Ancient Egypt is mainly found along the Nile. The ancient civilization, which reached its peak 5000 years ago, was largely dependent on this river. After all, the fresh water was necessary to survive in the otherwise dry and arid desert. Villages and towns appeared along the Nile and agriculture became possible. And the river served as the way to ship people and things between Europe and the heart of Egypt. Today, the Nile is just as important as it used to be, although roads, railways and airports have taken over most of the river’s transport function. Tourists and visitors will mainly discover this part of Egypt through a Nile cruise.
Aboard a beautiful ship, full of luxury and amenities, you will, as a rule, sail from Cairo to Aswan, making several stops along the way. Ancient Egypt can mainly be found along the banks, which makes a Nile cruise the perfect way to discover the most beautiful sights of Egypt.
Top 10 Sights Along the Nile
#1. The Pyramids of Giza
According to Computerannals.com, most Nile cruises start in Cairo. The Pyramids of Giza are probably one of Egypt’s most famous landmarks. They are of course also the last remaining original wonders of the world. The fact that, over 5000 years ago, humans were able to assemble these majestic structures makes the Pyramids almost mythical. And a visit to these tombs should not be missed when you visit Cairo. The pyramids are funerary temples, dedicated to the supreme rulers of the ancient Egyptian Empire. The pyramid complex consists of many artifacts. Temples, tombs, ancient streets, the famous Sphinx and of course many pyramids. The highest and most famous.
#2. The Temple of Edfu
If you are looking for a nice stop along the Nile Cruise, the Temple of Edfu is a very good choice. It is a lesser-known and busy attraction that is often skipped by the larger shipping companies, which is a shame, because it is a beautiful place. The temple was built in the period before the Romans conquered Egypt, around 30 BC. It is a large complex full of rooms and spaces where the most beautiful drawings and sculptures can be found. Edfu is completely devoted to the god Horus, god of the air and war, who in images looks like a falcon.
#3. Abu Simbel
The four huge statues that line the entrance to Abu Simbeldominate are the gateway to one of Egypt’s most famous and special monuments. This was the place where the Nubians entered ancient Egypt and Abu Simbel served mainly as a gate and as a means to show the greatness of the Egyptians to their southern neighbors. Behind the statues is the famous Temple of Ramses II. Perhaps one of the most special things about this temple is the fact that it is in full sunlight exactly twice a year. On the day of his birth, and the day of his coronation. It just goes to show how knowledgeable the ancient Egyptians were at the time. Also in Abu Simbel is the much smaller, beautiful temple of Nefertari, wife and queen of Ramses II.
Luxor is a true open-air museum with a history dating back to 1392 BC. The city is full of temples, buildings, statues and other ancient things that were once the base for the ancient capital ‘Thebes’. On the east side of the Nile you will find the complex of Karnak while the west side of the city is characterized by the presence of the Valley of the Kings. Both will be discussed in detail later in this article. Other places of interest in Luxor are the history center, the beautiful Corniche along the Nile where it is excellent to stay on hot days and the famous Luxor museum.
Located on the west bank of the Nile, Dendera is a temple complex that has been remarkably well preserved. It is widely regarded as Egypt’s best-preserved landmark. The complex is surrounded by a thick mud wall where the center of Dendera is formed by the beautiful and huge temple of Hathor, the goddess of love, beauty, joy and healing. The temple was completed in Roman times and has a relief of Cleopatra and Caesarion, her son of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.
#6. Come Ombo
The complex of Kom Ombo was once built as a dedication to the gods Horus (sky) and Sobek (crocodiles) and is therefore somewhat of a standout in this list of sights along the Nile. The building is a completely symmetrical complex where one part is completely dedicated to Horus while the other part is dedicated to Sobek. Inside you will find beautiful paintings, hieroglyphs, statues and other details of more than 4000 years old. In older times, this complex had its own lake with a sizable population of sacred crocodiles.
Most Nile cruises start in Cairo, the capital of Egypt. Of course you can’t skip the pyramids of Giza, but the city has many more sights to offer. For example, the recently opened and ultra-modern (and enormous) Egyptian Museum is definitely a must-do. It is the place to find all the treasures of 5000 years of Egypt in one place and to learn a lot about the fascinating history of this once mighty empire. Cairo is also the place where many Hollywood movies have been shot. Films like Cleopatra, The Spy Who Loved Me and Death on the Nile were shot in or around Cairo, which with its exotic vibe was the perfect backdrop for the directors.
Abydos, located near Asyut, is surrounded by mystery and riddles. It is the place where visitors take on the role of explorer. For centuries, Abydos was a sacred place for burials and dedicated to the cult of Osiris, the god of the dead. While the Great Temple of Seti I forms the heart of the complex, the Gallery of the Kings should not be missed either. Here you will find a huge drawing of pharaohs with a list of almost all the pharaohs who ruled Egypt and, still a great mystery, drawings that look very much like modern machines.
#9. The Valley of the Kings
Practically every Nile cruise passes by Luxor, so a visit to the Valley of the Kings, located on the west side of the Nilenever be missing from your to-do list. After the pyramids, the Valley of the Kings is probably one of the most famous Egyptian sights. It is the place where many pharaohs of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties rested. There are more than 60 tombs scattered around the site. The most famous is that of Tutankhamun. This grave was not discovered by Howard Carter until 1922. Today it is one of the most popular places to visit along the Nile. So make sure you come early or very late to avoid the biggest crowds and to fully enjoy this special place.
#10. Karnak and the Temples of Luxor
On the east side of the Nile, near Luxor, lies the complex of Karnak, which is one of the largest temple complexes in the world. Only Angkor Wat in Cambodia is even bigger. During a visit to Karnak you will be overwhelmed by the enormous amount of buildings from ancient Egypt, including the Hypostyle Hall that consists of more than 130 pillars of more than 25 meters each. The large Obelisk of Hatshepsut, which towers above everything at more than 35 meters, is also a good place for a holiday photo. From here you look out over the huge complex of Karnak in every direction. A great place to visit!