Kateryna Kolesnyk

A cruise down the Nile River offers a different perspective of the region’s rich history

Known as the “Father of Life” and the “Mother of All Men,” the Nile River is at the heart of Egypt, creating an oasis in the desert along its 4,132-mile length—the longest in the world. Given its position at the center of society through agriculture, trade and more, it is only natural that the river would appear prominently in stories and legends dating back thousands of years.

It is the Nile that Moses is said to have been placed into, inside the comfort of a basket, and safely delivered to his adoptive family. And the flooding that regularly occurs along the river’s long length is said to be due to the tears of ancient Egyptian goddess Iris, as she weeps due to the murder of her husband Osiris.

The Historia boutique cruise ship. Photo by George Fawzi, courtesy Historia

The waterway’s storied history only adds to the experience that SmartFlyer travel advisor Kristin Diehl says is at the top of her bucket list: exploring Egypt via the Nile.

“Once my girls are old enough—ideally ages 10 and up—our family bucket list trip will be sailing the Nile on a boutique river cruise to access the depths of Egypt,” Diehl explains. “Obviously, Egypt hosts a few of our seven wonders, but it will be accessing the lesser-known areas—and beating the crowds—that will give us unique access to these sites.”

Giza, Egypt. Photo by Bartosz Hadyniak

Diehl suggests a cruise aboard the Historia for a boutique sailing experience along the Nile. The vessel features interiors designed with subtle nods to Egypt’s history and just a handful of guest rooms, with priority put on group adventures and exploration on shore.

“The perk of a smaller, boutique experience is that you’re seeing more of the landmarks that you aren’t necessarily aware of,” Diehl says. “It offers a different perspective.”

Egypt can be crowded when it comes to tourists. Diehl says that this method for exploring the region not only allows for great views but it also gives the opportunity to see and experience things you otherwise wouldn’t and in a way that focuses on authentically experiencing the area.

Temple of Luxor. Photo by Flory

As for her kids, for Diehl, there’s no better way to expose them to the world and its mysteries than a trip like this, despite the fact that this adventure necessitates long travel days.

“Traveling with kids has such a great impact on their lives,” Diehl says. “It makes them more open to adversity in life by exposing them to different cultures and ways of life. It also makes them more fluid with schedules and ready to problem solve in unfamiliar settings.”

From the Great Sphinx of Giza to the Valley of the Kings, there are so many things to get excited about in Egypt. But Diehl suggests keeping expectations in check by embracing the opportunities offered by any and every experience that happens on the trip.

Feluccas on the Nile River. Photo by Andrew Peacock

“Travel is fluid, and you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment if you focus too much on one thing,” Diehl says, noting the inherent risk of closures, weather and crowds. “I find that embracing the unexpected allows for the best experience, especially when you’re with kids.”

According to Diehl, it’s those unexpected experiences that often end up being the most memorable. For her, Egypt is the ideal bucket list trip for families because of the opportunity for an abundance of these unplanned adventures. With a region so filled with history and culture, there are opportunities to learn and grow together at every turn.

The Rundown


November through April


At least 10 days, with 7 on the Nile


Allow for 10 to 13 months of planning

High Points

Start in Cairo

• Visit the last remaining wonder of the ancient world: the Great Pyramid of Giza.

• Take a camel ride around the pyramids.

• Visit the Papyrus Institute or a perfume shop.

On the Nile River cruise

• Explore the Philae Temple, Edfu, Thebes, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings, and more.

• Visit a Nubian village to learn about their distinctive culture, language, traditions, music, art, crafts and cuisine.

• Take a hot air balloon ride over Luxor.

• Watch the sunset from a felucca, the traditional sailboat of the Nile.

Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh. Photo courtesy Four Seasons

End the trip at the Red Sea

Diehl suggests the Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, especially if traveling with kids. “Kids can easily swim off the house reef for stunning corals and brightly colored reef fish, accessed easily from the swimming and snorkeling jetty,” she says. “If the family does need a break, use the complimentary Kids for All Seasons program, designed for kids ages 4 to 12, with daily activities including arts and crafts, tennis, swimming and treasure hunts.”