Travel to Egypt

Travel to Egypt

Spend a morning in the epic bustle of Cairo and an afternoon traveling through time at the Pyramids of Giza.

Home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations and perhaps its most famous archaeological monuments, Egypt—an immensely popular tourist destination—also showcases a mesmerizing contemporary culture. The country’s 10-million-strong capital certainly offers plenty of opportunities for pondering the mysteries of Ancient Egypt: Besides the iconic skyline of the Giza Necropolis (which includes, in addition to the Pyramids, the imposing Great Sphinx), there’s the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, a spectacular storehouse of artifacts. But whether it’s the Cairo Opera House or the beaches of Alexandria, you’ll find 21st-century Egypt equally enthralling. Devote some time to the tantalizing cuisine, which includes such delicacies as falafel, kushari (a ricenoodle-lentil mixture), and shakshouka, a hearty poached-egg-based dish—and don’t forget the flatbread! From the Mediterranean seacoast to the amously fertile Nile Valley to the moonscapes of the Sahara, Egypt’s stunning landscapes weave their own magic.

Nearly 90 million people call Egypt home, making the country the most populous in the Middle East and one of the most populous in the world. That said, the population density is strikingly lopsided, highest along the Nile River and the coastline and sparse indeed in the vast deserts. Arabic, and specifically Egyptian Arabic, is the dominant tongue. Egypt's culture draws from the country's regal history, its position at the junction of North Africa and the Middle East, and plenty of inspiration from Western sources. There's an amazing tradition of art, literature, music, and dance in Egypt, and some of its great artists have become international icons: among them the legendary actor Omar Sharif and the evocative singer Umm Kulthum (who has earned high praise from many luminaries, including Bob Dylan). Whether it's a traditional belly-dance performance or the latest round of the much-respected Cairo International Film Festival, Egypt promises a culturally rich experience, to say the least.

Egyptian cuisine blends a variety of flavors to perfection. Outstanding dishes emblematic of the country include falafel, koshari, and ful medames. Plenty of other delicacies, including the stuffed grape leaves called dolmas, the egg-based breakfast shakshouka, and the shaved, spit-grilled meat dish of shawarma, are popular in Egypt as well as other portions of the Middle East and Mediterranean, offering the roving gourmand the opportunity to explore the regional nuances on widespread preparations. Whether you're enjoying a light appetizer of figs and dates or a full-on shawarma feast, you might enunciate your meal with a traditional beverage such as ubiquitous black tea.

Egypt's physical provinces include the Nile Valley/Delta, the Western Desert, the Eastern Desert, and the Sinai Peninsula. The fertile wetlands of the Nile bottoms, the otherworldy doum-palm oases, the towering dunes and dry wadis of the desert wilderness, the toothy ridges of the Sinai: These are some of natural Egypt's defining scenes. The country borders Libya, Sudan, and Israel, and boasts thousands of miles of coastline along the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aqaba. The Sinai Peninsula bridges Asia and Africa. The contrast between endless sandy wastes and the richness of the seasonally flooding Nile dictated not just the geography but also something of the cosmology of the Ancient Egyptians.

Not many countries in the world can claim such a celebrated history as Egypt. The glories of Ancient Egypt continue to tantalize people all over the globe. The dynasties of the Nile Valley ranked among the world's earliest and most commanding civilizations: This is the era of mighty pharoahs such as Ramesses the Great and mighty gods and goddesses such as Osiris, Isis, Anubis, and Set. From the Valley of the Kings to the Pyramids of Giza, the ruins of Dynastic Egypt are perhaps the most iconic archaeological treasures anywhere. The waning periods of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt gave way to many shifting identities as Byzantine, Arab, and Ottoman domain. The history on display in the monuments and museums of Cairo and Alexandria provides a remarkably deep context to your appreciation of modern-day Egyptian culture.

Cairo at Its Best