It's always a good time to go on vacation. Always. But if you're in Egypt, you really can't keep going back and forth between Sahel and Dahab every time you want to get out. There's plenty more to see in Om El Donya – even if you think you've already been there, done that.
BLUE DESERT – SAINT CATHERINEvia Discover Sinai
We assume deserts are a sandy yellow color, and we know that Egypt has a white desert and a black desert, but a blue one? If you head to Sinai near St. Catherine Monastery you'll find Egypt's Blue Desert, an idea that came to life when Belgian artist Jean Verame thought to color part of the desert after the 1978 peace accords. After finally convincing the Egyptian government of his project, then-President Sadat himself visited the place and thus began the project. The colors of the blue desert aren't as vibrant as they used to be, but they're still a sight to behold.
How to get there: To get to the Blue Desert from Cairo or Alexandria, take an East Delta bus to Saint Catherine, and then rent a car to get there. It’ll take 9-12 hours depending on speed and roadside checkpoints along the way.
How to get there: From Cairo you can get on a bus from Munib station to the Oasis. From there, you'll have to rent a safari car to take you to the cave. It takes about 4 hours.
From Alexandria, take a West Delta bus from the new station to the Oasis. Then, rent a safari car to take you to the cave. The trip takes about 7 hours.
DENDERA TEMPLE COMPLEX – QENA
This beautiful temple of Hathor is unique in that it's original colors remain preserved for what's now roughly 5,000 years! It's a stunning architectural work with astounding details.
How to get there: To get there from Cairo or Alexandria, take a train to Qena station then hop on a bus or a taxi to the temple. The train ride is 8 hours from Cairo and 10 from Alexandria; from the city itself, the temple is 15 minutes away.
GEBEL ELBA – ABU RAMAD, HALAYEBvia Samer Mohammed
Imagine being surrounded by green fields everywhere against the backdrop of mountains and the desert in a scene reminiscent of the landscapes of East Asia – except that's actually Egypt's Gebel Elba in Halayeb if you head there after rainfall season (which is between January and February).
How to get there: To get there from Cairo or Alexandria, take the West Delta bus to Abu Ramad. From there, you have to get a permit from the border patrols and rent a pickup truck from the locals to get you inside the reserve. The trip can take up to 17 hours by bus, so dress comfy.
SHAKHLUBAH – KAFR AL SHEIKHvia Summer Kamal el Deen
Shakhlubah is only 2.5 hours away from Cairo by car and it's by far one of the most gorgeous places in all of Egypt. You can take a fishing boat in the lake for an hour and soak in the beauty, taking pictures of the old fish market that looks like a house with trees right in the middle of a body of water.
How to get there: From Cairo, take a bus from Aboud Station to Kafr Al Sheikh. Then from there go to Sidi Salem, and from there take a car to Shakhlubah. The trip takes about 4 hours.
From Alexandria, go from the new station to Kafr Al Sheikh, then head to Sidi Salem and from there to Shakhlubah. The trip takes about 3 hours.
ROMMEL CAVE – MARSA MATROUHvia Il Primato Nazionale
German General Erwin Rommel – Desert Fox, as they called him – called this cave home during World War II. Carved in stone, Rommel Cave leads to the sea from both ends.
How to get there: From Cairo, take a bus (Go Bus, etc.) or train to Marsa Matrouh – a 6-hour trip. From Alexandria, take a bus from Moharam Bek to Marsa Matrouh – a 4-hour trip. From Matrouh station, take a taxi to the cave and the museum inside.
DOLPHIN HOUSE – MARSA ALAMvia Mark Harris
A long time ago, a group of fishermen discovered an area in the Red Sea just south of Marsa Alam that was considered a dolphin house. You can find dolphins there almost year-round in large quantities; plus, they're pretty playful.
How to get there: From Cairo and Alexandria, take a bus (Go Bus or East Delta) to Marsa Alam. You have to arrange with a safari tour provider to book you a trip on a yacht with a group. The trip from Cairo is 9 hours and from Alexandria it’s 11 hours.
CASTLE ZAMAN – NUWEIBAvia Castle Zaman
Castle Zaman is a castle-like structure built over a hillside in Nuweiba. You find yourself literally overlooking a sea between Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. The place is stunning; they serve food and there’s a swimming pool inside. Just make sure to make a reservation before you go.
How to get there: From Cairo or Alexandria, take a bus (Go Bus, East Delta,etc.) to Nuweiba, after which you can take a taxi to Castle Zaman. The trip takes about 9 hours from Cairo and 12 hours from Alexandria.
SALT CAVE – MARSA MATROUHvia George Mendes
Matrouh's Salt Cave is actually in the Bedouin village at KM 21 on Salloum Road. The cave, whose salt was brought in from the Mediterranean, works to absorb negative energy, stress, and fatigue as the body gets saturated with the cave's iodine. Not sure if it's worth the trip? You can take a 360 tour of the salt cave.
How to get there: From Cairo or Alexandria, hop on a bus or a train to Marsa Matrouh then take a taxi to the cave itself.