Egypt is one of those countries has captured the interest of people from around the world. It’s fascinating history, impressive monuments, and rich culture has impressed many travellers over the years. However, unlike other cities such as Paris or Amsterdam where it’s best to roam and explore on your own, you’ll want to hire professional guides in Egypt. This history here is abundant and every structure and area comes with hundreds of stories. Of course, the idea of adding professional guides on top of airfare, accommodation, and other travel related costs quickly leads to concerns about pricing. So, just how much does it cost to go to Egypt? Well, there is plenty to take into consideration, but you’ll be surprised at how affordable your dream trip to Egypt really can be.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to suggest an 8 day and 8-night itinerary to see the highlights of Egypt. This sample itinerary will start and end in Cairo and includes a day trip to Alexandria as well as a Nile River cruise between Luxor and Aswan including a half day trip to Abu Simbel. Please note that this guide is based on the costs for a single person. If you are travelling as a couple, make sure to double these estimates (except for hotels).
|Food and drink||$90|
The above estimate is in American Dollars, so please use XE.com to find out the average costs in your home country.
Airfare is going to be the most expensive part of your trip to Egypt, so start shopping around in advance to make sure you get the best deal. Don’t plan on travelling during main holidays, for example: Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s as these are some of the most popular, and therefore most expensive, times to go to Egypt. I’ve estimated airfare to cost about $800 per person for those who avoid the high season.
Insider tip: Nile River cruises all leave and arrive on certain days rather than running on a flexible schedule throughout the week. Therefore, it is best to plan your flight around your cruise, not the other way around.
Canadians may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum card gives you a signup bonus of 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $600. There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, a sign up bonus worth $250 and it comes with airport lounge access.
Getting around Egypt is actually quite easy when following this itinerary. As the highlights of Egypt are the historical attractions and monuments, you will want to make sure you have a guide for these. Guides will pick you up and drop you off at your accommodation, taking away a lot of the stress. This is also true for the Nile Cruise, which includes all transportation including pick up from Luxor, drop off at the Airport in Aswan, and transportation between all the sites in-between. Nile cruises range in price from cheap feluccas where you spend the night on the deck, to top of the line luxury cruise companies. Definitely take the time to do your research, but you will easily be able to find a great 5-day, 4-night package which includes meals, transportation, and a private guide for your group for $400 per person.
That being said, you will need to get from Cairo to Luxor for your cruise. There are two main options. You can fly or take the overnight train. The overnight train has the added bonus of also covering one-night accommodation. However, it probably won’t be a great sleep. Flying direct is quick and easy and allows you to fit more into your schedule. Since they both cost about $100, I suggest flying so you have a bit of extra time in Luxor to explore the market and area when you land. Plus, by flying you are ensuring that you have the time in the morning to get up early (before your Nile cruise starts) for a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings- one of the biggest highlights of an Egypt vacation. As for getting from Aswan to Cairo at the end of the trip, you’ll need to fly. As mentioned earlier, domestic flights can be quite cheap if you book early enough.
In terms of getting to and from the airports, I highly recommend booking a hotel that offers a pick-up service. This service usually costs around $10. The taxis at the airport are very aggressive and significantly more expensive than they should be. Should you need a taxi in Cairo, make sure to agree upon a rate ahead of time or make sure they turn on the meter. Taxis that use the meter are incredibly affordable.
Since this itinerary also includes a Nile River cruise, you will only require 4 nights in a hotel: 3 in Cairo and 1 in Luxor if you choose to fly rather than take the overnight train. For four nights in Egypt, I estimate your costs to be $350.
Egypt, like every other destination, has a range of choices for accommodation. Backpacker hostels can be found in central locations the same as five-star luxury hotels and mid-range hotels. For this guide, I’ve based cost estimates on the top-rated mid-range hotels which, you will find, are very affordable. Of course, you can choose a lower budget accommodation and cut costs more or, if you have a bit of leeway, you may want to take this opportunity to splurge on one or two of Egypt’s most famous hotels.
For recommendations on accommodation in Egypt I suggest the following:
- Hostel: Freedom Hostel, Nile Plaza Hostel, or Nile Plaza Hostel
- Mid-range: Eco Inn Cairo, City View Hotel, or Cleopatra Hotel
- Luxury: Marriott Mena House, Fairmont Nile City, or Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski
- Hostel: Bob Marley House Sherief Hotel Luxor, Happy Land Luxor, or Venus Hostel
- Mid-range: Nefertiti Hotel, Iberotel Luxor, Eatabe Luxor
- Luxury: Hilton Luxor Resorts and Spa or Sofitel Winter Palace
If you’re Canadian, having the right credit card can save a fair amount of money on hotels. For example, The BMO World Elite Mastercard typically has a sign up bonus of $250 when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership. This card does have an annual fee of $150 but it’s normally waived for the first year so you’re getting $250 for free. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 51,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $3,000 to your card in the first three months. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $650.
Egypt is all about the attractions, but the good news is that many of these attractions, and guides for them, are covered in the costs of your Nile cruise. This includes Valley of the Kings, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple, Kom Ombo, Edfu, and more. That being said, there are a couple of optional tours within the cruise that will be an additional cost. This includes Abu Simbel, which really is a must. Abu Simbel costs approximately $80 per person for a private guided tour as it is a three-hour drive from Luxor.
A day trip to Alexandria will also be an additional cost. Again, for a private guided tour, you are looking at approximately $80 per person for a full day trip that includes lunch. The hot air balloon ride in Luxor is also additional, though prices range quite a bit depending on the provider, time of year, and hotel you book through. A good price is $60 per person for this experience.
Finally, you will need to consider any tours that you want to do in Cairo. The great pyramids and Cairo Museum are a popular combination for a day trip and will cost about $40 per person. A full day tour through Cairo including the Citadel and Khan el Khalili market is approximately $60 per person.
*Please note that these tour estimates are for private guides which I believe offers the best experience. However, know that you can decrease these costs by joining larger group tours instead.
Food and Drink
Food and drink are reasonably priced in Egypt making it pretty easy to stay on budget. Your Nile cruise will include 3 meals a day, however, it may or may not include drinks (even water) so be sure to look into this when you book. Breakfast of some sort is also almost always included in your hotel fee, and lunch may be included in full day trips; definite perks for those keeping an eye on their wallet.
When it comes to restaurants, you can find fast food classics, street food vendors, local family run restaurants, and of course restaurants aimed at tourists. Prices will vary depending on where you eat and what you eat. Chances are you will end up eating at the more touristy restaurants they tend to be the easiest to find, most recommended to travellers, and close to the main tourist areas. That being said, even these ‘pricey’ meals are quite reasonable by North American standards.
Travellers need to know that tap water is not drinkable in Egypt so you will need to buy bottled water. Please also be mindful of any ice cubes in your drinks. Note that alcohol is not always readily available at many of the local restaurants Egyptians do not drink. If you are looking for alcohol, your best bet is the hotel restaurants.
With all of this in mind, your daily food and drink budget should be about $20 dollars including drinking water. Remember, water may not be included in your Nile cruise package, so factor in a few extra dollars for your trip.
- Breakfast: Included with accommodations
- Lunch: $8 dollars
- Dinner: $10 dollars
- Drinking water: $1-2 dollars
Egypt isn’t necessarily a huge shopping mecca, but there are a few items that are great for souvenirs or to bring home as gifts. These include papyrus, alabaster figurines, or cartouche necklaces. Many vendors expect you to negotiate and often start at a price 10X more than you should pay. Check online in advance for average costs. Egypt is also famous for its spices and teas which can be bought in the local markets. I recommend you bring at least $100 if you are looking to pick up some small gifts or souvenirs.
Most merchants at markets prefer cash (some only take cash), but many also accept credit cards so make sure you sign up for a credit card that doesn’t charge you foreign transaction fees so you’re getting the best exchange rate.
It is also important to note that Egypt is very much a tipping culture. In fact, it is normal to tip even the bathroom attendants (so hold onto those small bills!). In terms of tipping, the norm is 50 Egyptian pounds per half day for the guide and 20 Egyptian pounds for the driver. Double that for a full day. Keep in mind wait staff at restaurants will also expect a tip, as will housekeeping, drivers, and the staff of the cruise (you will get an envelope at the end). Basically, any person providing any form of service for you (even taking your picture) will want a tip.
I recommend allocating an extra $100 for tipping. Depending on your tours, it may be more than you need, however tipping goes a long way in Egypt and if you have a fantastic guide you may want to give them a little extra.
So how much does it cost to go to Egypt and see the highlights? I estimate that 8 days in Egypt, including a Nile River cruise and professional, private guides, will cost approximately $2,400 per person. Not bad considering this estimate also includes private guides for all of the sites and attractions. That being said, I have included a few additional tips throughout the article as to where you can cut costs and reduce your Egypt budget even more.
Egypt is an incredible destination and a visit here is often the vacation of a lifetime for many people. Hopefully, this article will show you just how affordable Egypt can be to explore and help to convince you to go and experience it for yourself.