Cairo or Luxor? - Help us to decide!

Hey guys, my wife and I are trying to decide between spending more time in Cairo or Luxor on our upcoming Egypt trip. We love ancient sites and history but only have about a week there. Would you recommend focusing on one city over the other? Also, we’re wondering if it’s worthwhile to hire a guide - would their expertise and tips make our time there more worthwhile? Any recommendations for restaurants or street foods we have to try in either city too? We want to make sure we see the top spots and immerse ourselves in the local culture as much as possible with our limited time. Any other tips or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Thank you so much!


Hi @yourace . I have been to Egypt three times now, last visit I stayed three months. Lots of information I could give you as I also used to organise tours there for a friend of mine who is a tour guide there. But to answer your questions, it’s a little hard as both Cairo and Luxor are great, both with amazing historical sites. Egypt is one, big historical site!

As you only have a week, I cannot stress enough the importance of having a registered guide. Their expertise and tips are worth their weight in gold I promise you! Also, as you say you would like to immerse yourself in the local culture, you won’t find a better way to do that than to spend time with your driver and guide. I ended up staying with mine in his family home with wife and children! Cairo is overwhelming for a first time visitor and without a guide, you won’t get a full understanding of what you see and miss seeing some really great places. You will be completely overwhelmed and lose valuable time and money trying to do it yourself. I could write pages on places to visit so please do start researching a good, reputable and REGISTERED guide, they are very cheap!

Places like Saqqara, Memphis are outside of Cairo but shouldn’t be missed so you need a driver and guide. The pyramids of Giza, Coptic Cairo, Al-Azhar mosque, Khan el Khalili Bazaar, Monastery of St Simon the Tanner, Mokkatan mountain (little known place well worth a visit) , the Egyptian museum, the list goes on. You could do all these places in two or three full days but will be tired.

You “could” then fly to Luxor which really has some incredible historical sites. Valley of the King’s, Luxor Temple, Colossi of Memnon, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, again you “could” do all these in two days very easily. But without a guide you will be overwhelmed and learn little, I guarantee you.

I have been to most places in all Egypt many times and still don’t do it without guides. If you did Luxor and not Cairo, you could do Luxor and Aswan together for a week, maybe do a Nile Cruise between both places, it isn’t expensive in western terms. But who goes to Egypt without going to the pyramids? And don’t just see them, spend hours walking around them, you will be surprised what you will find!

Anyway, Egypt needs more than I can write here. With a week you will be running,. Food isn’t really that good there, they eat a lot of lamb, kofta, and meat in general, red lentil soup and vegetables, but no food in particular is anything to write home about. Not that good. Street food is basically Koshary and Shawarma. Flatbread with falafel, eggs and beans for breakfast is staple.

So how about that! :rofl: I could talk for hours, Egypt is like a second home for me but it isn’t for the faint hearted so please don’t even attempt to manage it by yourself. You will understand when you experience the traffic and the touts and the crowds. There are still donkeys and horses on the streets of Cairo, and Luxor, and animal welfare is pretty distressing so you need to be prepared. Animals are not treated well at all, generally. Not sure of your budget but be careful, it is definitely a city of touts and they will get from you whatever they can so you need to be on your game. Just buying a bottle of water they will try to double the price . Get that guide! I’m jealous and will probably be back again this year. Despite everything I’ve said, I absolutely love the country and the people but you absolutely need to be prepared for it. The population of Cairo alone is 22 million, population all Australia - 26 million. That’s how crowded the city is. Let us know how you get on.


I would choose more time in Luxor over Cairo. Of course see the pyramids in Cairo, but I enjoyed Luxor more. It is more calm and fewer people and some great ancient sites to meander through. I would second paying for a guide, we tried to be independent travelers at the pyramids and it was very stressful. We were harassed a lot, and there are few information signs to learn what things are.
As a woman, I was stared at a lot my men who also made comments on my appearance. I was wearing fitted t-shirts, and wish I had worn baggy button up shirts that covered my body more.
The locals like to share their stories and are very hospitable, often giving you gifts. As a tourist I recommend being generous with your time and tips, as it is very appreciated. The level of poverty and government control over the citizens is quite astounding. It is so interesting getting to know people.
We mostly self catered, but did enjoy the street baked flat bread and freshly squeezed juice at the stands along the road.
I hope you have a fantastic time!


Yes, always wear button up or relatively high neck shirts and remain modest in dress. Just keep your chest and knees covered , it is obviously a Muslim country and most women still wear hijabs, the younger ones are starting to rebel :wink:. Unwanted attention will be gained if you dress inappropriately. As a couple you will be harassed a little, just for selling you things etc, but not as much as you would as a single female. Your guide will shelter you from all that and you will be left alone as long as you are with a local. Same goes for a single female. Hint: Single women, always wear a wedding ring and if anyone seems a bit intrusive, say you are with your husband. They will immediately leave you alone.

A further word of advice @yourace , TripAdvisor might be a better source of advice and information than this forum. It was my bible when I first travelled to Egypt.


This is such good advice! I lived in Cairo for a year and adored it. I thought the food was good - particularly the falafel (which is called ta’amaya in egypt). The juice is incredible too, particularly if you can find a good mango juice - they have shops with tonnes of varieties of juices.

Please get a guide! If you don’t speak arabic the potential for a confusing, frustrating time is quite high.

I visited Luxor and enjoyed it for the two days I was there but much preferred Cairo for all the mosques, churches, markets, pyramids etc. Alexandria is just a train ride away and also somewhere to consider - it’s lovely and Mohamed Ahmed falafel (if it’s still there!) is one of the best meals I’ve ever had.


It’s been many years since I went to Egypt (2002) but I would definitely spend more time outside of Cairo. The pollution was terrible, the city smelled like a petrol station, it was so bad that it was humid in Cairo, but not outside of it! The people on our trip who had planned to spend more time in Cairo at the end of the trip, ended up spending that time in Hurghada instead. The Pyramids were amazing, and need to be done. We travelled from Cairo, visited Luxor, then Aswan, then back up to the Red Sea places like Dahab and Sharm-el-Sheikh. My favourite part of the trip was the cruise from Luxor to Aswan., it was just beautiful. Favourite city was Luxor.

Definitely go with guides, and wear lose fitting but covering clothes. Cairo is metropolitan but the further south you go, the more religious it is - I don’t know how much that has changed with the upheaval in the 20 years since I went. I wouldn’t recommend following people who say they’ll show you something special - they’ll want money to show you back to the group (this happened twice to my friend).

It’s such a wonderful place, be sensible, listen to warnings from guides, and you’ll have an amazing time. I’d go back in a heartbeat. The first time I touched a pyramid is one of the best moments in my life.

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@ziggy in my experience no one harrassing me believed that I was married or that my “wedding ring” was real! I must have not sounded very convincing haha

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@Junipers that surprises me! Always worked very well for me, particularly in Luxor. Maybe you were young and beautiful, they do like that, and love to “play” emotionally with women and make us feel special :rofl: But I was always very serious when I said it, they didn’t dare question it. Did you live in Zamalek?

@ziggy I was too young to look convincingly like I could be married and probably didn’t have enough conviction in my voice! I’d be interested to see how I fare now fifteen years later. I loved Zamalek and went there a lot but I lived in Dokki (near the cinema and an amazing juice shop on Tahrir Street). There was a really good Yemeni restaurant around there too. Where were you for your time there?

@Junipers yes, I thought it sounded like you would have been too young, they wouldn’t question an older??? female. Older being probably over 25 :rofl:

Dokki, close to Zamalek then. Went there often for the supermarkets and the restaurants, much nicer area than most of Cairo. I stayed with locals in Giza, near the pyramids and also had a flat opposite the Islamic Museum, closer in.

@yourace we have taken over your post, any feedback we can help you with?


@ziggy Thank you for this advices! I do appreciate. My wife and I decided to just go with Luxor and Cairo she said we are already in Egypt why not just do both.

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@yourace yes it is definitely doable, just put your skates on. A guide will ensure you see everything that is necessary and you will definitely see the most important places in both Cairo and Luxor in a week. Book your flight between both asap, it’s a busy route.

Safe travels and enjoy, you mind even find a piece of my heart there :wink:

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Thank you @Pinzedd for this, can I ask if do you have any recommendations for guide? One of my friend suggested this it says you can customized your Itinerary also which is good, I am not really an expert with guides but I do made some research also Egypt Private Tours (US) - Egypt Pyramids Tours - Guided Egypt Tours this one. but not quite sure. I would really appreciate your suggestion since you have experienced .

Thank you for the tips! I would take note of this. I am so excited!

I am just torn on which guide I should get. Do you have any recommendation for guides? or a site that I could check. I would really appreciate it! Thank you in advance @ziggy

Hmmmm, can I have a think about that one? There are definitely ones to avoid. Let me get back to you. Are you going to use one guide for both Cairo and Luxor or separate for each? Separate probably cheaper but I don’t know your budget for this trip. My guide for both places is now in Lima . It’s very difficult recommending guides in Egypt as there are sooo many different variables and personal requirements. Probably best to discuss this off this Forum.


Hey, sadly I can’t offer recommendations, as ours was a small package travel company (Imaginative Traveller), so they had already arranged all the guides as part of the tour. (I used them again for a trip to China a few years later, they were great.)

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I think it would be nice to have it both. But, no need to get stress also upon recommending a guide! :slightly_smiling_face: I am already thankful for your advices on your earlier comments! Thank you ziggy! I appreciate you.

It’s okay zedd, I just dont want to bother also you with for the guides. I really appreciate your advices. I’m sure me and my wife would find a good one! Thank you!

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@ziggy @Pinzedd @Junipers @karinar Thank you so much guys for your advices and comments! My wife and I will surely find a good guide there. I appreciate you guys! even though I’m just new here on the forum you make me feel so welcome!


@yourace you are more than welcome, anytime! :grin: