Best of Esna

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Esna
Most visitors to Esna arrive by riverboat, and stop just long enough to take in the grand Ptolemaic temple. However, if time allows, it’s worth exploring the west bank town, which has a vibrant marketplace and some fine architecture that spans the centuries. Traveling by boat between Aswan and Luxor, you’ll also pass through the Esna Locks, and feel the boat rising (or lowering) along the waterway. You’ll also see vendors in rowboats pulling alongside the ship in hopes of selling their wares. 

The Temple of Khnum dates back to the Ptolemaic and Roman period and is one of the last temples built in Egypt. Unlike other Egyptian monuments, the temple stands in an excavation pit, as it was buried 30ft (9m) below the present-day ground level by the accumulation of desert sand over the centuries, and only unearthed in the 19th century. There’s a solemn quality to exploring this site, with its striking columns set with floral capitals, a ceiling adorned with astronomical symbols and walls covered in carvings and hieroglyphics. Among the reliefs are Roman Emperors dressed as pharaohs and making sacrifices to the god Khnum, the guardian of the Nile. 
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Explore the fortified walls and towers around the medina in Fes
Map of Egypt & Morocco Highlights: Cairo, Nile River, Fes, Marrakesh & More - 15 Days
Egypt & Morocco Highlights: Cairo, Nile River, Fes, Marrakesh & More - 15 Days

Spend 15 days discovering Egypt and Morocco's highlights, starting in Cairo, where the Giza pyramid complex awaits. Move on to Luxor to board a three-day cruise along the Nile River, with stops at iconic temples and tombs along the way. Fly to Casablanca and transfer to Fes, spending two days discovering the bustling medina and picturesque architecture. Camp in the Afagay Desert, then head to your last stop, Marrakesh. Enjoy a hot-air balloon ride, visit the famous Jardin Majorelle, and more.

Get a glimpse of Nubian culture on a visit to Aswan's Elephantine Island
Map of Egypt & Jordan Cultural Tour: Cairo, Amman & More - 12 Days
Egypt & Jordan Cultural Tour: Cairo, Amman & More - 12 Days

This 12-day cultural itinerary starts in Cairo, where you'll explore the bustling capital city and visit the pyramids of Giza before embarking on a three-day cruise down the Nile River to discover some of Egypt's most famous temples. Fly to Amman in Jordan to tour the historic city, visit the ruins of Gerasa, and travel to the ancient city of Petra for one night. Enjoy a desert drive across Wadi Rum's otherworldly landscape and spend your final night floating on the Dead Sea.

An aerial view of the Wadi Rum desert
Map of Egypt & Jordan Cultural Tour: Cairo, Amman, Petra, & More - 11 days
Egypt & Jordan Cultural Tour: Cairo, Amman, Petra, & More - 11 days

You'll start your trip in Cairo—where you'll visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian Museum—before departing for a three-day cruise along the Nile to many of Egypt's most famous temples in Luxor, Esna, and Kom Ombo. You'll also set sail along the Nile River to Aswan and then return to Cairo in time for your flight to Amman in Jordan. After one day in Amman, you'll travel to the ancient rose-colored city of Petra for one night before enjoying a desert tour through Wadi Rum and then returning to Amman for your final night.

Cruise your way down the Nile in the utmost luxury (photo courtesy of Farah Nile Cruise)
Map of Luxury Highlights of Jordan & Egypt - 10 Days
Luxury Highlights of Jordan & Egypt - 10 Days

Egypt and Jordan are home to some of the most dazzling ancient sites in the world—and this 10-day grand tour offers insider's tours and adventures in both countries. You'll arrive at the Dead Sea, where you'll enjoy natural spa treatments before traveling to the rock-cut temples of Petra and soaring over Wadi Rum's vast deserts by hot-air balloon. Then, jet over to Egypt for a VIP tour of the pyramids and Sphinx, plus take a luxury cruise down the Nile as you visit ancient temples from Luxor to Aswan.

Walk around Egypt's massive Luxor Temple, located on the east bank of the Nile
Map of Amman, Petra, Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Esna & Kom Ombo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Amman, Petra, Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Esna & Kom Ombo: Best Itinerary Ideas

Travelers to Egypt and Jordan typically plan a trip for 14 to 15 days when combining Amman, Petra, Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Esna, and Kom Ombo with Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, and Umm Qais. If you're not interested in Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, and Umm Qais, 11 to 12 days is enough for your Amman, Petra, Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Esna, and Kom Ombo trip. For the best itineraries, keep reading below.

See Egypt's most spectacular sights, including an insider's look at the Great Sphinx
Map of Luxury Highlights of Jordan & Egypt - 14 Days
Luxury Highlights of Jordan & Egypt - 14 Days

The only thing better than a luxury tour of Egypt's highlights is combining it with a luxury tour of Jordan's highlights. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure begins at Jordan's incomparable "Rose City," officially known as Petra, and from there, you'll travel around the Martian-like desert landscapes of Wadi Rum. After some relaxing beach time at the Dead Sea, hop over to Egypt, where you'll tour the pyramids, see Tutankhamun's tomb, browse the bazaars of Cairo, and take a grand multiday cruise down the Nile.

 Visit the Temple of Khnum in Esna while sailing along the Nile River
Map of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Esna & Kom Ombo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Esna & Kom Ombo: Best Itinerary Ideas

For most travelers, eight to 10 days is the perfect amount of time for an Egypt trip, with stops in Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Esna, and Kom Ombo. If you don't mind a fast-paced journey, you can see the highlights of this route in less time—as few as six or seven days. Travelers with more time can enjoy extra sights and activities at each stop or explore more of the country—our favorite itinerary extension is Sharm el-Sheikh. Keep reading for more inspiring itineraries.

The Nile river
Map of Jewels of The Nile: Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan - 8 days
Jewels of The Nile: Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan - 8 days

Explore Egypt on a luxurious Nile River cruise as you visit Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan. Highlights will include visiting the Pyramids of Giza, seeing art and artifacts at the Egyptian Museum, and Karnak Temple in Luxor. As you cruise down The Nile, you will also have time to relax and take in the scenery.

After full days of sightseeing, rest well in your luxurious accommodations (photo courtesy of Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan)
Map of Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Luxor to Aswan - 7 Days
Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Luxor to Aswan - 7 Days

Enjoy a grand weeklong sailing tour down Egypt's Nile River, bookended by stays at 5-star hotels fit for a pharaoh. This fast and fabulous adventure begins on the banks of the Nile at Luxor, where you'll board a luxury dahabiya sailboat and commence a private cruise down the world's longest river. As you go, you'll stop at marvels of the ancient world, from the temples of Luxor and Horace to the Valley of the Kings—you'll even take a cooking lesson to learn the secrets of Egyptian cuisine.

 Visit the historic site and two temples of Abu Simbel while in Aswan
Map of Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh, Aswan, Luxor, Esna & Kom Ombo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh, Aswan, Luxor, Esna & Kom Ombo: Best Itinerary Ideas

For most travelers, 14 to 15 days is the perfect amount of time for an Egypt trip, with stops in Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh, Aswan, Luxor, Esna, and Kom Ombo. If you don't mind a fast-paced journey, you can see the highlights of this route in less time—as few as 10 to 13 days. Travelers with more time can enjoy extra sights and activities at each stop or explore more of the country. Get inspired with our trip ideas below.

Wadi Rum
Discover Egypt & Jordan in 13 Days

Explore Egypt on a luxurious Nile River cruise as you visit Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Highlights will include visiting the Pyramids of Giza, seeing art and artifacts at the Egyptian Museum, and Karnak Temple in Luxor. As you cruise down the Nile, you will also have time to relax and take in the scenery. Then you'll visit Jordan, a country for those seeking both adventure and relaxation as well as mystique and ancient roots. You'll see sites such as the ancient city of Petra, the capital Jerash, the sandstone mountains of Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea.

Spend four days cruising down the Nile River, passing ancient wonders en route
Map of Voyage Down the Nile: Cairo, Luxor, Esna, Kom Ombo, Aswan & Abu Simbel - 8 Days
Voyage Down the Nile: Cairo, Luxor, Esna, Kom Ombo, Aswan & Abu Simbel - 8 Days

Spend eight days exploring the ancient wonders of ancient Egypt, beginning in the capital, Cairo. Tour the Egyptian Museum, Islamic Cairo's historic sites, and the iconic Giza pyramids, then fly to Luxor for a four-day cruise down the Nile. Stop at ancient treasures, like the Temple of Kom Ombo and Karnak, on your way to Aswan, and then trade the water for a late Abu Simbelnd transfer to visit the awe-inspiring Abu Simbel Temples.

Aswan's Temple of Philae
Discover Egypt - 9 Days

This 9-day trip hits the highlights of Egypt, including a luxurious Nile River cruise to experience the best of the country's captivating history. Begin your journey with a visit to the Pyramids of Giza and immerse yourself in the riches of the Egyptian Museum. Then, after a short flight to Luxor, you'll board your cruise down the Nile and marvel at the grandeur of Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings, Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo Temple, and more. Along the way, you'll have ample time to unwind and take in the incredible scenery along the river.

Ancient Egyptian temple complex in Luxor
Map of Highlights of Egypt & Jordan: Cairo, Petra & More - 14 Days
Highlights of Egypt & Jordan: Cairo, Petra & More - 14 Days

This two-week journey features an appealing mix of culture, history, and outdoor adventure. The itinerary starts in Egypt, where you'll sightsee in Cairo, visit the Pyramids of Giza, cruise down the Nile River on a boat, and tour the ancient temples at Luxor. Then you'll cross the border to Jordan, where the second part of the trip begins. See Petra's jaw-dropping "Rose City," go on a safari around Wadi Rum, and take it easy by the Dead Sea.

Cruise down the Nile River from Luxor to Aswan
Map of Journey Down the Nile: Cairo, Luxor, Esna, Kom Ombo & Aswan - 9 Days
Journey Down the Nile: Cairo, Luxor, Esna, Kom Ombo & Aswan - 9 Days

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.

Hop aboard a luxury sailboat for a memorable trip down the Nile (photo courtesy of Movenpick)
Map of Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Luxor to Aswan - 10 Days
Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Luxor to Aswan - 10 Days

Pack your bags for a great adventure that will take you to the highlights of Egypt on land and water. This luxury tour begins in Cairo, where you'll marvel at iconic landmarks like the Sphinx and the pyramids, then discover Egypt's tantalizing flavors at the city's finest restaurants. Then, step aboard a private sailboat for a cruise down the Nile, stopping to see the Pharaonic statues at Abu Simbel, stroll the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and visit the Temple of Horus, one of the grandest shrines of ancient Egypt.

Cruise down the Nile River from Luxor to Aswan
Ultimate Egypt: Cairo, Nile River Cruise & the Red Sea - 14 Days

Cultural highlights, river cruising, and a beach vacation combine on this unforgettable two-week Egyptian adventure. Starting in Cairo, you'll marvel at the Great Pyramids and explore the city's world-class museums before flying south to Luxor, capital of the ancient pharaohs. Shift gears and board a scenic cruise down the Nile River to Aswan, exploring temples and tombs along the way, then head to the coast to end your journey on the gorgeous Red Sea beaches of Sharm El Sheikh.

The Nile River
Map of Egypt Cultural Tour & Nile River Cruise: Cairo, Siwa & More - 14 days
Egypt Cultural Tour & Nile River Cruise: Cairo, Siwa & More - 14 days

Explore Egypt by water and land on this action-packed two-week tour of the country. After getting oriented in Cairo, you'll cruise along the Nile on a boat, stopping to visit the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor Temple, and the Valley of the Kings. Then you'll continue the trip overland, exploring antiquities in Alexandria before retreating to the Siwa Oasis, home to the fascinating Berber settlements of the Egyptian desert. 

Sail around the highlights of the Nile River on your own private vessel
Map of Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Cairo, Luxor & Aswan - 14 Days
Luxury Egypt Sailing Adventure: Cairo, Luxor & Aswan - 14 Days

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

Beautiful ancient hieroglyphs in the Habu Temple at Luxor
Map of Ultimate Egypt: Cairo, Nile River Cruise & the Red Sea - 15 Days
Ultimate Egypt: Cairo, Nile River Cruise & the Red Sea - 15 Days

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.

You'll have plenty of opportunities for beach time during your three nights in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh
Map of Ultimate Highlights of Egypt: Cairo, Nile Cruise & Sharm el-Sheikh - 16 Days
Ultimate Highlights of Egypt: Cairo, Nile Cruise & Sharm el-Sheikh - 16 Days

Spend 16 days exploring the legendary sites of Egypt on this grand tour that spans the country from north to south. Tour the Pyramids of Giza with an Egyptologist guide, temple-hop along the shores of the Nile on a six-night river cruise, and take a day trip to the Mediterranean Sea to explore the ancient city of Alexandria. It's not all cultural tours and sightseeing—you'll also jet off to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for outdoor adventures and beach time.

Sail the Nile in a luxurious dahabiya sailing boat
Egypt & Jordan Grand Tour: Cairo, Nile Sailing Trip, Hurghada, Bahariya & Petra - 20 Days

Enjoy culture, adventure, and relaxation on this unforgettable 20-day tour of Egypt and Jordan. See the iconic pyramids, temples, and tombs of the ancient world, explore otherworldly deserts and Red Sea beaches, and board a traditional dahabiya sailboat to cruise the Nile River in style. After discovering Egypt's many highlights and hidden gems, it's time to hop over to Jordan to camp among the red dunes of Wadi Rum and experience the "Lost City' of Petra by candlelight.

Other popular travel destinations in Egypt
Cairo · Luxor · Aswan · Edfu · Kom Ombo · Sharm el-Sheikh · Hurghada · Siwa · Alexandria · Fayoum