Classical Holidays to Egypt

by Jimmy Dunn
The classic tour of Egypt is mostly Pharaonic (Ancient Egypt), though most of the time this will also include some religious and Islamic sightseeing. The most common classic tour is usually 10 to 14 days, and generally includes Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, though not particularly in that order. Classical tours are often arranged with, or without a Nile Cruise.
Typically, such a tour will begin in Cairo, as that is the major airport where most tourists enter Egypt. However, tours of the Cairo area are frequently split between the beginning and end of the trip. For example, a tour might cover the Giza Pyramids (Great Pyramid), as well as Saqqara (Step Pyramid) and even the Egyptian Antiquities museum on the first day of the tour. Then, after traveling to Luxor and Aswan and returning to Cairo, tours will often visit the Citadel and Khan el-Khalili market in Islamic Cairo and the churches and Coptic museum in Old Cairo. Of course, the tours may not be in this specific order.
After the first day or two in Cairo, such tours usually move on to either Luxor or Aswan, usually by air but possibly by train. However, other forms of travel are often arranged, including bus travel. If this is the case, the bus may stop at antiquity sites along the way, such as some of the antiquities near the Fayoum. The next leg of the tour usually begins in either Luxor or Aswan.
Luxor is often arranged as either a one or two day tour. In the morning, or one day of a two-day stay, the tour visits the West Bank where many monuments and tombs are to be found, including some of the finest in Egypt. This usually takes place in the morning in order to avoid the heat of the afternoon. Then, one afternoon or one day will be reserved for the east bank, where the Luxor and Karnak temples are located, as well as the excellent Luxor museum. Other activities might include a visit to the local bazaar.
For Aswan further south in Egypt, a day tour is usually sufficient for many, and may include visits to Elephantine Island, St. Simeon's Monastery, the unfinished Obelisk, the Nubian Museum, the High Dam and Philae Island, though time may not permit most standard tours to visit all of these sites. However, a frequent addition to the standard classical tour is the temples at Abu Simbel. This will usually add a day to the Aswan tour. Most tours fly to Abu Simbel and back in one day, leaving some of that time open to expand on the visits to Aswan sites. Other less common tours may bus to Abu Simbel, possibly with a stay in a local hotel there.
If, after Cairo, a tour first ends up in Luxor, the next destination will usually be Aswan, or if Aswan is the first stop, the next destination will usually be Luxor. The most common forms of transport between these two destinations are tour bus or Nile Cruise boat. While one may take a train or even fly between the two destinations, this is usually not done due to the antiquity sites such as the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu, which are located between the two cities.
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