However, this small port is not without attractions of its own – it boasts mineral springs and special sands that have given it an international reputation as a centre of therapeutic tourism. It is also a major water sports and scuba diving destination, for cruise passengers eager to indulge in more active pursuits.
Safaga’s excellent beaches, its attractive islands and bay, and the small town surrounding the port are also a draw.
Cruise ships call at Safaga, on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, for excursions to the many historic attractions of Luxor, around 220km (140 miles) inland.
A day trip to Luxor is the main highlight of a cruise visit to Safaga. One of Egypt’s major historic attractions, the former site of Thebes is renowned as the prime spot for exploring the legacy of the Pharaohs.
The ancient temple complexes within the city itself, and the many other points of interest in the surrounding desert opposite the city on the west bank of the Nile, draw countless thousands of visitors, not least Howard Carter, who discovered the most famous tomb of all, that of Tutankhamun, in 1922.
• Karnak Temple complex
• Valley of the Kings
• Valley of the Queens
• Hatshepsut’s Temple
• Queen Nefertiti’s tomb
• The Eastern Desert
• Mons Claudianus
Luxor Tourist Information Centre
Nile Street, Luxor, Egypt
Tel: +20 9538 2215.
Safaga town is small, but souvenirs are available – and there is no shortage of shopping options in Luxor’s souks and bazaars. Top buys include locally-made alabaster sculptures, jewellery, spices, copper utensils and Coptic cloth; copies of Egyptian artefacts are also widely sold, as are papyrus sheets decorated with pictures of Egyptian pharaohs and hieroglyphs.
Numerous restaurants are available in Luxor, many offering meze (a selection of small dishes). Local specialities include foul (bean dishes), roast pigeon, kebabs and humus (chickpeas). Alcohol is available.
When to go:
Rain is almost non-existent in Egypt, away from the coast. Winter temperatures are comparable with summer in northern Europe, while in summer they soar to 40°C (104°F) and occasionally more. Light clothing and sunscreen are a must.
200km (124 miles).
2 hours 20 minutes.