Although famed as the cradle of civilisation, Egypt is also one of the world's oldest vacation spots. For 3,000 years people have flocked here to enjoy the year-round sunshine, warm hospitality, incredible value for money and convenient proximity to Europe.

Egypt's biggest attractions are the astounding temples and relics of Egyptian antiquity. The pyramids of Giza are still magnificent thousands of years on from construction, and even though its nose is out of joint, the inscrutable Sphinx retains its beguiling quality. Although looted by grave robbers and over-zealous archaeologists over the centuries, the wealth of treasures rescued from the pyramids and exhibited in Cairo's spectacular Museum of Antiquities is one of the most important collections of ancient artifacts on earth.

Egyptian life has always centred on the Nile, the source of life and irrigation for the vast majority of the population. Today feluccas (traditional dhows) offer short pleasure trips from Cairo while cruise ships travel between Luxor and Aswan, allowing visitors to imagine the peaceful rhythms of traditional Egyptian life.

Away from the Nile, in the naturally irrigated oases of the Western Sahara, visitors can gain further insight into Egyptian life away from the influences of tourism. Egyptian people are renowned for their hospitality and irrepressible friendliness.

Cairo is one of the world's great capital cities with 18 million inhabitants bringing together centuries old culture and ultra-modernism. Second-city Alexandria is less frenetic and more European in outlook but still offers plenty of Middle Eastern charm.

Further afield, Red Sea diving is a rapidly growing boom industry with low rates for learning divers and good quality visibility for exploring the richly coloured coral. Dahab and Sharm El Sheikh are ideal places to begin your diving holiday. Meanwhile the intrepid traveller can take a desert safari into the Western Desert and discover the sublime desolation of the Empty Quarter. And of course, growing numbers of tourists are foregoing pleasures both ancient and active, and instead indulging themselves on Egypt's dazzling Mediterranean or Red Sea beaches.

Quite simply Egypt is a spellbinding destination offering visitors a spectacular portfolio of sights and sounds ranging from the ancient splendour of the temples to the contemporary pleasures of diving and cruising.



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