Egypt could be the perfect place for a budget vacation in 2023, according to The Post Office. Its annual Holiday Money Index shows the pound sterling has appreciated 73 percent against the Egyptian pound over the past year – and by 90 percent since 2020. This makes it a particularly attractive vacation option while there are other incentives.
Chief among them is the opening of the Great Egyptian Museum after years of false starts and bureaucratic wrangling. The massive, modern archeological attraction, which will feature 100,000 artifacts within walking distance of the Giza Pyramids, should finally open its doors to the public (although an exact date is yet to be announced) and replace its rather worn (if charming) predecessor.
The timing couldn’t be better: 2023 also marks a century since the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb by Howard Carter and the young pharaoh’s sarcophagus, along with 5,000 of his treasures, will be displayed in all its glory after touring around the world.
The Grand Egyptian is part of Egypt’s broader commitment to rejuvenating its tourism sector, and its investment in its heritage is expressed in quite a flamboyant manner: transporting artifacts from their ancient site to the new was a national affair, involving a barge convoy and a 21 gun salute. Similar theaters have been used in the reopening of the Sphinx Avenue in Luxor and in new cultural attractions in Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh.
The hospitality sector is also reviving, with the opening of an outpost by luxury hotel group Chedi in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna, Four Seasons planning to welcome guests to four new Egyptian hotels by 2025, and new luxury riverboats like Viking Osiris, navigate the Nile.
Could a combination of archaeological curiosity and value for money lead to a new age of Egyptomania?
At least Philip Breckner from the tour operator Discover Egypt hopes so and reports that the demand for trips is greater than ever before.
“Egypt has seen many ups and downs over the past 20 years,” he said. “Now it’s quieter than it has been for many years [and] Customer confidence has really returned.”
Its affordability helps drive bookings, Breckner added. “Egypt is a bucket list destination and a lot of people want to tick off those big trips after three years of not being able to travel easily. The difference is that these aren’t your traditional bucket list prices. You can have a 10-day luxury holiday in Egypt for under £2,000. The same type of holiday far away would cost up to £7,000 – and there won’t be that remarkable sense of history.”
The on-site costs are also low.
“A beer in Cairo was four pounds before the pandemic, now it’s only three,” said Breckner. “A cup of coffee costs about a pound. I got an Uber in the city a few weeks ago – a ride that would have cost me around £20 in London was only £3.”
Egypt isn’t the only country that has become more affordable for British tourists.
Turkey, currently suffering from the effects of recent devastating earthquakes, has long offered good value for money and £1 currently sells for around 20 liras – up from 18 a year ago and just 8 in 2020 The pound has also strengthened against the currencies of South Africa, Norway, Iceland, Japan and Sweden since last February.
Conversely, travel to the United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Caribbean, Switzerland and Singapore, among others, is likely to feel more expensive.
Three ways to see Egypt in 2023
For beach lovers
Those looking for a fly-and-flop vacation should consider TUI’s Reef Oasis Blue Bay Resort — a family-friendly hotel with a private beach, infinity pool, and five restaurants. There’s a spa for adults, while kids will enjoy the kids’ club and nightly entertainment. If you are not completely satisfied Only For sunbathing, the hotel has its own diving school, giving guests the opportunity to swim amidst the underwater world of Sharm El Sheikh. All Inclusive packages from £744pp.
Responsible Travel runs a ‘Pyramids and Pharaohs’ tour that includes all the expected sights – the Valley of the Kings, the Colossi of Memnon, a tour of Old Cairo – but also gets busy with all the right activities. These include sandboarding across the dunes and trekking with a Nubian guide, while transport options are far from stable: Kayaks take guests down the Nile and a night is spent on an overnight train between Cairo and Aswan. From £1,499 excluding flights.
A week aboard Scott Dunn’s Oberoi Zahra riverboat allows for things to be taken at a more leisurely pace: Rather than rushing to see the sights, guests are encouraged to watch the Nile from the terrace Jacuzzi or in one of just 25 luxury staterooms. Those inspired by ancient opulence can indulge in spa treatments, while traditionalists can explore ancient treasures with the resident Egyptologist. From £2,800 per person.