Pyramids of Giza have been a dream of mine for a long time, especially since they are the only ones standing from the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and they also remain in the new list of world wonders; therefore, they are, obviously, a highlight and something to not be missed in two weeks in Egypt.
Despite my reservations to visit Egypt, after all the reading I did, in which sexual harassment was a constant topic and a warning for solo women travelers, in addition to the visa application process, I made it there in late September 2019 and again in November 2022.
Things to know before traveling to Egypt
- If you need a visa and you are not eligible to get one on arrival, you will need to apply for one at the nearest Embassy/Consulate of Egypt or eVisa. Kosovo citizens can check the info here.
- Egypt uses Pounds and the conversion rate at the last time I visited was $1 – EGP 23.5 (subject to change)
- It’s always good to have an itinerary; however, last-minute flights within Egypt are not too expensive or one can use the train or buses which are rather affordable options
- Uber, Didi, and Careem are available as an alternative to white taxis or public transportation in Cairo. Uber is cheap as gas is cheap in Egypt; however, prepare for non-English speaking drivers (with exceptions), no change (if you pay in cash), and phone calls before they pick you up (which doesn’t help if you speak no Arabic and they speak no English). Public transportation is affordable and well organized in the area it covers. Like anywhere else, it gets crowded during rush hours. There are designated “ladies’ cars” in the Cairo subway which I used once just for the sake of experience.
What to visit in two weeks in Egypt?
Ideally, traveling anywhere within Egypt is a good idea as there is a lot to see and do; however, if you have limited time you can pick from the places below Alexandria, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Cairo, Giza, Luxor, and Siwa Oasis, or go to the rest of Egypt which I have yet to discover – such as Sinai, Hurghada, and others.
I took the train from Cairo and back to visit Alexandria on a day trip; however, I highly recommend staying at least for a night. Loved visiting the Library (Bibliotheca Alexandrina), the Serapeum of Alexandria, and the Citadel of Qaitbay. As the trip was short, it was a bit rushed; nevertheless, I had time to have some delicious ice cream, lunch, and also sugarcane juice – super fresh just outside the Serapeum from a street vendor.
The highlights of Egypt are, no doubt, the Pyramids of Giza and that is probably one of the main reasons travelers go to Egypt. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the Philae Temples, which honestly I hadn’t heard about before reaching Aswan. But I just loved them. (Re)Located on an island, beautifully planned and implemented; they gave me such a good, peaceful feeling. I could have spent the whole day there if it weren’t for the limited time I had and wanted to also see other attractions in Aswan.
I also enjoyed being in the Nubian village. I noticed it when booking my accommodation for Aswan. I immediately loved the colorful place it seemed to be and decided that when I visit Aswan, that will be my “home”. I enjoyed staying at Kato Dool Nubian House in September 2019 and then went back again last time but stayed at the Nubian Palace. The breakfast at Kato Dool Nubian House was plenty (too much for one person like me who doesn’t eat much) and the rooms were colorful while the location by the Nile (calm and peaceful) made it for a great time in Aswan. I actually didn’t want to leave that place but I had to so I could visit the Aswan attractions. I loved also the street art which was even more frequent there on my second visit.
Outside of Aswan, one can also visit the Aswan Dam and also make a stop at the Soviet-Egypt Friendship Museum.
From Aswan, Abu Simbel can be reached by road as well. My trip was organized by the Nubian Palace where I stayed in November 2022. I left early morning and it took about 3 hours to reach. This is one of the most important temples in Egypt which, like Philae Temples, has been relocated to the current location.
There is the main temple and a small temple. Both are visited under the same ticket. Going early morning, which most of the tours do, means the temples are crowded with people. If you have time, I’d recommend you stay for the night there and visit it in the afternoon when the crowds are gone.
There is also a lovely market where one can buy everything. Negotiate the price always as the first price the sellers will offer is super high.
Many times overlooked by travelers, the capital of Egypt is a lovely place to be (minus the crazy traffic and the pollution). It also offers a lot to see and in order to see them all, one needs to make a plan on what to see by dividing and conquering.
- Cairo Citadel or Citadel of Saladin – this is a medieval-era fortification which was built – the name itself tells you – by Saladin and then further developed by other Egyptian rulers. The citadel went through different periods and also the Mosque of Muhammad Ali is within its walls. In addition, there are great views of Cairo one can see from there.
- Egyptian Museum – although there is a new Museum in Cairo; this old one is still functional and one can go visit and learn more about Egyptian history. I spent about three hours there and still left many things unseen (I can’t stay for too long in a closed space such as a museum). I won’t bother you with the history as I do hope you have either already visited, will go visit, or will learn about it more in your history classes or some documentary.
- Khan Al-Khalili market is no doubt something everyone visits when in Cairo as everything can be found there, in those busy streets. One can negotiate the prices, just like anywhere else in Egypt, and get the best deal. Near the area, there is also an old mosque and also a gate to the old town.
- Coptic Cairo is another area that needs to be visited while in Cairo. The Hanging Church is an important site to see. There is also the first mosque built in Egypt as well as a synagogue. I couldn’t visit the synagogue as special permission is needed which I didn’t have (2019 – maybe things have changed now?)
- Manial Palace Museum is one of the places that I stumbled upon by chance and impressed me probably the most in Cairo. Not because of its history that much as I’m not into that but because of its colorful interior. By now, if you’ve been reading carefully what I’ve written in this and other posts, you know how important colors are to me. I spent a couple of hours visiting this Palace Museum and exploring every bit of it. I think there are a few things or even people I’ve explored the way I did this Palace. It also helped that not many visitors were around so I could enjoy it in peace although it is situated in a very busy area of Cairo.
- Cairo Tower – I went there both times I visited Egypt and despite its good views of Cairo, it’s kinda a rip-off for tourists. The waiting time is long if you go by regular ticket; the staff was very rude the last time I visited in November. However, do it once and without high expectations.
- Cairo street art – is not very present, but here and there one can see some pieces of street art. Some of them are only inside some art galleries, but worth searching for them.
There is only one reason why travelers go to Giza and that’s the famous Pyramids of Giza. One can do it as a day trip from Cairo or stay there in one of the hotels overlooking the pyramids. No guide is needed to go around but you can walk on your own. As with many places in Egypt, there are people who will offer to help and then ask for some baksheesh (little money). For an extra fee, one can also go inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. I did that but honestly, it’s not that worth it. There is no air (obviously) and once you reach the top of the narrow and low stairs there is not much to see.
Another place I enjoyed was Karnak Temple in Luxor. One could get easily lost in all those pillars. There was a sound and light show which was very well organized. Moreover, the Luxor Museum is also a point of interest. The Temple of Hatshepsut is another highlight of the area alongside the Valley of the Kings. Luxor also offers luxurious accommodation if one wants to just chill for a while (like I did on my second visit). Also, if one wants to have a good meal, head to Sofra restaurant and nearby have a great ice cream at Selfie Ice Cream shop.
Absolutely, my favorite place in Egypt. Or maybe I’m being very subjective here as I loved the calm of it. Reaching Siwa isn’t a piece of cake, not in terms of logistics as that is pretty straightforward: buy a bus ticket from Cairo and hop on a night bus and reach there early morning (make sure to book a bit in advance as buses get full). Two nights should be okay if you are on a tight schedule; otherwise, one can extend it and just enjoy that easy way of going around and seeing the desert, oasis, the salt lakes (which unfortunately are being ruined a bit by all those bulldozers operating there).
I’ll let the pictures talk for this location as a picture equals to a thousand words. I present you more than a thousand words LOL.