharaohs such as Ramesses II and Hatshepsut.

Afterward, follow your guide through the teeming streets of Khan el-Khalili. Cairo's oldest bazaar dates to the 14th century and is packed with legendary shops that sell everything from fine brassware to perfumes to antiques. Hunt for treasures at this historic souk (market), where you'll find lamps, rugs, jewelry, and more, and learn the art of bargaining as you pick up one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Dinner tonight is another memorable affair as a table awaits at Felfela. Opened in 1959 as a modest food cart, it has evolved over the years into a renowned restaurant with dazzling decor featuring colorful murals, mosaic tiles, and ornate lanterns adorning the walls. The menu features a wide variety of Egyptian specialties, including classic dishes such as koshary (a mix of rice, lentils, pasta, and chickpeas topped with tomato sauce), taameya (Egyptian-style falafel made with fava beans), and grilled meats served with fragrant rice and savory sauces.

Day 4: Fly to Luxor, Tour the West Bank

After a day of sightseeing, relax at your gorgeous colonial hotel (photo courtesy of the Sofitel Winter Palace)

This morning, transfer to the airport for the one-hour flight to Luxor. This small city in the Nile Valley was once the capital of ancient Thebes and is a veritable open-air museum due to its many historical landmarks. Your arrival here kicks off the riverine portion of this luxury tour, during which you'll sail down the Nile on a private yacht.

First, though, your driver will take you to your hotel for the night: the Sofitel Winter Palace. This 5-star colonial-style hotel dates to the 19th century and features a grand facade and well-manicured gardens overlooking the Nile. Its beautifully appointed rooms feature parquet floors with luxurious furnishings, crystal chandeliers, and terraces overlooking the river. If you like, take a dip in the Olympic-style pool, followed by a treatment at the hotel spa.

After dropping off your bags, you'll meet a local guide for a private tour of Luxor's many highlights. Today's excursion will lead you to the West Bank and the famed Valley of the Kings. The rock-cut tombs here were built for kings and pharaohs, buried between the 11th and 16th centuries BCE. Visit the Tomb of Tutankhamun and the beautiful Temple of Deir el-Bahari, a complex of mortuary temples and tombs, including the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. You'll also stop at the Colossi of Memnon to see the imposing statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that guard the entrance of his memorial temple.

Day 5: Luxor East Bank Tour, Transfer to Sailboat

The ornate statues at Karnak Temple are just one of the sights you'll see on your tour of Luxor's East Bank

This morning, you'll hop over to Luxor's East Bank for a private tour of the highlights on that side of the city. Start at the Karnak Temple complex, the second-largest ancient religious site in the world and once the most significant religious complex in ancient Egypt. Founded in the Middle Kingdom, it's now one of Egypt's largest surviving temples. From its massive decorated pillars to the obelisks, statues, and kiosks, the complex, which took around 2,000 years to finish, will astound you.

Then, continue to the famed Luxor Temple complex, built during the New Kingdom around 1400 BCE and dedicated to Amun Ra. Walk down the Avenue of the Sphinxes, which once connected Luxor with Karnak, guarded by the giant statues of Ramesses II.

After a busy day of tours, you'll gather your things, transfer to the port, and board a dahabiya. These traditional two-masted sailboats have been plying the Nile waters since the 19th century, and yours has been redesigned to offer luxury accommodations. It features just four staterooms, and due to the yacht's smaller size, it can dock on Nile islands that are otherwise inaccessible to larger ships. Take your pick of the luxury rooms, featuring picture windows and private patios, then head back up to the deck to catch the sunset while the ship's chef whips up a dinner of your choosing.

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Day 6: Sail to El Hegz, Village Tour

Enjoy the Nile scenery from the comfort of your luxury ship (photo courtesy of Movenpick)

Wake up to a decadent Egyptian breakfast on board the ship, savoring each bite as the Nile scenery passes you by. Your first stop after a couple of hours of sailing is the island of El Hegz. Here, you'll disembark for a walking tour of this agrarian community, which offers a glimpse into rural Egyptian life with its charming mud-brick houses, narrow alleyways, and verdant fields stretching along the banks of the Nile.

Upon returning to the ship, you'll enjoy lunch on board and spend the rest of the day relaxing on the sundeck or in the plush lounge. If you like, continue exploring the island by bicycle or even donkey. After another memorable dinner, spend the night on board the ship docked at El Hegz.

Day 7: Sail to El Kab & Edfu, Egyptian Cooking Lesson

Learn to cook a variety of Egyptian specialties and mezze plates with a private chef

Continue south this morning as you sail past the city of Esna to El Kab. Located on the east bank of the Nile about 50 miles (80 km) south of Luxor, this city consists of prehistoric and ancient Egyptian settlements, like rock-cut tombs of the early Eighteenth Dynasty (1550–1295 BCE). On a private tour, you'll see these tombs, as well as remains of temples dating from the Early Dynastic period (3100–2686 BC) to the Ptolemaic Kingdom (332–30 BC).

Back on the boat, you'll enjoy lunch as you cruise to Edfu, located about 15 miles (24 km) south. This city is located on the west bank of the Nile and is home to iconic landmarks like the Temple of Horus, one of the best-preserved shrines in Egypt. Constructed between 237 BCE and 57 BCE, you can still make out many intricate inscriptions.

Following a private afternoon tour of Edfu, you'll return to the ship in time for a cooking lesson. During this experience, the boat's private chef will teach you the secrets to Egyptian cuisine, and you'll enjoy your creations for dinner. 

Day 8: Sail to Kom Ombo via Gebel el-Silsila, Kem Ombo Temple Tour

Sail to Gebel el-Silsila today as you continue down the Nile

If you like, wake up early to watch the sunrise before enjoying another breakfast on deck. Eventually, the boat will stop in Gebel el-Silsila, a quarry site active during Egypt's New Kingdom period approximately 3500 years ago. The sandstone produced here was used in many of Egypt's most famous temples and monuments, including Karnak and Luxor.

Throughout lunch, the ship will continue sailing to the Temple of Kom Ombo, built during the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 180-47 BCE. Dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile-headed god of fertility, and the falcon-god Horus, the temple features duplicate halls and sanctuaries for each deity, creating a harmonious layout. During a tour, you can admire the intricately carved reliefs and hieroglyphics that narrate stories of ancient rituals and medical practices.

The ship will dock at a river island near Kom Ombo for the evening. Once there, you'll disembark and enjoy a freshly prepared barbecue dinner on the Nile before retiring to your cabin.

Day 9: Sail to Aswan, Disembark Sailboat, Aswan Highlights Tour

Back on terra firma, relax with a cool drink on the terrace (photo courtesy of the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan)

This morning, you'll cruise to the final stop on this river adventure: Aswan, a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Located on the Nile, Aswan is renowned for its idyllic setting, with palm-fringed islands, granite outcrops, and shimmering waters creating a picture-postcard backdrop.

After docking at the port, say goodbye to your crew and transfer into the city to your hotel. The 5-star Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan is a historic marvel, sitting on a pink granite cliff overlooking the world's longest river. Dating to the 19th century, the Old Cataract has a legendary guest list that includes royals, dignitaries, and authors (Agatha Christie even sipped cocktails in its smart lounge). While here, you'll enjoy world-class hospitality and a spa, pool, and neo-Byzantine-style suites overlooking the Nile out to Elephantine Island. It's a place ideal for both romantic getaways and Egyptian adventures.

Later, you'll meet a local guide for a private sightseeing tour. Highlights include the Temple of Philae, an island temple complex that dates to the fourth century BCE and is dedicated to the goddess Isis. Then, continue to Egypt's engineering achievement of the modern era, the Aswan High Dam, to admire the sweeping views. You'll also stop at the Unfinished Obelisk. This massive granite monolith measures 138 feet (42 m), making it the world's largest known ancient obelisk.

Day 10: Return Flight to Abu Simbel, Full-Day Temple & Ruins Tour 

The awe-inspiring entrance to the Great Temple of Ramesses II

Take to the skies this morning as you transfer to the Aswan airport for a 40-minute flight to Abu Simbel, home to a vital archaeological site that includes two UNESCO-listed rock-cut temples: the Great Temple of Ramesses II and the Small Temple of Nefertari. These iconic landmarks were commissioned by Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BCE and were carved out of sandstone cliffs. The main temple is dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, and Amun, while the smaller temple honors the pharaoh's beloved wife, Queen Nefertari.

Enter the Great Temple between the towering statues of the pharaoh on his throne to explore the interior halls and chambers. Admire the impressive wall reliefs depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology, religious rituals, and the pharaoh's military conquests. Along the way, your privateuide will reveal the history surrounding the temples and share the remarkable story of how the entire site was moved piece by piece in 1968 to protect it from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. At the end of the tour, you'll catch the short flight back to Aswan.

Day 11: Fly to Cairo, Al-Tannoura Dance Show

Be mesmerized by the graceful twirling of expert dancers as they perform tanoura

Your Nile River adventure has officially come to a close—though the fun in Egypt is far from over. Transfer to the airport this morning for the 1.5-hour flight north to Cairo. Upon arrival, you'll return to the VIlla Belle Époque for check-in.

After some time to relax, in the evening, a driver will take you to Wekalet El-Ghoury, a 16th-century caravanserai (roadside inn along major trade routes) that serves as the backdrop for traditional Egyptian music and dance performances. Step inside the vast courtyard, where you'll immediately be surrounded by the sound of live music played on traditional folk instruments.

Sit down for an authentic Egyptian dinner while you watch a troupe of skilled dancers perform tanoura, a folk dance characterized by its swirling skirts and hypnotic movements. Watch the dancers twirl gracefully on stage as their colorful skirts billow and swirl around them, accompanied by mesmerizing music and chanting. Each dance conveys spiritual and philosophical concepts through the enchanting dance moves, so pay close attention. After the performances, return to the hotel to rest. 

Day 12: National Museum & Coptic Cairo Tour, Riverboat Lunch

Admire some of the country's oldest religious sites with a walking tour of Old Cairo

Your guide will pick you up from the hotel this morning for a private trip to visit a few of Cairo's highlights you missed the first time around. Venture into Old Cairo and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. It showcases thousands of archaeological finds, artworks, statues, mummies, jewelry, pottery, textiles, and other objects of historical significance that tell the story of Egyptian heritage and culture.

After about three hours in the National Museum, you'll take a stroll through Coptic Cairo, a small district within Old Cairo that's home to some of the country's oldest churches and religious sites. Pass landmarks like Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church (also known as the Hanging Church), the Fortress of Babylon, the Coptic Museum, and St. George's Church.

By the time you're finished in Coptic Cairo, it should be time for lunch. Head to the waterfront and hop on a felucca (traditional river sailboat) for a memorable meal with a view. As you cruise the Nile, you'll feast on a wide selection of Egyptian favorites and refreshing beverages. After the three-hour cruise, you'll transfer back to your hotel.

Day 13: Visit the Grand Egyptian Museum

The GEM is a showstopping venue showcasing Egypt's long and storied history

For your penultimate day in Egypt, you'll put everything you've seen thus far into greater context during a private guided visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). One of the largest museums in the world, this ambitious project was completed in 2021 and stands as a grand showpiece for one of the most ancient civilizations on the planet. Displayed on its millions of square feet of floor space are over 100,000 artifacts, many of which haven't been displayed to the public before. Highlights include treasures from the tomb of King Tutankhamun, including his iconic golden mask and funerary objects.

Day 14: Depart Cairo

Enjoy one last coffee in Cairo before catching your flight home 
Your Egyptian journey may be ending, but you can rest easy knowing that you saw the best the country has to offer, and you did it in style. After breakfast at the hotel, you'll transfer to the airport in Cairo and catch your flight home. Mae alsalama (safe travels)!

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Map

Map of Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Cairo, Luxor & Aswan - 14 Days
Map of Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Cairo, Luxor & Aswan - 14 Days