The Lazy Guide to Egypt

If you’ve ever been to Egypt, you might have been a little bit overwhelmed by the history. I once fell asleep in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, until an outrageously attractive Egyptian girl woke me up to see if I was still breathing. There’s nothing more exciting to that story, but the point is that it’s easy to fall prey to “too much history” syndrome. Certainly, visit archeological sites and museums to your heart’s content. There is a rich array of cultural and historical things to be seen, and some truly magnificent architecture. But if you’ve hit your limit with that, you might consider some of these recommendations as alternatives.

egypt 2For starters, find some cheap flights to Egypt and head over to the Sinai. Sharm el-Sheikh is the largest city in the peninsula, but it is overrun with Russian package tourists, and consequently overpriced and a little soulless. I’d recommend giving it a pass, unless you want to organize a scuba diving trip. If so, the Red Sea has some great reef diving opportunities, and that might be the place for you. Further up the coastline is a small town called Dahab. It is unashamedly touristy, but in a charming way. The town mostly consists of one long road along the coastline, lined with great seafood restaurants, comfortable guesthouses, souvenir shops, and tour agencies. It’s easy to fall into a rhythm in Dahab—wake up late, swim, drink coffee, smoke shisha, eat a lot, nap, swim, and so on. There’s some good snorkeling and diving right off the beach, though it can be a little overrun. egypt 3Continuing further north, there is a little tiny nowhere town called Nuweiba. Bamboo shacks? Check. Camels on the beach? Check. Pink, non-stinging little jellyfish in the water? Check. Put your meals and beers on a tab and forget where you are a week. Or two. Small bonfires spring up at night, with Palestinian drummers and foreign dancers. Everyone’s friendly.

egypt 1When I made friends in Nuweiba, they took me on an adventure. A group of four best friends from Alexandria kidnapped me and took me with them on the day I was supposed to return to Cairo in anticipation of my flight out. Though I wasn’t there for long, Alexandria became my new favorite place in Egypt. I had some of the best (and cheapest) seafood of my life, sat in a café by rocks in the Mediterranean across the street from the modern Library of Alexandria, and visited a palace where the monarch had a harem building consisting of 365 bedrooms for exactly the reason that you are thinking. It doesn’t take long to get between Alex and Cairo, and it’s definitely worth it even if you don’t have much time to spend.

So if you’re worried that your holiday is a little too weighted down by the immensity of history, don’t let it be. Egypt has great beaches and a fun second city, both of which make delightful contrasts to the heat and noise of Cairo. If you want a lazier holiday, don’t be afraid to get off the normal tourist route.