Rich in history, steeped in mystery and boasting some of the best beaches in Africa, Egypt is a tourist’s paradise. But just what is it that makes the country so special?
1. The Pyramids of Giza: Ask anybody what they associate most strongly with Egypt and you can bet that the answer will be ‘pyramids’. The most stunning of these gravity-defying constructions can be found at Giza – three fantastically preserved monoliths, which include the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the World. Another famous sight of Giza is the Sphinx, or ‘Abu al-Hol’. This gigantic statue with the head of a human and the body of a cat makes a worthy addition to any bucket list.
2. Cairo: Egypt’s capital has a population of more than 16 million, and its down-at-the-heels charm will capture your heart. Stroll through the noisy souks, push through the crowds to see the Islamic architecture of Medieval Cairo, marvel at the Citadel and practice your haggling in the Khan Al-Khalili bazaar. There’s enough to do here to last a lifetime – and even if you can only spare a few days, it’s a fascinating insight into an alien culture.
3. The Valley of the Kings: An archeologists dream, the Valley of the Kings has been the site of some of the richest and most important finds in history. It’s where the pharaohs were buried in Egypt’s glory days, and hosts the tombs of such mummified celebrities as Tutankhamun. Visitors can see inside the tombs, although most of the treasures have been removed to museums around the world.
4. The Red Sea: There’s only so much sight-seeing you can do before your mind drifts to cool waters and relaxing beaches. On Egypt’s Red Sea Coast, you’ll find some of the best beaches in the world – head to Hurghada to find ten miles of picture-perfect shoreline and waters teeming with tropical fish of all colours and species. This is a mecca for divers and snorkelers, who can see everything from stingray to dolphins in the clear seas. When the sun goes down the languor leaves Hurghada, replaced by a vibrant atmosphere that attracts young party animals on all-inclusive holidays from all over the globe.
5. Luxor Temple: In a country abounding with impressive monuments, the Luxor Temple nevertheless retains the power to mesmerize even the most cynical sight-seer. It lies on the site of the ancient city of Thebes, and was built around 1400BC by Rameses II. At night the temple is beautifully lit, making it the perfect place to watch the sun set.