What to see
Cairo, the Triumphant City, is the largest city in the Middle East and Africa, with over 15 million people. No visit to Egypt is complete without enjoying some of Cairo's many attractions, including the Pyramids of Giza. Here we recommend the oft-missed solar boat museum, where a King's ceremonial funeral boat discovered buried in 1954 has been reconstructed from 1,224 pieces like an enormous jigsaw. In Cairo itself the Egyptian Museum includes a staggering amount of artefacts. In particular we recommend visiting the Royal Mummies Room, which houses numerous mummified remains. Cairo is also home to several excellent hotels that cater to all tastes. Stay in the Mena House Oberoi, a beautiful character hotel built in 1869 overlooking the Pyramids, or experience the luxurious Four Seasons properties.
Between Cairo and Luxor to the south there are a lot of tombs and sights that are relatively unknown to mass tourism, which those with a keen interest in Egyptology will relish visiting the rock tombs at Beni Hassan and the pyramids of Meidum and Hawara.
To the south lies Luxor, where many Nile cruises begin and end. The route from Luxor to Aswan is lined with many famous temples, and there are a number of excellent cruise options now available. In particular we recommend the Oberoi Zahra, the most luxurious vessel on the Nile, and the elegant Sonesta Sun Goddess. The modern city of Luxor is full of monuments, including the Temples of Karnak, a vast site of ruined temples, chapels and other buildings. For those seeking luxury and charm we recommend staying at the Winter Palace.
Across the Nile from Luxor lies one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, the Valley of the Kings. Aswan itself is a picturesque town with bazaars full of exotic spices. A must-see is the Temple of Isis, located on an island between Aswan's two dams.
Further south is Lake Nasser, created when the Aswan dam was built. Many of the tombs in this area were moved to higher sites to escape flooding. The great thing about this area is that there are only four boats cruising Lake Nasser, and with many sites inaccessible by road, getting to them is half the experience and once at the sites there are few tourists. The most famous of these temples is the hugely impressive Temple of Ramses at Abu Simbel.
A seldom-explored region of Egypt is the Great Western Desert, to the west of Cairo. For the more adventurous a circuit around the Great Western Desert is a chance to experience the stark natural beauty of the Sahara, where highlights include enormous dunes and the oases of Farafa, Dakhla and Siwa. Siwa is the most accessible of the desert towns, lying approximately 8 hours' drive from Cairo, and with its strong traditions and unchanged way of life offers a unique insight into Egypt before the arrival of tourism.
East of Cairo across the Suez Canal, the Sinai Peninsula is surrounded by the Red Sea on three sides and its southern tip is home to several beach resorts. In particular we recommend the Four Seasons in Sharm El Sheikh and the Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh. Popular day trips from here include St Catherine's Monastery, considered one of the oldest functioning Christian Monasteries in the world and which houses a bush said to be the direct descendent of Moses' "burning bush". From here we also recommend viewing sunrise from the summit of Mount Sinai. Alexandria, once one of the most famous cities in the ancient world, now has an impressive new library which is both a commemoration of its ancient library and an attempt to rekindle some of the brilliance its ancient library represented. Alexandria itself is relaxed city, and we recommend staying at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. 70 miles east of Alexandria is El Alamein, most notable as the place where the Allied forces of WWII gained a decisive victory over the Axis forces. There is a war museum with collectibles from the battle of El Alamein, and the sombre war cemetery is just outside the town.