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Egypt Luxury holidays

Egypt is one of the world's great luxury holiday destinations. It lies at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia and has been enticing travellers for centuries - many of them drawn by the tales of the pharaohs who ruled Ancient Egypt. Visiting the 4,000 year-old Great Pyramids of Giza on the outskirts of the capital, Cairo, is a great introduction the country's past and should feature in your Egypt luxury holiday itinerary. [See Egypt itinerary ideas]

Sailing along the River Nile in search of ancient temples decorated with hieroglyphics and striking statues is another superb way to experience Egypt's absorbing heritage. A felucca trip or luxury cruise between Aswan and Luxor reveals a timeless snapshot of every daily life beside the river. You'll see farmers working in their fields, merchants loading their wares onto ships and hear the sound of the adhan - the call to prayer of the muezzin - ringing out from the minarets of mosques.

In between relaxing on deck and watching the world drift by are shore excursions to historic monuments, such as the twin temples of Rameses the Great at Abu Simbel. The Valley of the Kings at Luxor is another Egypt travel highlight. It was here that, in 1922, the English Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh, Tutankhamun - or King Tut as he is often called. Many of the pharaoh's treasures are on display in Luxor, others at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or in touring displays around the world.

The Red Sea is another hugely popular travel destination on most luxury Egypt holidays. Some of the planet's best coral reefs run parallel to the dusty shoreline of the Sinai Peninsula. Pontoons from upmarket hotels provide direct access to the reef in resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh. Underwater adventures can also be had at Ras Mohammed National Park and the Blue Hole at Dahab. These are some of the best known diving and snorkelling spots on Egypt's Red Sea coast, with abundant tropical fish, turtles, rays and sharks among the colourful coral.

Wexas Travel brochure for Egypt

Top 50 Worldwide Journeys brochure

Our in depth guide packed with background information, sample itineraries designed by our experts and hand-picked suggestions for what to see and do, where to stay and when best to go.


When to go

Summers in Egypt are extremely hot and dry and winters are moderate. November to March are the most comfortable months for travel, and there is almost no rain in the Nile valley. The Mediterranean coast, however, receives quite heavy rain in winter, and thunderstorms are not uncommon in Alexandria, Marsa Matruh and other coastal areas.

In the Sinai and Red Sea mountains, where rain clouds develop as warm air rises across the high terrain, flash floods can occur in September, October, February or March. Freezing temperatures at these higher elevations allow for frost and snowfall in winter.

December and January are the coldest months of the year, though it is normally warmer further south. In low-lying desert areas temperatures are generally several degrees colder than in the cities.

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Essential Experiences

We’ve rounded up our list of recommended sites and things to do. Click on the map to enlarge it and see what we suggest or follow the links in the list to discover how to get the best out of your holiday.


Practical Information

Capital - Cairo

Size - 1,001,449 sq km

Language - Arabic

Population - 83.9 million (2012)

Religion - 90% Muslim (predominantly Sunni), 9% Coptic Christian

Currency - 1 Egyptian Pound = 100 piastres

Time zone - GMT + 2 hours

Flight time - London to Cairo 5 hours

Festivals

Annual religious, secular and ancient cultural festivals (dates above unless specified) include:

Milad un Nabi

Most cities host parades and processions to mark the birth of the prophet and streets are filled with dancers, acrobats, musicians, fairs and food stalls.

Coptic Christmas

A week before Christmas, homes and businesses are festooned with lights and decorations, and nativity scenes and holiday bazaars appear on the streets.

Sham el-Nessim

The coming of spring is marked by 'sniffing the breeze', with picnics in parks or the countryside, and boat trips on the Nile.

Leylet en Nuktah

The rise of the Nile is celebrated every 17 June, with nighttime picnics and festivities usurping the unfortunate ancient tradition of sacrificing beautiful virgins.

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

After a month of abstentions, Eid is a 3- to 4-day holiday of feasting, street markets and the exchanging of gifts.

Eid al-Adha

Celebrations of the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, are marked by the bloody sacrifice of goats, sheep, cows and camels, commemorating the willingness of Ibrahim to offer his son in submission to Allah.

Visas

Please note that visa regulations can change often and at short notice, and that the following information applies to UK passport holders only.

British nationals normally need a visa to enter Egypt, which can be bought on arrival for stays of up to 30 days. If travelling to the resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba or Taba for up to 15 days you will be issued with a free entry permission stamp.

Passport requirements

Passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. No additional validity is required.

Money

Currency

Banknotes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20 50, 100 and 200 Egyptian pounds (EGP), and coins come in 1 EGP, 25 and 50 piastres (known respectively as 'a quarter pound' and 'half a pound'). Egypt has a perpetual shortage of coins and small notes, so expect to round up the value of small purchases.

The currency has devalued quite rapidly in recent years, and many top-end resorts and hotels insist on payment in US dollars or euros.

At summer 2014 rates, £1 sterling = c. 12 EGP.

ATMs

ATMs can be found in all cities and resorts, and international withdrawals are straightforward via an English-language interface.

Cash and EFTPOS

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, resorts and in large malls, but expect to pay cash for other shopping.

Guide prices

Egypt remains fairly cheap by international standards, but admission fees, guided tours and private transport to the major sites can significantly raise the cost of your trip.

Market prices are often hiked for tourists, and a good tip is to learn the Arabic numerals so you can check quoted prices against those on display.

In the cities expect to pay at least European prices for beers and locally produced wine at most hotels and upmarket restaurants. Note that imported alcohol can be significantly more expensive due to high duty

Regions [6]

Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in Egypt, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0621.


Itinerary ideas [5]

The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Egypt. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0621.

Offers [2]

Wexas negotiates with a wealth of travel companies, airlines, cruise operators, hotels and tour operators to bring you the very best travel offers. For great value or a range of add-on benefits, review the list of offers below.

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