Exotic yet accessible, steeped in history yet completely set up for modern tourism, bring your kids to Egypt and you’ll bring their studies to life. Our Egyptian trips are a far cry from the flop and drop, sit-by-the-pool Sharm el-Sheikh holiday. Instead, they’re an action packed, every-day-is-different adventure where each and every member of the family will be completely absorbed and fascinated.
Whilst it can be tempting – and easily achievable – to exclusively temple hop when holidaying in Egypt with kids, if you want to keep their attention and interest, it’s important to mix things up. For every attraction where you’ll be wowed by antiquity and feats of ancient engineering, add something else that’s ‘of the moment’, like a camel trek, or a donkey ride, or (our favourite) a relaxing sail down the Nile on a traditional felucca.
Egypt with kids must dos
Ancient vs. modern; fast-paced to completely chilled, take your pick from our eight Egypt with kids experiences for the perfect combination.
1 – Take a camel ride around the Pyramids at Giza
It’s always rather a surreal experience when coming face to face with the world’s most iconic structures and this is absolutely true for the Pyramids (and Sphinx) at Giza. Who knew that they are RIGHT NEXT TO CAIRO, the perfect juxtaposition of ancient and modern? Depending on the time of year you visit, it can be hot and rather crowded, so taking a camel ride around these imposing structures makes the experience easier and even more authentic. Could there be a more quintessentially Egyptian experience? We doubt it.
2 – Go underground to visit Pharaoh’s burial chambers in Valley of the Kings
The dusty, steep valley sides give very little hint at the treasures which lay beneath in the majestically named ‘Valley of the Kings’. But, once you’ve descended into the burial chambers of Kings (and there’s a Queen’s version nearby), you’ll be literally awestruck by the bright colours and spectacular hieroglyphics found in these Pharaoh’s tombs. It’s hard to believe that this is how all the temples must have looked at one point, their colour long since sun-bleached, flood damaged or time-worn. It’s here that you can also visit Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus. Sadly, most of the treasures buried with the Pharaohs have been ransacked over the centuries, first by thieves and later, archaeologists, but there’s an on-site museum that brings the history to life. If the kids start to lose interest, we give you our permission to mention the ‘Mummy’s Curse’. Intrepid families can opt to arrive at the Valley of the Kings by donkey.
3 – Come face to face with a Mummy
There are over 120,000 artefacts stored in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo but you’ll be relieved to hear that not all are on display. What is displayed, though, will wow your kids and, if time allowed, would keep you more than occupied for an entire day or two. Originally commissioned in 1835 by the government, desperate to put a stop to looting and preserve and conserve treasures for future generations, the museum is home to the famous gold mask of King Tutankhamun, jewellery, giant sarcophagi, vases and other treasures. For most people visiting Egypt with kids, it’s the Royal Mummy Room that really appeals, with 11 mummies on display including the most recently discovered, that of Hatshepsut. A new ‘Grand museum of Egypt’ is currently under construction near the pyramids at Giza and promises to be even bigger and better!
4 – Enjoy a traditional dinner with a local family on the West Bank
When travelling to Egypt with kids, many families are pleasantly surprised by Egyptian cuisine. With both African and Arabian influences, many of the dishes will be more familiar than you might expect. Falafel (fava bean, not chick pea based), kebabs and fattoush salads all recognisable favourites and popular with children. There’s even a ‘lasagne’ made out of macaroni and bechamel. At Luxor, you’ll enjoy lunch with one of the west bank local families, who’ll not only cook for you but take you on a (very short) guided tour of their home. Make sure you’re hungry beforehand: it’s delicious!
5 – Go shopping in a real-life Aladdin’s Cave
It’s an easy comparison to make but wandering through Cairo’s most famous bazaars, Khan al Khalili, is like stepping in to Aladdin’s Cave. Packed from floor to ceiling with shoes, carpets, lights and lanterns, spices, mosaic earthenwares, hookah pipes and other souvenirs you wish you had more room for, it’s a feast for all the senses. Kids will enjoy practicing their haggling skills with the hawkers leaving you to walk around quite agog at what’s on offer.
6 – Spend the night sleeping on a felucca
Packed as it is with sites and sights, the pace of an Egyptian trip can feel a little hectic. Sailing down the Nile on a traditional wooden boat, or ‘felucca’ is not only to experience an authentic form of transport unchanged for centuries but a way of enjoying the joy that is ‘slow travel’. Propelled by the wind and nothing else, you’ll watch Nubian life unfold before you on the river banks, past villages and people tending their fields. Followed by and attached to a support boat with toilets and kitchen, you’ll moor up for the night alongside the riverbank, sleeping under the stars (bring your mosquito repellent) for the night. When we went, there were a pack of wolves spotted nearby, which was a truly magical encounter!
7 – Take a horse drawn carriage and be wowed by Karnak
Camels, donkeys, feluccas: is there no end to transport options used on a Stubborn Mule trip to Egypt with kids? At the risk of boasting, that answer would be ‘no’: we arrive in Karnak in style, courtesy of a horse drawn carriage. Once there, prepared to be wowed. The largest religious temple ever built, the site covers around 200 acres and whilst most of it is now in ruins, you can still imagine just how phenomenal it must have been in its day, more than 2,000 years ago. Wander around and try to decipher the hieroglyphs – something your kids will adore!
8 – Learn about the Egyptian Gods at Kom Ombo and Edfu
History leaves its mark in Egypt more than almost anywhere on the planet, so much so that it could become overwhelming visiting so many temples. What keeps kids – and adults – fascinated, though, is that despite their number, there’s always something unique about them and more to learn. At Kom Ombo and Edfu, the latter being the best-preserved temple in Egypt, you’ll find out more about ancient Egypt, its Gods and the myths behind them. (Check out this great kid-friendly resource courtesy of National Geographic Kids). At Kom Ombo, kids will be fascinated by the forty-plus mummified crocodiles on display in the museum.
More about holidaying in Egypt with kids
Want to know more about our Egypt trips? Do take a look at our Egypt Family Holidays page or click to our sample itinerary, Highlights of Egypt. As neighbours, Egypt is a great place to combine with Jordan, as our Egypt and Jordan Highlights itinerary shows.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
We always love to hearing about your experiences holidaying in Egypt with kids, so do send us your reviews and photos. Thank you.