As the longest river on Earth and a cradle of civilisation, the Nile is a true bucket-list destination. Its mystical waters are lined with Egypt’s ancient past, with spectacular tombs, temples and the riches of the pharaohs. If you really want to get to the heart of Ancient Egypt, there’s nothing quite like a Nile river cruise. As you drift along the river, you’ll stop off at all the unforgettable highlights including Luxor, Aswan, Philae Island and Kom-Ombo.
If you want to make a Nile river cruise the centrepiece of your Egypt holiday, you’ll likely have a few questions about how to get the most out of your trip. Read on to find out everything, from what to wear to the best time of year to cruise the mighty Nile.
Best time to do a Nile cruise
The best time to cruise the Nile river is between October and April. During these months the weather is not too hot, meaning you can get the most out of your day trips to the iconic sights from Luxor to Aswan.
If you cruise the Nile during the peak summer months from June to August, prepare for intense heat around 40°C and even hotter temperatures inside the tombs. There isn’t much shade around the region to escape the midday sun, so choose your Nile cruise dates wisely!
On the flip side, if you don’t like cooler weather, you may prefer to avoid the months of November to February, as the nights can get quite chilly. Overall, the optimum months weather-wise to cruise the Nile are from February to April and September to November.
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How long should you cruise for?
Depending on your budget and what you want to see, most Nile cruises last for anywhere from three to seven nights. A short three-night cruise will take you to the main highlights, including Aswan, Kom-Ombo and Luxor, while the four-night option will add an extra stop like the temples of Edfu.
If you go for the week-long cruise, you’ll get to take in all the main attractions and beyond, including the jaw-dropping Dendera Temple and extra time in Aswan, Philae, Kom-Ombo and Luxor.
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What do you wear on a Nile cruise?
The most important thing to remember when choosing what to wear on a Nile cruise, is to dress not just for the heat, but also the Egyptian culture. As a conservative Muslim country, you’ll need to respect the local customs by avoiding short skirts, shorts and tops, and see-through clothing.
When visiting mosques, you will need to cover both your legs and upper arms. It’s generally best to wear light, loose clothing that covers your shoulders, chest, stomach, back and thighs, and this will help protect you from the heat too. We recommend bringing a light scarf or pashmina as it’s easy to throw around your shoulders, and shields you from both the heat and the cooler nighttime temperatures.
As for shoes, you’ll likely be doing plenty of walking over uneven stone flooring and sandy terrain, so you’ll need comfortable walking shoes. It’s usually best to bring sturdy walking sandals, as it can get too hot for closed shoes.
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What to pack for a Nile cruise?
Besides your clothes, you’ll also need to pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a day bag, bug spray, hand sanitiser, tissues, a camera and extra SD cards. Be sure to bring any medications you’ll need, plus handy extras like painkillers and anti-diarrhoea tablets.
Will I get motion sickness on a Nile cruise?
If you’re prone to queasiness, you should consider booking a cabin that is higher up on the boat. The higher up you are, the less motion you’ll contend with. It’s also a good idea to bring anti-motion sickness tablets like Dramamine.
Where can I go on a Nile cruise?
Here are some of the top places you’ll visit on a Nile cruise with Trafalgar.
In Luxor, you’ll journey to the ancient Valley of the Kings, the final resting place of Egypt’s Pharaohs. Learn about the great pharaohs and their riches and the remarkable construction of the temples. We’ll visit the Grand Temple of Luxor, the Colossi of Menon, and the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut.
You’ll have the chance to connect with locals with a traditional ‘Be My Guest’ treat. Enjoy freshly baked bread with honey and mint tea in the archaeological paradise of Luxor’s West Bank.
As night falls, you can enjoy the Sound and Light Show at Karnak Temple, hearing the voices of ancient kings and queens as they share stories about Ancient Egypt.
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Kom-Ombo & Edfu
Sail to Kom-Ombo and Edfu, where life remains much as it was thousands of years ago. Here you can visit the roofless Temple of Kom-Ombo, dedicated to two gods. Be sure to explore the incredible walls which tell the fascinating history of Egypt.
You can also see the remarkable Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel with his four great statues. And don’t forget about the impressive statues of Queen Nefertari at the Temple of Hathor.
When in Aswan, you’ll set sail on a traditional felucca across the Nile to the beautiful Botanical Gardens on Kitchener’s Island. Explore the Aswan Dam, built to curb the flooding of the Nile. Wander through the Temple of Isis on the Island of Philae. Or see the Unfinished Obelisk, lying semi-carved from the bedrock.
You can also take a motorboat along the Nile to visit a traditional Nubian village. Here you’ll see the local way of life and visit a traditional colourful Nubian house. You’ll also pass by the rocky islands that make up the nature reserves.
At night, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the Philae Temple Sound and Light Performance. It’s a magical setting, and you’ll be seated in a Roman-style theatre on Philae Island. You’ll hear the fascinating story of the perennial Nile flood and the Philae Temple goddesses Isis and Hathor.
Are you dreaming of setting sail on a Nile river cruise? What else is on your Egypt bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!