NOTE — I thank the Embassy of Egypt in Brazil and Portugal for sharing the Portuguese version of this post on social networks.
Months ago, I wrote a post emphasising eight reasons tourism in Lisbon is outstanding (I live in Portugal). This time, the blog features a different destination, Egypt, with a slightly longer list: ten items. Ten notes on how Egypt is worth visiting. The fabulous, fantastic, unforgettable Egypt.
Awesome, Damas. That’s what I need. I’m still doubtful about going to Egypt.
I am here to help.
Embody the spirit of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft and come with me. I believe you are going to decide in just a few minutes.
Notes on why you should visit Egypt
1 – The trip of my life
Egypt is the trip of my life. I have been to many countries, especially here in Europe. None of them delights me as profoundly as Egypt.
Many tourists tell me they cried (yes, cried) at the Cairo Airport before leaving the country. Their minds were full of incredible memories they already wanted to revive during a new trip. As a last act, they hugged their tour guide, who was there to wave farewell.
How many times have you felt like that when leaving a country? How about you living all those profound emotions in the land of the pharaohs?
2 – Vibrant, incomparable History
Do you have a passion for History? Prepare yourself for paradise.
In Egypt, you can see, feel, touch, and — why not? — smell everything you see in books and documentaries. Feeling connected to that is a deep experience that never leaves the tourist’s mind.
To better understand what we see and feel in Egypt, let us think about Greece, also a cradle of human History. But Egypt’s historical grandeur is so profound that many tourists feel “less impressed” in Greece.
Less impressed, Damas? In Greece, with all those wonders we see?
Attention, please: I love Greece and have been there several times.
Here is what happens. After being deeply dazzled by Egypt’s historical richness, tourists who go directly from there to Greece make comparisons. Although overly impressed in Greece, they miss the impact felt in Egypt.
3 – Oooh! Aaah! Wooowww!
We are habituated to seeing Egypt in books, documentaries, films. It is obvious that, historically, everything is grand, fabulous, fantastic, impressive, amazing, astonishing. However, tourists lose their breath when seeing all of that in person. Eyes and mouth wide open. A whirlwind of thoughts dominates the mind.
Everybody knows that the History of Egypt is fantastic. But only there do we realise everything is much more than expected. Images do not show the genuine historical magnificence.
I’ve been to impressive places in several countries. Examples include the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, the Cathedral of Seville, and the millenary constructions in Athens. The wisdom and the skills of ancient people dazzle us. Today, although surrounded by all kinds of technology, we struggle to build things that are not even comparable to those. So, during the visits, we usually express reactions like “Wow! It’s amazing that people did this thing so long time ago!”, “Wow! This is too much for that time!”, “Wow! The wisdom here is impressive!”
The difference in Egypt is that our reactions are much more intense. We discover things near the impossible — especially considering that ancient Egyptians created them thousands of years ago.
Tourists exaggerate their reactions in Egypt:
But… how did they build this?
« breathing out of rhythm »
I can’t believe it!
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Oh, God, did they get help from aliens?
Oooooooh! Aaaaaah! Wow!
« mouth open »
No other country surprises us to this point!
4 – Excellent (amazing!) local guides
To better appreciate Egypt’s wonders, you need… an Egyptian tour guide, of course. No one should visit Egypt without the constant company of a professional.
Egyptian tour guides are usually fantastic. They are polite, patient, and show solid archaeological knowledge, willing to explain everything with pride. Probably, your guide will be your friend — even after the trip. I often see tourists who keep in touch with their guide through social networks or chat services like WhatsApp and Telegram.
I’m glad to know that, Damas! Can you recommend me a guide?
I am a co-founder and director of Meu Egito, which in Portuguese means “My Egypt.” Other co-founders are the Egyptian archaeologists and tour guides Ihab Hamdy and Abdelhadi Salah. We deal solely with customised VIP travel plans. Our work is a tremendous success in Portuguese (there are several testimonies of clients, including videos).
Meu Egito will soon offer English, Spanish, German, and Chinese services. The new version of the website is not ready, but you can contact me.
5 – Favourable prices and exchange rates
Overall, prices in Egypt are tempting enough to make us open our wallets.
There is another advantage for tourists: the exchange rate of the Egyptian pound is poor against the euro, the US dollar, and the British pound. On average, in 2023, 1 euro equals 32 Egyptian pounds; 1 US dollar, 29 Egyptian pounds; and 1 British pound, 36 Egyptian pounds.
Consequentially, essential expenses are not a nightmare — as we see in many other countries like France and Italy. Also, tourists feel more comfortable spending their money on non-essential products. And, good Egyptian gods, the number of shops and markets to visit is astonishing. We find all kinds of products: from simple, cheap souvenirs to luxury items. I always want to buy EVERYYYTHIIING.
6 – The touching kindness of the Egyptian people
Some countries offer natural beauty, rich History, stunning architecture, and unique gastronomy… but the locals are not warm. In Egypt, we find a “complete package.” Egyptians are friendly, generous people. They love tourists. Treat them well, and they will give you their heart.
There are circumstances, however, in which the locals may annoy tourists. On the streets and around vital touristic attractions, they can be extremely persistent in following you to sell products or to offer [sometimes useless] services for baksheesh (tip). Your tour guide will help you handle those people.
Ok, Damas. But how about women in Egypt? I hear some worrying comments.
In most cases, this is a consequence of the media’s sensationalism. Women live delightful days in the country. I know hundreds of them who travelled to Egypt alone or in pairs (two women) and returned home very satisfied. Also, large groups of women. But I emphasise: be with an excellent tour guide all the time. (No matter if you are a man or a woman. The advice serves all because Egypt is too complex for visitors.)
7 – The magic of the Nile River
Since childhood, we have seen references to the enigmatic, magnificent Nile River. And there it is, ready for the tourists, inviting us for glorious days of adventures and sentiments.
The felucca (traditional, rustic vessel) ride on the Nile in Aswan is almost an obligation. You must enjoy the experience. We see stunning landscapes and discover curiosities, such as the Hotel Old Cataract, linked to the writer Agatha Christie. The climax is the Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan (or the opposite). The best part of tourism in Egypt!
8 – Exotic experiences
For most tourists, Egypt is an exotic destination. A country like this can teach us a lot. Tourism is culture above all: it opens our minds and improves how we see things.
Be receptive to what is new for you. Observe their religious, behavioural, and family traditions. Consider each one, possibly applying them to your own life.
Contact with camels and crocodiles and visits to Nubian villages is part of the exotic experiences. Pay attention to all the rest. For instance, papyrus (how about visiting a traditional papyrus shop?), lotus flower, and hibiscus (used for teas and juices). And the date palms are an extra delight (Egyptian dates — the fruit — are my favourite in the world).
9 – Contact with the Arabic language
Arabic is one of the most beautiful and rich languages on the planet. How pleasant it is to hear the Egyptians speaking!
Tourists can learn many words and expressions in just a few days. I observe and ask the guides for tips.
Keep a list of Arabic expressions. The locals love when a foreigner tries to speak in their language. Egyptians love Egypt. Egyptians are proud of Egypt. That is beautiful to see.
أنا أحب مصر. بارك الله في مصر وكل شعب مصر.
10 – Safety
Are there any risks in visiting Egypt?
Wait! Yes? You said yes?!
Yes. There are risks… just as in any other country. We must always be watchful.
But Damas… maybe Egypt demands more caution from us?
The media influences you. Again, the media. It is common to notice sensationalism when they talk about Egypt or some other country from the Arab world.
Egypt is taking care of tourists. In general, better than most European countries (I live in Europe and make comparisons). For instance, while Europe sometimes sleeps when the topic is terrorism, Egypt energetically acts against threats.
I authored an article about how I feel comfortable in Egypt. It is in Portuguese but will soon be translated into English and published here.
I hope you visit Egypt. And I think you will echo what I often say: “Egypt is the trip of my life.”
» I live in the Algarve (South of Portugal).
» My first fiction books, for young adults, were published in the early 2000s in Portuguese — a time travel adventure and a drama about child adoption, both with thousands of readers. I also wrote books and guides about travel and technology. Screenplays are my greatest passion.
» This blog is the English version of my G.P. DAMAS (Portuguese language, online since 2010). English is not my native language.
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3 replies on “Ten notes on how Egypt is worth visiting (oh, Great Egypt!)”
Amazing, Glauco! Thanks for sharing this.
Great article! Thank you for all these information.
Thank you, Cristina. Have a nice week. I hope you visit Egypt.