Afterlives of Ancient Egypt Companion Post -- So, you want to go to Egypt?!
Make sure to listen to Season 3, Episode 11 first
This is a companion post is meant to supplement our new Afterlives of Ancient Egypt episode discussing travel in Egypt. This is Part I of III
Afterlives of Ancient Egypt Season 3, Episode 11
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Below you will find links to things we mention in the podcast and other resources we’ve found helpful.
Getting to Egypt, especially from the west coast of the United States can be quite a hike. But we have some favorite routes that we have found to be the most comfortable and accomodating. Most of us are part of the Star Alliance group, of which Egypt Air is a member, and use that to gain miles and advantages.
Common travel itineraries from U.S → Cairo
From the U.S. most layover in western or central Europe (Rome, Frankfurt, Zurich, Vienna, etc), then to Cairo
Other layovers: Istanbul, Doha, Abu Dhabi
More and more direct flights to Luxor—if you want to skip Cairo
Cairo is known for its insane traffic which can make getting around intimidating to new arrivals. Here are some links to some of the tips we mention in the podcast:
Ride-sharing service: Uber, Careem, inDriver and DiDi: only in Cairo
Taxis: non-metered; make sure to negotiate price prior to getting in (though Kara never does and just deals with it)!
Car services: can be arranged via your hotel concierge
Trains: Only Kara has taken the train (but 20 years ago, alone and overnight!) but things have changes since those days, so check out:
Domestic flights (We’ll talk more about this in Part II of the podcast on travel; you’ll want to buy internal air travel in Egypt, which is super easy as there are Egypt Air offices all over the place.)
via Egypt Air
Usually booked separately from your international flights
Tends to be around $100 USD
River Cruises: MANY different options and level of quality (You can even book a week or two on a felucca sailboat, which Kara’s husband Remy has done; more on that in Lonely Planet especially!)
Boats in Luxor
Ferry: 5 EGP; picks up across from Luxor Museum, east bank and drops off on West bank main road
Personal boats: 20-50 EGP depending on the number of people; more personal
Bike Rental in West Bank, Luxor (they are a lifesaver, a godsend, super fun, watch out for potholes)
Places to Stay
We have some of our favorite places listed below and some others that are popular amongst our friends. We suggest staying in central Cairo near the island of Zamalek. But other neighborhoods like Maadi are popular as well. If you want to be near the pyramids and other ancient sites, staying in Giza is also an option.
As for Luxor, we prefer staying on the West Bank. It’s so much quieter and closer to the sites. We have listed those options below along with some East Bank options that we know and recommend.
Horus Hotel- $, Kara’s favorite place (super clean; love Zamalek; near all her besties)
Om Kalthoom- $, another favorite (above a shisha place that stays open all night, and I mean ALL night)
Longchamp- $ (in same building as the Horus Hotel and also clean and nice!)
Intercontinental Cairo- $$$ (Garden City, Baby! Downtown adjacent. Fancy. You will spend on food, but you are fancy!)
Novotel Cairo El Borg-$$, just bridge away from the Cairo Museum, Tahrir Square (Borg means “tower” in Arabic and is not a soul sucking robot of doom; still fun to say, if you stay there.)
Marriott Hotel and Omar Khayaam Casino - $$$ (You are the fanciest of the fancy with gardens and pool and all the things! You are staying in a palace! Expect food prices to be like home but more expensive!)
Marriott Mena House- $$$ (Also super fancy. And old school. One of Kara’s fave pools. Pyramids right there. Brilliant Indian restaurant. Breakfast buffet of the gods. You can’t go wrong.)
Marriot Le Meridien- $$; Currently closed, but keep an eye out. The location is super convenient and it’s less bank than the Mena House.
Amun Hotel- $; Our personal favorite, run by our good friend Muhamed Soliman.
Thebes Hotel- $; the other Soliman family hotel
Marsam Hotel- $$; This place used to be the old dig house for the University of Chicago—great location and restaurant.
Sofitel Winter Palace & Annex- /$; classic colonial-style hotel
Hilton Resort and Spa- $$; more Western ammenitities
Places to See
Where do we even begin…!? Here are just some of our recommendations for Cairo and Luxor. Our plan is to do other supplemental episode covers other locations around the country. Do you have any other suggestions? Comment below.
Cairo and Luxor Pass- $100 USD for foreign tourists, valid for 5 days, no ticket lines
available at the Egyptian Museum, Tahrir Square, the Giza Plateau, and Saladin Citadel and at Luxor Museum
Egyptian Museum, Tahrir Square- quintessential, original museum
GEM: Grand Egyptian Museum- not open as of 02/13/23
NMEC: National Museum of Egyptian Civilization- Predynastic through contemporary history
Other Museums: Museum of Islamic Civilization, Textile Museum, Agricultural Museum, The Coptic Museum, Gayer Anderson Museum
Giza Plateau- Great pyramids, mortuary temples, the Sphinx, mastaba fields of Old Kingdom nobles
Saqqara, Memphis and Dahshur- Step Pyramid, Imhotep museum, Serapeum, Mit Rahina museum, pyramids of Dahshur
Old Cairo- Coptic churches, beautiful mosques, Khan el-Khalili,
Silver merchants in the Khan
Ministry of Antiquities Ticket Office, West Bank
Karnak - You could spend days here! Make sure to check out the block yard; Avenue of the Sphinxes; Mut Precinct
Mortuary Temples—Medinet Habu, Ramesseum, Gurna (Seti I), Collosi of Memnon and others
Tombs of the Nobles—a guide would be most helpful here!
Places to Eat
Food perhaps is the one area of travel that many people are most concerned about. We have a discussion about food and water hygiene in the podcast—just be smart! Cairo has many great restaurants to visit and there are always new ones—4 Cairo restaurants even made the MENA best restaurant list. If you are looking for a more classic Egyptian option—find the nearest koshari place.
Abou El-Sid - Classic Egyptian restaurant; cool ambience
Crimson - Upscale Mediterranean on Zamalek
Five Bells - Egyptian fare on Zamalek
Christos - Seafood restaurant
Taboon - Lebanese restaurant on Zamalek
Abou Tarek Koshari- national dish of Egypt
Felfella - another classic restaurant
Marsam Hotel - amazing home grown food, best food in Luxor
Bondok Restaurant - koshari place
Nefertiti hotel rooftop cafe - great rooftop cafe for juice and small plates
The Treasures of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings (Art Guides)
The Treasures of the Valley of the Kings: Tombs and Temples of the Theban West Bank in Luxor
Literally leaving Wed. Could not have been better-timed! And now I “do Substack” 😂🎉
SO helpful!! I am saving this for the future! Hopefully, my first trip will not be too distant in the future :)