Egypt

The Ultimate Solo Guide to Egypt (7, 10 & 14 day itineraries)

February 12, 2020

Twice in the past two years, I’ve traveled to Egypt alone. The first time I was able to spend just a week, which was not enough time for such a diverse and historically rich country. When I decided to go back I wanted to make sure I had enough time to do everything on my list. For this reason, I decided to spend a month exploring Egypt.

I know most people don’t have enough time off to embark on a month in a single country, so I’ve decided to take my experience and share it with you in a series of itineraries that fit your needs. These itineraries will help you know what’s possible on your trip. Egypt is a huge country, so without flying back and forth across the country, you’re really limited to what you can fit into a week or ten days.

While you can fly to various places within Egypt, I chose against inner country flights, as a goal of mine is to cut back on air travel. For this reason, I took advantage of the overnight bus and train options that Egypt offers. As a solo female traveler, I was a bit nervous embarking on my first overnight bus across Egypt. I’m happy to report that I didn’t run into any trouble.

Keep in mind, when you are traveling alone, you can’t expect someone else’s experience to be your own. I’ve had incredible experiences in places that other solo female travelers have had a bad experience and vice versa. I’ve traveled to places that get listed as the safest places for solo female travelers, and I’ve had bad experiences there. Please keep this in mind throughout this post.

I’ll be sharing my insights and tips for safe solo travel in Egypt however, never go somewhere you are not comfortable and always, always take precautions when traveling alone. (this isn’t meant to scare you!! Solo travel is amazing! Even when I have people who want to go places with me, I still choose to travel alone because I love the experiences you have on your own!)

My Top Tips for Traveling in Egypt as a Solo Female Traveler

  1. Get a sim card from the airport. Sim cards in Egypt are extremely affordable. You can grab one at the airport as soon as you get through customs and then you’re set to take an Uber to your hotel directly from the airport.
  2. Learn a few key phrases in Arabic
    1. Thank you: Shukrān
    2. Hello: Salaam ‘aleikum
    3. Yes, of course/thank you: aywa, tab3an/shukran
    4. No, sorry/thank you: la, aasif/shukran
    5. Goodbye: Ma’a salaameh
    6. How much is this?: Bikam da?
  3. Plan ahead (at least have your first night planned out.) I love going on a trip completely unplanned. Often when I’m traveling I’ll only book the first night's accommodation and from there I’ll go where other travelers or locals recommend. In Egypt, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do and I had my stay in Cairo booked before landing. This way I knew where I was going when I got off the airplane.
  4. Stay in Hostels and go out with people you meet in the hostel. I know you might not be a hostel-style traveler, but the hostels in Egypt are a bit different. And they’re actually perfect for solo female travelers! Hostels in Egypt don’t have shared rooms, they’re only private rooms but they also have plenty of common areas where you can hang out and meet other travelers. It’s the perfect way to explore Egypt as a solo female traveler.
  5. Take tours with local guides. My first trip to Egypt I did what I do in every other country in the world… I didn’t take tours. I just got myself to a site, wandered around for a while and then went off to the next stop. I would not recommend this style of travel to Egypt. Instead, find a local guide to show you around. Oftentimes, they’ll have amazing facts and stories about history, and they’re incredible at protecting you from the constant streams of “Can I take a photo with you?” that follows you around Egypt as a solo female traveler. Plus, a lot of these tour guides used to do 40 tours a month and now they do about 4… so taking a local guide helps you to bring money directly back into the economy and the people who need it.
  6. Use Uber/Lyft to get around. I prefer Lyft to Uber, but whichever you lean, I recommend taking them around Egypt. When you have a sim card, you can get a Lyft anywhere in the country and they’re extremely reliable, safe and cheap.

Skyhigh views over Luxor

Now, on to planning your trip. As I said, I love traveling solo and my solo adventures around Egypt were nothing short of amazing. I met incredible people, stayed with locals whose kids taught me Arabic and I got dive certified in the Red Sea!

In this post, we’re going to start with the 7-day itinerary in Egypt. This plan is perfect for anyone who just has a week to spend on their trip. I’ll be letting you know what’s worth seeing in just a week’s time and what you probably won’t have time for but if you have more than a week, don’t worry because I’ve got a plan for you as well.

Egypt Solo - The 7 Day Itinerary

As I mentioned above, 7 days is not a ton of time to spend in Egypt. It’s a huge country with a LOT of history that’s still being dug up as we speak. That being said, you’ll still be able to see some absolutely incredible parts of history in your week in Egypt. Let’s get right to it.

This 7-day itinerary is based around flying into Cairo and out of Luxor.

Day One: Arrive in Cairo

I recommend starting your trip in Cairo. It’s a bustling city that to me, felt a lot like a mix between Paris and New Delhi. Crazy I know. The architecture reminded me so much of a European city but the chaos and overall brown color of the city screamed India. It’s a fascinating place to be.

Upon arrival in Cairo, make sure you grab a Sim card from the airport and grab a ride back to your hotel or hostel. A lot of times you can arrange transportation with your accommodation as well. I recommend that solo travelers organize their transportation from the airport ahead of time to avoid overwhelm at the airport. Those who have been to Egypt before, I recommend grabbing an Uber outside the airport. Either way, you’ll be set.

Depending on how much time you have left in the day, you can already start your explorations of Cairo. If you have a few hours of daylight left, start by checking out the Egyptian History Museum. Trust me, you’ll want to spend at least a couple of hours there.

Finish your day eating local street food in Cairo before calling it a day back in your room. I recommend getting falafel from whatever places seem filled up with locals! That way you know it’ll be good!

The views over Cairo

Day Two: The Pyramids

For visiting the pyramids, I highly recommend booking a tour. Not only will you have a guide to take you through the unique history of the pyramids but you’ll also get local insight and a ride! When you’re booking a tour to the Pyramids of Giza, make sure it also includes the Saqqara Pyramids. When I visited the Saqqara Pyramids, there was absolutely no one else there. It was incredible.

The tour that I booked for the pyramids was with Experience Egypt Tours. I highly, highly recommend them as well. Our tour guide was so informative and he gave me plenty of time to explore (I hate feeling rushed). It was also a private tour, meaning I got to ask all the questions I wanted, take all the photos I wanted and be transported in a private car! It’s definitely a full-day tour, especially in Cairo traffic, so you probably won’t want to do anything else that day.

Day Three: Islamic Cairo*

Visiting Islamic Cairo is another day I’d recommend having a guide for. Not only is there a LOT to see, but I also got harrassed quite a bit both times I was visiting these sites in Cairo. Here’s everywhere you’ll want to see in Islamic Cairo (make sure to dress modestly to visit the Mosques).

  • The Citadel of Salah El Din
  • Mohamed Ali Mosque
  • El Rifai Mosque
  • El Sultan Hassan Mosque
  • Al-Azhar and El Hussein Mosques
  • The Khan Khalili Bazaar

* Islamic Cairo refers to the cultural sites dating back to the origins of Islam in Cairo. It’s also referred to as Medieval Cairo or Historic Cairo. It’s Islamic Cairo is one of the oldest Islamic cities in the world!

I guarantee you’ll be exhausted by the time this day is over! It’s a FULL one. Enjoy a quiet night at home eating takeout and watching a film (one of my favorite things to do after the sun goes down in Cairo).

Day Four: Coptic Cairo

It’s your last day in Cairo! Make sure you wake up early to get packed. Usually, you can leave your belongings with the reception while you spend the day exploring. Tonight you’ll be taking the overnight bus to Luxor, leaving late! So you’ll have the full day to explore Coptic Cairo. Here are the top sites to see.

  • The Hanging Church
  • Visit the Coptic Museum
  • The Greek Orthodox Church of St. George (Mari Girgis)
  • Ben Ezra Synagogue
  • The Cave Church

After spending the day exploring Coptic Cairo, I recommend making your way back to your accommodation. Usually, they’re ok with you hanging around for a little while, if the room is empty, they might even let you lie down for a while, knowing you’re taking an overnight bus or train that night.

When the time comes, book a car to take you to the bus station in Cairo. There you’ll be able to buy some snacks before the long journey to Luxor, where you’ll have a few final days of exploring.

Day Five: Wake up in Luxor + Karnak & Luxor Temples

I know that an overnight bus is never anyone’s dream accommodation for the night… you’re probably exhausted but trust me, you’re going to want to spend the whole day exploring what Luxor has to offer! From the bus station, take your things straight to your accommodation and head out to see the city.

Spend your first day exploring the east side of the Nile. Start with a visit to Karnak Temple and then spend the rest of the day at the Temple of Luxor. If you want, book another day tour with Experience Egypt Tours. They’ll take you to both sites as well as lunch before dropping you back off at your accommodation. Karnak Temple in Luxor was one of my favorite things I did during my entire trip. It’s incredible!

If you’re not completely exhausted, you can spend the evening with a felucca cruise down the Nile before retiring to a much-deserved sleep.

Day Six: Hot Air Balloons and Kings + Queens

Start your day EARLY with a hot air balloon ride as the sunrises over the Valley of the Kings. Taking a hot air balloon in Luxor was a really cool experience. You get to see an entirely new side of the city, from above. Everything seems so peaceful and quiet flying over the city in the morning.

You’ll spend the rest of the day exploring the west side of the Nile. This will include things like the Valley of the Kings, which will take at least half of your day, trust me! From there make sure that you visit the Valley of the Queens, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon.

After your early rise, I’m sure you’ll be exhausted by the end of this day of exploring.

Day Seven: Last Day!

What you’re able to do on this last day in Luxor will be dependent on what time you’re leaving. I recommend starting your trip in Cairo and ending it in Luxor, so chances are you’re going to be flying out of the Luxor Airport. If you have the whole day to explore Luxor, you can see the Luxor Museum, which is arguably even better than the Egyptian History Museum in Cairo! You can also explore the souq and take a Felucca Ride to Banana Island.

And with that, you’ve seen a lot of Egypt! Let’s be honest… you’re probably exhausted and just about ready to take a vacation from your vacation! Egypt is a hectic country, I told you that you’d want more than just a week! However, if that’s all the time you have, I think that this is the perfect way to squeeze a LOT into a short period of time.

Egypt Solo - The 10 Day Itinerary

You’ll notice a lot of similarities in this 10-day solo itinerary in Egypt and the 7-day itinerary. That’s because you’re really only giving yourself about 3 more days to explore. I highly recommend keeping a lot of the 7-day itinerary the same and just adding on Aswan to your last 3 days.

Day Seven: Exploring Luxor, Traveling to Aswan

What you’re able to do on this last day in Luxor will be dependent on what time you’re leaving. I recommend starting your trip in Cairo and ending it in Luxor, so chances are you’re going to be flying out of the Luxor Airport. If you have the whole day to explore Luxor, you can see the Luxor Museum, which is arguably even better than the Egyptian History Museum in Cairo! You can also explore the souq and take a Felucca Ride to Banana Island.

Day Eight: Exploring Aswan

Today you’re going to be starting your day with a journey further south to Aswan. Aswan was by far, one of my favorite places in Egypt. During my time in Aswan, I stayed across the river in the Nubian Village. By far the best choice! There is so much to see and do in Aswan, here are my top tips for a day in Aswan.

Start your day by checking into your hotel. The train ride from Luxor to Aswan is only about 3 hours so if you leave early in the morning, you’ll still have all day to explore Aswan.

  • Visit the Nilometer
  • See the High Dam
  • The Unfinished Obelisk
  • Philae Temple
  • Wander through the Nubian Village

Day Nine: The Temples of Abu Simbel

You’re going to want to be up early today! Because you’re visiting the BEST site in all of Egypt. The Temples of Abu Simbel. This is a full-day adventure, trust me! And read my guide to find out how you can have the temples of Abu Simbel all to yourself. No big tour bus, no being rushed around in a crowd of people… just you and the magnificent temples and their history.

Find out how you can have the Temples of Abu Simbel all to yourself.

You’ll get back fairy late and you’ll probably be exhausted from spending all day in the car! Tomorrow you’ll be sorting out getting back to Luxor for your travel day home! It’s been a wild ride on your solo trip to Egypt! A busy one for sure.

Day Ten: Back to Luxor (Travel Day)

Plan on taking the train back to Luxor today. If your flight is early, however, you’ll need to take the train the night before so that you’re back in Luxor in time for your flight. Trains can be SLOW in Egypt. And they are often delayed so the biggest thing is to make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get to the airport.

**Pro-tip - If you need help booking train tickets (it can be chaotic at the train station), make sure to ask your accommodation to help. They’ll always be willing to help you plan your journey!

Egypt Solo - The 14 Day Itinerary

You’ve set aside two weeks to visit Egypt! This is honestly a perfect amount of time to spend on a solo journey through Egypt. It won’t be so long that you’re overwhelmed by the end, but it’s long enough that you won’t be too exhausted by the time you go home. You’ll notice quite a few similarities between the above itineraries

Are you ready for your solo 14 day trip through Egypt? Let’s goooo!

Day One: Arrive in Cairo

I recommend starting your trip in Cairo. It’s a bustling city that to me, felt a lot like a mix between Paris and New Delhi. Crazy I know. The architecture reminded me so much of a European city but the chaos and overall brown color of the city screamed India. It’s a fascinating place to be.

Upon arrival in Cairo, make sure you grab a Sim card from the airport and grab a ride back to your hotel or hostel. A lot of times you can arrange transportation with your accommodation as well. I recommend that solo travelers organize their transportation from the airport ahead of time to avoid overwhelm at the airport. Those who have been to Egypt before, I recommend grabbing an Uber outside the airport. Either way, you’ll be set.

Depending on how much time you have left in the day, you can already start your explorations of Cairo. If you have a few hours of daylight left, start by checking out the Egyptian History Museum. Trust me, you’ll want to spend at least a couple of hours there.

Finish your day eating local street food in Cairo before calling it a day back in your room. I recommend getting falafel from whatever places seem filled up with locals! That way you know it’ll be good!

Day Two: The Pyramids

For visiting the pyramids, I highly recommend booking a tour. Not only will you have a guide to take you through the unique history of the pyramids but you’ll also get local insight and a ride! When you’re booking a tour to the Pyramids of Giza, make sure it also includes the Saqqara Pyramids. When I visited the Saqqara Pyramids, there was absolutely no one else there. It was incredible.

The tour that I booked for the pyramids was with Experience Egypt Tours. I highly, highly recommend them as well. Our tour guide was so informative and he gave me plenty of time to explore (I hate feeling rushed). It was also a private tour, meaning I got to ask all the questions I wanted, take all the photos I wanted and be transported in a private car! It’s definitely a full-day tour, especially in Cairo traffic, so you probably won’t want to do anything else that day.

Day Three: Islamic Cairo*

Visiting Islamic Cairo is another day I’d recommend having a guide for. Not only is there a LOT to see, but I also got harrassed quite a bit both times I was visiting these sites in Cairo. Here’s everywhere you’ll want to see in Islamic Cairo (make sure to dress modestly to visit the Mosques).

  • The Citadel of Salah El Din
  • Mohamed Ali Mosque
  • El Rifai Mosque
  • El Sultan Hassan Mosque
  • Al-Azhar and El Hussein Mosques
  • The Khan Khalili Bazaar

* Islamic Cairo refers to the cultural sites dating back to the origins of Islam in Cairo. It’s also referred to as Medieval Cairo or Historic Cairo. It’s Islamic Cairo is one of the oldest Islamic cities in the world!

I guarantee you’ll be exhausted by the time this day is over! It’s a FULL one. Trust me! Enjoy a quiet night at home eating takeout and watching a film (one of my favorite things to do after the sun goes down in Cairo).

Day Four: Coptic Cairo + Cairo Spa Day

It’s your last day in Cairo! Make sure you wake up early to get packed. Usually, you can leave your belongings with the reception while you spend the day exploring. Tonight you’ll be taking the overnight bus to Luxor, leaving late! So you’ll have the full day to explore Coptic Cairo. Here are the top sites to see.

  • The Hanging Church
  • Visit the Coptic Museum
  • The Greek Orthodox Church of St. George (Mari Girgis)
  • Ben Ezra Synagogue
  • The Cave Church

After spending the day exploring Coptic Cairo, I recommend making your way back to your accommodation. From here I highly recommend doing a small spa day in Cairo. I stumbled upon an absolutely amazing spa in Cairo (sorry gents, it’s ladies only!) and there you can get body wraps, massages, and facials, all for a great price!!

Spend the rest of the day at the spa, I promise you won’t regret it! Plus you’ll be thanking yourself on your overnight bus to Luxor tomorrow night.

Day Five: Alexandria

With more time to spend in Egypt, I would recommend spending a couple of days in Alexandria (named for its founder, Alexander the Great!). You can easily get the train to Alex from Cairo and explore this crumbling ocean bordered city. Alex has a lot to offer and it’s a nice escape from the capital for a couple of days.

Over the next two days, you can see a variety of things in Alexandria. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Serapeum
  • The Alexandria Library
  • El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque
  • Corniche
  • Alexandria National Museum
  • The Palace Gardens

Alexandria Coastal

Day Six: Alexandria + Overnight to Luxor

At the end of your trip to Alex, end up back in Cairo. I recommend planning your trip so that you’ll be going right from Alex, all the way to Luxor since you’ll already be at the train station. Make sure that you bring plenty of food and dress really warm. The overnight trains and buses in Egypt are freezing.

Day Seven: Wake up in Luxor!

I know that an overnight bus is never anyone’s dream accommodation for the night… you’re probably exhausted but trust me, you’re going to want to spend the whole day exploring what Luxor has to offer! From the bus station, take your things straight to your accommodation and head out to see the city.

Spend your first day exploring the east side of the Nile. Start with a visit to Karnak Temple and then spend the rest of the day at the Temple of Luxor. If you want, book another day tour with Experience Egypt Tours. They’ll take you to both sites as well as lunch before dropping you back off at your accommodation. Karnak Temple in Luxor was one of my favorite things I did during my entire trip. It’s incredible!

If you’re not completely exhausted, you can spend the evening with a felucca cruise down the Nile before retiring to a much-deserved sleep.

Day Eight: Hot Air Balloons and Kings + Queens

Start your day EARLY with a hot air balloon ride as the sunrises over the Valley of the Kings. Taking a hot air balloon in Luxor was a really cool experience. You get to see an entirely new side of the city, from above. Everything seems so peaceful and quiet flying over the city in the morning.

You’ll spend the rest of the day exploring the west side of the Nile. This will include things like the Valley of the Kings, which will take at least half of your day, trust me! From there make sure that you visit the Valley of the Queens, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon.

After your early rise, I’m sure you’ll be exhausted by the end of this day of exploring.

Day Nine: Choosing another Temple to visit outside of Luxor

I was lucky enough to visit several temples that are much more off the beaten path. I made this happen because I had enough time in Luxor to explore everything I wanted to see. This is ultimately why I chose to spend a month in the country! And now I know which temples you should make time to visit, vs others!

Choose the perfect Temple outside of Luxor for your day trip!

Day Ten: Last Day Exploring Luxor

What you’re able to do on this last day in Luxor will be dependent on what time you’re leaving. I recommend starting your trip in Cairo and ending it in Luxor, so chances are you’re going to be flying out of the Luxor Airport. If you have the whole day to explore Luxor, you can see the Luxor Museum, which is arguably even better than the Egyptian History Museum in Cairo! You can also explore the souq and take a Felucca Ride to Banana Island.

Day Eleven: Traveling to Aswan/Exploring Aswan

Today you’re going to be starting your day with a journey further south to Aswan. Aswan was by far, one of my favorite places in Egypt. During my time in Aswan, I stayed across the river in the Nubian Village. By far the best choice! There is so much to see and do in Aswan, here are my top tips for a day in Aswan.

Start your day by checking into your hotel. The train ride from Luxor to Aswan is only about 3 hours so if you leave early in the morning, you’ll still have all day to explore Aswan.

  • Visit the Nilometer
  • See the High Dam
  • The Unfinished Obelisk
  • Philae Temple

Botanical Gardens in Aswan Egypt

Day Twelve: The Temples of Abu Simbel

You’re going to want to be up early today! Because you’re visiting the BEST site in all of Egypt. The Temples of Abu Simbel. This is a full-day adventure, trust me! And read my guide to find out how you can have the temples of Abu Simbel all to yourself. No big tour bus, no being rushed around in a crowd of people… just you and the magnificent temples and their history.

Find out how you can have the Temples of Abu Simbel all to yourself.

You’ll get back fairy late and you’ll probably be exhausted from spending all day in the car! Tomorrow you’ll be sorting out getting back to Luxor for your travel day home! It’s been a wild ride on your solo trip to Egypt! A busy one for sure.

Day Thirteen: Sandboarding, Kayaking + Botanical Gardens

Explore the Nile! While I was in Aswan I was lucky enough to cruise down the Nile to a small beach where I got to Kayak along the shores. It was SUCH a cool experience. After that, I was able to try my hand at Sandboarding (much harder than I thought it would be, mainly because you have to hike back up through the sand!!).

You can also explore the botanical gardens, which you can get to by Felucca. I recommend spending the day exploring at a slower pace, really getting to know Aswan a bit better! Overnight, you’re taking the train back to Cairo!

Day Fourteen: Travel Day

You’re back in Cairo, likely exhausted from the overnight journey and chaos of overall travel in Egypt. Depending on what time your flight is, you can take it easy relaxing in Cairo with a walk along the Nile. You can also spend the day exploring Ma’adi which is a popping new area in Cairo with ex-pats, locals, cafes, yoga studios, and unique art shops. It’s a clean and beautiful area of Cairo. After exploring, you can take a car back to the Airport! And that’s your two weeks in Egypt well spent!

Getting to Egypt

You can get to Egypt in a variety of ways. There are plenty of choices when it comes to flying into the country, with airports in Cairo, Luxor and even a small airport in Aswan. If you’re interested in spending more time in Cairo you can also fly into Sharm el Sheik on the coast. If you’re coming from neighboring countries, you can take buses into Egypt.

There are buses that travel into Egypt from Israel and Sudan.

Safety in Egypt

I was nervous about traveling alone in Egypt. I’ll be honest about my experience though. As I said above, everyone has different experiences. Personally, I didn’t run into any trouble in Egypt. Keep in mind though, during my entire month in Egypt, I didn’t really spend any time outside after dark. Especially in Alexandria and Cairo. I choose to spend the evenings and nights at home, catching up on work or movies.

Getting around in Egypt

There are a lot of ways to get around in Egypt. I chose to travel with Go-Bus. I thought they had good services, that always ran on time. I took overnight buses with Go-Bus to Dahab, back to Cairo, down to Luxor and back to Cairo. In between Luxor and Aswan, I took the train.

Go-Bus has a series of bus travel options that range from basic to Luxury. Personally I traveled by the luxury bus simply because I go to have a single-seat, meaning for the full trip no one sat next to me, and it really only cost a few dollars more.

Daily Budget

The most you’ll spend during your entire time in Egypt is around $30 (USD) a day. I found that between $30-$50 (USD) I was traveling well. The food is extremely cheap and you can also get accommodation for cheap. I found that what I was paying the most for was tours with locals (still only about $15 a day, well worth it!)

Where to stay in Egypt

Cairo

Dahab

  • Budget: Sinbad Camp ($10 USD a night in a room with Private Shower)
  • Luxury: Dahab Paradise Hotel ($20 USD a night)

Alexandria

Luxor

Aswan

Cost of travel in Egypt

🏨 Hotel room: $50-$100 a night

🛏️ Hostel room: $10-$20 a night

🍛 Lunch / Dinner: $7 – $10

🥭 Fruit snacks: $0.50 bunch of bananas

🚰 Drinking water: $0.10 for 1.5L

🚊 Uber/Lyft: $1.50-$3.00 a trip

🚂 Overnight Buses + Trains: $15


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