Egypt Travel Tips: This You Need to Know

From deciding when to visit Egypt to navigating the pyramids and haggling for the best price, this complete list of Egypt travel tips has everything you need to know.

Egypt Travel Tips - This You Need to Know

The awe of the pyramids, the luxury of a Nile cruise, a relaxing resort holiday on the sunny Red Sea coast… Egypt has a lot to offer. But where do you start? This guide is bursting with Egypt travel tips to make your vacation one to remember. From planning your trip to finding good food to eat, read our tips below before you start packing!

Table of Contents

Planning Your Egypt Vacation

Get out your diary and let’s plan the perfect vacation to Egypt with these essential travel tips.

Best Time to Visit Egypt

Read our full guide to the Best Time to Visit Egypt for the full details. But here’s the short answer: December to January is a popular choice as you’ll enjoy the warm weather and festivities… but it will be crowded. The shoulder months of October, November, March, and April are the best way to avoid the crowds and the scorching weather.

Holidays and Celebrations in Egypt

Egypt celebrates the New Year and then Christmas on January 7th, so you may want to plan your vacation around these busy dates. Ramadan is typically a month-long event around March – it is worth noting that eating and drinking in public is limited and some establishments may be closed during the Ramadan.

How Long to Visit Egypt

A five-day trip is the shortest we recommend. This is long enough to visit just one destination and hit all the main tourist attractions. If you want more time to peruse your destination or hop from one city to another, a minimum of eight days will suffice. A 15-day trip will give you enough time for a full itinerary – Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, a Nile Cruise, shopping, all the attractions, and maybe a few repeats!

Choosing a Destination

Cairo is the most popular destination as it is the capital of Egypt – most international plane journeys take you to Cairo too. You can reach all other cities from Cairo as well. Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast is another major destination, as is Sharm El Sheik and Hurghada on the Red Sea Coast. These coastal cities are great for more relaxing beach-style vacations.

Should You Choose a Tour?

A tour is the best way to see all of Egypt. It enables you to plan time to see all the historical sites, plus gives you access to a tour guide that knows how to safely navigate and communicate. This will take away a lot of the stress of planning your travels and add another layer of security – you can enjoy Egypt without worrying over the unknown.

Explore all our Egypt tours packages to find out where we can take you!

Budgeting for Your Vacation

Egypt can be a luxury vacation or a budget vacation. For a luxury option, look at the resorts along the Red Sea coast and premium hotels in Cairo. If you want a budget holiday, you can get by with $20 per person, per day. This will cover food, drink, trinkets, and travel. Entry to attractions will be your highest expense – you can pre-book most of these and find prices online to budget for.

Family, Friend, and Solo Vacations

Egypt can be a vacation for couples and families. Both adults and kids are welcome on tours and there are tickets for families and youngsters at all the attractions.

Here’s some extra Egypt travel advice:

  • Solo travel is possible, but women may not feel comfortable being alone in Egypt.
  • Homosexuality and other LGBTQ+ lifestyles are not illegal in Egypt, but they aren’t publicly accepted either. So, no public displays of affection.
  • There’s a lot of walking in Egypt to see all the historical sites. It is also extremely hot. So, the very young and very elderly may struggle.

Egypt Travel Entry Requirements

Now you’re ready to book your vacation. But what are the entry requirements?

Visas

You will need a visa to visit Egypt – a tourist visa will enable you to spend up to three months in the country. You can apply for an e-visa online and simply print it off at home. Show this printed visa at the airport and you’ll pass through customs.

For most visitors (including those from the UK and USA), a visa can also be obtained upon arrival at the airport. You’ll need to show your passport and pay the fee. It’s more convenient to get the e-visa in advance!

Vaccines

There is no risk of malaria or yellow fever in Egypt. Hepatitis A and tetanus from unclean cuts and bad food are the diseases of most concern – if you have all your boosters up to date, you’ll have no trouble at all.

COVID-19 vaccines aren’t mandatory for entry into Egypt, but you may be asked to present a negative test result.

Travel Insurance for Egypt

We highly recommend travel insurance for lost baggage and cancellations. Air recovery may also be a good addition to your policy if you’re going snorkeling or enjoying water sports on the coast.

Banned Items

There are some items that you cannot bring into Egypt, including:

  • Drones.
  • Cotton fibers (cotton clothes are fine).
  • Chicken products, including cooked and raw food.
  • Narcotics and illegal drugs.
  • Firearms, weapons, and ammunition.
  • Indecent materials, such as flyers promoting hate or any type of pornography.

American Visitors

The number of American tourists visiting Egypt has increased each year since the COVID-19 pandemic – over half a million Americans discovered Egypt in 2022. You can obtain an e-visa online or get your visa at the airport. Most visitors from America have no trouble entering and enjoying Egypt.

UK Visitors

Along with much of Western Europe, travelers from the UK can visit Egypt with an e-visa or apply for one when they land in the country. The UK government has the same terrorism risk level applied to Egypt as France, the USA, and numerous other countries (at the time of writing). Most visitors from the UK have no trouble entering and enjoying Egypt.

Canadian Visitors

The rules for Canadian citizens have recently changed. To visit Egypt, Canadians will need to visit Egypt’s embassy or consulate in Canada to apply for a visa. You cannot apply for an e-visa or standard tourist visa once you land in Egypt.

Once you have your visa through the embassy or consulate, you’ll have no trouble coming to Egypt and seeing all the sights!

Travel from Jordan

Visitors from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and numerous other Arab countries can visit Egypt without a visa. Just double-check the requirements on your government’s website before you book your vacation.

Travel from Israel

Israeli citizens can visit Egypt using a visa and other entrance requirements. Due to the current political situation in Israel, this could change – check for up-to-date Egypt entry requirements before you leave!

Egypt Packing List

From clothes to money to sunscreen lotion, here’s everything you need to bring in a nutshell. For a more comprehensive list, read our article What to Pack for Egypt.

Clothes to Bring

The key is to pack layers, as the days are hot and the nights can be cool.

  • Breathable cotton and linen clothes.
  • Loose-fitting clothes (especially for women).
  • Light jacket for the evenings.
  • Sunhat and scarf.

Money

The Egyptian pound is the currency used in Egypt, though some vendors will also take US dollars, euros, and British pounds. Until recently, most places required cash, but many attraction tickets are now paid by card only. The best thing to do is wait until you are in Egypt to withdraw money and use the exchange rate at the airport.

You’ll need to withdraw enough money for cash-only establishments and for giving tips (see tips below).

Electronics

Rounded two-prong plugs are used in Egypt and the electric supply runs at 220 volts. You may need to purchase both an adapter and a converter.

Bringing your phone is a must – it is easier for photography and navigating Egypt. You can also bring your camera and a work laptop if necessary. However, we don’t recommend bringing valuables that you cannot replace.

Footwear

Leave the flip-flops at home. You may want to wear sturdy walking sandals for the beach and coast areas, but for inland Egypt like Cairo and visiting tourist attractions, choose closed-toe shoes. Tennis shoes or Converse are a good choice. These will protect your feet from sunburn and general dirt or sand debris.

Heat Protection

Finally, heat protection. A head covering (a nice sunhat or scarf), sunscreen lotion, and after-sun skincare products are all essential. These can be purchased in Egypt if you run out, but it’s best to pack your own if you like to use a specific brand.

Important Things to Know Before Visiting Egypt

There are three more things you should know when planning your Egypt travels.

Language

English is widely spoken… but not exclusively. You’ll see road signs and most tourist signs written in both English and Arabic. You may also want to learn a few simple Arabic phrases:

  • Hello = Salaam Alaykum
  • Thank You = Shukran
  • Yes = Aiwa
  • No = Laa
  • You’re Welcome = Afwan
  • Go Away = Em’shee

Safety

Egypt is a safe country for the most part. There are only two locations where travel is not advised: North Sinai and the Libyan border area. There are no tourist destinations in these areas, so you are highly unlikely to get anywhere near them.

There is some risk of terrorism and crime (tourist scams, pickpocketing, etc.) in most major cities and near tourist attractions, but this is the same in most countries. Maintain common sense and you’ll be fine.

Read our full safety guide for travelling to Egypt here.

Things to Avoid

The culture in Egypt may be vastly different to what you are accustomed to. So, here’s a brief overview of a few things you should know:

  • There are many Muslims in Egypt and although tourists aren’t expected to follow the rules, they should be respectful.
  • This means women should cover their bodies (particularly the chest area, shoulders, and legs above the knees) and dress conservatively.
  • Alcohol is not consumed in public.
  • Women must cover their heads when entering religious spaces, like mosques.

Visiting Attractions

Now onto the fun section of our Egypt travel advice guide! Here are some of the main destinations and attractions, in alphabetical order.

Abu Simbel

Historic site near Aswan, featuring rock-cut temples dating back to the time of Pharoah Ramesses II.

Alexandria

Popular tourist destination on the Mediterranean coast, with lovely weather, iconic architecture, and the infamous Library of Alexandria.

Aswan

Market town on the Nile, known for the tombs, unfinished obelisk, and impressive high dam.

Cairo

Capital of Egypt and stuffed full of attractions including the Giza Pyramids, Egyptian museums, bazaars, cafés, restaurants, and more.

Hurghada

Coastal city on the Red Sea with destination resorts. Amazing for exploring marine life through scuba diving, snorkeling, or just sunbathing on the beach.

Luxor

A city that occupies the spot that was once the Ancient Egyptian City of Thebes. Features tombs, temples, and access to the Nile for cruises.

National Museum of Egyptian Civilization

A highlight of any trip, this museum is located in Old Cairo. It features all 5,000 of Tutankhamun’s treasures.

Nightlife

Despite alcohol being regulated, there is still nightlife to be found in Cairo and especially among the resorts along the Red Sea.

Nile Cruises

Cruises along the Nile are super popular, and they stop at all the tourist sites in Cairo, Aswan, and Luxor. Learn more about Nile cruises here.

Red Sea

The Red Sea is a tropical body of water and tourist destination running along Egypt’s East coast. Sharm El Sheik and Hurghada are popular resort destinations along this coast.

Sharm El Sheik

The best beaches on the Red Sea coast and amazing snorkeling experiences too.

The Giza Pyramids

The most famous pyramids in the world and a must-see for any traveler. You can book tours to see the pyramids from Cairo.

Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is in Luxor, featuring the rock-cut tombs of past pharaohs. It’s an amazing sight!

Navigating Egypt Travel Tips

Okay, so you’ve landed in Egypt and passed through customs. Now what? This section of our travel advice guide covers transportation.

Airport to Hotel

If you have booked a tour with Egypt Tours Plus, your tour guide will be waiting at the airport to drive you directly to your hotel. For those traveling without a tour (and without the transport arranged by your hotel), taxis are really your only option.

You will be overcharged – it’s impossible to avoid. But don’t worry. A good price for a taxi to a hotel downtown is around $20 to $30. Tourists stick out in the crowds and are approached by taxi drivers – you can politely haggle if the price offered is too high, or just say ‘no thank you’ with a smile and wait for another driver (there’s no shortage). Do not pay for your taxi until you arrive at your destination.

Cairo Transport

Most tourists head to Cairo and there are many attractions spread across downtown, along the Nile, and further out toward the pyramids. Most hotels can arrange or recommend the best mode of transportation to the attractions you are visiting each day.

The metro runs through Cairo and is a fast and inexpensive way to avoid the endlessly congested streets, however, you may have trouble navigating. Taxis are a good and reliable choice – look for the white cabs – if you want to stay above ground. Uber can be hit and miss, like in most cities.

The final option is buses – we recommend sticking with tourist buses, led by a guide, as they take you straight to the attractions and on sightseeing routes. The regular buses will take you on longer routes and are best left for the locals!

Are you not comfortable with these transportation options, go for our tours with private guide and driver.

Transport Between Cities

To get between cities in Egypt, you have a few options:

  • Domestic flights – great if you are traveling between inland Egypt (e.g. Cairo) and the coast (e.g. Hurghada)
  • Trains – sleeper trains are a good way to travel inland, but keep in mind that the standards for trains are lower in Egypt than what you may be accustomed to (even in private carriages).
  • Nile – there are riverboats on the Nile that can take you between Luxor, Aswan, and Cairo. The best way to traverse the Nile is on a cruise, however.
  • Coaches – there are coach journeys between cities, used by tourists for travel. They are comfortable but slow.
  • Private driver – an option that are included in all our Egypt tours together with a private guide.

Tour Guides

If you are a first timer in Egypt, you will be endlessly grateful for a tour guide! They can provide Egypt travel tips on the go and help you navigate all the do’s and don’t’s of an Egypt vacation.

When you chose Egypt Tours Plus, our tour guides will drive you to your hotel, from the hotel to attractions, and walk with you through the sites and markets to lend a hand.

Military and Police Checkpoints

There is a military presence across Egypt, and you will see armed security personnel at all main attractions. When traveling around Egypt, you may also find police checkpoints on major roads. They may look stern, but they are there for your protection. It deters terrorism and keeps the peace so you can enjoy the best of Egypt without worry. Just make sure you have your passport with you as picture ID, as it may be requested on your journey.

Shopping in Egypt

When you’re not admiring the historic Egyptian sites, you’ll be shopping. Here’s what you should know about shopping in Egypt.

Shopping Destinations

Any city where tourists gather will have stores selling souvenirs and other trinkets, to help you remember your trip. Cairo is the best destination for shopping, as it has both tourist-oriented establishments plus markets, bazaars, restaurants and more. You’ll find boutiques and galleries around Zamalek, a mall-like shopping experience at Citystars, and everything from spices to jewelry at the iconic Khan El-Khalili market.

Haggling

With cash (see money advice above), you can haggle. To haggle successfully and not make vendors angry, start by asking what the price is for the item. Then, offer half of what you would like to pay for it. From there, you can increase in small increments going back and forth.

If you can’t get the price you like, you can smile and politely say ‘no, thank you’. The vendor may seem sad, but you shouldn’t overpay and don’t feel afraid to walk away.

Tips

Tips (baksheesh) are expected in Egypt and are usually around 10% to 20%. Tips are in cash, so try to get smaller note denominations at the money exchange booth and hold onto your change. Tips are needed for:

  • Taxi drivers.
  • Tour guides.
  • Restaurants, cafés, and other eateries.
  • Hotel staff (a few dollars for carrying a bag, or up to $5 per day left for housecleaning).
  • Restroom attendees (a dollar or two).

Tips are expected for every service – even giving directions or guiding you to a destination if you are lost. It’s a small gesture of gratitude.

Scams

Like any tourist destination, there are scammers at work. Common scams to be aware of include:

  • Taking a photo for you, then the camera ‘breaks’ and they demand you pay for it.
  • ATM helpers who will tell you they can help you avoid bank fees (really they just want to steal your card details).
  • Pickpocketing – this can happen in numerous ways, sometimes simply by being in a crowded place. Other times, a local may attempt to distract you in some way so another can take your belongings.

Keeping your valuables in sealed bag compartments, keeping copies of your travel documents separate from your real documents, and trying to avoid super crowded areas where possible is the best advice.

Food and Drink

Let’s explore the cuisine!

Don’t Drink Tap Water

The first rule is don’t drink tap water. It is not safe for consumption, so either purchase a high-grade filtered water bottle or just rely on bottled water. You can buy bottled water across Egypt – it is safe and inexpensive.

Alcohol

You cannot drink alcohol in public, but you can purchase it at bars, restaurants and sometimes hotels. Egypt has some fantastic beers and wines to try, but not much in the way of straight liquors.

Street Food

The trick to buying street food is to stick to the busy and popular vendors. While you may be waiting longer in a queue, these vendors are more likely to be selling good quality, delicious and sanitary food (hence their popularity with the locals).

Traditional Egyptian Food to Try

You’ll find a lot of vegetarian-friendly foods in Egypt, plus the usual beef, lamb, and seafood (particularly along the coast). Here’s what to look for:

  • Ful – a street food paste made from fava beans, served with fluffy pitta bread.
  • Tamiya – essentially falafel!
  • Shawarma, koftas, and kebabs – classic street food and beautifully spiced.
  • Hamaam – pigeons may be on the menu at restaurants and are well worth a try.
  • Fiteer – a flatbread-like street food often stuffed with cheese.
  • Baklava – syrup-drenched pastries to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Public Toilets

After all that food and drink, you may need the restroom. Many public toilets in Egypt are lacking in toilet paper, so make sure you take some with you from the hotel room or carry a pack of tissues in your bag. You’ll also need some change for the restroom attendee.

On-The-Go Travel Tips from Your Tour Guide

For first-time Egypt travel, always having a tour guide beside you is the best way to ensure you get the most from your trip. They’ll keep you safe from scams, help you navigate haggling and tipping, and ensure you never miss out on an attraction. Explore all our tour options at Egypt Tours Plus!

Essential FAQs

Here are some other popular tips for your Egypt tour:

What Should You See in Egypt?

For a short trip, head to Cairo where you can see the pyramids and visit the museums, bazaars, cafés and get a real taste of the culture and history of Egypt. For longer trips, you should see Cairo, Aswan, and Luxor with a Nile cruise for travel, to tick every box.

When Should You Visit Egypt?

December and January are the busiest travel seasons, so we recommend October to November and February to April. The summer months will just be too hot. Read our full guide on best time to visit Eqypt here.

Do I Need a New SIM Card for Egypt?

Most cell service providers will offer international service (for a price) or you can buy a SIM card for your phone at the airport in Egypt – these are cheap, just make sure that your phone is unlocked so the SIM card will work.

Is It Safe to Drink Tap Water in Egypt?

No. Tap water is not for consumption in Egypt. Thankfully, bottled water is available everywhere and is cheap. You can also bring a bottle with a high-grade filter if you want to reuse the same bottle with refills.

Are There Egypt Travel Discounts for Kids?

Yes, there are discounts at many of the main tourist attractions for kids – some under 5 will go free, others offer 50% discounts. Student discounts are also possible in some places. However, you will need to bring proof of age (your kid’s passport) or a valid student ID card.

For our tours, children under 12 years old get a 25% discount, and children under 6 years old enjoy a 50% discount on the tour package price.

Should You Rent a Car in Egypt?

Renting a car in Egypt is a bad idea for tourists. In the main cities, you can use Uber or other taxi-type services. There’s also a metro system, but this gets crowded. Domestic air travel, Nile cruises, and buses can help you navigate between cities. The best way to travel, however, is with a tour guide or private driver who knows how to navigate the roads in Egypt.

Is a Nile Cruise Worth It?

A Nile cruise is worth it if you want to avoid the busy city traffic, visit numerous locations in Egypt, and sleep aboard a boat! Cruises have strict itineraries, however. This allows tourists to see the sights and not miss their boat ride to the next destination. We definitely recommend to include a Nile cruise, but if you want a little more flexibility, try a land-based Egypt tour.

Explore Ancient Egypt’s Marvels Your Way

Having explored our Egypt Travel Tips, are you prepared to delve into its marvels? Begin planning and securing your dream journey to Egypt with us now!

 

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Last Updated on February 14, 2024