Only got a week to spend in Egypt and working out how to make the most of your family vacation time?
There are so many different ways you can tackle a trip to Egypt. This is highly dependent on the time you have available, time of year, who you are travelling with and what your interests are.
We are by no means saying you can capture all the highlights of such a large, fascinating and historically significant country such as Egypt in one week, but we know time can be limited to half-term breaks and annual leave when planning a family vacation.
We’ve put together for you here a classic 7-day family itinerary for Egypt that will ensure you don’t miss the countries most important highlights, whilst keeping things at a manageable pace for kids over a week. We will concentrate only on the main cities and the Nile.
Before you dive into this post you may also want to check out:
- Our guide to the best time to visit Egypt
- An in-depth look at the current safety situation in Egypt for families
- Our complete Egypt family travel guide
Our Suggested 7 Day Egypt Family Itinerary
Confident travellers may wish to tackle this itinerary on their own with just some added day tours, however, it is one of the more challenging countries for making travel arrangements. You may prefer to engage an experienced travel agent to help you put this itinerary into action, or join an organised tour that covers a similar route but takes care of all the details for you.
We will cover the pros and cons of tours and what to look out for in the next article of our Egypt series – not all tours are created the same when it comes to families!
It’s important to note this really is a fast-paced itinerary suited more to sightseeing than relaxation. Most days will involve very early starts. Partly due to the day time heat, but also to get in ahead of crowds and to make transfers and connections work in a week.
We have built afternoon and evening downtime into this very busy schedule so your younger kids can keep pace. With older kids, you can probably do more nighttime exploring too.
Day 1 Egypt Itinerary: Cairo
As Cairo is the largest international airport, it’s likely to be the first stop on your itinerary and a great place to start exploring.
After dropping your bags off to your central accommodation, head straight on to the Egyptian Museum.
Tackling the Egyptian Museum with Kids
There’s no doubt about it this is a fascinating place with over 5000 artefacts, but most kids are likely to need a little encouragement to get through several hours here. A guided tour for the first hour with an Egyptologist is a great idea but also build in some free time to explore.
Some favourite exhibits might include Tututnkuhams mask and Tutunkhams tomb, the mummy rooms (100LBP extra), the mummified animals and look out for the Lego room in the basement!
(The new Grand Egyptian Museum, in Giza is still yet to open its doors but will be a welcome replacement for this ageing museum. The opening date is still touted to be in 2020. Some exhibits will be missing while this transition takes place).
Enjoy dinner on one of the permanently docked Nile cruise boat restaurants near to 6th October Bridge.
Self-guided in Cairo? You may be interested in having a tour guide with a driver for parts of your trip. Here are some suggested tours from Cairo:
Overnight: Cairo Hotel
Some suggested hotels that have been popular with our readers in Cairo include:
- The Nile Ritz Carlton, Cairo
- Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah
- Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir Cairo
- Hotel Novotel Cairo El Borg
- Ramses Hilton
Day 2 Egypt Itinerary: Cario & Giza
Today is probably the day you and the kids have been dreaming of – that moment you first set your eyes on the Great Pyramids of Giza. You can walk right up to the pyramids, take a camel ride, even visit under Khufu pyramid if you wish (additional charges), as well as see the Sphinx in this one large and sprawling site.
Your driver will no doubt offer you options to stop at papyrus factories along the way – or pick up lunch at the KFC with some of the best fast food restaurant views in the world!
In the afternoon, visit Saqqara, even older again than the Great Pyramids! The “Step Pyramid” as it is commonly known can be found north-west of the city in Memphis, believed to date as far back as the 27th century BC.
This is a very busy day for the kids so we suggest a very early night ready for another huge day 3 and early start as you transfer to Upper Egypt for the remainder of your Egypt trip.
Overnight: Cairo Hotel as above
Day 3 Egypt Itinerary: Cairo to Luxor
(Note there are many different ways you can tackle Upper Egypt. It doesn’t make too much difference if you transfer to Aswan or Luxor as your starting point, and whether you catch the overnight train or fly, take a Nile cruise or felucca for parts of the journey, it’s up to you. We are basing this sample itinerary with internal flights and a Nile cruise starting from Luxor to Aswan, but you could equally take the overnight train Day 2 to Aswan -13 hours – and do this trip in reverse.)
An internal flight to Luxor will only take you an hour, but be early at the airport for security checks. An early morning start means you can transfer straight into your east bank exploration and Karnak, the second most visited site in Egypt after the Pyramids.
The dramatic and well-preserved columns of Karnak open-air museum make it one of the most photogenic and fascinating places. It can take a good few hours to explore the site, and we highly recommend you visit with an Egyptologist who will talk you through the history and theories.
Next, back to the centre of Luxor and the Luxor Temple, a smaller yet still very significant site dating back to 1400BC.
Around lunchtime, your Nile Cruise ship will be docked in Luxor ready to board. You can enjoy lunch and dinner onboard, and in the warmer months enjoy a swim in the pool and relax after several busy sightseeing days.
In the evening you can stroll in to the Souk (market) areas of Luxor, or get the kids in bed for an early start Day 4.
Overnight: Cruise Boat, docked in Luxor
If you would like a more detailed guide on exactly what to expect on board a Nile Cruise boat with kids, and the difference between them, check out this blog post by Our Globetrotters.
Day 4 Egypt Itinerary: Luxor, Valley of the Kings to Edfu
Cruise ship staff prepare breakfast early so that passengers can transfer quickly over to the west bank of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings with a guide at dawn, the transfer takes up to an hour depending on traffic.
Here you will find many famous tombs dating back from around 16th to 11th century BC. The valley is known at present to house 63 tombs but excavation work is ongoing. General entry tickets here get you into your choice of three tombs, additional fees must be paid to visit Tutunkhams, and additional fees if you want to take photographs inside.
Next, over to the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. Underneath the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari it is one of the countries greatest monuments.
As a side option, some choose to enjoy an early morning air balloon ride (suitable from 6 years+) and then just one of the famous sites from the west bank of Luxor. You would need a longer itinerary to fit in everything the Luxor has to offer.
Early afternoon sees the daily departure of the Nile cruise ships from Luxor starting their journey down the Nile towards Aswan. Your first overnight cruising the Nile you will pass through Esna Lock, then dock in the early hours dock in Edfu.
Overnight: Cruise boat on the Nile
Day 5 Egypt Itinerary: Edfu to Aswan
Another very early morning start to see the Temple of Edfu (and if you love your hieroglyphics and ancient legends, one of our favourites!). You will take a traditional horse and carriage from the dock on the west bank of the Nile to the Edfu Temple complex.
Again you could spend hours here, but experience tells us that by about 9am it starts to get pretty crowded with tour groups and can be a little overwhelming for your little ones amongst the vast walls. You are back on your cruise boat by mid-morning and ready for your longest stretch enjoying the Nile Valley, watching the busy everyday life go by on the shores and enjoying the sun deck.
Late afternoon, your cruise will dock at the Temple of Kom Ombo and the Crocodile Museum. Another stop you definitely need your Egyptologist guide on hand to explain this “double temple” dedicated to two different sets of gods. Kids will be fascinated by the mummified crocodile collection here.
You board your Nile Cruise once more for the last leg which will see you sail overnight into Aswan.
Overnight: Cruise boat on the Nile
Day 6 Egypt Itinerary: Aswan & Abu Simbel
Did we mention there might be a few early starts? You can mix and match what you do in Aswan, but one last really significant landmark you won’t want to miss is Abu Simbel, which requires a very early start for the 240km journey south by road (or there are options to fly in a small aircraft – but this may add considerably to your budget)
The Abu Simbel temples date back to the 13th Century BC, but were painstakingly moved stone by stone from lower ground to their current location as the Aswan High Dam was being constructed in the 1960’s.
It is a long drive but incredibly rewarding to see the Great Temple of Ramesses II and the small temple dedicated to his chief wife Nefertari.
After your return from Abu Simbel, you can take a drive along the high dam wall and take in a wider view of Lake Nasser.
Overnight: Cruise docked at Aswan or transfer to a hotel if only on a 3-night cruise
Some suggested family-friendly options in Aswan include:
Day 7 Egypt Itinerary: Aswan to Cairo
Depending on whether you leave Cairo on the afternoon of Day 7 or early Day 8, you can still have another fairly full day in Aswan before flying back to Cairo, as taking the sleeper train. You may want to swap Day 6 and 7 sound if you think the kids will need a break from the very early starts.
Near to Aswan, take a small motorboat out to the Temple of Philae, situated on an island. The kids will enjoy this experience as much as the temple itself, though understandably the little ones can be quite templed out by now!
It is grand and fascinating, but if we were to skip any mentioned on this itinerary its probably this one, also relocated due to the construction of Lake Nasser.
If you didn’t get a chance earlier in your trip to experience a felucca, this is a great way to wrap up your trip in Aswan. and sail around Elephantine in a traditional boat (wind permitting!). Perhaps combine this with a Nubian village visit, even a camel ride if you missed this at the Pyramids.
If you only have a short overnight stay or layover in Cairo, rather than tackling the traffic back in and out of the city centre, why not try Novotel Cairo Airport before your departure.
Extending your trip to Egypt
We are still pulling together for you some alternative itineraries for 10 and 14-day trips to Egypt. These will include time at the Red Sea, as well as the Mediterranian port city of Alexandria, approximately an hour by train from Cairo.
Many of the Red Sea resort towns such as Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh (recently reopened to British tourists) can also be tackled as stand-alone sunshine and snorkelling/diving vacations.
Further tips for travelling to Egypt
You may also find these reference guides helpful in preparing for a trip to Egypt:
- The fine art of dealing with Baksheesh – the tipping culture in Egypt
- What to pack for a family trip to Egypt
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