When you want to visit Egypt for the first time, there are a few things you should know. Discover how to plan a trip to Egypt with our comprehensive guide to cover all your bases! And book your personal guided trip to Egypt today.
Egypt is a bucket list destination – and rightly so. Steeped in history, culture, and adventure from the sunny Mediterranean coast to the tops of the pyramids, visiting Egypt is an unforgettable experience. So, let’s make sure you get it right.
This guide will explain how to plan a trip to Egypt so that you can avoid the tourist traps, see all that should be seen, and return home with stories you’ll be retelling for decades.
How to Plan Your Egypt Vacation Step-by-Step
Let’s start with step-by-step instructions, from figuring out if an Egypt trip is viable for your budget and vacation time to finally packing your bags. We have also included some important FAQs and five things everyone should know before visiting Egypt. Read those below.
1. Budget and Dates
Before we even look at Egypt, let’s make sure your budget and vacation days are suitable!
First, budget. You can have either a luxury holiday in Egypt or a very cheap holiday – there are versatile options for all travelers. So, whether you want to spend less than $20 per day or splash out on a luxury trip, Egypt is a great destination. For a cheap trip, the budget is roughly $500 per person. For the most luxurious experience, the budget is roughly $3,000 per person.
One important thing to note, however, is that your Egypt vacation experience will be vastly different depending on when you travel.
- Spring – a good time to visit with moderate heat, but some sandstorms inland.
- Summer – too hot for tourists and even the locals struggle. Stick to the coast or try a different time of year.
- Autumn – one of the best times to visit, with comfortable heat and fewer crowds.
- Winter – easy temperatures inland, so great for visiting Cairo… however, it’s the peak season so you’ll be traveling during the busiest and most expensive time of year.
The best times of year are winter and autumn, with the spring season coming next. Most tourists will be unable to stomach the heat of Egypt during the summer, so if you only have summer vacation time at the moment, it may be best to postpone your trip for a cooler time! Read our guide to The Best Time to Visit Egypt to learn more.
Extra tip: Make sure your vaccinations are up to date once you have decided to visit Egypt. There is no malaria in Egypt, but a Hepatitis A vaccination is usually recommended – talk to your doctor to learn more.
Sort Your Visa Early
Once you’ve confirmed that your budget and vacation time are compatible with an Egypt vacation, your next step is finding out the visa requirements. It may seem early, but depending on your location, getting a visa sorted may take some time. Do it early and you’ll be confident that your travels will be stress-free.
- For UK visitors: get an e-visa before you leave or fill out a form at the airport on arrival.
- For US visitors: get an e-visa before you leave or fill out a form at the airport on arrival.
- For Canadian visitors: visit the Egyptian embassy or consulate in Canada to apply. It can be a lengthy process.
2. Independent Travel or Guided Tour?
Now you need to decide if you’re going to plan every moment of the tour yourself or use an Egypt tour or vacation package. Let’s break it down.
- Completely customize your travel.
- Spend as much or as little as you want.
- More time to be spontaneous on your vacation.
- Increased stress and time spent planning.
- Miss out on hidden secrets.
- Navigation can be tricky.
- Language barriers and safety concerns to consider.
If you want to immerse yourself in the culture and feel confident navigating without a guide, then independent travel could be for you. It also allows you to save money. However, you’ll have a more stressful experience and you risk missing out on the sites and experiences that only a private tour guide knows about. So, we recommend independent travel for well-versed travelers only.
Private tours and itineraries:
- Choose a fully planned itinerary or a personal itinerary with more flexibility.
- Set prices make it easy to budget – there are affordable itineraries to choose from!
- Stress-free travel, with transfers, navigation, accommodation, and entry tickets sorted.
- Tour guides who can show you the secrets that most tourists never see.
- Access to exclusive sites.
- Travel with an expert who knows how to stay safe and speaks the lingo.
- Built-in time for exploring and doing your own thing.
Private Egypt tours may cost more upfront, but they provide unmatched security and a stress-free experience. From access to exclusive sites that most tourists never see, to quick transportation around Egypt and a guide who can speak to the locals – it’s all included in one price. For solo travelers, couples, and families that want an adventure without worries, we highly recommend exploring Egypt tours here.
Whether you choose a tour or independent travel, book and start planning at least four months in advance to get the best deals on flights. To ensure you don’t miss out (especially during peak times) then book even earlier.
3. Choosing Egypt Destinations
Egypt has numerous amazing destinations, each with its own charm and attractions. The best way to see them all is with an inclusive private tour. However, if you’re only visiting Egypt for a short period or want to stay in one spot, here’s what you need to know.
Egypt’s capital and a hot spot for exploring the cuisine and culture. It gets super busy over Christmas and New Year, but you’ll get to enjoy the festivities as well as the pleasant winter temperatures. Attractions in and around Cairo include:
If you only visit one destination, make it Cairo.
Egypt was once home to the most impressive civilization to ever exist. If you are traveling to Egypt to see what they left behind, Luxor should be at the top of your list. On the banks of the Nile, Luxor provides access to:
This market town on the East bank of the Nile is another hotspot for tourists looking to explore both Nubian and Egyptian culture and cuisine. It’s also the best place to be if you want to take day trips to:
Alexandria is an Egyptian city on the Mediterranean Coast. If you want to visit Egypt during the hotter summer months, Alexandria is a great destination. The cool sea breeze brings down the temperature a little, as long as you don’t mind the humidity. Alexandria offers:
- The Library of Alexandria
- Great seafood
- Water activities
Red Sea Coast
The Red Sea coastline in the East of Egypt is an exciting destination if you are looking for a resort vacation. As well as having access to central Egypt destinations if you want to take a few days to travel around, the coast itself has plenty to offer. Destinations include Naama Bay and Sharm El Sheikh, and activities include:
- Snorkeling and scuba diving to see the marine life
- Jet skis and other water sports
- Sunbathing and activities hosted by the resorts
- Day trips to the desert
The Nile runs through Egypt and enables you to stop off at Cairo, Aswan, and Luxor.
But the Nile itself is also a destination. Aboard a riverboat, the Nile can be a relaxing and even romantic vacation. By making regular stops, you can see the sights across Egypt without multiple accommodation switches or uncomfortable transport.
Nile cruises are all inclusive and particularly popular and highly recommended.
If you want to see multiple locations, then the most convenient way to do this is through a private tour. This ensures that transport between locations is covered.
- Cairo and Nile Cruise – spend most of your time in the capital, with a relaxing Nile cruise to slow down the pace.
- Egypt Overland – Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and Hurghada wrapped into one, covering all historical sites in Egypt.
- Cairo, Nile, and Red Sea – combine the main historical attractions at Cairo with a relaxing Nile cruise and all the perks of a Red Sea beach vacation.
- Cairo to Abu Simbel – follow the footsteps of the pharaohs from Cairo to Abu Simbel, a great itinerary for history buffs.
4. Booking Your Vacation and Flights
With your desired travel dates and destinations sorted, it’s time to book your vacation and flights.
You will find flights from most major cities to Cairo – including London and New York – but you’ll need to transfer after Cairo if your first destination is another city in Egypt.
With your international flights sorted, you can book your hotel, transportation, and some event tickets in advance. If you are booking one of our private tour vacations, this will all be sorted by Egypt Tours Plus. We even handle any domestic flights that you’ll need to take.
The trick here is to be very clear about what you want from your vacation. Most itineraries can be adjusted, so we can make sure that your vacation meets your expectations. All you have to do is explain clearly what you’d like to see and do.
If you are booking independent travel, start by finding accommodation. You will find that there are both luxury and budget options when it comes to accommodation. Just like booking any hotel, the trick is to look at the reviews and location to ensure the hotel is convenient and comfortable.
When traveling between cities without a private tour, you will need to book buses, coaches, trains, sleeper trains, or domestic flights. Research these beforehand as some need to be booked in advance.
Some attractions, including The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, allow you to book tickets online. Even if you can’t purchase tickets online for everything you want to see, you can research admission prices to ensure that you can budget for them. See more about money below.
Travel insurance is a must when you plan a trip to Egypt. Your policy should cover every individual in your travel group for the full duration of your stay. Even if you already have an annual travel insurance policy, you should double-check that it covers:
- Cancelled flights, attractions, accommodation, and transport.
- Lost baggage.
- Medical expenses.
If your annual policy does not cover these aspects, take out a new short-term policy. It assures you that you can relax on vacation, as any emergencies will be covered. It can save you a lot of money in these situations too.
If you are visiting the coastal areas of Egypt, you should also pay close attention to the ‘extreme sports’ clause, as some insurers will exclude accidents that happen during water sports or even snorkeling.
If you are planning to do water sports, we recommend finding a policy that will cover the cost of air rescue – this can be very expensive if you need to be rescued from the water and your insurance policy does not cover it.
5. Pack for Your Egypt Trip
The last step in our ‘how to plan a trip to Egypt’ guide is packing your bags! In general, the trick is to pack light, breathable layers and not bring anything you won’t need.
Starting with the documents:
- Return ticket.
- Hotel booking confirmation.
- E-tickets for any pre-booked attractions.
- Medical information (if needed in an emergency).
- Photocopies of all documents in a separate bag.
- Electronic copies of all documents saved to the cloud or on your devices.
As for clothes and toiletries, prioritize:
- Cotton or linen layers – shirts, trousers, long shorts, skirts, cover-ups.
- A lightweight jacket and scarf/head covering.
- Breathable walking shoes or tennis shoes.
- Sunglasses, sunhat, sunscreen lotion.
- Toiletries – deodorant, hairbrush, mini liquid bottles.
- Reusable day bag with space for trinkets and souvenirs.
It is best not to bring valuables on your trip. The general rule we recommend is not to bring anything you’d be sad to lose! Of course, you will want to bring your phone and perhaps a camera. So, don’t forget to pack the chargers and travel adaptors. If you can get insurance for your electronics, that may be worth the cost too.
When you enter Egypt, any prohibited items will be removed. This includes drones or any device that could be used for spying, hateful or indecent materials (e.g. porn), narcotics, firearms, weapons, ammo, and chicken products such as snacks.
With your bags packed, you should be ready for your trip to Egypt. Whether you have booked a private Egypt tour or independent travel, we know that you’ll have an amazing time!
5 Things You need to Know Once You’re in Egypt
Once you land in Egypt, here’s what you need to know.
1. It’s a Conservative Country
Egypt is a conservative, religious country. If you want to respect the culture and fully immerse yourself in Egypt, you should be polite and conscious of the customs. While the locals don’t expect you to suddenly adopt their lifestyle, a little effort goes a very long way.
- For women, avoid revealing too much skin – keep your legs covered above your knees, your arms covered above the elbows, and your chest covered.
- Women will also need to cover their hair when entering a religious site. Bring a lightweight scarf you can stuff into the bottom of your bag!
- Avoid consuming alcohol in public. Drink it in the bars and restaurants where it can be purchased, or drink in private.
- Keep public displays of affection to a minimum, especially if you live an LGBTQ+ lifestyle.
If you are mindful of the culture and maintain common sense, you’ll find that Egypt is a perfectly safe place to visit. Read our Full Safety Guide to learn more.
2. The Food is Amazing!
One of the highlights of your trip to Egypt will be the food. In the luxury hotels and resorts, you’ll find amazing restaurants with five-star menus. Out in Cairo and other cities, you’ll find delicious street foods and cafés to try. Look for establishments that are busy and frequented by locals as well as tourists – this is a good sign that the food is not just delicious but also sanitary and safe.
Some dishes to try include:
- Fiteer – delicious stuffed flatbreads.
- Tamiya – like a falafel, but better!
- Hamaam – pigeon, often served in restaurants.
- Baklava – a syrup-drenched dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you get thirsty, make sure you purchase bottled water. This is readily available across Egypt, as tap water is not safe to drink.
3. Money and Tipping
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian Pound, however many places will also accept US dollars. Take your credit card or debit card with you, as most places now accept card payments. In fact, the main attractions and historical sites no longer accept cash after the COVID-19 pandemic. To get the best exchange rates, wait until you are in Egypt to exchange your money.
Tipping is a big part of Egypt, and it signifies politeness. You’ll need to tip for everything from taxi rides to restaurant meals to toilet attendants. Expect to pay 10% to 20% in tips, except for toilet attendants and hotel house cleaning services – a few dollars will suffice.
4. SIM Cards Might Be Worth It
To use your phone for texts, calls and data, you need to make sure that your plan has international coverage. In many cases, this is an add-on feature that you’ll need to arrange and pay for before you depart.
So, it may be a better idea to purchase a SIM card just for your Egypt vacation. Vodafone is a good option for wide-ranging coverage, though it may be a little expensive. Orange is also known for providing tourist SIM cards for Egypt. If you want to get the best deal, then wait until you land in Cairo. There are places to purchase pre-paid local SIM cards at the airport, offering you better value for money.
If you are traveling for work, then you should also prioritize hotels with good WiFi!
5. Learn a Few Arabic Words
In Cairo, Arabic is the main language. Learning just a handful of words will help you express gratitude, greet locals politely, ask for help, and also fend off unwanted attention!
- Hello = Salaam Alaykum
- Thank You = Shukran
- Yes = Aiwa
- No = Laa
However, many people speak English in Egypt, including hotel staff and attraction employees. The best way to make sure miscommunications are avoided is to use a private tour. Your tour guide will be a local who can navigate, communicate, haggle, and translate with ease – it’s the best way to ensure a stress-free trip.
Coming Home Again
After following our guide to prepare for Egypt and have the best itinerary, it is time to come home again. Transportation to the airport is fairly simple. If you choose one of our private tours, it is included. And else, you can ask the hotel reception desk to book a taxi or help you navigate public transport.
Remember to follow the rules for your destination country. Check that your souvenirs won’t be confiscated when you land, such as weapons or food items.
Finally, all you need to do is send off your Egypt vacation photos to be printed and start planning your next trip to this magical destination!
How to Plan a Trip to Egypt FAQs
What’s the average cost of a trip to Egypt?
A budget trip to Egypt can be as little as $500 per person, while a luxury itinerary may cost up to $3,000 per person for a week. With accommodation and travel prices included, you should budget around $200 per day. If your accommodation is already sorted, you can get by on as little as $50 per day!
How many days should I spend in Egypt?
At least one week. To really see everything, we recommend staying for 10 days over multiple destinations. With the Nile running through Egypt, you can plan your vacation around it to navigate all the major inland cities within one to two weeks.
Where should I go for my first time in Egypt?
For your first trip to Egypt, we recommend Cairo. Not only does the capital have the most attractions, including the pyramids, but it is also very tourist-oriented with hotels, transportation, and locals speaking English.
When is best to visit Egypt?
Spring and autumn are the best, as they have mild weather with fewer tourists. Winter is the peak season, particularly for Cairo. Summer is the worst season to visit Egypt everywhere but the coast, where temperatures will still be very hot.
Is Egypt safe for travelers?
Yes, Egypt is safe for travelers and most tourists have no trouble visiting and traveling around the country. The areas of Egypt that are considered unsafe are far away from tourist destinations – you can’t just stumble there by accident! To stay extra safe, avoid traveling alone or in poorly lit areas. You should also watch out for the usual pickpocket thieves and scams at tourist sites.
Explore the Best of Egypt Your Way!
Last Updated on February 14, 2024