Egypt offers plenty as a land connecting Asia, Europe and Africa with over 6,000 years of history. Experience the Pyramids at Giza, the Nile River, the temples at Luxor and Cairo’s metropolis in this enticing country. Read our guide on how to spend 7 days in Egypt.
Travel Essentials for 7 days in Egypt
Air: British Airways and EgyptAir fly from London Heathrow (LHR) to Cairo (CAI). From £350, return.
Things to note: Cash is preferable as cards often fail despite several attempts.
Journey time from London: Five hours direct.
Need to know
Visa: For UK residents, a single 30-day sticker visa on arrival costs £25.
Travel: See the FCDO website.
Currency: Egyptian Pound (1GBP = 20 EGP approximately).
Tips: 5-10% recommended.
Travel Adapter: Type C and Type F.
Language: Arabic and some French. English is understood.
Best time to visit: Ideally, October to April. Summer is unbearably hot.
Time: GMT +2.
First impressions of Egypt
- Security is tight everywhere, often with a police escort in tourist areas.
- Everyone wants a tip. Nothing is free, but everything is negotiable.
- Personal space is limited in crowded towns and cities.
- Virtually everyone smokes, even in non-smoking designated areas.
- Egyptian time is not like European time, so prepare for long waits.
- People do not queue – they head to the front of the line.
- Always check prices in Egyptian Pounds before committing to any price.
7 days in Egypt itinerary
- Day 1 – Saqqara, Giza Plateau.
- Day 2 – Karnak Temple.
- Day 3 – Abu Simbel Temple, Philae Temple.
- Day 4 – Around Aswan.
- Day 5 – Komombo, Edfu Temple, Luxor Temple.
- Day 6 – Hot air balloon, Hatshepsut Temple, Valley of the Kings.
- Day 7 – Citadel, Hanging Church, Egyptian Museum, Khan el-Khalili market.
Day 1 – Saqqara and Giza Plateau
- Saqqara and Imhotep Museum – 180 EGP (Adult single).
- Giza Plateau – 200 EGP (Adult single). Entry to Great Pyramid (400 EGP) & Pyramid of King Khafre (100 EGP).
The Third Dynasty of Egypt, circa 2670-2613BC, begins with King Djoser, famous for his Step pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, distinct due to its rectangular base and six-tiered structure. As Egypt’s oldest pyramid, it used stone rather than mud bricks.
At this site near Memphis is the Imhotep Museum. The museum has six halls filled with archaeological finds from Saqqara. Other monuments include The Funerary Complex of King Unas and The Tombs of Idut, Unas-And and Inefert.
The next stop is The Pyramids at Giza. Many think of just three pyramids, but there are 118 in total. Some of these are unfinished. The Great Pyramid took 100,000 people 23 years to build. It consists of nearly 2.3 million stones, each weighing three tonnes, making 6.9 million tonnes. For perspective, this is the same as building a 3.5m (11.48ft) high wall around the perimeter of France.
The accuracy of the sides is astounding in the absence of modern technology. Each side is 230.36m (755.77ft) in length with a variance of just 58mm (2.28 inch), which is equivalent to the width of a mobile phone. The base covers the area of 10 football fields, and standing next to them demonstrates a sense of size and proportion. Originally, they were covered in limestone, giving them a sparkling effect in the sun, but later removed to build mosques and fortresses.
The Giza Pyramid complex comprises nine pyramids, six small ones and three larger ones, commonly referred to as The Pyramids, and the most photographed at the site of Giza.
- The Great Pyramid – known as The Pyramid of Khufu, is 146m (479ft) tall. Now 137m (449.47ft) due to erosion.
- The Pyramid of Khafre – known as The Pyramid of Chephren, is 136m (446.19ft) tall.
- The Pyramid of Menkaure – known as The Pyramid of Mykerinus, is 65m (213.25) tall.
Inside The Great Pyramid are three chambers, the Lower Chamber, the Queen’s Chamber and the King’s Chamber. The tunnel inside the King’s Chamber is narrow, with people crouching whilst moving in both directions. At the end of the tunnel is Khufu’s red granite sarcophagus, weighing 4 tonnes. The interior of The Pyramid of King Khafre, the second pyramid is less impressive.
The other pyramids are the Queen’s Pyramids, and this complex includes The Great Sphinx of Giza. A limestone statue of a human head on a lion’s body faces west to east. The east side of Cairo represents life, and the west side is for the afterlife. It is the oldest monumental structure in Egypt at 20m (65.61ft) and sculpted during Pharaoh Khafre’s reign, circa 2550BC. Little is known about the origins or connection to The Pyramids.
Nearby is the Khafre Valley Tomb. Made of large granite blocks, the 16 pillared halls originally contained over 50 life-size statues of Khafre.
Day 2 – Karnak Temple
- Karnak Temple and Open-Air Museum – 200 EGP (Adult single).
En route to Aswan is Karnak Temple, a vast complex of temple ruins, the largest in Egypt, including Amun Ra temple. Karnak took nearly 2,000 years to build. The highlight is Hypostyle Hall with 134 columns, one for each God, arranged in 16 rows. 122 of these columns are 10m (32.80ft) tall. The others are 12m (39.37ft) and 21m (68.90ft) tall with a diameter of 3m (9.84ft). Temples are always high-to-low, which explains the differing heights. Karnak is impressive in design and so popular with visitors.
Also at Karnak is the Obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut, a 24m (78.74ft) high single piece of granite. Two existed originally; one toppled over and remains on-site, while this one is the tallest surviving ancient obelisk in the world.
Day 3 – Abu Simbel Temple and Philae Temple
- Abu Simbel Temple and Documentation Centre – 240 EGP (Adult single).
- Philae Temple – 180 EGP (Adult single) plus 20 EGP (boat trip to temple).
On the long journey to Aswan near the Sudanese border is Abu Simbel. There are two rock temples, the large one built for Pharaoh Ramses II and the smaller one for his wife, Queen Nefertari. In the 1960s, the temples were under the Nile River’s waters and moved 200m (656.16ft) to dry land in one of the most ambitious relocation projects ever undertaken. Thirty-five countries took part in the project.
Next is Philae Temple, located on the island of the Aswan Low Dam, a 10-minute boat ride away. In 1972, UNESCO rescued this Greek-style temple after being submerged between two dams.
Day 4 – Around Aswan
Aswan is a city on the Nile River, famous for the dam. Historically a strategic city, it is now a stopover point. Activities include:
- A felucca boat ride on the Nile – Negotiate a price.
- Walk around the Aswan Souk – Free.
- Visit the Nubian Museum – 40 EGP (Adult single).
A felucca is a sizable motorised rowing boat with a sail. A boat trip across the Nile River is fun. Optionally, take a quick dip in the river, but be warned, the water is freezing.
Aswan souk is a local market. Souvenirs and Nubian artefacts are cheap, perhaps a tenth of the price at tourist attractions. All prices are negotiable.
The Nubian Museum, dedicated to Nubian life, is a welcome break from the temples. The people are indigenous to the Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan regions. Some rare pieces exist in the museum.
Day 5 – Komombo, Edfu Temple and Luxor Temple
- Komombo Temple and Crocodile Museum –140 EGP (Adult single).
- Edfu Temple – 180 EGP (Adult single).
- Luxor Temple – 160 EGP (Adult single).
Komombo Temple, dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek took 300 years to build. They discovered several mummified crocodiles up to 4m (13.12ft) in length, compete with crocodile eggs. This small museum is adjacent to the temple.
Edfu Temple, dedicated to the sky god Horus took 180 years to build. Cobras line the entrance, and there are 14 crypts inside. On the ceiling are blue inscriptions representing the goddess Nut. Over time these inscriptions have turned black because of smoke and incense constantly burning.
Luxor Temple, constructed in 1400BC, is very popular and one of the highlights of our 7 days in Egypt. The shadow of the statues against the stone brings the temple to life. The evening is the best time to visit. The temple contains 64 geometrically spaced columns, and the complex includes the Abu Haggag Mosque, a significant place of worship for over 3,500 years.
Day 6 – Hot air balloon, Hatshepsut Temple and Valley of the Kings
- Hot air balloon ride over Luxor – 2050 EGP (Adult single).
- Hatshepsut Temple (Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple) – 140 EGP (Adult single).
- Valley of the Kings – 240 EGP (Adult single) for 3 tombs. Tutankhamun’s tomb is 200 EGP extra.
A hot-air balloon ride over Luxor at sunrise is a must-do activity. Floating 450m (1476.38ft) above the Valley of the Kings in a basket made of straw against the backdrop of a magenta morning sky is dreamlike. The ride lasts for 40 minutes and, despite the height, feels very stable. Several companies in Luxor do pickups from accommodation points in Aswan. Unquestionably, this is a highlight of the 7 days in Egypt.
Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple is a complex of mortuary temples on the Nile’s west bank, on the opposite side of Luxor. The site looks very modern despite its construction in 1500BC. There is a long causeway to the second floor, and the backdrop is the Deir el Bahari’s cliffs.
The most visited site in Egypt after the Giza pyramids is the Valley of the Kings. A collection of 63 Royal tombs, with 900 across the site, the tombs’ preserved detail is spectacular. The depth and colour of the hieroglyphs make them seem like they were created yesterday. The painted scenes are lifelike, and there is a sense of entering the tomb of someone significant.
A total of 18 tombs are open to the public, different ones at different times. My ticket allowed entrance to three tombs, which were Tausert/Setnakht (KV14), Ramses III (KV11) and Ramses IV (KV2). They are impressive, with the Ramses IV tomb having a well-preserved sarcophagus.
The striking detail of the hieroglyphics is creative and imaginative, providing an insight into Egyptian life.
The richness and depth of colours are astounding considering the passage of time.
In 1922 Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, perhaps the most well-known tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It was found intact, complete with his mask and mummy as part of the original sarcophagus.
Known as ‘King Tut’, he ruled from 1332 to 1323B, with research showing he died from an infection resulting from a broken leg. Further studies, including his DNA, found he had malaria and required a cane to assist his walking.
Day 7 – The Citadel, Hanging Church, Egyptian Museum and Khan el-Khalili market
- Saladin Citadel – 180 EGP (Adult single)
- Hanging Church – Free
- Egyptian Museum Cairo – 200 EGP (Adult single)
The Citadel comprises four mosques located on the Mukattam hills overlooking Cairo. The main one is The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, built around 1840. Having a large central dome and four smaller ones, it contains 360 lamps and is decorated with elaborate calligraphy.
The Hanging Church is one of the oldest in Egypt. It is a Coptic church built on Roman ruins and located in Old Cairo. If the vaulted ceiling is inverted, it appears like the shape of Noah’s Ark. As one of the first churches in Egypt to have a basilica, it comes with an 11th-century porch entrance.
The Cairo Museum is exceptional, housing 35 royal mummies here. Everything inside is original, except the Rosetta stone, a replica. The original has been at the British Museum, London, for 200 years.
The stone has three inscriptions, in Hieroglyphs with 14 lines, in Demotic with 32 lines and Ancient Greek with 53 lines. The scholars translated the hieroglyphics into Ancient Greek so they could read them. There are two statues of King Tutankhamun on the first floor, made of cedarwood and covered with 25lb (11.33) kg of gold.
Khan el-Khalili, established in the 14th century, is a bazaar in the centre of Cairo. Tourists and locals jostle for goods among the narrow, crowded, and chaotic streets. The cacophony of noise is similar to most Middle Eastern markets.
The verdict after 7 days in Egypt
From Cairo’s hustle and bustle, a city of 22 million inhabitants, to the sheer expansiveness of the desert, the people are courteous, polite and very hospitable. Spending 7 days in Egypt should provide enough time to cover the major attractions.
Egypt receives bad press, with reports of poor hygiene and a lack of personal safety. Looking past these, it is a beautiful country. Learn some basic Arabic phrases, respect the religious and cultural aspects, dress conservatively and embrace the whole experience.
The highlight of spending 7 days in Egypt is visiting the Giza complex. As the only remaining one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, the feeling of being surrounded by these mystical monuments, their true purpose still unknown to this day, is surreal.
The highly informative Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities website.
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