This 12-day tour checks off the most iconic sights of Egypt, from the shores of the Nile to the beaches of the Red Sea. Tour the pyramids of Giza with an Egyptologist guide, then transfer to Luxor to float over the Valley of the Kings by hot-air balloon. Hop between ancient temples on your way to Aswan, where you'll explore its islands by sailboat. After a quick visit to the carved wonders of Abu Simbel, you're off to Sharm el-Sheikh to snorkel, swim, and dine under the stars at a Bedouin camp.


  • Discover the secrets of the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx
  • Stand in awe under the giant statues in the Luxor Temple
  • Hunt for the best souvenirs in Cairo's old bazaar, Khan el-Khalili
  • Snorkel in the waters of the Red Sea near Sharm el-Sheikh

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise  Cairo
Day 2 Tour the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Memphis & Saqqara Cairo
Day 3 Fly to Luxor, Explore the Temples of Karnak & Luxor Luxor
Day 4 Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride Over Luxor, Visit the Valley of the Kings Luxor
Day 5 Transfer to Aswan via Edfu & Kom Ombo Temples Aswan
Day 6 Tour Aswan's Highlights, Felucca Sailing on the Nile Aswan
Day 7 Day Trip to Abu Simbel, Fly to Cairo Cairo
Day 8 Tour the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili Cairo
Day 9 Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, Semi-Submarine Trip in the Red Sea Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 10 Snorkeling Trip to White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 11 Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 12 Fly to Cairo, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Nile Dinner Cruise 

Transfer from Cairo International Airport to your Hotel in Cairo
Enjoy traditional dishes on a Nile dinner cruise in Cairo

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

In the evening, you'll transfer to the Nile River for a traditional dinner cruise. Hop aboard the boat, designed to resemble a Pharaonic barge in a tribute to the ancient Egyptian god Hathor. Admire the panoramic views of the Cairo skyline from the deck, then tuck into a buffet dinner with a mix of local and international dishes and desserts. Meanwhile, you'll enjoy performances of Egyptian music, belly dancing, whirling dervish shows, or meditations led by an expert. After dinner, head back to the deck, enjoy the cool breeze, and take in the glittering sights of the Cairo skyline as you return to the harbor.

Day 2: Tour the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Memphis & Saqqara

Answer the riddle of the Sphinx at Giza
Stand in the shadow of the Great Sphinx near Cairo

This morning, meet your Egyptologist guide and set off for a tour of some of Egypt's most iconic sites. Begin at the ancient pyramids of Dahshour, then continue to the iconic pyramids of Giza to visit the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Khufu), the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built as a tomb, 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 Giza pyramids, and Menkaure, the smallest of the three. After admiring the magnificent Great Sphinx up close, head to the ancient ruins of Memphis, the first unified capital of the ancient world. Here, you can visit the necropolis of Saqqara and explore the world-famous Step Pyramid of Djoser and 4,350-year-old tombs with ancient hieroglyphics engraved on their walls. 

Day 3: Fly to Luxor, Explore the Temples of Karnak & Luxor

Fly from Cairo to Luxor
Fly from Cairo to Luxor to some of the country's greatest temples

This morning, you'll check out of your hotel in Cairo and transfer to the airport for a one-hour flight to Luxor. This small city in the Nile Valley was once the capital of ancient Thebes and is considered an open-air museum due to its many landmarks. Once you land, another driver will be waiting to transfer to your hotel in the city.

After you settle in, join a guide to tour some of Egypt's most spectacular temples. 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 travel and tours, return to your hotel and get an early night—more early morning adventures await tomorrow.

Day 4: Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride Over Luxor, Visit the Valley of the Kings

Hot Air Balloon Ride
Get a birds-eye view of Luxor from a sunrise hot-air balloon excursion

This morning, you'll 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 for refreshments and a safety briefing. Then, you'll board your balloon for a one-hour flight, just in time to watch the sunrise. 

Once you're back on land, your guide will take you on a tour of the famed Valley of the Kings, known for its rock-cut tombs for kings and pharaohs, buried 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, including the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. You'll also make a 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: Transfer to Aswan via Edfu & Kom Ombo Temples

Horus Temple in Edfu in Egypt
Step back in time as you explore the narrow, decorative hallways of Edfu
Plan your trip to Egypt
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today, you'll say farewell to Luxor and meet your driver for a three-hour transfer to Aswan, an archaeologically rich city on the banks of the Nile. On the way, you'll make stops at several significant temples. First up is Edfu, where you'll explore the spectacular Temple of Horus, considered one of the best-preserved shrines in Egypt. Constructed between 237 BCE and 57 BCE, you can still make out many intricate inscriptions. 

Then, continue toward the Temple of Kom Ombo. Built during the Ptolemaic era, Kom Ombo was dedicated to the crocodile god (Sobek) and falcon god (Horus). Admire its many intact courts, halls, wall carvings, and statues. You'll then reach Aswan, where you can get settled into your hotel and spend the remainder of the day relaxing or exploring on your own.

Day 6: Tour Aswan's Highlights, Felucca Sailing on the Nile

Take a traditional felucca boat on the Nile near Aswan

Today's guided explorations of Aswan begin at the beautiful Temple of Philae from the fourth century BCE, dedicated to Isis, the goddess of love. Next, you'll visit Egypt's 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 stone quarries of ancient Egypt in Aswan.

Later in the afternoon, head to the shores of the Nile and board a felucca (traditional river sailboat) for panoramic sunset views of Elephantine Island, where you can spot the Botanical Gardens and Agha Khan Mausoleum. Relax on deck, enjoy the passing scenery of the papyrus and palm-lined riverbanks, and savor the river breeze. 

Day 7: Day Trip to Abu Simbel, Fly to Cairo

AbuSimble Temple
Take a short flight to Abu Simbel to see one of Egypt's most impressive temples

You're off on a day trip this morning as you head to the airport in Aswan for a 40-minute flight to Abu Simbel, home to an important archaeological site and two UNESCO-listed rock-cut temples. Begin your full-day tour standing in awe before 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 your explorations, you'll fly back to Aswan and catch a connecting flight on to Cairo.

Day 8: Tour the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili

Treasure hunt in the winding streets of the Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

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

Next, you'll learn about 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 9: Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh, Semi-Submarine Trip in the Red Sea

Sharm El Sheikh
 Enjoy the beaches of the Red Sea in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh

You're off to the beach today as your driver takes you to the airport, where you'll catch a one-hour flight to Sharm el-Sheikh. Located between the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea, this area is known for its beautiful beaches and offshore coral reefs surrounded by clear water. After settling into your hotel, go for a walk on the beach or dip in the ocean. 

In the afternoon, you'll be picked up for an underwater experience that won't get your feet wet. Board a "semi-submarine" for a chance to glimpse the Red Sea's coral reefs, fish, and other varieties of marine life through a large panoramic window. The lower part of the submarine is air-conditioned with swivel chairs and a clear view suitable for photography. After this memorable experience, you'll head back to town, where you can try fresh seafood, Egyptian-style, at one of the beachfront restaurants or bars.

Day 10: Snorkeling Trip to White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park

White Island & Ras Mohamed National Park Snorkeling Boat Trip
Snorkel with wildlife in the Red Sea near Ras Mohamed National Park

It's time to dive into the Red Sea as you join a morning snorkeling tour to nearby Ras Mohammed National Park. Known for 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 while relaxing on the deck in between to enjoy the beautiful Red Sea scenery and sunshine. Enjoy 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 11: Bedouin Safari & Stargazing Tour

Bedouin Safari and Star Gazing Tour
Head to the desert to immerse yourself in the Bedouin way of life

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, and spend a leisurely morning at the beach. Take a stroll along the pedestrian promenade in laid-back Naama Bay, enjoy a seafood lunch in a beachfront café, and relax by the water. Another option is to arrange a trip to St. Catherine's Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.

In the afternoon, you'll 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. Here, you'll 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 under candlelight in the middle of the desert, with a fire show accompanied by traditional shisha (a waterpipe instrument used to smoke fruit-flavored tobacco). Then, meet an astronomy guide at the telescope area to watch the stars like you've never seen them before. At the end of the night, you'll be transferred back to your hotel.

Day 12: Fly to Cairo, Depart

Fly from Sharm El Sheikh to Cairo International Airport for International Flight
Savor one last view of Cairo before catching your departing flight
Your grand Egyptian adventure draws to a close today. Enjoy your final morning on the beaches of the Red Sea before checking out of your hotel. Meet your driver, who will be waiting to take you to Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport for your flight back to Cairo or destinations beyond. Ma'a salama!

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Map of Ultimate Highlights of Egypt: From Cairo to the Red Sea - 12 Days
Map of Ultimate Highlights of Egypt: From Cairo to the Red Sea - 12 Days