For most of us, time and money are the big factors with any trip. Although you could take a lifetime to explore Ancient Egypt, some of us may only have one week to do so. Luckily, one week in Egypt can suffice to take in all the major sites. It will be a packed itinerary with lots of early morning wake up calls, but with a once in a lifetime trip like this - it is worth it.
This itinerary focuses on the history of Ancient Egypt while taking a cruise down the Nile River and also exploring areas of Cairo. This itinerary does not include two travel days, which would extend your trip to 9 days if you are flying in from a long distance.
This is the itinerary I used during my trip to Egypt and I left very satisfied, feeling like I saw everything I wanted to see. It is a bit tight, so if you had extra days you can spread out some of the sites. If you wanted to add another day, I would suggest another day in Luxor to take more time seeing the sites there.
Here is what the ultimate one week Egypt itinerary looks like:
Day 1 - Cairo - Saqqara, Dahshur & Memphis
Day 2 - Cairo - Great Pyramids, Sphinx, Egyptian Museum, Bazaar
Day 3 - Fly to Aswan - Felucca - Philae Island - Visit Nubian Village
Day 4 - Abu Simbel, Cruise to Kom Ombo
Day 5 - Edfu, Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple
Day 6 - Valley of the Kings, Temple of Hatshepsut, Valley of the Queens
Day 7 - Fly to Cairo, Saladin Citadel, Coptic Cairo
Cairo - Day trip to Saqqara, Dahshur, & Memphis
Begin your trip where it all started for the ancient Egyptians. About an hour south of Cairo (with Cairo’s infamous traffic) lies the ancient cities Dahshur, Saqqara, and the original capital of Memphis.
Today, Memphis is a small, open air museum that is highlighted by a giant unfinished statue of Ramses II that lies on its back. It’s a spectacular chance to get up close to one of these incredible statues.
Dahshur has two of the earliest pyramids, the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. Both created under Pharaoh Sneferu, you have the opportunity to go inside both pyramids, though they are long, narrow and will require a bit of athleticism to make it down into the tomb chambers. Both the Red and Bent Pyramids are considered transitional pyramids between the earlier step pyramids and the later true pyramids that were built in Giza.
The Bent Pyramid's unusual bent shape was a result of a change in the angle of inclination during its construction. The Red Pyramid was the world's first successful true smooth-sided pyramid.
Wrap up your first day by visiting Saqqara, an archeologist’s wonderland. This is the site of Pharaoh Djoser’s Step Pyramid. The Step Pyramid is considered the oldest stone-cut building in the world, built during the 27th century BC as a part of the larger funerary complex for the Pharaoh Djoser.
Another highlight is visiting some of the first mastabas ever made, including that of Mererutka. Inside you will find some of the earliest hieroglyphs from the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The mastaba contains more than 30 rooms and features intricate reliefs and paintings that depict scenes from daily life.
Return to your hotel in Cairo after visiting the three ancient sites for a great first day in Egypt.
Cairo - The Great Pyramids - Sphinx - Egyptian Museum - Cairo’s Bazaar
This is the day you’ve been waiting for. The day in which you get to see the last remaining of the 7 Wonders of the World: The Great Pyramids of Giza. Located about 20 minutes outside of Cairo, venture to the Great Pyramids to see the magical pyramids that were built roughly 4500 years ago. Take a camel ride for an experience you'll never forget, riding to the point where you can see all 9 pyramids together.
The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the taller of the two Great Pyramids of Giza, standing at approximately 481 feet (147 meters) tall. The Great Pyramid of Khafre, also known as the second pyramid, is slightly smaller at 446 feet (136 meters) and still has some of its original limestone casing at the very top.
Nearby is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt, the Great Sphinx. This massive statue of a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human, is believed to represent the Pharaoh Khafre.
After spending your morning in Giza, head back to Cairo and discover the treasures of the Egyptian Museum. Filled with ancient statues, jewelry, sarcophagi, and mummies, the highlights of the museum include Narmer’s Palette (believed to be the first written document) and the room of King Tut’s treasures including his famous golden burial mask. Spend at least 2 hours examining world famous treasures and artifacts.
Finish the day by visiting Cairo’s eccentric and bustling Khan el-Khalili bazaar market. Go souvenir shopping with a plethora of options for jewelry, spices, perfumes, and countless Egyptian knick knacks. Return to your hotel in Cairo for the night.
Cairo to Aswan - Felucca Boat Ride - Philae Island - Nubian Village
Fly to the Egyptian town of Aswan, located in Ancient Nubia. After visiting the Aswan Dam and an unfinished obelisk, take a ride in a felucca boat on the Nile River and admire the Tomb of the Nobles from afar.
Depending on when you arrive, you may be able to visit both the Temple of Isis at Philae Island, as well as visit a Nubian village.
The Temple of Isis is a beautifully intact temple complex built during the Ptolemaic period. A visit to the temple will get you in the mood for all the incredible temples you will be seeing on your trip. Spend at least 1.5 hours exploring the ancient temple.
If you have time, visit a Nubian village located about 30 minutes down the Nile river from Aswan. Take a motorboat down a very scenic stretch of the Nile river and visit a Nubian family in their home for a very memorable close to the day. Spend the night in Aswan aboard your Nile cruise ship.
Abu Simbel - Nile Cruise Aswan to Kom Ombo
Today you will be waking up bright and early to head out to the magical temple of Abu Simbel. About 3 hours drive from Aswan, arrive at sunrise to the intimidating 67 foot statues of Ramses II carved out of a mountainside. This was one of The Top Temples to Visit in Egypt. Explore Abu Simbel for a few hours before heading back to Aswan, where you will start your Nile cruise.
Land at Kom Ombo, where you will explore the temple at sunset / night. Spend a few minutes checking out the unique crocodile mummy museum before leaving Kom Ombo and returning to your cruise ship for the night. A visit here will last about 1 hour.
Edfu Temple - Luxor Temple - Karnak Temple
Today you will be seeing three of the best temples in all of Egypt. Start with another early wake up call to venture from your cruise ship to Edfu Temple. We rode on a horse carriage through darkness which turned into a magical sunrise, a wild experience in and of itself. We arrived just as the sun was hitting the temple in the early morning light. Go early and beat the crowds.
The imposing temple complex of Edfu, similar to the Temple of Isis and Kom Ombo, was built in the Ptolemaic period. Edfu Temple, one