The ultimate three week Egypt itinerary: Do it yourself in Egypt

Dec 23, 2019 | Africa, Egypt, Global travel

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(Last updated on: 01/04/2020)

Egypt is a magnificent country! We had a three week Egypt itinerary and were able to see most of the top sights during this time, as well as enjoy some relaxation time. In this post I will give you the details of our three week Egypt itinerary as well as recommendations for things to do and places to stay.

Why you should travel in Egypt right now

Egypt has so much to offer! From ancient monuments and temples to desert escapes to 5* beach resorts, there is something for everyone in Egypt.

Whilst Egypt has been a popular travel destination for as long as we have been travelling to Northern Africa, right now is an amazing time to travel.

In 2011 there was a political revolution in Egypt. Whilst most of the chaos was in Cairo, the whole country was affected. The media told the Western World that Egypt was no longer a safe travel destination, and so many of us stopped going there. Airlines reduced the number of flights that they offered, hotels closed down and the tourism industry really struggled.

Since this time, the tourism industry has been slowly recovering, although it is yet to reach its former glory. Whilst there is still the occasional story of civil unrest and terrorist attacks in Egypt, the political situation is now far calmer than it was some years ago.

As a result, there are still some incredible bargains to be had when travelling to Egypt! In fact, we managed to budget our three week Egypt itinerary at under £2000 each all-in! We stayed at four-five star hotels and even managed to include a Nile Cruise for that price…

Is it safe to travel in Egypt?

The number one question that most people have when they consider travelling Egypt is whether it is safe. Well, the answer is- kind of.

As I said, there are still some issues in Egypt and there are some areas that are less safe than others. Parts of the Sinai, for example, are pretty much off limits. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t travel Egypt, you just need to make the appropriate safety precautions.

If you are travelling alone or if you are a pair/group of girls planning a three week Egypt itinerary, then I would recommend that you book a tour. You can still have control of your itinerary, depending on which tour you choose, but you can rest assured that you will be in safe hands. The tour companies know where to go and where not to go and safety is always their top priority. I prefer to use Viator to find my tours, I have used them many times and I know that they only work with trusted and reputable operators.

If you are a confident traveller traveller, then you can traverse the country yourself. Or you can do a combination of both organised tours and a do it yourself three week Egypt itinerary, like we did. With a relaxing all-inclusive break in Dahab, a Nile cruise and some independent travel in Cairo, we think that itinerary had the perfect blend of independent and organised travel.

The one thing I would absolutely recommend when travelling through Egypt, whether you are travelling independently or as part of a group, is travel insurance. You never know when you might get caught up in some unrest, have an accident or fall ill. I recommend World Nomads travel insurance. We had to call on World Nomads when my boyfriend (now husband) fell ill in Dahab and was admitted to hospital. They were brilliant and he was back at our all-inclusive resort drinking cocktails a few days later!

How to make a three week Egypt itinerary

We always book our flights with Skyscanner because we find that they usually have the best deals. Flights into Sharm el Sheik are often the most competitively priced. You can also get internal flights on Skyscanner pretty cheaply.

We booked all of our hotels on Booking.com. We love Booking.com because you can book without having to pay upfront. They also have lots of customer reviews, so you can check what you are buying before you purchase. I have provided some of my Egypt accommodation options below. We got some AMAZING deals on accommodation in Egypt including two nights in a five star hotel for £50!

We booked our Nile cruise on Viator. This was also excellent value at around £500 for the five day cruise. This came with a guide who took us around each attraction too, which was great because there is so much to learn in Egypt!

The ultimate three week Egypt itinerary

Here are the details of our three week Egypt itinerary, which I planned myself. You can do this trip in reverse or mix it up a bit too! We stayed in Dabab for 7 days.

Dahab

Nestled 80km northeast of Sharm el Sheikh is somewhere just as beautiful, just as sun-drenched but a lot less busy: Dahab. We stayed in Dahab as part of a three week tour of Egypt and I’m so glad we did!

Dahab is a small town. It is located on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, and is thought to be one of the best diving destinations in the area. Split into three major parts (Masbat, Mashraba and Media), Dahab is steadily growing in popularity with tourists and travellers.

Getting to Dahab

Transport is perhaps one of the reasons that Dahab doesn’t have a big mark on the tourist map yet. For the seasoned traveller, Dahab is quite accessible. But unfortunately it doesn’t have the same tourist infrastructure that other parts of Egypt do. 

The nearest airport to Dahab is Sharm el Sheikh (SSH). It takes one-two hours to drive from the airport to Dahab, depending on the road conditions. You will need to a taxi or a local bus. Transport and tour companies can be booked in advance to get you to Dahab, but do your research before booking as these have extremely mixed reviews.

Direct flights to Sharm el Sheikh from the UK are plentiful. All you need to do is take a low cost or a charter flight. I usually like to use Skyscanner to book all of my flights, however, charter flights don’t always come up when searching. So I recommend looking on the website of any tour operator who offers packages in Egypt, because they will obviously have flights! Try Thomas Cook, TUI and easyJet, to name a few.

You can also try booking a package for this part of your tour. Try On the Beach or Icelolly.com for some bargain prices.

Where to stay in Dahab

What I loved about Dahab was that all of the hotels were quiet and excellent value for money. We were spoilt for choice when choosing where to stay. 

We opted to stay at the Tropitel Dahab Oasis. I loved this hotel. Its was right on the beach and had a beautiful pool. The staff were really attentive and there were only a handful of other tourists there- it was the middle of August so this was definitely a pleasant surprise!

All-Inclusive hotel, Dahab
Enjoying the pool at the Tropitel Dahab Oasis, Dahab

The hotel has its own dive centre! It offers double and triple rooms, free public parking, a 24h front desk and a children’s play area as well as stunning views. The hotel can be booked on an all-inclusive or half board basis. There food was nice and I took full advantage of the unlimited wine in the evenings!

***Click here to book a stay at the Tropitel Dahab Oasis!***

Things to do in Dahab

Dahab is a great addition to any three week Egypt itinerary because it gives you the opportunity for some much needed rest and relaxation. However, if you do want to keep yourself busy, then Dahab has plenty to offer!

Scuba diving is the go-to activity in Dahab. With plenty of dive centres to choose from, you’ll be able to find something that suits your level of ability. From beginners to experts, everybody loves diving in the Red Sea and it’s not hard to see why!

The SS Thistlegorm is one of the world’s most famous shipwrecks. Most dive centres offer day trips to see her, as the wreckage lies fairly shallow making it an easier dive. If you’re not quite ready to try scuba diving, snorkelling here and in other parts of Dahab is easy, fun and rewarding.

Dahab is also popular with windsurfers. As there are around 300 windy days per year in the town, it is the ideal location for windsurfing and kitesurfing. There are some sheltered lagoons with large stretches of flat water – these are ideal for beginners. Those who are more advanced can head to places like Baby Bay and Napoleon Reef. Equipment can be rented in Dahab, and courses are available too for those wishing to learn the sport.

Mount Sinai, at almost 7500ft fall, is somewhat of a pilgrimage location. It is said to be where Moses received the Ten Commandments; Christian, Jewish and Muslim pilgrims have climbed the mountain over the years. Most hikes begin at night time so that you reach the summit in time to see the impressive sunrise over Sinai.

We went quad bike riding during our stay in Dahab, which was great fun. We were able to gain lots of speed on the roads and were taken off-road too, which was very exciting!

Dahab
Quad biking in Dahab

If you’re an animal lover, or just fancy something a bit less active than water sports or mountain climbing, consider a camel safari. These can last from a couple of hours up to 7 whole days, depending on what exactly you’re after. It’s a great way to see the desert!

Maybe camels aren’t your thing – luckily there are horse-riding tours available in Dahab. These take you along the beach or through the desert, and you can even combine it with an overnight stay at a traditional Bedouin camp.

There are also a number of day trips you can do from Dahab. Tours are available to visit St Catherine’s Monastery, The Coloured Canyon, Petra and more. With the Red Sea on your doorsteps, boat trips are a fantastic way to spend the day.

Of course, if you’re just looking for a bit of r&r, Dahab is a great place to come. The beaches are beautiful and quiet, the sun is usually shinning and you can just watch the ocean waves, sip a cocktail, go for a gentle swim and top up your tan all day long if you so desire!

Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh is the home of Egyptian package tourism. Enclave tourism isn’t really our thing- we don’t like to be cooped up in a resort. We like to experience the local culture and see the local sights. Plus, we had already satisfied our desire for some beach time in Dahab.

For us, our stay in Sharm el Sheikh was simply to facilitate our onwards travels during our three week Egypt itinerary. And we stayed in a fancy hotel while we were there, why not?!

Sheraton, Sharm El Sheik
Enjoying our one night in Sharm el Sheik

Getting to Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh is easy to get to as part of your three week Egypt itinerary. The airport at Sharm is well connected to the rest of Egypt (which is why we were there!) and mainland Europe. You can get budget or charter flights to Sharm el Sheikh very easily.

Sharm el Sheikh is located on the Sinai Peninsula; an area that is renowned for being dangerous to travel in. The resort areas are perfectly safe, but travelling overground from Sharm el Sheikh isn’t really an option. There are some buses that can take you Cairo or north to the Israeli boarder, but these are not recommended.

We took a bus from Dahab to Sharm el Sheikh. It took around two hours and is was fine. There were, however, MANY security checks, when armed men would board the bus and check everyone’s ID (except mine, apparently young blonde girls are not seen as a threat in Egypt…). In one breath it was comforting to see such high levels of security, in the other it was somewhat unnerving.

Where to stay in Sharm el Sheikh

There are many, many places to choose from when you are travelling to Sharm el Sheikh. We opted to stay at the Sheraton Resort and Spa, which offered us a little taste of luxury before we commenced the rest of our three week Egypt itinerary!

Chilling out at the Sheraton Resort and Spa

This hotel literally had everything you could need! It was incredible! There were several international restaurants, bars, several different pools, waterslides for the kids, sports activities, night time entertainment, grocery shops, water sports, kids clubs… the list goes on… If relaxing in a resort is your thing, then it doesn’t get much better than the Sheraton Resort and Spa!

***Click here to book your stay at the Sheraton Resort and Spa!***

Things to do in Sharm el Sheikh

Whilst we didn’t have time to take advantage of all that Sharm el Sheikh had to offer (we were there only one night of our three week Egypt itinerary), there is lots to do if you’re looking for some entertainment.

One of the most popular activities for holidaymakers in water sports. You name it, they have it in Sharm el Sheik. There are boat trips, diving excursions, banana boats and much more.

Ras Mohamed National Park is close by. This is a popular area for its untouched deserts, white-sand beaches and dive and snorkelling sites. Here you can see 1000 different species of fish, 150 different crustaceans and dozens of turtles.

If you’re looking for a little water slide action you can head over to Aqua Blue Water Park. The water park has 44 water slides and games and 9 different pools for you to enjoy.

Dolphinella is a place that allows visitors to watch and swim with dolphins. This is very popular with the tourists, but I would not recommend visiting this place during your three week Egypt itinerary. Keeping animals in a confined area, away from their natural habitats and making them perform for tourists is unethical and cruel. Don’t engage in animal tourism.

There are also a number of mosques, souks and markets and traditional Egyptian eateries, if you want to experience a bit of Egyptian culture while you are in Sharm el Sheikh.

Aswan

Aswan is a must on any three week Egypt travel itinerary. Whilst the city itself is worth a visit, the real reason that we travel here was to see the famous Abu Simbel! We spent three days in Aswan.

How to get to Aswan

Situated in the south of Egypt, Aswan is most easily reached by plane. We took a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to Aswan.

Aswan is a popular start of end point on many Nile Cruises.

The South of Egypt can be quite dangerous, so overland travel is not advised unless you are with an organised and reputable tour group.

Where to stay in Aswan

During our time in Aswan we stayed at the stunning Ibiza Nubian House. A combination of white walls and bright artwork sets it apart from other hotels, and it offers a variety of different room sizes with free WiFi and its own restaurant. It even has a river view. There is an outdoor dining area, an airport shuttle can be arranged and the hotel offers a wake up service too!

***Click here to book your stay at the Ibiza Nubian House!***

Things to do in Aswan

There are a few things to do in and around Aswan that make great elements of your three week Egypt itinerary!

The Aswan Dam is hailed as an engineering marvel. It contains 18 times the amount of material used to build the Great Pyramid of Giza! It also allows you to see Lake Nasser up close – it was once the world’s largest artificial lake, meaning it’s high on some people’s bucket lists.

Elephantine Island is the largest island in the Nile and a lovely place to walk around, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a travel photographer’s dream, with two traditional Nubian villages that are known for their bright wall paintings. Have a chat with the locals while you’re there, too.

Located in the Northern Quarry, not far from Aswan and the Aswan Dam, is an obelisk, aptly named The Unfinished Obelisk, that is unfinished. Not much is known about who commissioned it and why, or where/when it was going to be placed. But it was abandoned, and you can see it at the quarry. It provides an insight into ancient Egyptian architecture techniques, too.

The Aga Khan Mausoleum is one of the lesser-known things to do near the Aswan Dam. On top of a hill that overlooks the Nile, the Aga Khan was buried here following his death in 1957, and to this day the tradition of placing a red rose on his sarcophagus is continued.

The Tomb of the Noblesis the place to go if you want to see tombs without being entirely surrounded by tourists. It contains tombs of Egyptian princes. Most date back to the Old Kingdom, with others from the Middle and New Kingdoms. 

The biggest attraction near to Aswan, however, is Abu Simbel! The temple complex is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Nubian Monuments. In the ‘60s, the entire Abu Simbel temple complex was cut into large blocks, dismantled, moved and reassembled further away from the Nile to avoid it being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser.The architecture here is absolutely incredible and visiting Abu Simbel really was a highlight of my three week Egypt itinerary!

Abu Sibel is located a couple hours drive South of Aswan, close to the Sudanese boarder. This part of the country is very dangerous and you can only visited the sight as part of a police escorted, organised tour. Make sure you book ahead to secure your place.

Abu Simbel
Jumping for joy at Abu Simbel

Nile cruise

The next five days of our three week Egypt itinerary were spent on a Nile cruise. I had never been on a cruise before and I knew very little about cruise tourism before this trip, but we LOVED it!

Most of the top Egyptian historic sites are located along or close to the banks of the River Nile, so a river cruise is the perfect way to visit them all. Going on a cruise allows you to see lots of sights in a short space of time.

It is also the safest option to visit these sites, because this part of Egypt can be quite dangerous, and overland travel is not recommended.

Cruising the Nile
Looking out over the banks of the Nile from our cruise ship

How to choose the best cruise

There are lots of different Nile cruise options. Because its a river and not an ocean cruise, most boats are pretty small. However, it is still worth checking out the number of cabins onboard. Remember- you will be eating with your fellow passengers and visiting the sites with these people, so if there are a lot of cabins, expect a lot of people.

You will be spending a lot of time on the cruise ship, so I recommend taking your time to research the reviews on Trip Advisor.

Contrary to public belief, cruises are not always expensive! In fact, we got an excellent deal on our Egyptian cruise! We opted for the Steigenberger Minerva Nile Cruise, which had great facilities and staff. The pool on the deck was a nice place to relax too!

***Click here to book your place on the Steigenberger Minerva Nile Cruise!***

Sights to see on a Egyptian cruise

Our cruise went from Aswan to Luxor and stopped at all of the major Egyptian sites. I really enjoyed seeing all of the ancient temples and structures, after all, that was the main reason that we were travelling Egypt!

Here is a list of the main attractions that we saw whilst on the Nile cruise. I won’t go into detail about each individual attraction here, but you can click on the links to read more, if you’re interested.

Temple stop on the Nile Cruise
Exploring the temples on the bank of the Nile

Luxor

Our cruise ended in Luxor and we decided to stay in the city for two more nights. This gave us a chance to sit back and relax after a busy few days of exploring temples! Luxor is a mud on anyones three week Egypt itinerary!

How to get to Luxor

The city is on the east bank of the Nile, in the south of Egypt. Luxor lies on the site of the ancient city of Thebes – this was the pharaoh’s capital, at the height of their power.

You can fly to Luxor from around the world, but be prepared to fly indirectly. Some direct flights are available, from Heathrow,  Istanbul and a few other airports. However, most tourists choose to fly into Cairo or Hurghada. There are plenty of flights to these two airports, from various places around the world. You can then take domestic flight or overland transport to Luxor.

There are a buses and trains that you can take to/from Luxor. But remember- you are still in the South of Egypt, which can be unsafe. If you’re not confident travelling on your own, book a tour.

Where to stay in Luxor

We stayed at the Pavillon Winter Luxor, famously known as the ‘Princess Diana hotel’, because she stayed here many years ago. It is a luxury hotel with a pool, multiple restaurants and bars as well as free WiFi, the option to have breakfast in your room, and a 24-hour front desk. 

It is 0.2 miles from the temple, and the decor is stunning – royal reds, palm trees outside and chandeliers everywhere. For something a bit special, this is definitely a great option (and you can get some AMAZING deals too- we stayed here for just £30 a night!!).

Read about the free boat trip that we had while staying here in this post- Why Unpaid Business is Better than No Business: The Case of the Egyptian Boatman.

The view from our hotel room at the Pavillon Winter Luxor
***Click here to book your stay at the Pavillon Winter Luxor!***

Things to do in Luxor

Many things to do in Luxor will be included as part of your Nile cruise. However, there are a few more things that you can do to fill your time (apart from lazing around the pool, of course!).

High on the list of things to see and do in Egypt is the Luxor Temple. In fact, Luxor Temple was one of my favourites temples in all of Egypt! There are various shrines and chapels within the temple. These are dedicated to different gods and extraordinary people: Amun, Serapis, Isis, Alexander the Great. As well as these, visitors can see statues of Rameses II, the sun court of Amenhotep III, the avenue of sphinxes and more!

A visit to Luxor Museum can make for an interesting morning/afternoon. There is over four thousand years worth of history at the Luxor Museum including a 90cm long statue of Thutmose III, artefacts from Tutenkhamun’s tomb, Ahmose I and Ramsis I’s mummies, a canopy head of Queen Toya and plenty of jewellery, artwork and more on display.

While we were in Luxor we were lucky enough to find an area of the Nile safe to swim in- how many people can say that they have swan in the Nile?!

Swimming in the Nile!

Cairo

No three week Egypt itinerary is complete without a trip to Cairo! With its majestic pyramids, the fascinating Egyptian Museum and the near by ancient city of Memphis, Cairo is a must when you visit Egypt. We spent the last four days of our trip in Cairo, before flying back to the UK.

How to get to Cairo

Being a major global city, Cairo is easily reached by air from around the world. Cairo is also well connected to all other airports in Egypt.

We arrived in Cairo from Luxor by train. We took the sleeper train and it was a very comfortable ride. We had our own cabin and it was great value for money. Cairo can also be reached by bus.

Egyptian Sleeper Train
The sleeper train from Luxor to Cairo

Where to stay in Cairo

We stayed at the wonderful Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa. WiFi is free and there’s a pool, a separate kid’s pool, spa facilities such as a jacuzzi, massages and sauna and a fitness centre to boot.

The best thing about this hotel is the views! Rooms have a few of either the pyramids, or the pool area. There is a bar and restaurant as well as a snack bar and places to get coffee whilst enjoying the magnificent views of the pyramids of Giza.

Room with a view at Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa
***Click here to book your stay at the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa!***

Things to do in Cairo

For most tourists, the main reason to visit Cairo is to see the spectacular Pyramids of Giza!

The Pyramids of Giza were built as tombs for ancient Egyptian pharaohs and their queens. They contain chambers inside, and are surrounded by smaller pyramid structures, mastaba tombs and mortuary temples. While there are over 80 pyramids across Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza are the best preserved and most well-known.

Visiting the Pyramids
The Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramid, which is also the oldest, was built for a pharaoh named Khufu. He is referenced inside the pyramid. For almost 4,000 years this pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world, and it is believed that the architect was Hemiunu, Khufu’s highest ranking official. At the time of construction it was around 146.5 metres tall (480ft) but now stands at 138.8 metres (455ft) due to erosion and the loss of its pyramidion.

The second tallest of the Pyramids of Giza is the Pyramid of Khafre, also written as Chephren. He was a pharaoh who ruled from around 2558-2532 BC. It is 136.4 metres tall. The Pyramid of Khafre was first explored (in modern times) in 1818 by Giovanni Belzoni. An open sarcophagus was found inside, but no bones.

Last but not least is the Pyramid of Menkaure, which is the smallest of the three Pyramids of Giza. Menkaure was another fourth Dynasty pharaoh. This pyramid is 61 metres tall (204ft), and the pharaoh’s coffin was found within. However, the bones inside were likely not his – carbon dating placed them at less than 2,000 years old.

Many people will also visit the Egyptian Museum during their stay in Cairo. The Egyptian Museum, also known as The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, is home to over 120,000 items. It’s one of the most comprehensive museums in the world and is a must on the travel itinerary of anyone travelling Egypt.

There is SO much to see at the museum. From masks to mummies and everything in between. Some of the most popular artefacts includes:

  • Tutankhamun’s mask
  • The Grave Mask of King Amenemope
  • Statue of Khufu
  • The three triads of Menkaure

Another place that we visited during our three week Egypt itinerary was Memphis. Memphis is an ancient city located not too far from Cairo. You can easily take a taxi to Memphis and combine your trip with a tour of some of the ancient step pyramids.

memphis egypt
Visiting the Sakkara Step Pyramid

The city of Memphis is now what is known as an open museum. Visitors can wander around, feeling as though they’re stepping back in time without the confines of glass boxes and harsh lighting.

Here are some the sites you can see in the ancient city of Memphis, Egypt:

  • Limestone colossus of Ramses II – it’s over 10 metres (33 ft) long, and the king’s feet are missing.
  • Giant alabaster Sphinx – this statue weighs more than 80 tonnes, and once stood outside the temple of the god Ptah.
  • Stone beds – these are where the sacred Apis bulls were mummified before they were placed in the Serapeum at Sakkara, the step pyramid.
  • Various other statues of Ramses II
  • Granite coffins
  • Commemorative tablets

Three week Egypt itinerary

So that’s my three week Egypt itinerary! I think that we had a wonderful mix of cultural tourism and relaxation. We learnt a lot about the country of Egypt and came home with great tans! Where will your three week Egypt itinerary take you?

4 Comments
  1. Liz

    I stayed at both Dahab and Sharm el Sheikhin the 80s. Yep, it makes me that old, when there was just backpackers, Bedouin’s and the American peace keeping forces living on the beach. It was so beautiful and such a fun place. We spent a week there after having travelled all over Egypt . We took the sleeper train from Cario down to Luxsor and it cost US$3.75c!!!!! Loved Egypt.

    Reply
    • Hayley

      Costs a bit more now-we paid about £100!

      Reply
  2. Christian Alcantara

    Such a good read, all I know about Egypt was its pyramids but now I know that there’s a lot of activities that you can do, probably my favorite things that I saw in here is the sunset in the dessert, it looks so calming, I hope that I would be able to visit someday with my love ones. The resorts looks awesome too.

    Reply
    • Hayley

      You should go, there is sooo much to do!

      Reply

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ABOUT

Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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