There's more to Egypt than the great pyramids—this comprehensive 15-day adventure combines the country's most iconic ancient sites with a relaxing Nile River cruise and some downtime on the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh. Along the way, you'll check off landmarks like the Valley of the Kings and Abu Simbel, visit spectacular riverside temples as you cruise toward Luxor, wander the historic bazaars of Cairo, and snorkel amid the colorful reefs and crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea.


  • See the pyramids of Giza from the back of a camel
  • Marvel at King Tut's treasure at Cairo's Egyptian Museum
  • Take a day trip to the UNESCO-listed wonders of Abu Simbel
  • Cruise up the Nile from Aswan to Luxor, stopping to explore riverside temples
  • Soak up some sun at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo, Egypt's Vibrant Capital Cairo
Day 2 See the Pyramids of Giza by Camel, Explore Saqqara & Memphis  Cairo
Day 3 Discover the Egyptian Museum & Old Coptic Cairo, Folk Music & Dance Show Cairo
Day 4 Tour the National Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili Cairo
Day 5 Fly to Aswan, Day Trip to Abu Simbel Aswan
Day 6 Tour the Sights of Aswan, Board Nile Cruise Aswan
Day 7 Cruise to the Temples of Kom Ombo & Edfu Edfu
Day 8 Cruise to Luxor, Tour Karnak & Luxor Temples Luxor
Day 9 Hot-Air Balloon, Disembark Cruise, Valley of the Kings, Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 10 Free Morning on the Red Sea Beaches, Overnight Mount Sinai Trek Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 11 Snorkeling Trip to White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 12 Boat Cruise on the Red Sea, Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 13 Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise  Cairo
Day 14 Visit Al-Manial Palace & Cairo Tower Cairo
Day 15 Depart Cairo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Egypt's Vibrant Capital

Ancient meets modern in the Egyptian capital
Welcome to Egypt! Few countries have captured the world's imagination like this North African nation bordering the Middle East. Luckily, much of its ancient history is preserved through landmarks, archaeological sites, and antiquities, all accessible to the public. Once you arrive in Cairo, the country's largest city and capital, you'll be picked up at Cairo International Airport and transferred to your hotel to relax and settle in, and rest up for tomorrow's adventures.

Day 2: See the Pyramids of Giza by Camel, Explore Saqqara & Memphis 

Pyramids of Giza
Start things off in adventurous style as you ride a camel around the Giza Plateau

Today, you'll hit the ground running with a tour of the Giza Plateau by camel. Your local guide will lead you around the iconic three pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, helping to unravel their complicated history. The iconic Great Sphinx, watching over the pyramids, is also on the docket, along with a quick detour to Saqqara, an ancient Egyptian necropolis and home to one of the world's oldest major stone structures, the stepped Pyramid of Djoser

Fuel up with lunch at a local restaurant, where you might find favorites like koshary (a mix of pasta, lentils, and veggies), ful medammas (fava bean stew), and molokhia (jute stew). Afterward, head to Memphis, Egypt's ancient capital. Two of the most famous sites that you'll get the pleasure of exploring are the colossal statue of Ramesses II and the Sphinx of Memphis, carved from alabaster and meant to resemble Ramesses the Great.

Day 3: Discover the Egyptian Museum & Old Coptic Cairo, Folk Music & Dance Show

Day Trip To Egyptian Museum, and Coptic Cairo
See priceless Pharaonic treasures at the Egyptian Museum

Meet an Egyptologist guide this morning for a deep dive into history at the Egyptian Museum, home to the most extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world, including Pharaonic treasures dating back more than 5,000 years. Among many highlights is the tomb of King Tut and an exhibit of well-preserved royal mummies, including those of famous pharaohs such as Ramesses II and Hatshepsut.

The rest of the tour focuses on Old Cairo, the city's historic heart, home to many ancient Coptic sites. You'll start at the remains of the Fortress of Babylon, Cairo's oldest original structure. First built by the Persians around the sixth century BCE, you'll also find the Hanging Church on-site, which served as the seat of the Coptic Patriarchate for centuries. Finish at the oldest synagogue in Egypt, Ben Ezra, where the famous "Geniza Documents" were found.

Return to your hotel for a rest this evening before meeting your guide for a night of Egyptian folk music. Performed by the El-Tanoura troupe at Wekalet el-Ghoury (built in 1504 CE), this four-hour show will immerse you in the rich tradition of local music and dance. Selections of folkloric music will be played by local Egyptian musicians, followed by a typical tanoura dance show. The evening will end with a whirling dervish performance.

Day 4: Tour the National Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili

Discover the gorgeous Alabaster Mosque on a tour of Islamic Cairo

Your guide will pick you up from the hotel this morning for another full-day tour of Cairo's historic sites and cultural landmarks. Your first stop is at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Old Cairo, which showcases 50,000 artifacts that tell the story of Egyptian heritage and culture.

Next, you'll delve into Islamic Cairo at the Citadel of Saladin, a beautiful example of military architecture from the Middle Ages, and the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, a monumental mosque built during the 1300s. Continue to the mosque of Mohamed Ali, known as the Alabaster Mosque. The brilliant domed ceilings, suspended lights, and city views from this former stronghold against the Crusaders are unparalleled. 

Finally, follow your guide through the teeming streets of Khan el-Khalili, Cairo's old bazaar, packed with legendary shops that sell everything from fine brassware to perfumes to antiques. Hunt for treasures at this historical souk (market), including lamps, rugs, jewelry, and more, and learn the art of bargaining as you pick up some one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Day 5: Fly to Aswan, Day Trip to Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel Temple and overnight in Aswan
Catch a quick 40-minute flight from Aswan to the incredible Abu Simbel Temple

Bid Cairo farewell for now as you catch a 1.5-hour flight south to Aswan, where you'll connect with another short 40-minute flight to Abu Simbel, home to an important archaeological site and two UNESCO-listed rock-cut temples. Your full-day tour introduces you to these iconic landmarks, commissioned by Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BCE and carved out of sandstone cliffs. The main temple is dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, and Amun, while the smaller temple is devoted to the pharaoh's beloved wife, Queen Nefertari.

Pass the towering statues of the pharaoh sitting on his throne to explore the temple's interior halls and chambers. Admire the vibrant wall reliefs, depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology, religious rituals, and the pharaoh's military conquests. Along the way, your guide will help illuminate 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, catch a flight back to Aswan, where a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel.

Day 6: Tour the Sights of Aswan, Board Nile Cruise

Take in the many sights of Aswan, like the Philae Temple
Plan your trip to Egypt
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Start today with a comprehensive tour of Aswan's most famous sites, starting with a visit to a remarkable engineering achievement of the modern era, the Aswan High Dam. Besides offering insight into Egypt's modern infrastructure, the dam also features panoramic views of the surrounding area. Continue to see the Unfinished Obelisk, the largest known ancient obelisk, located in the ancient stone quarries near Aswan.

Embark on a tour of the beautiful Temple of Philae from the fourth century BCE, dedicated to Isis, the goddess of love. Later in the afternoon, head to the shores of the Nile for a quick spin on a felucca (traditional river sailboat) for panoramic views of Elephantine Island, where you can spot the Botanical Gardens and Agha Khan Mausoleum. After a relaxing sail, it's time to begin the next phase of your Egyptian adventure as you transfer to a ship and get settled into your cabin for the evening, setting off upstream on a three-night Nile cruise.

Day 7: Cruise to the Temples of Kom Ombo & Edfu

See statues of the falcon god Horus at the Temple of Edfu

Enjoy breakfast on the ship as you cruise north to the Temple of Kom Ombo, a double temple dedicated to Horus and Sobek, the god of the Nile, fertility, and crocodiles. Explore the twin sanctuaries, courtyards, and halls in both temples, visiting the Hypostyle Hall to see the rows of columns adorned with intricate carvings and colorful paintings. After exploring the temple, return to the ship for a relaxed lunch while you cruise.

In the afternoon, you'll reach Edfu, where you'll disembark again to explore the Temple of Edfu, dedicated to Horus, the falcon-headed god of kingship, healing, protection, the sun, and the sky. Admire the massive facade of one of the largest temples in the country, then step inside to see the towering columns engraved with scenes depicting the triumph of good over evil in the eternal battle between Horus and his nemesis, Seth. Then, once you're back on board, enjoy a delicious dinner and watch the sunset as you spend the evening cruising north.

Day 8: Cruise to Luxor, Tour Karnak & Luxor Temples

Dock in Luxor and step ashore to explore Luxor Temple with your guide

Savor breakfast and lunch on deck as you make your way up the river to Luxor, where an Egyptologist guide will be waiting to take you to Karnak, the second-largest temple complex in the world after Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Walk down the Avenue of Sphinxes, lined with well-preserved sphinx statues, and enter the sprawling 250-acre (100 ha) complex. Wander through the Great Court, where colossal statues of pharaohs and gods stand, then continue deeper to see the towering columns adorned with elaborate hieroglyphs.

Once outside, follow what's left of the Avenue of Sphinxes to the entrance of Luxor Temple, which served as a focal point for religious worship and celebration during the New Kingdom period. Look at the towering pillars adorned with engravings depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology and history, then step through the monumental gateway. Admire the chapels and shrines dedicated to different deities, stopping at the inner sanctuary, where the statue of the god of the air, the sun, and creation, Amun-Ra, was once housed before returning to the ship for your final evening on the river.

Day 9: Hot-Air Balloon, Disembark Cruise, Valley of the Kings, Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh

Trip Hot Air Balloon Ride in Luxor, Egypt
Watch the sunrise over Luxor from a hot-air balloon

This morning, wake up before dawn to catch the sunrise over the ancient city of Luxor from aboard a hot-air balloon. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the western shores of the Nile River for refreshments and a safety briefing. Then, you'll board your balloon for a one-hour flight, just in time to watch the sunrise. 

After landing, enjoy one last breakfast on the cruise ship before disembarking to join your guide on the West Bank of the Nile for a tour of the famed Valley of the Kings. Known for its rock-cut tombs for kings and pharaohs, the ancient wonders found here date between the 16th and 11th centuries BCE. Discover the exteriors of the Tomb of Tutankhamun and the beautiful Temple of Deir el-Bahari, a complex of mortuary temples and tombs. Stop at the Colossi of Memnon to see the imposing statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that guard the entrance of his memorial temple.

Later on, you'll be transferred to Luxor Airport for your flight via Cairo to Sharm el-Sheikh. Located between the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea, this resort town is known for its beautiful beaches, offshore coral reefs surrounded by clear water, and history. After settling into your hotel, go for a walk on the beach or a dip in the ocean before dinner.

Day 10: Free Morning on the Red Sea Beaches, Overnight Mount Sinai Trek

Take an epic overnight hike up Mount Sinai to catch a sunrise from the summit

Spend a leisurely morning enjoying the Red Sea beaches, going for a stroll along the pedestrian promenade in laid-back Naama Bay, and having lunch in a beachfront café. You might want to spend this afternoon napping because you're in for an incredible treat later in the evening. 

Around 8:00 pm, your guide will drive you three hours out of the city to St. Catherine's Monastery. Take a brief nap before getting your heart pumping on the trek up Mount Sinai. Sitting at 7,497 feet (2,285 m), Mount Sinai (also known as Mount Moses) is a location of great importance to the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish faiths. The hike begins at 2:00 am, and you'll reach the summit just before the sun rises over the desert. Head back down the mountain at 7:00 am for a visit to the monastery itself and a history lesson on this famous martyr. You can catch up on some well-deserved sleep on the drive back to your hotel.

Day 11: Snorkeling Trip to White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park

White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park Snorkeling Boat Trip
Spot marine life like dolphins on a snorkeling tour of the Red Sea

Grab our swimsuit and sunscreen today as you join a snorkeling tour from Sharm el-Sheikh to Ras Mohammed National Park. Known for its world-class diving and snorkeling, this beautiful site has more than 130 coral reefs and 1,000 different types of colorful fish. The boat will take you to several other stops around the famous White Island, a unique plateau where the gulfs of Suez and Aqaba meet, with the whitest, softest sand in South Sinai.

Snorkel off the shore of the island and in the gorgeous Yolanda Reef. Relax on the deck in between while enjoying the beautiful Red Sea scenery and sunshine. Eat a traditional barbecue on the boat before sailing back to the jetty, where you'll climb aboard a van for transfer back to your hotel. 

Day 12: Boat Cruise on the Red Sea, Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour

Take a camel to a Bedouin camp deep in the desert

You'll hit the water again this morning as you step aboard a glass-bottom boat for a cruise along the Sinai coast from Naama Bay to the Near Garden and Far Garden, two areas of reefs known by snorkelers and divers for their spectacular corals and abundant marine life. Gaze through the floor windows, akin to a giant aquarium, full of vibrantly colored coral, swarms of bright fish, octopus, moray eels, and turtles. After your cruise, head back to land for a seafood lunch on the beach. 

In the afternoon, escape the city for the serenity of the desert. Your driver will meet you at your hotel for a quick transfer to the edge of the dunes. Meet a local who will lead you on a guided, 20-minute camel ride to a nearby Bedouin camp. Once you arrive, enjoy a cup of locally sourced habak (herbal mint) tea and help make traditional arbood (unleavened Bedouin) bread.

After a glorious desert sunset, enjoy dinner buffet-style by candlelight in the middle of the desert, then watch a fire show accompanied by traditional shisha (a waterpipe instrument to smoke flavored tobacco from). Then, meet the astronomy guide at the telescope area to watch the stars like you've never seen them before. You'll be transferred back to your hotel at the end of the night.

Day 13: Fly to Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise 

Nile Pharaoh Dinner Cruise Cairo
Eat like an Egyptian on a Nile dinner cruise through Cairo

Take in one last sunrise over the Red Sea before meeting your driver for a transfer to the airport, where you'll catch a short flight back to Cairo. After a transfer to your hotel, use the afternoon to explore more of Cairo at your leisure or rest up for this evening's main event.

As evening falls, you'll be taken to the shores of the Nile for a traditional dinner cruise. Step aboard the boat, designed to resemble a Pharaonic barge, and take in panoramic views of the Cairo skyline as you enjoy a buffet dinner with various Egyptian and international cuisine and desserts. Your memorable meal will be accompanied by performances of Egyptian music, belly dancing, whirling dervish shows, or meditations led by an expert. Enjoy the river breezes from on deck as you cruise back to shore, where a driver will be waiting to return you to your hotel.

Day 14: Visit Al-Manial Palace & Cairo Tower

Manial Palace and Cairo Tower
Take in panoramic views over the city from atop Cairo Tower

On your penultimate day in the capital, check off a few more Cairo highlights. Start with a visit to Al-Manial Palace and Museum, located on Roda Island in the middle of the Nile. Completed in 1929 by Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik, it's now a museum with beautifully preserved rooms full of ornate tilework and priceless artifacts. Visit the former throne room, the extensive gardens, and, if you're interested, the Mummified Animal Museum.

While on the island, don't miss the famous Nilometer. Priests and kings used this device (dating to 861 CE), made of a marble column and a well, to monitor the water levels of the Nile. Then, visit the Cairo Tower (El Gezira Tower or Burj el-Qahari) to savor the panoramic Nile views. One of the most prominent features of the Egyptian capital, the tower's partially open latticework design is intended to evoke a lotus plant.

Day 15: Depart Cairo

Palms lining a downtown street in Cairo

Your epic Egyptian adventure draws to a close this morning. After breakfast this morning, it's time to say your goodbyes and transfer to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Ultimate Egypt: Cairo, Nile River Cruise & the Red Sea - 15 Days
Map of Ultimate Egypt: Cairo, Nile River Cruise & the Red Sea - 15 Days