EGYPT- Top 7 day trips in and from Cairo; a 9 day Egypt itinerary

Egypt is a country with thousands of years of history and most famous for its Pharaohs and pyramids at Giza. It’s part of the Middle East but lies on the African continent. It’s one of those countries I wanted to visit for a long time but never had the chance to go and we all know there was a year or two of some turmoil which didn’t allow easy travel. Today, tourists still stay away but when the Intercontinental Cairo City Stars was on the IHG Pointbreaks list I didn’t hesitate to book 10 nights in Cairo. It was a bargain (just 5000 points which I calculate at about 25 euro per night) and there was no actual safety threat anymore, so no reason to not go. To efficiently see Cairo, I hired an Egyptian Sidekick for most of the days. They are students and try to change the way tourism works in Egypt: fair prices no hidden fees or extraordinary tips. I had a great time with them and I’ll show you the Egypt itinerary I made together with them. All day trips are based out of Cairo and cover all the important places in northern Egypt. One day I need to return for southern Egypt.

Things to keep in mind when planning an Egypt itinerary

Let me start with a few things to keep in mind if you are planning an Egypt itinerary plus a few general tips when visiting Egypt.

  • Check the status for visa on arrival for your country before you travel, things tend to change. In general, you need to buy the visa sticker first before you line up for immigrations. I didn’t know so I had to go back and get it and line up again at the end of the row.
  • Egypt is perfectly safe but use common sense for some areas on the borders with neighboring countries. I walked through back alleys in Cairo at night without problem.
  • Respect the Muslim rules, although Egypt is a pretty free country keep in mind rules are a bit different. Don’t photograph, especially women, without permission. Dress moderate in mosques and other religious buildings.
  • Traffic is chaotic which can make travel times longer as you would expect. Leave some space for delays in an Egypt itinerary.
  • I was advised to be carefully with food and water to avoid the Pharaohs curse. That’s just heavy stomach problems and toilet visit throughout the day. It depends on what you are used to but I brushed teeth with tap water, had dinner in back alleys and didn’t get sick. It might be luck but keep it in mind and buy medicine locally as the Western pills don’t work.
  • See my top 6 hotspots to go for lunch and dinner to find out how to avoid the Pharaohs curse! All these places are clean!

I think that’s the most important things to keep in mind; for the rest just enjoy the country! I’ll share with you the 7 day trips I did in and around Cairo which cover basically all places of interest. The other 2-3 days I stayed at the hotel to enjoy the pool and the others were basically travel days.

Egypt Itinerary day trip #1: Coptic Cairo

In Cairo the biggest part is Muslim but there is a beautiful Coptic area too. All places of interest are concentrated around one street and it takes almost a full day to see everything. I suggest to start at the Coptic Museum to learn about the history of the area. From there you can walk up and down the street to see the different churches and a cemetery. There are also various remains of much older structures partly integrated into the newer buildings. In the street there are restaurants where you can take a snack for lunch. For dinner see the 6 hotspots to go for dinner and lunch in Cairo which I wrote earlier.

For a detailed day trip report please see:
EGYPT – A day in Coptic Cairo, the Cairo Tower and Tahrir Square with the Egyptian Museum

Egypt-Cairo-Coptic-Quarter

Egypt Itinerary day trip #2: Wadi Al-Hitan

Wadi Al-Hitan is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site about 3 hours south of Cairo. It’s basically a dry ocean floor where lots of prehistoric fossils and skeletons are perfectly preserved. It’s a long drive but well worth it as you can see here millions of years of history. There is a well-marked track which guides you through the desert and at several points skeletons and other fossils are on display at the spot where they were found. Go early so that on the way back you have time to stop at some nearby waterfalls and drive through some rural areas to see the local life in Egypt. Depending on the day you go, you might be able to visit a local farmers market which is something you must have seen once in your life. It’s a long day trip and there aren’t many options for lunch so take some snacks and drinks with you.

For a detailed day trip report please see:
EGYPT – A walk through million years of history at Wadi Al-Hitan Whale Valley

Egypt-Wadi-Al-Hitan-Whale-Valley

Egypt Itinerary day trip #3: Garbage City, Cave Church & Dahab’s Nile Island

I wanted to see also the other side of Cairo: Garbage City and Dahab’s Island in the Nile. This day trip is probably not on everyone’s priority list but if you want to see local life I do suggest to do this trip. It’s only half a day so the rest of the day I suggest to go see the Cairo Museum, Tahir Square and the Cairo Tower. I actually went there on the day of arrival as I arrived early morning but it can be perfectly combined on this day. Garbage City is a neighborhood in Cairo where, as the name says, most of the garbage goes for recycling. You will see lots of people sorting garbage by hand, taking electronics apart and bundling all for transport. It’s interesting to see how the people live there as it’s a big contrast to Western European countries. Lots of poverty there. Nearby is a cave church which is also well worth a visit. The Dahab’s Nile Island is a large island in the middle of the Nile which isn’t developed. You can witness here farmers working the land and children play. I always like to see how the local’s live when I travel and the area’s I visited this day fit perfectly this goal.

For a detailed day trip report please see:
EGYPT – The other side: Cairo Garbage City, Cave Church, Dahab’s Nile Island

Egypt-Cairo-Garbage-City

Egypt Itinerary day trip #4: Islamic Cairo part 1

Islamic Cairo has too many places of interested to see in one day so I did it in two. One day I suggest to go to the old citadel to see the mosques, museums and ancient fortifications. It doesn’t take a full day to explore the Cairo Citadel so after lunch there is time to go to the Al-Azhar Park to relax in the sunshine. In case the weather isn’t in your favor for the park then you could also visit Garbage City this afternoon. In the afternoon make a stop at the Bab Zuweila Gate which is at the far end of Muizz Street but to far to walk all the way the other day.

For a detailed day trip report please see:
EGYPT – Islamic Cairo: the Citadel, Al-Azhar Park and Bab Zuweila Gate

Egypt-Cairo-Citadel-Bab-Zuweila-Al-Azhar-Park

Egypt Itinerary day trip #5: Islamic Cairo part 2

The second part of Islamic Cairo consist of the Al-Rifai and Sultan Hassan mosques and all kinds of buildings around Muizz Street. Visit the two mosques first, then go to the Muizz Street. Walk through the Muizz Street and explore all the protected buildings which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of old Cairo. There are quite some buildings which give a good understanding how people lived in past time; it’s not just mosques. Once you finish, walk back to have a tea at the Om Kalthoum Cafe. It’s a famous place so make sure you don’t pay the tourist prices but the local prices. There are several souks in the area to buy souvenirs. Make sure to bargain! You should be able to get the price down by 50-65% easily. During this day you will visit several mosques so dress moderate although clothing is also provided for tourist at most of them.

For a detailed day trip report please see:
EGYPT – Islamic Cairo: The historical Muizz Street and Al-Rifai & Sultan Hassan Mosque

EGYPT-Islamic-Cairo-The-historical-Muizz-Street-and-Al-Rifai-Sultan-Hassan-Mosque

Egypt Itinerary day trip #6: Abu Mena & Alexandria

Abu Mena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site a few kilometers outside of Alexandria. As I want to see all of the UNESCO Sites I simply had to drive up there. There is a new Abu Mena and an old archeological site which is the UNESCO Site. I visited both as the new church is a piece of art. Abu Mena has been for centuries a Christian pilgrims place. Each year thousands come to Abu Mena where Menas of Alexandria was burried centuries ago. The archeological site is a few hundreds meters away and a bit difficult to find. Just put the site into Google Maps and you will get there somehow as a few roads go there. It’s not a tourist site and there was no entrance fee and not that much information. A guard watched me while I explored the site. It depends on your interest if you should go there to be honest. Alexandria was my second stop this day where I explored the fort and the palace. In case Abu Mena is not your attraction I suggest to spend a full day in Alexandria. It’s easily filled with activities.

For a detailed day trip report please see:
EGYPT – An Alexandria day trip from Cairo with a visit to Abu Mena

Egypt-Alexandria-City-Trip

Egypt Itinerary day trip #7: Pyramids & Pharaohs

One positive thing of having less tourists in Egypt is that you can make pictures of the Giza Pyramids without people. A unique opportunity. This day trip will take you first to the southern pyramids: the Dahshur Pyramid field, the step pyramid at Saqqara, old royal city of Memphis and end at the three pyramids at Giza and the Sphinx. Each of the pyramids is different so I highly recommend to not just visit those at Giza but also the other ones. You can enter the pyramids at Giza but I recommend to do that at the ones at Dahshur as it’s less crowded and cheaper. Especially at Giza there will be touts offering tours and more. If this annoys you then give them a firm no and normally they should stop bothering you. This day trip is the most famous day trip in Cairo and one not to skip. Everything you will see today is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. I was really impressed by the size of the pyramids and the fact these were constructed thousands of years ago.

For a detailed day trip report please see:
EGYPT – The classic pyramids day tour from Cairo

The above day trips together pass by all the major places in northern Egypt and leave enough time to relax. I hope these suggestions help you to plan an Egypt itinerary and that you will enjoy the trip as much as I did. If you want to know where to eat local specialties, then make sure to check out my top 6 restaurant hotspots for lunch and dinner in Cairo. I had for example cow eyes, sheep balls and lots of other street food and famous Egyptian dishes. Soon I hope to visit Egypt again, but then the southern part as there is so much more to see and to do there.

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Did you visit Egypt too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Gallery Egypt Itinerary