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Egypt travel tips: a complete guide to make your trip easier

by Pilar Dujan | August 3, 2023
Our Egypt travel tips will help you visit the Al Mina Mosque Hurghada

Egypt is probably the oldest travel destination in the world. The ancient civilization left a huge mark, which can be seen even today. 

To make the most out of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, get all the travel tips you need for Egypt.

Remember: you’re going to need to apply for an Egypt visa before traveling. You can go through the entire process online and with constant assistance if you apply with Visagov. However, an online visa is only available for specific nationalities: find out the status of yours with our eligibility checker

Do you need any vaccines to travel to Egypt?

The only compulsory vaccination for travel to Egypt is for yellow fever, and only if you are coming from or have traveled to a yellow fever endemic country

The most recommended, though not mandatory, vaccinations are polio, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, pneumococcal and rabies.

Do you need a SIM card for Egypt?

Yes, it’s extremely important for a visit to Egypt: all public WiFi networks (which don’t work well at all) ask you to validate your account with an Egyptian number. Luckily, several companies sell SIM cards for tourists.

The biggest companies from which to get your SIM card are Vodafone, Etisalat, Orange and WE. You can make your purchase at the airport (although it’s not a good option), online or at official stores (the best choice). Bring your passport when you go to the store: you will need it to register your SIM card to your name. 

The most recommended one is Vodafone: it has the largest and strongest 4G network. There are several Vodafone bundles from which to choose from. The price ranges from 7 EGP to 65 EGP (from 0,2 euros to 2 approximately).  

Another option would be to get an e-SIM card. These are processed online and you won’t need to change your physical SIM card, you just activate it by scanning a QR code on your phone. However, not every phone can support e-SIM cards. Some companies, like Holafly, let you check the status of your model. 

One of the most important travel tips for Egypt is to download the map for the entire country on Google Maps before traveling. That way you will be able to access it offline, a massive help if you get lost in a place without WiFi or 4G coverage. 

Temple of Abu Simbel Egypt

What is the currency of Egypt?

The official currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (EGP), and you can exchange currency anywhere in the country. It is possible to exchange currencies at the airport; however, this is not recommended since the exchange rates are typically lower.

It is advisable to exchange money in banks or official exchange establishments. The Euro is accepted in the country, but it is better to pay in Egyptian pounds. It is possible to withdraw money from any ATM in the country with a small fee.

Keep in mind that you aren’t allowed to take Egyptian pounds out of Egypt. You need to exchange all the banknotes you have left before going to the airport.

Do you have to leave tips in Egypt?

Yes, there’s a well-established tipping culture in Egypt. It’s common to leave 10-15% of the bill as a tip. 

Always check if it isn’t already included in the final price as a service charge, many establishments do that. 

Hotel staff and restaurant workers always expect tips. Make sure to tip in Egyptian pounds, especially outside of your hotel. 

How to travel around Egypt

  • By train. The Egyptian train network is reliable and well-developed, connecting Cairo and Alexandria with most of the Nile delta area. It’s also very affordable, especially if you hold an international student card. Egyptian trains are generally air-conditioned and usually feature a 1st class and a 2nd class. Those that are not air-conditioned feature a 2nd and 3rd class.
  • By bus. The bus network is also well-developed. Several buses depart every day from Cairo to serve Alexandria, Faiyum, the major cities of the Nile Delta, the Suez Canal, Upper Egypt, the oases of the Libyan desert, or the seaside resorts of Sinai, the sea Red, and the Mediterranean sea. Buses are usually air-conditioned and can be cheaper than traveling by train while also being less comfortable.
  • By servees. Servees are collective service taxis or shared taxis, allowing tourists to travel anywhere in Egypt for a fairly reasonable price. They’re usually faster and more flexible than buses unless traffic is chaotic, which isn’t uncommon in the big cities in Egypt. Avoid traveling by servee at night as accidents are frequent.
  • By car. Renting a car in Egypt can have many benefits including allowing you to explore the country at your own pace and go wherever you want. The only requirements to rent a car in Egypt are to be over 25 years old, hold an international driving license, and have a valid passport. But if you decide to drive in Egypt, know that it can be dangerous. Avoid driving at night, as some drivers don’t use their lights when driving, and exercise caution on the road as Egyptian drivers don’t always follow traffic lights and other road rules and can drive fast. 

Pyramid of Giza at sunset

What to do in Egypt

The country has a rich history and culture, so you’ll always find something new and exciting to explore. Here are our top five things to do in Egypt: The Great Pyramids of Giza, The Great Sphinx, The Valley of the Kings, The Egyptian Museum and The Luxor and Karnak temples.

One of the biggest tips for visiting Egypt, and one that you probably haven’t heard about yet, is that taking a cruise through the Nile is a must. However, know that you will need a visa for an Egypt cruise.

Packing tips for traveling to Egypt

As an Islamic country, women should always cover up when entering mosques. Pack a scarf for that reason, whether you’re traveling in the summer or not. Otherwise, you won’t be allowed to enter any place of worship. It’s best to dress modestly, although you’re not obligated to cover up while out on the town. 

Long-sleeved and light shirts will be a massive help, both as a female and as a male. The same goes for pants. Long, light skirts and dresses for women will also do the trick. 

These types of garments will also help you stay covered from the sun. On that note, pack a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to avoid heatstroke. 

In terms of footwear, you must bring a pair of walking/running sneakers. Traveling to Egypt involves a lot of walking, so your feet need to be taken care of or they will surely hurt. 

Always carry with you a pair of socks (especially if you’re wearing sandals). You’ll need them for visiting mosques. 

This is one of the key Egypt travel tips, but it will come in handy for every single trip you take: bring a portable phone charger! Remember to keep it charged at all times, you will surely use it at one point or another.

Traveling to Egypt: tips about taking photographs

Even though tourism is Egypt’s main source of income, the country has some rigid laws when it comes to taking photos (although they mostly apply to larger, professional cameras). However, a piece of good news is that tourists no longer have to pay extra fees to take photographs at certain attractions. Additionally, they don’t need to ask for permits (although that’s still the case for journalists and TV workers).

Taking photographs of government and military buildings is forbidden. Blocking the roads, using professional equipment and artificial lightning is also banned. The same can be said for taking photographs that can negatively affect the country’s image.

If you wish to take a photo of an Egyptian person in the street, you need their written consent. Photographing children is forbidden. 

Fish and corals, marine life in Egypt

Egypt travel tips for visiting its wonderful beaches

Egypt’s beaches are quickly gaining popularity as a can’t miss destination, especially if you travel to Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh

As said before, it’s a good idea to dress modestly while exploring Egypt. However, this doesn’t apply to the beach: you won’t need any special items of clothing. 

If you’re at the Egyptian coast, you can take part in a number of activities: snorkeling, scuba diving, even fishing! The marine biodiversity is huge and the biggest selling point for these beaches. Water sports are usually available as well.

If you use any equipment, make sure you follow the security instructions. Stay hydrated and protected from the sun, it can badly affect you for the rest of the trip! 

Haggling tips for traveling to Egypt

One of the general travel tips for Egypt is to always, always haggle on the prices, especially in the crowded Egyptian markets (souks). Tourists tend to be victims of excessive overcharge (double or more its actual price). They are also usually brought to certain businesses that have agreements with guides/drivers, which will also try to charge much more than the regular price. 

If you’re trying to haggle and the shop owner refuses to back down on something you know is more expensive than what it’s worth, just walk away! If you’re “allowed” to go, then your suggested price was too low. If they agree to your price, then you know you made a good offer.

Tips for camping in the desert

A short camping trip to the Egyptian desert is a common activity. The typical destinations include the White Desert, the Black Desert and the Sinai Desert. 

There are tons of companies that offer the complete service, including transportation and meals. It’s important to check that you trust the one you choose, especially for women travelers.

If you decide to stay in a desert, pack some warm clothes: the nights can get quite cold, while the days are very hot. Don’t ever go camping in the desert without a professional guide

Key phrases in Arabic

Some basic phrases in Arabic, Egypt’s language, to make your journey easier are:

  • Hello: Marhaban
  • Yes: Naam
  • No: La
  • Please: Min Fadlak for men, Min Fadlik for women
  • Thank you: Shukran
  • Help: Sa'edni
  • How much does this cost?: Bikam?
  • Good morning: Sabah al-khayr
  • Good evening: Masa' al-khayr
  • Goodbye: Wada'an (more formal), Ma'a as-salama (more casual)
  • I’m lost: Daa'at tariqi
  • Where is the bathroom?: Ayne al-hamam?

Egyptian statue

When is the best time to visit Egypt?

Egypt is such a rich country when it comes to culture and history that it’s a wonderful destination all year round. However, the best time to visit Egypt will depend on your preferred activities.

The best time to travel is from March to May and from October to November. The minimum temperature is 14°C, and the average temperature is 20°C. The Egyptian winter is the months of December, January and February. The average annual temperature of the country oscillates between 16º and 9º in winter. The winter is an ideal time to explore ancient monuments in arid areas, including the Pyramids of Giza, the temple of Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings.

The least recommended time to travel to Egypt is from June to September, the summer season. Temperatures in these months can reach 45º and 50º in the south of the country. However, if you travel to Egypt during the summer, you will be able to enjoy its beaches, snorkeling, sailing down the Nile, visiting museums, or sampling local delicacies.

In the spring months, you can find sand storms coming from the desert. 

Security tips for visiting Egypt

It is known that Egypt has a history of political instability, so it’s common to wonder: is Egypt safe to visit? Don’t worry, Egypt is safe for tourists, but we must follow certain precautions (as in most places). 

A police force called the Tourist Police has been set up in the more touristy areas, and in the places where people are concentrated. Stay in the tourist routes at all times and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Small-scale theft is not common: the penalties for stealing are incredibly harsh. It's also advisable to agree on the price with taxi drivers before starting the trip, and to always make sure they’re licensed.

It is not advisable to travel to the Sinai Peninsula, the borders shared with Israel, Sudan and Libya and to the Western Desert.

Other safety tips for Egypt include avoiding large crowds and protests, keeping your valuables out of sight, avoid walking alone (especially for women) and keeping a copy of your important documents in your hotel safe.

Additional travel tips for Egypt

  • Homosexuality is a crime in Egypt, and it is one of the countries with the toughest sentences against the LGTBQ+ community.
  • Egyptians use each of their hands for a purpose, the left hand is considered impure, and they use it only for situations such as putting on shoes or washing. The right hand is used to eat or to greet. It would be best if you respected this custom when interacting with a native Egyptian.
  • Smoking is extremely common and done everywhere.
  • During your trip to Egypt, you will have to carry your passport at all times. It is advisable to take out international travel insurance which covers your entire stay in Egypt.
  • If you are claustrophobic, then it is best to let your tour guide know. Although on the outside the pyramids are colossal monuments, their interiors have small chambers connected by very narrow passages. These tight areas are often full of people, so it is not the best place for people who may panic.
  • Get familiar with the local laws and customs and follow them.