Egypt Travel Planner
Insider favorites in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan; our favorite boats to cruise the Nile; artisan-focused itineraries; and the essentials you'll need to plan a trip to this amazing and dynamic country.
A year ago, Matt and I got a last-minute invite to join our friends in Egypt on one of the Nour el Nil boats, which sails from Luxor to Aswan. We moved some plans around and were able to join, but we couldn’t make any time in our schedule for Cairo. As often happens when we travel, we got a lot of messages from locals and friends—both suggestions of where to go and questions about how to do it. Since then, I’ve been wanting to 1) go back! And 2) incorporate all the great tips we received and answer some of the messages from followers who asked for our Egypt intel.
Egypt is clearly not just a one-time trip; there’s so much to dig into that really requires return visits. On a recent trip to Marrakech (that Black Book will come this spring!) I met Philomena Schurer Merckoll, the lovely owner of Riad Mena, who has recently fallen hard for Egypt and sums up the vibe so perfectly: “In 2023, I traveled to Egypt twice and was totally seduced by the country. Arriving in Cairo is simply electrifying. The energy is reminiscent of New York in the ‘90s—a blend of culture, creativity and grit. So much is converging here, from the many nationalities living in the city to the ancient history that sits deep in its people, to the most interesting dinner-table conversations about literature, travel and politics I have had in a long while. Many people feel that Egypt is not safe given the current political situation. Personally, I felt that there was never a better time to go. The whole country pulses with energy and a mix of ancient and contemporary culture, blended in a heady mix. And in the end, what does travel mean? It is to broaden your horizons, to inspire and to remind us that whilst we are all very different, there is so much that also ties together us as humans all over the world. And there is no better time to remember that than now, and no more inspiring country to do that in than Egypt.”
We've spent the last year talking to our friends and their friends for their recs—a deep-dive in Cairo, plus Luxor and Aswan (and cruises between them!), as well as tack-on trip ideas to oasis hotels, craft villages and beach towns. If you go, or have been recently, we’d love to hear your favorites in the comments! —Y.E.
Anna Pihan is a travel, fashion and lifestyle photographer and the co-founder of The Pleasure of Leisure, a creative collaboration bringing visual stories to life through books and leisurely souvenirs.
Christine ElDabh is an Egyptian-American lawyer based in Brooklyn, New York—and one of our subscribers who messaged me while I was in Egypt with great suggestions!
Dee Kennedy has a background in the healing and mystical arts and publishes a newsletter from her site, sacredegypt.com. Irish-born by way of San Francisco, she has been traveling and leading spiritually-focused tours in Egypt for nearly 20 years.
Fabrizia Caracciolo is an expert on all things design and travel. A contributor to Cabana Magazine and AD Italy, she lives between Paris and Italy.
Jessica Cantlin is a recovered lawyer, photographer, and writer from Seattle, who is always seeking boltholes and beaches off the tourist trail. When not traveling, Jessica runs Spectrum Fine Art, the gallery she co-founded in Seattle.
Kelly Campbell is the cofounder of The Village Experience, a socially responsible tourism company that prioritizes benefitting the local economy. Her Egypt itineraries include meals with locals, visits to fair-trade shops and trips off the beaten path.
Mai Eldib is a cultural enthusiast who has been working at Sotheby’s Middle East, in Egypt, since 2008. She recently published the book Cairo Eternal (Assouline) and was recognized by Apollo magazine in their Top 40 Under 40 in the art business world.
Malak Shenouda is a curator based in Egypt with a background in visual arts and sociology. She specializes in art program management and has organized symposiums and festivals in visual arts.
Marc Kosberg was born and raised in Mexico City, where he works as a travel curator and bon-vivant specializing in authentic experiences.
Noha El Taher is the co-founder of Kiliim, a Cairo-based lifestyle brand dedicated to reviving and sustaining local Egyptian crafts and the communities behind them.
Philomena Schurer Merckoll is the founder of Riad Mena in Marrakech. Half-German, half-Norwegian, and born and raised in London, she’s lived and worked in Mexico City, Munich, New York, Paris, Berlin and Stockholm.
Stephanie von Watzdorf founded the clothing brand Figue (which she has since sold), and has spent time traveling and working in Egypt. She’s now living between Milan and Kenya, where she’s working with Chantecaille Conservation Foundation.
Zein Khalifa is the co-founder of TINTERA, the only private photography gallery in Egypt. With a gallery in Zamalek and an office in London, TINTERA aims to raise the profile of contemporary and historical photography in and of Egypt.