Egypt. The perfect 10 day itinerary

A trip in time across the cradle of civilization. From ancient temples to modern ways of life. (And with the bonus of the surprising Red Sea!)​




Soaking in the madness of Cairo and visiting the most important temples will require at least a full week, but since we had a few more days, we decided to spend some time by the sea to relax after the intense cultural and social experience that is travelling to Egypt.


Once we’d booked our flights, and decided we’d visit Cairo with a guide and then go on a Nile River cruise, we thought it would all be easy from there. We thought the guide would plan all the itinerary and excursion.

The truth is we were wrong, once we contacted Ali, our spanish speaking guide recommended by a friend (, we realised we had a lot more to decide than we thought!

OPTIONS. In our post useful advice when travelling to Egypt we tell you all about why you should travel with a guide, and whether to do it by private car or on a cruise along the Nile.

We chose the second option, but still you have to be aware of the ships’ departure dates and the direction of the cruise (Aswan to Luxor or viceversa).

What to see and in which order?

Cairo needs a minimum of two full days: one to visit Saqqarah, with its Mastabas, King Teti’s pyramid and the stepped pyramid; then Dahshur, where the Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid sit; and finally move on to the plain of Giza, to marvel at the iconic pyramids of Keops, Kefren and Micerinos, along with the eigmatic Sphinx. The second day is for the city of Cairo itself. Keep in mind that the Egyptian Museum could mane for a full day of immersion, but we think two hours will give you enough time to understand the basics of ancient egypt and its dinasties, and to stand in awe in front of the funerary mask of Tutankhamun, in a room that holds 450 kg of solid gold.

THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM: Despite the cruise experience, the marvelous temples, the hot air balloon rides at sunrise, we have to say that the egyptian museum is what had more impact on us on this trip.

Why? Because of the chaotic way of storing remainings of incalculable value. Open windows, smoking guards, reckless visitors sitting or dropping their bags on top of statues, boxes, crates and half packaged pieces covered in dust lying on the corners… and still, despite the lack of care, we haven’t seen anything like it.

The amount of history, art and culture inside this old, dirty building is enough to justify the trip to Egypt!

But there’s still a lot to see in Cairo apart from the museum: Qar Al-Sham, also know as the coptic neighbourhood of Cairo, where you’ll find the churches of St. George (Keniset Mari Guirguis). St. Mary’s church (Keniset sitt Mariam), also known as the Hanging Church because of it being built right on top of a preexisting fortress (it was also called the church of the stair, because of the steeped steps that lead to its entrance). In this area you’ll also find Ben Ezra’s Synagogue, a XIX century building also know as El-Geniza.

A cool, uncrowded sunset spot is Makkatan Corniche. A residential hill above the Citadel, with views over the whole city, weather permitting. The pop up terraces will offer you seating a and fresh tea while you watch the sun set behind the smog of this crazy city.
At night, Cairo is even more alive, if that’s even possible. You can’t miss the Khan el Khalili Market, full of gorgeous stalls where they’ll try to sell you anything and everthing as you wander through its alleys. Once here, continue walking across the Islamic Quarter and visit the pristine Al-Azhar Mosque.

We were in doubt whether to visit Cairo at the beggining or the end of our trip. We think we got it right by doing it first, since it’s a very dynamic but also chaotic and tiring visit, and we didnt feel like diving back into that madness after the relaxing experience of the cruise. We’d rather dive amongst corals in the Red Sea!

OUR TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY. Every trip we can, we like to save the last days for the most relaxing part of it. This allows us to get some rest after the intense cultural and physical activity. In Egypt, we booked a couple days in Marsa Alam to finish the trip.


Our recommendation, if you don’t want to waste your time, is that you book it in advance and don’t wait until you’re in Egypt to organize it. You can find some of the options in this link.

There are great variations in price between seasons (summer being basically a giveaway), but not as much variation between different qualities. That’s why we recommend going for the highest possible quality you’re offered. Don’t be fooled or scared by the «5 star superior luxe» tag, it doesn’t equate to what europeans are used to!

Another option is to book it through your tour guide. That’s what we did, and we agreed on a price in advance using the prices we’d seen online as a reference. We got a better deal than the online agencies were offering. Read more about this on our useful advice post!

Another factor to consider is the day of departure. Most cruises from Aswan to Luxor (3 nights) depart on wednesdays or fridays, while Luxor to Aswan cruises (4 nights) usually start on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Of course there are ships that have different departure dates, these are just the most common ones. We’d originally booked a 4 night cruise from Luxor to Aswan, but on a last minute adjustment, we changed it to a Aswan-Luxor.

This last minute change was only possible thanks to our guide Ali, a very resourceful guy, as we told you on our previous post!


As usual we booked our return flights to Cairo, along with the internal flights, using We’ve been using Skyscanner for years, and we believe there’s nothing better for flight search!

We flew with the cheapest option we could find that would fit our dates, and in this case it was UIA (Ukraine International Airlines): 270€ per person, return flight Madrid-Cairo, with a short stopover in Kiev. Our experience with them is not great. Their baggage policies are very strict, and on the flight back we had to pay 55€ to check-in one of our backpacks… (those little presents for the family add up!)

For the internal flights, we’d initially booked Cairo-Luxor with Nile Air for 114€ per person. The day before the flight we changed to a Cairo-Aswan flight, and had to pay a change fee of 48€. The reason for all these changes is that we were informed that getting to Marsa Alam from Aswan (despite being a lot closer than Luxor) wouldn’t be possible… As said on our useful advice post, don’t believe a word they say. Our friends from made it (although quite uncomfortably) from Aswan to Marsa Alam.

We flew back from Marsa Alam to Cairo with Egypt Air. We went a bit over budget here (200€ per person). We made the mistake of booking it too late, due to all the uncertainties about whether we’d be able to get to Marsa Alam or not, and because the only other option# are to do it by car in 9 hours, or by bus in 12 hours!!



And finally, after all that info that we hope you find useful, here’s our day by day itinerary. Looking at it in perspective, we wouldn’t really change a thing! Except maybe we’d book the internal flights earlier to get a much better deal…

DAY 1. Madrid – Cairo. 

Night in Hayat Pyramids View Hotel in Giza (55$ per night, breakfast included)

DAY 2. Saqarah – Dahshur – Giza.

Night in Golden Tulip Flamenco Hotel, in Zamalek (84$ per night, breakfast included)

DAY 3. Egyptian Museum of Cairo (Tahrir Sq.) – Coptic quarter – Amr al Asn Mosque – Saladino’s Citadel – Mokkatan Corniche – Khan el Khalili market – Mosque Al Azhar – City of the Dead – Islamic quarter.

Night in Golden Tulip Flamenco Hotel, in Zamalek (84$ per night, breakfast included)

DAY 4. Fligt Cairo-Aswan – Aswan High Dam – Nubian Village.

Night in the cruise (Aswan)

DAY 5. Abu Simbel – Sail to Kom Ombo – Temple of Kom Ombo.

Night in the cruise (sailing from Kom Ombo to Edfu)

DAY 6. Temple of Horus in Edfu – Sail to Luxor – Temple of Luxor.

Night in the cruise (Luxor)

DAY 7. Hot air ballon over the Valley of the Kings – Memnon Colossi – Valley of the Kings – Hatshepsut Temple – Karnak Temple – car ride to Marsa Alam.

Night in Ecolodge Bedouin Valley Camp and Diving Centre (55€ per night, including breakfast)

DAY 8. Marsa Alam (Tondoba Bay) – Qulaan Lagoon – Hankorab beach.

Night in Ecolodge Bedouin Valley Camp and Diving Centre (55€ per night, including breakfast)

DAY 9. Diving day in Marsa Alam (Tondoba Bay).

Night in Ecolodge Bedouin Valley Camp and Diving Centre (55€ per night, including breakfast)

DAY 10. Flight Marsa Alam-Cairo, Cairo-Madrid.



As usual, we like to tell you what we didn’t do, and would love to do if we had more days:

  1. Stay a bit longer in Luxor to also visit the Valley of the Queens, although this shouldn’t be a priority.
  2. Visit the Dendera Temples Complex near the town of Quena. We were told they are amazing, and in a very good conservation state.
  3. Spend more days relaxing by the Red Sea. Maybe mix it up by going to the Dahab area, in the Sinai peninsula, which is said to have the most beautiful beaches in Egypt. (We’d avoid Hurghada, as we are a bit allergic to those huge resort towns, but it’s a matter of preference.)
  4. Pay a visit to the mediterranean city of Alexandria.

We hope you found this post useful and it helps you make up your mind on how to organize your trip to Egypt!

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