Egypt is a beautiful and varied country which offers so many wonderful tourist opportunities. It’s almost a shame that The Pyramids colour people’s perceptions of what Egypt has to offer, as there are a diverse set of things to see in Egypt.
Almost a shame – but not quite.
There is no denying that The Pyramids are an architectural marvel and certainly among the most awe-inspiring monuments in the world, but The Pyramids are also victims of their own success. Millions of people descend on Egypt every year to see The Pyramids, missing some of the stunning attractions and other enchanting places the country has to offer.
Here are seven of the best attractions to see whilst on holiday in Egypt, with not a Pyramid in sight.
After the Great Sphinx, Abu Simbel is probably the most iconic carved monument in the country and as things to see in Egypt is concerned, you have to visit in person to appreciate it. The twin temples in Nubia, in the south of the country and close to the border with Sudan, have been attracting visitors since the 1800s when the forgotten temples were rediscovered after being buried in the sand for hundreds of years.
The temples were built for Ramesses II taking 20 years to complete. Today they remain some of the most breathtaking examples of Ancient Egyptian artistry and culture. They were also one of our recommended places to see the summer solstice.
The Aswan Dam
For all of Egypt’s ancient wonders, it is easy to overlook some of its modern ones as well as great things to see in Egypt. The Aswan Dam changed the economic fortunes of Egypt, allowing the country to control the flooding of the Nile to improve agriculture, while at the same time generating hydroelectricity.
The Aswan is actually two dams, but the newer High Dam is the one most associated with the title. At 3,830 metres long and 111 metres tall, the High Dam is a mighty and impressive feat of structural engineering. Watching 11,000 cubic metres of water pass through the dam every second is an incredible sight and awesome demonstration of the Nile’s power.
The Temples of Karnak
Karnak was the Mecca of Ancient Egyptian religion with temples dedicated to the great deities worshipped by the Egyptians. The site is huge and has far too much to be explored, even fleetingly in a single day. For those travellers short on time, the Great Temple of Amun is the highlight of Karnak, and a must-see historical site that should be at the top of your things to see in Egypt list.
The Siwa Oasis may not have the impressive structures or cultural heritage of some of Egypt’s more famous landmarks, but what it lacks in architecture it more than makes up for in raw natural beauty. Located in the remotest part of the Western Desert, Siwa is well off the beaten track and an amazing place to lose yourself in a forgotten time away from hectic pace of modern life. Hot springs and succulent local olives are specialities of the oasis, which is one of the ideal places to take a relaxing, cheap holiday to Egypt while exploring the varied things to see in Egypt.
Ah, the Lovely Luxor whose charms we have heard all about. Luxor has been called the world’s biggest open-air museum, and with good reason. The city is teeming with historical delights to explore. Perhaps the pick of the crop is Luxor Temple, dedicated to the celebration of the festival of Opet. Built around 1400 BC, the temple is beautiful to behold, but has a special magnificence around sunset when the lighting comes on for evening viewings. Most of the things to see in Egypt close at sunset, but it seems the Luxor temple is just starting her day at dusk.
The White Desert might seem like an unlikely candidate for sightseeing given the nearby region’s title as the “Toyota Landcruiser capital of Egypt.” Similar to Siwa Oasis, some of the most amazing things to see in Egypt are a product of mother nature, not man. The nickname comes from the fact that many of the desert safari tours are based in Bahariya, and there are plenty of them. It’s best to explore with a experienced driver, so that you can take in all the varied sites of this bizarre stretch of land, from places like crystal mountain to the art-like structures called yardangs that come in all shapes, such as chickens or mushrooms! If you can stay, spend the night here: under the moon, the white desert is transformed into a whole different world.
We end our tour of the things to see in Egypt that are not the pyramids back in Cairo, at a rather unassuming but special museum called the Gayer-Anderson Museum. It’s one of the best examples of 17th century architecture in Cairo and the building is filled with an array of carpets and other treasures of its former resident. The building supposedly is built on top of the former “Hill of Thanksgiving,” where Noah’s ark came to rest after the flood and legend also says Moses spoke to God on this spot. The house is said to be protected by a shaykh who is buried underneath it. And don’t miss the fantastic views of Islamic Cairo from the rooftop!