A trip to Egypt is an ambitious undertaking, but extremely worthwhile. A recommended route is a Nile River cruise, connecting you to major points of destination with iconic landmarks. It can also be accomplished by flying directly into Cairo and connecting onto Luxor for focused stops.

Cairo

Arriving into Cairo is sensory overload. A city of approximately 23 million people means you’re confronted with congested streets, massive billboards and a monochromatic sandstone landscape. 

Staying at the Nile Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel is perfect for a retreat from the cacophony and chaos of Cairo, but also for the attention to detail. It’s a downtown oasis in the desert that includes on-site activities, so you don’t have to venture back into the city at night. 

The dinner entertainment of live bands, belly-dancing, hookah pipes and incredible feasts await you on the back patio. Tabletop grills of keftes and lamb chops are divine. The unexpected cooler nights and palm tree breezes create a sensually exotic and calming setting – a sharp contrast to the hectic days.

Excursions

The Pyramids of Giza are thrilling. Crawl through a pyramid’s underground burial chamber, ride camels or horse buggies down to more pyramids, and gaze upon the Sphinx. 

A cultural excursion of the city includes glassblowing, searching out essential oil diffusers and papyrus-making demonstrations. This writer’s advice? Politely decline the hospitable visit to a local diner sampling of the koshari delicacy and sugar-cane beverage; it’s too risky in catching “mummy tummy” or “Pharaoh’s revenge” stomach bugs. 

Visit the Khan El-Khalili bazaar, best enjoyed with a guide.

The Egyptian Museum is footsteps away from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Arrive early to avoid the long lines from tour buses. Behold Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus and other antiquities. 

Catch a felucca sailboat ride on the Nile River at sunset for a romantic and serene way to decompress from the day. Barefoot sailors navigate the vessels in silence as English is not widely spoken. 

You can also view the Nile River from the hotel bar balcony while enjoying a sunset cocktail. 

Luxor

Connect to Luxor to experience a truly authentic side of Egypt. The smiling people exude a communal spirit and most are dressed in robes and turbans. A horse-drawn carriage tour of the city is a recommended excursion to first absorb the city’s mystique. 

Stop at the markets, and see Luxor’s Old Winter Palace hotel where Lord Carnarvon announced the discovery of King Tut’s tomb – and where Agatha Christie reportedly wrote Death on the Nile

Rest up at the Hilton Luxor Resort to enjoy the vacation aspects of Egypt. Luxuriate with their canopy hammock beds, infinity pools, vendors and exceptional buffets, all along the borderless Nile River – with feluccas at the ready and hot air balloons ascending at sunrise. 

Dinners are exceptional, with decorated trees, tagines on the patio, ornate barbecue grills, pillows, lanterns and fire pits. Listen to live music while gazing at the Nile. 

Take hydration seriously as you prepare for the intense heat and sun at the amber-drenched Karnak and Luxor Temples, as well as the Valley of Kings. This writer found the temples even more impressive than the pyramids. Statues, carvings and art are seemingly endless. 

Request a taxi drive through a village. Behind a maize field, the indigenous Nubian villagers become excited at your curiosity and arrival into their enclave. At nightfall, crowds form to take advantage of the cooler weather. The music and romance of the night all along the vast and calm Nile River is the essential Egyptian energy.