Your guide to the ancient wonders of Egypt including where to stay and what to do
There have been visitors flocking to Egypt for 3,000 years. It is the most tried and tested destination in the world, and offers great value sun during the cold winter months. Now, there are more flights than ever, with airlines like BMI increasing services to the Middle East, meaning more competitive prices for the traveller. Even better, you can reach it a little more quickly than our predecessors: Alexander The Great took years to get there from Greece, leaving a trail of drunken orgies, battles and murderous feuds in his wake. Fortunately, you can do it in a mere four-hour flight from the UK, and with far less stress. With its unrivalled culture and the chance to see historic masterpieces in the shape of temples, tombs, and museums, it’s well worth the trip.
WHERE TO STAY?
It’s in the city of Aswan that you’ll start to feel the wonder of Egypt’s ancient mystery. Go on a traditional wooden felucca boat and cruise down the Nile relaxing as you drift towards a sunset that melts over the horizon. On the banks of Aswan, look out for the Sofitel Cataract Hotel, the spot where crime writer Agatha Christie penned her classic thriller, Death on the Nile. Gliding past as the waters lap the boat is the ideal way to wind down after a day spent touring some of the most ancient temples in the world. The Basma Hotel has views over the Nile, while the Iberotel is in the heart of historic Luxor, and a great base for exploring.
WHERE TO SHOP?
Egypt is the historical birthplace of the world’s most image-conscious beauty, Cleopatra, so you can expect to find a treasure trove of glamorous offerings. There are many bargains to be had on jewellery, perfume and fine cotton clothing if you know where to shop. To avoid hassle from vendors, head to respected shopping venues that will give you great quality at even better prices. See the list at touregypt.net
WHAT TO DO?
This ancient land is packed with must-see relics. One hour from Luxor you’ll find the Valley of the Kings. Here lies Tutankhamen’s Tomb, the resting place of the boy king who died before his twenty-first birthday. You can see his mummified body preserved to near-perfection.
In Luxor itself, the ancient temple of Karnak took 2,000 years to build. Visit the temple at night and watch the light show that illuminates the hieroglyphic columns, capturing their regal majesty. Alternatively, explore the temple by day and discover its hidden corners. If you want to tie in a trip to the Pyramids, we recommend an overnight trip on the sleeper train from Luxor to Cairo. You’ll race along through the desert under the night sky in your own butler-serviced carriage, arriving in Cairo by the early morning and thus avoiding the stifling afternoon heat.
If you want to see the best of Egypt but are short on time, Exodus, exodus.co.uk , offers great value. For £849 you can get flights, eight days of accommodation, breakfast and two evening meals. You will also visit Cairo, Luxor and Aswan and enjoy a night on a Nile felucca and two nights on a sleeper train. Highlights include exploring the elaborate tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the great stone edifice of Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, Karnak and Luxor temples and the Giza Pyramids. Or fly with BMI from £380 return to Cairo: flybmi.com