The following itineraries range right across Egypt, taking in both classic attractions and little-visited sights, from temples to turtles. Don’t worry if you can’t complete the list – even a handful of places will give you a feel for the themes.
1 Siwa Oasis
Way out near Libya, Siwa has a unique character, romantic ruins, natural springs and other beauty spots.
2 Great Sand Sea
A 72,000-square-kilometre wilderness of dunes up to 100m high, stretching from Siwa to the Gilf Kebir. The Sand Sea can be entered from Siwa, or traversed on deep-desert safaris from Bahariya or Farafra Oasis.
A 500,000-year-old stalactite cave, accessible by jeep from Bahariya or Farafra.
4 White Desert
This surreal landscape of chalk rock-formations within Farafra Oasis is actually best reached from Bahariya, visiting the Black Desert en route.
A labyrinthine medieval Islamic settlement in Dakhla Oasis, reached by off-road safari from Bahariya, or by bus along the road between these oases.
6 Gilf Kebir
This super-arid plateau at the remotest corner of Egypt is the site of extraordinary prehistoric rock art at the Cave of the Swimmers (featured in The English Patient) and other sites, accessible by long-range safari from Bahariya, Farafra and Dakhla.
1 Pyramids of Giza
These gargantuan Old Kingdom monuments were constructed as tombs for three IV Dynasty rulers, Egyptologists believe – but there are many alternative theories as to why (and how) they were built.
One of the foremost healing centres of Ancient Egypt, dedicated to the god Osiris enshrined in the exquisitely carved mortuary-temple of Seti I.
The ancient New Kingdom capital has more tombs and temples than anywhere else in Egypt, from the awesome complex at Karnak to the Theban Necropolis across the river, with its fabulous Valley of the Kings.
Sacred to the falcon-headed sky-god Horus, Egypt’s best-preserved cult-temple dates from the Greco-Roman era, but respects all the Ancient Egyptian traditions of temple architecture.
An exquisite island shrine to the goddess Isis, which was semi-submerged by the Nile before its reconstruction between the two Aswan Dams.
6 Abu Simbel
This great sun temple, with its colossi of Ramses II hewn from a hillside, was also saved from submersion by Lake Nasser.
1 Lake Manzala
This Mediterranean wetland is a wintering ground for egrets, avocets, cormorants, plovers, lapwings, redshanks, terns and other bird species.
2 Ras Mohammed
A marine national park at the southern tip of Sinai, which sustains a thousand-odd species of fish, from the child-friendly Crevice Pools to offshore dive-sites.
3 Careless Reef
Two coral-encrusted pinnacles just below the sea’s surface, whose depths harbour semi-tame moray eels (normally known for their ferocity).
4 The Brothers
These two isolated reef-pillars are magnets for pelagic fishes and the hunting grounds of hammerhead, tiger, reef and whale sharks.
5 Marsa Alam
The Red Sea’s southernmost resort serves as a springboard to wildlife sites in the far south, from Wadi Gimal to Ras Banata.
6 Wadi Gimal
This national park is especially rewarding during the spring and autumn migrations, to observe ospreys, falcons and flamingos.
7 Ras Banata
One of the few undisturbed breeding colonies for sea turtles, accessible by dive-boat from eco-lodges 80km south of Wadi Gimal.