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The ultimate guide to solo travel in Egypt

About Egypt

This country is often one of the first African countries that comes to a lot of people’s minds as its history is undeniably fascinating. Egyptian Civilisation was in a league of its own being home to one of the oldest seven ancient wonders. Egypt Is situated on the Northeastern side of Africa by the Mediterranean Sea. Its neighbouring countries are Sudan, Libya with Israel and the Gaza strip.

I found that Egyptian people, in general, were quite friendly and navigating the cities very easy. However, there are some people who try and exploit tourists, and catcalling and sexual harassment on solo female travellers can happen often which can be a huge negative in travelling in this country.

Transport is easily accessible in each city and between each city. Trains and coaches between each city are cheap, safe, and frequent.

Overall the country is safe to travel to as long as you practice caution, like with every country. If you are lost always go into a shop to ask for directions rather than strangers on the street. As a solo female traveller you should also be mindful of your things, whether that’s your bag at a restaurant or drinks at a bar, never leave your things unattended. Also at night, in cities like Cairo, certain neighbourhoods can get pretty sketchy and I won’t advice walking around alone. If you’re a woman especially, as you would be the only woman on the street.

With the rise of tourism to the country’s has a lot of cheaper accommodations are now available. An average night in a hostel will cost around £10-£15 per person per night with 5-star hotels costing around £150 a night. The summer season can usually be more expensive. There are lots of listed accommodations on sites like booking.com, hotel.com. Backpacking is also very doable here as there are many that you can stay in to meet others and transport is cheap.

Depending on the locations you want to visit also, you may be able to travel greener by staying at eco-lodges, surrounded by nature. A great example is Aliyah Eco-lodge in Bawti but the country offers many more scattered around the country.

Now we can’t talk about Africa without acknowledging this giant influential country. Egyptian Civilisation was in a league of its own being home to one of the oldest seven ancient wonders which lasted over 3000, from 3150BC to 30BC.

Egyptian inventions have shaped the world we live into date. From soap, paper and ink, wigs and makeup, calendars, tables, toothpaste, medicine, the police system, and more! This country’s history is rich in African excellence.

To truly understand this country’s historical and cultural influence, Some of my must-visit places in Egypt are;

 

Cairo

Cairo Egyptian museum

This museum is home to an extensive collection of ancient artifacts. With more than 100,000 items, the museum contains the largest collection of ancient Egyptian relics in the world. It tells the fascinating story of the ancient era through impressive displays of mummies, statues, coins, papyrus, and other artifacts. The most famous item on display is the solid gold mask of Tutankhamun which weighs 11kg.

 

Giza

Now you can’t go to Egypt without visiting the pyramids of Giza. Located on the outskirts of Cairo. This is the only surviving ancient wonder and is a site to marvel at as archaeologists still can’t tell how these pyramids were built! The pyramids to this day are a resemblance of ancient Egyptian style, genius, and culture.

The largest is the Great Pyramid towering the dessert at over 481 feet. It was built in the 26th-century BC as King Khufu’s tomb. It was the tallest man-made structure on the planet over a 3,800 year period.

 

 

The Library of Alexandria

The underground library of Alexandria found the ruins of the Serapeum. The Great Library was constructed in the third century BC and was the most famous library of the ancient world. 

Temple of Horus

This temple is located in the vicinity of the Nile in the Temple of Horus in Edfu. This temple is a very well-preserved site and was completed in the Ptolemaic period, between 237 and 57 BC. The temple is dedicated to Horus, the falcon god, who is frequently portrayed in statues and wall decorations around the site. It is also one of the few temples to survive with an intact ceiling.

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel is a temple complex in the far south of Egypt. The twin temples were carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC and dedicated to the great pharaoh Ramesses II and his wife.

The most recognizable feature of both temples is the colossal statues you’ll find at the entrance. The Ramesses II ones

 

Luxor

Luxor is a city in southern-eastern Egypt. It was constructed on the same site of Ancient Thebes, which was the capital of Egypt from approximately 2000 BC onwards.

One of the most notable sites in Luxor is Karnak Temple.

 

Karnak Temple

Karnak is the biggest ancient religious site in the world. It was built over a period of 2,000 years and includes temples, chapels, and other structures. In the ancient era it was the most important place of worship and today it serves as a large open-air museum. The largest section is the Hypostyle Hall, which is 54,000 square feet and features 134 columns, making it the biggest room of any religious building in the world. 

Karnak is the second most visited site in Egypt after the Pyramids of Giza.

 

The Avenue of the Sphinxes

This special avenue is the ancient route that connects the temples of Karnak and Luxor. It contains over a thousand sphinx statues over a one-and-a-half-mile path. The first sphinxes were built during the reign of Nectanebo in the 4th century BC. The road was renovated by Cleopatra (51-31 BC) and later used by the Romans.

 

Luxor Temple

Luxor temple is located 1.5miles from Karnak. The temple was built between 1100-1600 BC as a shrine to the gods Amun, Chons, and Mut.

There are 14 huge columns that are 23 meters high and around 10 meters in circumference to honor them. Luxor temple became the place where Egyptian kings were crowned. Later, Alexander the Great built a temple there and the Romans also used the site as their Egyptian headquarters.

 

The Valley of the kings

Another spectacular ancient site in Luxor is the Valley of the Kings This valley is located on the west bank of the Nile and is the main burial place of Pharaohs from the 16th to the 11th century BC. Inside the tombs are beautifully decorated wall paintings and hieroglyphs and 63 Egyptian mythology-decorated tombs and chambers.

The area was the burial ground of the ancient Pharaohs for 500 years and has been a focus of archaeological exploration since the 18th-century. The most famous discovery was Tutankhamun’s tomb which led to rumors of the Curse of the Pharaohs.

 

Sultan Hassan Mosque

This mosque is considered to be one of the largest mosques in the world. The Sultan Hassan Mosque stands at nearly 8,000 square meters. It consists of a mosque as well as an educational institution, and it is famous for its innovative architectural components.

Explore Gezira island

This tiny island is a unique one in the country as it is located in the Nile river. Home to some of the city’s most luxurious hotels with a beautiful view of the Nile. This area also boasts shopping centres, monuments, mosques, museums and so much more!

 

Spend a night in the Sahara desert!

With so many safari deserts tours, why not take up the experience of a lifetime! Riding camels across the desert and camping out to marvel at the night sky.

 

Ride a Camel

This is for any adventure lovers out there. In cities such as Luxor, Camel riding tours are very common to find and can be a great experience here in the country.

 

Hit the Dunes

Similarly to camel riding, this is for any adventure lovers out there and is a common tourism excursion in Egypt.

 

Get high in Luxor

Luxor is a magnificent city to walk around in. But imagine seeing it from above! This incredible opportunity is open for those who aren’t afraid of heights and falling in love. Because you know what they say about love being in the air

 

Enjoy the food!

Egyptian cuisine is not one that is often hyped about. So here I am ready to be it’s hype man. Some must try cuisines when you’re in the country include; Ful Medames; which is a stew made up of cooked fava beans and other vegetables. Baklava; these are sweet pastries, a little different from the Turkish ones but just as good! Egyptian baklavas are made from semolina pastry soaked in honey and Mahshi; this is great for vegetarians as it is backed vegetables such as peppers, zucchini and rice all rolled up together and garnished.

 

Dive into Heracleion

Have you heard of Heracleion? This is a lost city is a wonder to historians as no one really knows how it ended up underwater and located at the bottom of the ocean. Located near Alexandria, this lost city holds ruins of 64 ships, 700 anchors, a treasure chest of gold coins. Statues and remains of the god Amun-Gereb.  Are you ready to dive into this history?

 

Visit the city of the Dead

Now, this city located in El-Saf sure does live up to its name. It is home to white conical domes and is said to be the world’s largest cemeteries. These domes represent a unique historical time period in Egyptian history and like with any cemetery if you’re planning on visiting you must dress appropriately and be respectful of the dead.

 

Marvel at Baron Empain Palace

Located near Cairo’s El Korba district, this abandoned mansion is one that has a mysterious allure to it. With it, distinctive gothic vibe architecture and gardens this palace is said to also have underground tunnels and chambers and has been used as a burial ground, ritual ground and to host illegal parties. Though entering, is not accessible to the public, the government are still planning what they will do to this place. So who knows, maybe one day we will be able to enter and solve the mysteries ourselves.

Explore Cairo Egyptian museum

This museum is home to an extensive collection of ancient artefacts, what better way to get to learn about Egyptian culture? The Abdeen palace museum and Islamic art museum are also great visit.

See Al Manial Palace

This unique palace is also a museum, showing a glimpse of 19th century Egyptian royalty. With hundreds of artefacts and exhibitions it’s a great way to see how Egyptian royalty lived in the 19th century.

 

Grab a bargain

If you’re looking for something on a budget whether a souvenir or some new clothes why not visit the city’s most popular bazaar, Khan-el-Khalili. Here you’ll be able to find different pieces of artwork and traditional pieces.

 

Get lost in the white desert

Located in Al Farafrah, this desert will honestly have you feeling like you are on a different planet. This desert is uniquely formed from eroded calcium rock and now the landscape has abstract statues. These bizarre natural chalk rocks are worth a trip to if you are in the neighbouring area.

 

Prepare to be Entertained

For culture lovers why not see what different shows are on in the Cairo opera house.

 

Visit the pyramids of Giza

This only surviving ancient wonder is a sight to marvel like. The pyramids to this day are a resemblance of ancient Egyptian style, genius and culture.

 

Visit the UNESECO World heritage site of Abu Mena, an ancient Christian city.

 

See the hanging Church

Located in Cairo, this church is above the Babylon fortress and was part of the Roman fortress, The architecture inside this church is nothing short of breath-taking and is definitely something to see when visiting Cairo.

The best time to visit Egypt is between the October – April months. This is as the temperatures are cooler during the so you won’t be baking in the sun. Day or excursion trips to the pyramids or the desert are much more pleasant during these months.

  • Do not drink the tap water!
  • Transport is easily accessible in each city and between each city. Trains and coaches between each city are cheap, safe, and frequent. Taxis are usually metered so you won’t have to worry about haggling (sometimes). Make sure they are legitimate)
  • Protect your skin! This country’s makeup is mainly desert and so you can imagine how hot the country can get. Remember to stay hydrated and pack lots of sunscreen on.
  • Modesty is a must, especially as a woman. As the country is a Muslim country, foreign women and men should dress modestly to respect the culture.
  • Pay up. be aware that tourists must pay to take photos inside tombs and pyramids

Meeting locals here is a little harder because the culture is different. Unlike in England where you can go to a pub or bar and meet travellers and locals alike, Egypt is not like that. So here are some ways I was able to meet people in Egypt.

 

 

  • Staying in a hostel. I’ve found that staying in hostels really helped me to meet new people and go on adventures together and Cairo was no different. With so many cheap hostels around, it’s more than worth a try.

 

  • Taking tours. There are so many experiences and tours in Cairo which will not only help you see the sights of the city but are also a great way for you to meet fellow travellers.

 

  • Joining some clubs. Now I didn’t personally use this method, but I did hear from other travellers that this is a good way to meet people. Using sites like Facebook and joining groups is a great way to get the ball rolling.

 

  • Booking an Airbnb Experience. Though I haven’t tried this method in Egypt. I did however book some experiences in other countries with similar cultures such as Tunisia. Not only did I get an exclusive insiders tour of the country, but I also was able to make friends with my guide who later invited me out with her group of friends! This was definitely an experience I’d never forget.

There are 26 airports in total in this country. The main and busiest airport in Egypt is Cairo International Airport (CAI). Some other international airports in the country include; Hurghada Airport, Alexandria Borg El Arab Airport, Luxor International Airport, Sharm El Sheikh Airport, and Marsa Alam Airport.

Forever! Egypt has so much to see and do so it’s not uncommon for tourists who come here to want to stay forever. I have personally visited the country twice and still don’t feel like I have fully seen all Egypt has to offer!

Depending on your itinerary, I’d say 2-3 weeks is a good amount for excursions only. 4-5 days per excursion i.e. Sahara trips and an extra 4-5 days to explore the city you are in. A few more to travel to other cities or have day tours.

Can I drink the water? No

Is tipping expected? Yes, especially on tours. You also have to pay to photograph some temples and pyramids.

Fixed price or barter? Haggle! If you’re in a market or even booking an Egyptian tour, haggling is the way forward.

Any ATMs? Yes! You will find plenty across the big cities alongside popular tourist attractions. Some hotels even have ATM machines within them.

Which side of the road do they drive? Right

Good for vegetarians? Yes, many traditional dishes such as falafel, chickpeas, and Taameya (deep-fried fava beans) can be commonly found in restaurants. Though being a vegan may be harder, veganism is picking up in big cities such as Cairo so do search up restaurants near you or ask the locals for the best hotspots.

Any seven wonders of the world? Yes

Plan a trip to Egypt

If you are ready to solo travel to Egypt here are some useful links to help you plan your travel.

Facts

Budget – £35 – £50 a day (based on traveling on a budget and staying in hostels and budget accommodation Egypt. If you are looking to book on excursions such as Sahara tours these can be a bit more pricey and your daily budget may be more like £200)

Capital – Cairo

Population – 100 million

Language spoken – Arabic

Local Currency – Egyptian pound

Do I need a visa? – British passport holders do need a visa to enter.

Flying time to Egypt  – Cairo (4 hours) Luxor (7 hours) 

Did you know?  The Egyptians invented the 365-day calendar!

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