You couldn't plan a more epic two-week luxury vacation than this grand tour of Egypt's highlights. Walk in the footsteps of ancient history in Cairo as you visit the best museums and hike around the Giza pyramids and Great Sphinx. Then you're off on a first-class cruise down the famed Nile River, stopping at ancient temples in Luxor and Aswan before jetting off to Sharm el-Sheikh for a few days of fun in the sun at Egypt's premier beach resort on the Red Sea.

Highlights

  • Travel across Cairo on a greatest hits tour, from the bazaars to the Giza pyramids
  • Embark on a luxury cruise up the Nile River, stopping at ancient cities and temples
  • Soar over the temples of Luxor in the basket of a hot-air balloon
  • Laze on the beaches of the Red Sea coast at one of its finest resorts

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairo, Afternoon at Leisure Cairo
Day 2 Giza Pyramids & Insider's Sphinx Tour Cairo
Day 3 Visit the Grand Egyptian Museum, Dinner at Abou El Sid Cairo
Day 4 Fly to Abu Simbel, Transfer to Aswan Aswan
Day 5 Aswan Temples Tour, Board Cruise Ship Aswan
Day 6 Cruise to Esna, Visit Kom Ombo & Temple of Horus Edfu
Day 7 Cruise to Luxor, West Bank & Valley of the Kings Tour Luxor
Day 8 Disembark Cruise, Luxor Highlights Tour: Habu Temple & Tomb of Nobles Luxor
Day 9 Sunrise Balloon Ride, Luxor East Bank Tour, Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh Sharm el-Sheikh
Days 10-11 Sharm el-Sheikh Activities: Snorkeling, Bedouin Villages & Mount Sinai Sharm el-Sheikh
Day 12 Sharm el-Sheikh Semi-Submarine Tour, Fly to Cairo Cairo
Day 13 Egyptian Museum Tour, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili Bazaar Cairo
Day 14 Depart Cairo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo, Afternoon at Leisure

Enjoy prime river views from your suite (or by the pool) at your hotel (photo courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Cairo)

Welcome to Egypt! This crown jewel of Africa and the Middle East needs no introduction. It's the land of great sphinxes and pyramids, with thousands of years of dynastic history lining the banks of the Nile River—the longest river in the world. You'll arrive in the sprawling capital of Cairo, itself a hotbed of culture and history, and at the terminal, a driver will pick you up for the ride into the city. Then, the good life commences as you check in at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at First Residence.

Located in the Giza district, this 5-star hotel sits on the Nile and is conveniently located next to major attractions, like the prestigious First Mall complex. Amenities include a pool, spa, and several high-end restaurants, including Aura, featuring Mediterranean-inspired dishes; Bella, known for its gourmet Italian cuisine; and the Tea Lounge, offering afternoon tea and light snacks. The well-appointed rooms and suites provide the utmost in comfort, and dazzle with views looking all the way out to the pyramids. Upon arrival, you can relax and indulge in an aromatic massage once reserved for Egyptian royalty.

Day 2: Giza Pyramids & Insider's Sphinx Tour

See both the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx up close

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. Of course, with millions of tourists visiting the pyramids each year, the site can sometimes feel crowded. Lucky for you, 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, between which is an epigraphic stele commissioned by the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose IV in the 14th century BCE.

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.

Day 3: Visit the Grand Egyptian Museum, Dinner at Abou El Sid

The Grand Egyptian Museum is Egypt's newest showstopper of a museum

No trip to Cairo is complete without visiting its world-class museums. This morning, you'll be treated to a grand overview of this country's rich history on a private tour of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). One of the largest museums in the world, this ambitious project was completed in 2021 and stands as a showpiece for one of the most ancient civilizations on the planet. Displayed over its millions of square feet of floor space are over 100,000 artifacts. Highlights include treasures from the tomb of King Tutankhamun, including his iconic golden mask and funerary objects.

After the museum, return to the hotel and take the rest of the day free. In the evening, get a taste of Egypt's renowned hospitality as you enjoy 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 4: Fly to Abu Simbel, Transfer to Aswan

Kick back and relax on your private terrace after your flight (photo courtesy of BenBen Hotel)

Return to the Cairo airport this morning and board the 1.5-hour flight south to Aswan. This is one of the great Nile cities—a place rich in history and culture. It's renowned for its idyllic riverine setting, with palm-fringed islands, granite outcrops, and shimmering waters that create a picture-postcard backdrop. But your time in the air isn't over yet. Right after landing, you'll board a smaller charter flight 40 minutes to one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the region: Abu Simbel.

This UNESCO-listed site is famous for its rock-cut temples: the Great Temple of Ramesses II and the Small Temple of Nefertari. These landmarks were 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 honors the pharaoh's wife, Queen Nefertari. Enter the Great Temple between towering statues to explore its interior halls and chambers. Admire the impressive wall reliefs depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology, religious rituals, and military conquests.

After the tour, you'll board a quick flight back to Aswan, and a driver will meet you for the ride to the BenBen Hotel. This charming boutique option is located on the Nile's west bank, and its whitewashed, Nubian-style architecture stands out amid the river scenery. Each of its spacious rooms and suites is equipped with mod-cons like air-conditioning and satellite TVs, while some feature terraces with private plunge pools and river views. After checking in, feel free to head to the rooftop terrace to watch the sunset and later enjoy dinner at the intimate restaurant, which serves Egyptian and international fare. 

Day 5: Aswan Temples Tour, Board Cruise Ship

Cruise the Nile in luxury with panoramic river views (photo courtesy of Sonesta Sun Goddess)

It's time for a sailing adventure on the Nile! After breakfast, check out of your hotel in Aswan and transfer to the harbor, where you'll board the Sonesta Sun Goddess, a luxury vessel purpose-built to deliver memorable river adventures in Egypt. The craft is big enough to offer plenty of comfort and luxury services but small enough to provide a bit more intimacy than the competition. For example, the Sun Goddess features 30 staterooms, while most other riverboats have 60-80. It's also one of the few boats whose suites offer balconies—perfect for relaxing and enjoying a sundowner cocktail.

After dropping off your bags in your spacious stateroom, you'll meet a local guide for one last sightseeing tour in Aswan. 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. Later, you'll return to the ship and overnight on the water.

Day 6: Cruise to Esna, Visit Kom Ombo & Temple of Horus

The Temple of Horus is just one awe-inspiring temple you'll visit today

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on board the Sun Goddess as the ship cruises north to Edfu, a city on the west bank of the Nile. On the way there, you'll stop at Kom Ombo. This temple was built during the Ptolemaic Dynasty from 180-47 BCE and is dedicated to both Sobek, the crocodile-headed God of fertility, and the falcon-god Horus. It features duplicate halls and sanctuaries for each deity, creating a harmonious layout. During a private tour, you can admire the intricately carved reliefs and hieroglyphics that narrate stories of ancient rituals and medical practices.

Later, you'll arrive in Edfu and disembark once again to visit its most famous landmark, the Temple of Horus. Constructed between 237 BCE and 57 BCE, this is one of the best-preserved shrines in Egypt. Many intricate inscriptions can still be made out. After visiting the temple, you'll return to the Sun Goddess and sleep on board as the vessel continues north overnight to the city of Esna

Day 7: Cruise to Luxor, West Bank & Valley of the Kings Tour

It wouldn't be a trip to Egypt without visiting Luxor's Valley of the Kings
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This morning, the Sun Goddess will arrive at its final destination, 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. Upon arrival, you'll meet a local guide for a privattour of Luxor's many highlights around the city's West Bank and the famed Valley of the Kings.

Here, you'll marvel at rock-cut tombs built for kings and pharaohs, buried between the 11th and 16th centuries BCE. You'll also 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. Another highlight is a stop at the Colossi of Memnon to see the imposing statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that guard the entrance of his memorial temple. At the end of the day, you'll return to the ship for a final night on the water.

Day 8: Disembark Cruise, Luxor Highlights Tour: Habu Temple & Tomb of Nobles

After a busy day of sightseeing, laze on the terrace at your luxury hotel (photo courtesy of the Sofitel Winter Palace)

Bid farewell to the Sun Goddess this morning as you transfer to your luxury hotel, the Sofitel Winter Palace. This 5-star colonial-style hotel was built in the 19th century and features a grand facade and well-manicured gardens overlooking the Nile and the Theban Necropolis. 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 on-site spa. You can also grab a bite in the signature restaurant or enjoy your meal in the garden amid Nile views.

Don't get too comfortable, because after checking in, you'll meet a local guide for a private tour of Luxor's other highlights. First up is the ancient Habu Temple, an important New Kingdom structure filled with dazzling hieroglyphs and inscriptions. Continue to Carter House, where the famous British archaeologist Howard Carter lived while searching for the Tomb of King Tutankhamun. The tour ends with a visit to the Tombs of the Nobles, where some of Egypt's most powerful historical figures are buried. Afterward, you'll you'll transfer back to your hotel.

Day 9: Sunrise Balloon Ride, Luxor East Bank Tour, Fly to Sharm el-Sheikh

Trade the Nile for a Red Sea resort today (photo courtesy of Sunrise Arabian Sharm el-Sheikh)

Rise just before dawn for a thrilling desert adventure you won't soon forget: a sunrise balloon flight over Luxor. Your driver will pick you up at the hotel and transfer you to the Nile's western shores, where you'll receive a safety briefing. Then, hop in the basket and ascend into the air for the one-hour flight, watching as the morning sun gilds the tops of famous landmarks like Luxor Temple.

Afterward, you'll meet a guide for a tour of Luxor's East Bank. It starts at Karnak Temple, the second-largest ancient religious site in the world. Founded in the Middle Kingdom, it's one of Egypt's largest surviving temples. From its massive pillars to the obelisks, statues, and kiosks, the complex, which took around 2,000 years to finish, will astound you. Then, continue to Luxor Temple, 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 ballooning and tours, you'll transfer to the airport for the one-hour flight to Egypt's southern Sinai Peninsula and Sharm el-Sheikh, the nation's most famous beach resort town on the gorgeous Red Sea coast. Befitting the scenery, you'll stay at the Sunrise Arabian Beach Resort, a 5-star hotel situated on its own private beach. From your elegant room or suite, you can look out to the resort's lush gardens and the sea. There's a wide variety of swimming pools and restaurants at the hotel, including a large main pool with a swim-up bar and both buffet and a la carte restaurants.

Days 10-11: Sharm el-Sheikh Activities: Snorkeling, Bedouin Villages & Mount Sinai

Boat out to Ras Mohammed National Park to explore the Red Sea's thriving coral reefs

Travelers come to Sharm el-Sheikh to relax, play, and enjoy aquatic activities—and that's exactly what you'll do over the next couple of days as the hotel helps you choose whatever excursions suit your interests. One of the best ways to experience the full glory of the coast's famous corals is to grab your swimsuit and sunscreen and join a morning snorkeling tour to Ras Mohammed National Park. Known for world-class diving and snorkeling, this protected site has more than 130 coral reefs and diverse marine life like tropical fish, eels, rays, sea turtles, reef sharks, and even bottlenose dolphins.

You can also head into the surrounding desert via ATV safari to explore the vast sand dunes in an exhilarating fashion. For something slower-paced, take a 20-minute camel ride to a Bedouin camp for an authentic dinner against the backdrop of a glorious sunset. After a fire show accompanied by traditional shisha (apple-flavored tobacco), you'll meet an astronomy guide at the telescope area for stargazing under the clearest desert skies.

For a truly memorable adventure, opt for an epic overnight excursion to St. Catherine's Monastery. Located at the foot of Mount Sinai, this Greek-Orthodox religious center, built between 548 and 565 CE, is the world's oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery. It was actually built on the site where Moses is said to have encountered God speaking to him from a burning bush. You'll leave your hotel just before midnight and start a trek from the monastery, reaching the summit of Mount Sinai in time for a spectacular sunrise.

Day 12: Sharm el-Sheikh Semi-Submarine Tour, Fly to Cairo

Head to the rooftop to catch dazzling sunset views over Cairo (photo courses of Kempinski Nile)

Make the most of your last morning in Sharm el-Sheikh with one more activity. If you'd like a final glimpse of the Red Sea's remarkable underwater world without getting wet, consider a "semi-submarine" tour. This vessel features a lower deck with large panoramic windows, giving you a 360-degree view of the offshore coral reefs and the diverse marine life that abounds in this ecosystem.

After the tour, head to the airport for the 1.5-hour flight back to Cairo. When you land, you'll transfer to downtown and the final 5-star hotel of this luxury holiday, the Kempinski Nile. This sophisticated lodging option features downright imperial rooms with plush king-sized beds, elegant furnishings, and a spa where you can enjoy relaxing sessions in private treatment rooms. After settling in, feel free to head up to the rooftop pool and snag a seat in a lounger—there should be just enough time to enjoy a cocktail as the sun sets over the Nile.

Day 13: Egyptian Museum Tour, Islamic Cairo & Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

There's no better spot in Egypt to pick up last-minute souvenirs than Khan el-Khalili

Your last day in Egypt involves a full-day private 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, learn about Islamic Cairo at the Citadel of Saladin, a shining example of military architecture from the Middle Ages, and the Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, a monumental mosque dating to the 1300s. Continue to the Mosque of Mohamed Ali, known as the Alabaster Mosque. The 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 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.

Day 14: Depart Cairo

Until the next time, Cairo 
You've walked in the footsteps of the ancient pharaohs, traveled in luxury down the Nile, and seen some of the grandest temples and monuments in the world. Now, it's time to bid farewell to Egypt and move on to the next adventure. In the morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Ultimate Luxury in Egypt: Cairo, Nile Cruise & Sharm el-Sheikh - 14 Days
Map of Ultimate Luxury in Egypt: Cairo, Nile Cruise & Sharm el-Sheikh - 14 Days