It’s hard to say ‘Egypt’ without adding the word ‘Ancient’ in front of it, but there’s more to this fascinating country than just archaeology. Of course, it’s unlikely you’d want to visit Egypt without spending at least a day ay Giza (just outside Cairo) to marvel at the Pyramids. They’ve survived thousands of years of desert winds, conquering armies and bizarre conspiracy theories, and are still as magnificent now as when they were built – without the use of machines! – as tombs for pharaohs and their wives.

Then there’s the Sphinx, the immense sculpture close by the Pyramids that has intrigued visitors for generations with its enigmatic smile. It’s very possible that there are still secrets to be discovered here, and a visit to Cairo’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is highly recommended if you want to learn more about Egypt’s glorious past and intriguing approach to burials and the afterlife.

While you’re in the city, as well as enjoying the famous hustle and bustle (Cairo has over 20 million inhabitants), be sure to take in the views from the Citadel and to practice your negotiating skills in the Khan el Khalili souk (the vast, maze-like open-air market).

Cairo’s location was chosen for proximity to the Nile, the mighty river that made Egypt’s wealth possible. A Nile cruise is an essential Egyptian experience – it’s also a wonderful way to go back in time when combined with a visit to Luxor and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings.

If you’re in search of relaxation rather than history, you’ll want to head to Egypt’s Red Sea coast for gorgeous sandy beaches, clear, warm water, and some of the world’s best coral reef diving. If you’re new to SCUBA diving, the Red Sea is a wonderful place to learn how to.

Egypt’s modern vibe, ancient wonders, superb weather, and friendly people add up to an irresistible combination for visitors. This is a country that’s been attracting tourists for centuries, and there are 1 001 reasons for that.

Gateway city: Cairo

Best time to travel: October – April; although December and January can get crowded

Highlights: Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Pyramids of Giza, Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh

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