There's no other river in the world that's as long, or as interesting as, the Nile. The sights that one will see while sailing down this incredible waterway will remain with them forever, from the Great Pyramids of Gîza to Cairo's ancient settlements. It's truly a cruise back in history to a time when life was still primitive and the Egyptians ruled all that they could see.

With that being said, there are some things to know before booking a Nile cruise. Questions such as 'how long will it take?' and 'what will passengers see?' are two of the most commonly asked, but there are so many more to answer before booking a trip.

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What Can One Expect To See When Cruising Down The Nile?

It seems that there's no shortage of sights when it comes to visiting Egypt, in general, but since this river runs through more than one city, there is an overwhelming number of interest points. Examples of stops along the way on any given itinerary might include:

  • Cairo. For most, this ancient city will be the first stop. This is also where the most famous pyramids in all of Egypt are found, those of Gîza, AKA the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World.
  • Luxor. Unfortunately, cruises from Cairo to Luxor only travel high-water points during the year, and many boats halted travel during the 1990s. However, some itineraries do include this stop and if they don't, it's always possible to take a day tour there from Dendara. Luxor was once home to great pharaohs such as Tutankhamun and Ramses II and is currently home to a wide array of ancient artifacts and monuments.
  • Aswân. Arguably one of the most scenic stretches of the Nile, Aswân features unique rock formations along the river that give it a unique landscape compared to the rest of this waterway. This is a major point of interest for Nile cruises and visitors will likely have the chance to explore for at least one day off the boat, seeing things such as the Temple of Isis, the High Dam, and the Unfinished Obelisk.

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How Long Does It Take To Cruise The Nile River?

Despite the fact that it is the longest river in the world, the Nile doesn't take that long to sail, at least not with today's itineraries. Passengers will be looking at a trip length that doesn't go much beyond that of any Caribbean cruise, with the exception of days added for any side-trips or added excursions.

For example, the Nile tour offered by National Geographic is 11 days in total, with part of the trip including a flight from one part of the Nile to another to finish the cruise. Many others are shorter, with as few as one day and one night spent cruising.

  • Boats cover distances very quickly on the Nile
  • The average sailing time is about four hours per day.

When Should You Go And In Which City Should You Depart?

Choosing when to cruise the Nile is a bit of a catch-22. There's a good time and a better time, both of which come with their own pricing options that can fit into one's budget. For those who choose to cruise during the hottest time of the year - between June and August - temperatures well into the 90s and 100s are to be expected.

The trade-off during this time is that cruise tickets are often the cheapest. Alternatively, the winter months between December and March are at the height of Egypt's tourist season, thus resulting in the most expensive cruise tickets. Those choosing to go between the spring and fall months can look forward to temperatures that are tolerable, mid-range pricing, and enough daylight to see most historic locations.

Season Recap

  • Most Affordable: Between June and August
  • Best Weather: Between December and March
  • Fewer Tourists: Between September to November / April and May

The unique thing about Nile cruises is that they can depart from various ports along the river, depending on the length and itinerary passengers wish to see. Of these ports, two cities are the most popular for departure: Luxor and Aswân.

Benefits Of Each Port Of Departure

Luxor: Passengers will likely have an extra day added to their itineraries if they leave out of Luxor. The reason behind this is that the current is much stronger in this part of the Nile, so the time it takes to power through its waters is slightly longer.

Aswân: This is the more popular choice for passengers on the Nile. The trip from Aswân is shorter as captains are not fighting the current, which means it's more affordable without having to stay the extra day.

Next: The Best River Cruises In The World