Getting There

By Car -- The best way to get to sites within a few hours' drive of Cairo is to hire a car and driver for the day. Expect to pay LE250 to LE300 ($45-$55/£23-£28) for a half-day and LE400 to LE500 ($73-$91/£37-£46) for a full day. Long-term local driver Fathy Diab (tel. 0106525301), if you can get him, is a great example of someone who knows the sites, speaks enough English to get by, and will take care of you for the day.

In a pinch it's also easy enough to pick up a black-and-white from the street for this purpose; just make sure you pick one that's in good condition and negotiate a price before you go. These could be a little cheaper than the prices above. The front desk of your hotel will also be a good source.

The last resort is the "limousine car" desk in the hotel lobby. The only guarantee you have there is that they will be the most expensive option.

Bus Tour -- Many of the sites listed below (Saqqara, Memphis, and Wadi Natrun) are popular, well visited, and served by well-organized bus tours that are available through the front desks of most tourist-class hotels in the city. If you don't fancy your options there, contact the listed travel agents.

Fayum Oasis

This is the closest of the Western Desert oases, and if you want to get a taste of the desert and a feel for the oases, but you don't have time to get out to Bahareya or Siwa, this is a good way to do it. Avoid Fayum City as much as possible -- it's dirty and crowded -- and stay outside of town at one of the two places listed below. I also recommend picking up a copy of Neil Hewison's The Fayoum: History and Guide (available at the AUC bookstore and Diwan) if you want more information than is provided below. You can easily do Fayum in a day from Cairo, but a relaxed visit to the area that includes a shopping trip to Tunis and a visit to Wadi Rayan, as well as a bit of lounging, could warrant an overnight stay.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.