Egypt hasn’t had it easy in recent years, but it’s still one of the finest destinations in the world. Cairo’s hot, electric appeal is undimmed and the country’s beach resorts are as alluring as ever—and much less crowded than they used to be. When you book a flight to Egypt, plan to combine a few days in the cities with forays into the desert and a bit of time being pampered on the beach to finish.
Cairo is a fascinating city, with old mosques and modern malls, crowded streets bursting with fantastic food, and so many historical sites that it could take weeks to see them all. Add to this smoky cafés where men sit with their nargilehs (pipes), pastry shops offering treats dripping with honey, the call to prayer that echoes from the many minarets, and even the lively traffic, and you have a potent mix that will prove both energizing and addictive.
Everyone who goes to Egypt must see the pyramids; they’re conveniently close to Cairo. The Sphinx seems smaller in real life than it does in pictures, but it’s still majestic and the pyramids themselves are mesmerizing. Luxor, too, is unmissable; the jaw-dropping temples and tombs on the banks of the Nile are one of mankind’s greatest achievements.
Still, you may want to balance all that history with a good dose of sun, sea, and sand. The Red Sea is Egypt’s playground, and the resorts and hotels that run down the coast range across all budget levels. Scuba diving and snorkeling are particular draws, and cheaper here than in many other countries, but no less spectacular.
If you have time, try to make it to Alexandria; this seaside city has laid-back charm to spare, a slew of excellent seafood restaurants, and a fabulous, beautifully designed new library that pays homage to its ancient predecessor.