Egypt

14 Days best of Egypt Itinerary – The Ultimate self-travel guide

Egypt Itinerary Abu Simbel

In this blog post, we share our exact 14 Days Egypt Itinerary as we know many of you are also interested in traveling around Egypt independently. Most tourists visit Egypt on a guided tour, and self-traveling is not very popular yet, but it’s doable and safe. In this ultimate self-travel Guide, you will find all the information you need to plan your trip.

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Best time to visit Egypt

The best time to visit Egypt is during winter time when the temperatures are the lowest. These months, from November to March, are also the busiest time for tourism. The summer months should be avoided as the temperatures are too high, making exploring very exhausting. Egypt is a desert country, and the highest temperatures can easily reach up to 50 degrees Celsius. We traveled around Egypt in October, shortly before the high season started, and we had a good experience. Anywhere between October and April is the best time to go.

Visa for entering Egypt

To enter Egypt as a foreigner, you need a Visa. You can either get your Visa on arrival or online. We recommend getting your Visa online here to avoid dealing with paperwork when you arrive. The single entry Visa we got was 25 USD per person and was valid for 30 days.

How to travel around Egypt independently

Rental Car in Egypt

Most visitors travel around Egypt with a guided tour, and those usually get around by bus or on a Nile River Cruise. But it’s possible to rent a car and travel around Egypt independently. An international driving Licence is recommended. We rented our car via Discover Cars and had our pick up and drop off at Luxor Airport.

Driving in Egypt

The streets in Egypt are usually good, paved roads, especially when driving from one city to another. Drives can be very long (3-5 hours), so you should not mind driving long distances. Even if we are used to long drives, they felt extra long in Egypt as highways lead through the desert and views barely change. Important to know is that there are many police checkpoints that you will cross while you drive around the country. Don’t worry; the people are always amiable, and they were usually positively surprised that we drove ourselves. They will ask you for your name and country, and phone number. We think it’s for safety reasons as the next checkpoint usually knew already that we were coming.

14 Days best of Egypt Itinerary

We are very happy with our trip, and that’s why we share our exact 14 Days Egypt Itinerary with you here.

Day 1 – 3 Cairo

Our first stop on our Egypt Itinerary was Cairo, the capital city. Cairo is a huge city; you could spend more time exploring here. We mainly came for the pyramids, so the time was enough for us. We did not drive ourselves in Cairo as the traffic there was crazy. We recommend using Uber to get around here. 

The highlight of Cairo are the famous Pyramids. Here is our detailed guide on visiting the great Pyramids of Giza without a tour. Other top things to do in Cairo are the Khan El-Khalili souk (market) or the Egyptian Museum.

Where we stayed in Cairo

We stayed at the Nine Pyramids View Hotel, close to the Pyramids of Giza. If that’s your priority like it was for us, we highly recommend staying here as they even have an amazing rooftop to watch the sunset over the pyramids. 

Day 3 – 6 Luxor

Luxor is a must-visit on every Egypt Itinerary. This ancient city is like an open-air museum. Luxor is divided into two parts by the Nile River. East Bank is the city’s bustling center, and West Bank is the quieter and greener part. As the drive from one side to the other takes around an hour, we decided to first stay on the East Bank and then on the West Bank to be close to the temples we wanted to explore.

Our highlights in Luxor are Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings, and Hatshepsut Temple. Click here for our detailed Self-travel Guide for Luxor with the 7 best things to do.

Where we stayed in Luxor

On East Bank, we stayed at Nefertiti Hotel, which is located next to Luxor Temple and has an amazing rooftop restaurant with a stunning sunset view over the Nile.
 
On West Bank, we stayed at a beautiful New Villa surrounded by greenery, which was so peaceful and relaxing. The host was the loveliest and made our stay perfect. Very close to exploring the temples.

Day 6 – 8 Aswan

About 3-4 hours south of Luxor, you will find Aswan. Less touristy, and with lots of islands on the Nile River, it’s an extraordinary place to explore. Our highlight in Aswan was the beautiful Philae Temple, located on an island and can only be reached by boat. There is a cute cafe opposite the temple where you can have lunch with a fantastic view. Other places to see are the colorful Nubian Village and several other islands you can explore.

Where we stayed in Aswan

We stayed at the beautiful BenBen by Dhara Hotel in Aswan and highly recommend it. The views of Philae Temple and Nile River are stunning, the design is so unique, and the staff made our stay perfect.

Day 8 – 9 Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel is a less popular place for tourism, and the visitors that visit Abu Simbel temple are all coming with a tour, most of them not even sleeping in Abu Simbel. That is why there are not many options for hotels to stay in. But if you are adventurous, we recommend coming to Abu Simbel as it is probably our favorite temple in Egypt and the most authentic place.

Where we stayed in Abu Simbel

The only budget-friendly option we found in Abu Simbel was Hllol Hotel. It was fine for one night, the location was great, and the staff was very friendly.

Day 10 – 14 Marsa Alam

Our highlight in this Egypt Itinerary is the underwater world of the Red Sea. Especially if you are a diver, you can’t miss Marsa Alam. But you don’t need to be a certified diver to enjoy the beauty of the Red Sea; even while snorkeling, you can enjoy all the stunning colors and fishes.

We stayed at Red Sea Diving Safari in Marsa Shagra and loved our time there. We could do unlimited self-guided dives at the house reef, dive excursions, and snorkeling with Dolphins at Dolphin house reef. The staff and the whole camp were amazing too.

General Travel Tips for self-traveling Egypt

Vegan in Egypt

Traveling to Egypt as a vegan was not hard at all. Most local restaurants have plenty of vegan options once you know the dishes. Here are our top local dishes for Vegans:

  • Tamaya: Egyptian Version of Falafel made from Beans
  • Hummus: Chickpea mash
  • Baba Ganoush: Aubergine mash
  • Foul: Like Hummus but made of Fava Beans
  • Vegetable Tajine
  • Mashi: Vegetables stuffed with rice
  • Red Lentil Soup
  • Koshary: Egyptian Street food with pasta, rice, lentils, chickpeas, and tomato sauce

Internet Access

For the internet, we recommend getting a SIM card at the airport when you arrive. It will make your life easier as hotels often have terrible wifi in Egypt. Especially when you travel independently, it’s beneficial to always have connection. We got our SIM card from Orange and paid 13 USD for 20 GB.

As a backup, we always have our Skyroam Solis with us too. We can get the best signal in more than 130 countries with it. It’s very handy to have internet when arriving in a new country as long as we don’t have a local SIM card.

Money

We recommend getting cash at the Egyptian National Bank (ENB) as it had no fees with our card from Revolut. It is helpful to have some money in cash in many situations.

People and Culture

We often got asked if we felt safe and if people weren’t very unfriendly in Egypt. Unfortunately, they usually have a terrible reputation. That comes from typical tourist scams and intrusive sellers in tourist places. And yes, that exists, and it can be unpleasant when you visit these places alone. But we never felt unsafe or harassed. Overall we had so many lovely encounters with the Egyptians and think they are very welcoming and friendly people. 

Budget for this 14 Days best of Egypt Itinerary

To help you with your travel budget, we share here the actual expenses we had for this Egypt Itinerary:

  • Visa: 50 USD (for two people)
  • SIM Card 20 GB: 13 USD
  • Domestic Flight Cairo to Luxor:  70 USD with Egypt Air
  • Rental Car for 10 Days: 550 USD for 10 days
  • Accomodation: 30.00 – 100.00 USD per night (depending on the standard of accomodation)
  • Food 2 meals per day: around 30-40 USD for two people
  • Entrance fees for temples: from 7 to 15 USD per person (depending on the temple)

Conclusion to our independent Egypt Itinerary

Independent travel in Egypt isn’t the norm, but it’s very well-doable and safe. We had a lot of fun traveling around Egypt with our rental car, and we met many lovely people and had beautiful experiences outside the typical tourist places. But some of the temples and the pyramids are still a must-do in Egypt as they are truly unique, and their ancient history kept blowing our minds. What we love most about Egypt is the contrast between being a desert country and having the most incredible and alive underwater world we have ever seen. So no trip is complete without some days spent at the coast.

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