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Nile River Cruises: A Trip Through the Heart of Egypt

Cruising along the Nile River has been one of the top luxury cruises around the world since the days of the famous voyage of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. These days, the magic of the Nile remains intact as world-travelers shoot along the river to see some of the most beautiful spots in Egypt from the comfort of a world-class riverboat. Although there are plenty of ways to see the best that Egypt has to offer, a Nile river cruise will take a traveler deep into the historical roots of the region while promising unparalleled views and relaxation that will quickly make for the trip of a lifetime.

The entryway to the ancient world.

Egypt remains a world-class destination for one main reason: the awe-inspiring ancient pyramids of Giza and The Sphinx. Sitting just west of the Nile and a short trip from Cairo, the pyramids date to the 3rd millennium B.C. and continue to be among the top tourist destinations on the planet. The Pyramid of Khufu (or simply the Great Pyramid of Giza) is the only Ancient Wonder of the Ancient World to remain intact and is one of the most massive pyramids ever built, making it a natural starting point for any trip to Egypt.
The view of Khufu’s famous tomb—along with the equally impressive Khafre and Menkaure Pyramids—is also nothing short of breathtaking from the Nile, the lifeblood of both ancient and modern Egypt. From the river, visitors will see the marvels of Giza the same way that the ancients would have first seen the pyramids, as it was only with the Nile that most travelers were able to maneuver around Egypt’s Old Kingdom reliably. With Nile river cruises that tend to start and end in Cairo, travelers enjoy a terrific opportunity to see the pyramids from the river before a short day trip directly to the complex, providing direct access that makes planning as easy as possible.

Much more than just pyramids.

The pyramids are certainly not the only draws of the region, however, as you don’t have to be a history buff to fall in love with the remarkable ruins of Luxor. Only minutes north of Cairo, Luxor is a stunning combination of ancient ruins, temples, and monuments from the days that the town was known as Thebes, the one-time capital of Ancient Egypt. Known as the largest open-air museum in the world, Luxor is excellent for exploring on your own or in a small group with a knowledgeable tour guide who can unlock the mysteries of famous sites like the Luxor Temple, Karnak, and more.
Just across the Nile on the west embankment, the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens are two of the most renowned archaeological hot spots of the ancient world and together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Valley of the Kings is also the foundation for the mysteries of King Tutankhamun, the famed boy king whose tomb became internationally famous when British archeologist Howard Carter discovered it nearly a century ago. Though you might have to start as early as 5 a.m. to beat the heat in the summertime, stopping by the remarkable tombs of Egypt’s ancient pharaohs are nearly guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.
Other sites to see nearby:
Cairo itself has plenty to offer besides just being a launching point for the pyramids. Near the top of the list, the Cairo Citadel is stunning both inside and out and is famous for being the location of the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. Built directly on top of an ancient Roman-era fortress, the Hanging Church is also well worth a trip, as is the Egyptian Museum, the Ben Ezra Synagogue, and the enormous Cairo Tower, where you can glimpse the entire city from 187 meters above the ground.

Don’t forget Port Said and Suez.

Port Said is one of the unique locations that can easily fly under the radar in Egypt, bringing an exciting international feel while also providing exceptional access to the Suez Canal and the many features of the Mediterranean. Within Port Said, the El Nasr Museum of Modern Art is a great stop, and there is even a Central Perk in the middle of town, a favorite local café modeled after the coffee shop from the famous sitcom Friends. Getting a glimpse of the famous Suez Canal House on a free ferry ride over to Port Faud is also a great way to spend an afternoon around the Port Said region.
The main draw of Port Said, of course, is that it’s the perfect conduit to getting anywhere else in Egypt that you need to go. While there is easy transportation to Cairo-Giza, as well as a range of highly rated day tours, it’s also easy to hop on a cruise ship or ferry to enjoy the Suez Canal. A crucially important canal built in the 1860s, Suez links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and is excellent for a pleasure cruise or for making a trip down to port towns like Safaga.

The treasures further down the Nile.

The Luxor-Cairo-Giza region is rightly the centerpiece of most Egyptian adventures, yet anyone who has been down the Nile understands that pyramids and tombs are only a portion of what a Nile River Cruise has to offer. A destination that has become very popular is Safaga, a small Egyptian port town hugging the Red Sea that has become a haven for watersports enthusiasts. After seeing some of the main wonders of Egypt, Safaga is an excellent opportunity for kitesurfing, scuba diving, or to enjoy the black-sand beach the region is known for. It’s also the perfect starting location for sailing the Red Sea or up the Gulf of Suez to the Suez Canal and other destinations in northern Egypt. From the town of Qena along the Nile, Safaga is only an easy two-hour drive away, although many access Safaga through Port Said and the Suez Canal.

Final tips.

If you’re planning on seeing the best sites of Egypt, a Nile river cruise remains a perfect option to easily make the rounds to the most famous destinations in the country. Not only will you be awed by the vantage point of the pyramids, but you’ll have easy connections to a range of other underrated stopovers. Although Egypt can get a little toasty in the summertime as well as portions of fall and spring, the breeze off the Nile and amenities of a respected cruise line also help ensure that your trip will be as comfortable as it is inspiring.