TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO EGYPT FOR THE FIRST TIME

TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO EGYPT FOR THE FIRST TIME

If you give people a chance to name 10 countries they want to visit, odds are that Egypt makes it on that list.

From the time we learn about the Egyptian pyramids in school, this country is seared into our memories.

We’re just waiting for a chance to check it off our bucket list.

Yet, like any other trip, it can be challenging to plan an itinerary when you haven’t been to the country.

And, as Egypt is nestled at the intersection of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, tourists often wonder if it’s safe enough for them to visit.

Only a few years ago there were quite a few stories on the news about buses exploding.

Today, Egypt is not only safe, it is a well-traveled country that is well worth visiting.

By going, you can expose yourself to beautiful scenery with cultural gems you’ll never forget.

If you need some help, I have some tips for traveling to Egypt that is perfect for first-time travelers.

Let’s get started.

Best Time to Visit Egypt

The best time to visit Egypt is between October and April.

The country has cooler temps during this period, but is still generally warm and pleasant throughout.

You’ll be comfortable while exploring the busy streets of Cairo and visiting the pyramids in Giza.

The summer season is from May to September.

It is hot…don’t let anyone tell you differently.

While you can still make the trip during these months, don’t expect air conditioning to make your trip that much easier.

You’ll see far fewer tourists coming to Egypt during this time, because of the heat.

As a result, you will enjoy lower prices if you’re on a budget.

If you’re up for a river cruise, there does tend to be a bit of a breeze on the Nile during the summer, which means you can enjoy some nicer weather if you like being on the water and exploring that way.

Aerial-view-of-Cairo-during-the-day-time

Is It Safe to Travel to Egypt as a Tourist?

While Egypt is on the continent of Africa, it lies closer to the Middle East, which is largely considered an unstable region, especially for tourists.

Because Egypt isn’t immune to instability, there are some safety issues that arise when tourists come here for the first time.

If you’re feeling concerned about safety, here are some tips for traveling to Egypt:

Go with someone who knows Egypt

If you know someone who is from Egypt, all the better.

However, not everyone is so lucky to have a friend who lives in the country.

So, if you’re just looking to connect with someone who can show you around, hire a local tour guide.

They should be able to speak English well enough to explain their country and culture to you.

While it may seem expensive initially, it’s worth every penny.

Research your country’s recommendations

Check your country’s recommendations for visiting Egypt and register with your country’s embassy prior to arriving.

This can help you feel safe and accounted for while you’re in Egypt.

Take scheduled tours

Scheduled tours can help you stay with a group and knowledgeable guide that knows where they’re going.

You won’t have to worry about being led astray or being scammed.

Watch for pickpockets and purse-snatchers

Although Egypt is crime-free compared to most western countries, petty theft can still happen.

Stay on alert and watch out for pickpocketers.

You can learn all of the tricks about How to Avoid Pickpockets While Traveling in our blog.

Boat-ride-on-the-Nile-river-in-Egypt

Make plans in advance

Some travelers love to go with the flow and be spontaneous.

Yet, doing a little extra research and planning can help make your visit safer and more comfortable.

Be prepared for crowded airports and traffic

One major safety step that the Egyptian government took in 2017 was airport inspections.

Certifying that airports were safe also encouraged airlines to resume regular service to Egypt and helped spur tourism (hence the crowds).

However, all these extra people in the city often mean a lot of traffic.

Egypt has one of the world’s highest occurrences of road fatalities, and traffic rules are often ignored.

The metro in Cairo is NOT recommended for tourists, and there are few alternatives to driving.

So, it’s often best to stick with prearranged transportation (either with a tour or with your accommodation).

Know proper taxi etiquette

It’s one of the oldest tourist scams in the book for taxi drivers to pretend their meter is broken to get additional money from tourists.

It’s best for you to know the going rate for the taxi ride before you even get in the cab and to hold firmly to your price once you’ve agreed.

If you’re a solo female traveler, avoid talking with your taxi driver outside of basic pleasantries and always sit in the back seat of the taxi.

Avoid demonstrations

Even if protests start out peaceful in Egypt, they can turn violent in the streets.

Avoid participating in demonstrations entirely for your physical safety.

Busy-street-in-Cairo-Egypt-filled with-cars-and-pedestrians

Why You Should Go to Egypt

All this talk about safety may have you wondering, “Is Egypt really worth it?”

I can assure you it is!

Egypt tops most people’s bucket lists, and all you need to travel to this country is a good list of travel tips.

Along with tips for traveling to Egypt, I’ll provide you some incredible reasons you can’t miss this destination.

  • The pyramids – Does this even need to be said? The pyramids are the sight drawing you to Egypt and they won’t disappoint. It is the only one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” still standing.
  • The Great Sphinx – Add this to your list of sights to see while in Egypt. As the oldest known monumental structure, it was thought to have been created sometime between 2520 and 2494 BC. Most people take a picture kissing the sphinx to mark their time in Egypt, but it’s up to you how you pose!
  • Egyptian cuisine – Egyptian food is delicious and unlike anything you’ve tasted. Immerse yourself in the culture and try the lamb kebab, baba ghanouj, kofta, dolma, shawarma, and hamam mahshi.
  • Khan al-Khalili – The Khan al-Khalili market in Cairo is a large bazaar where you can find spices, perfumes, and metals. Get ready to bargain! You can find some treasures here.
  • Red Sea – Egypt’s Red Sea is a main draw to the area. Tourists often head to the Red Sea to relax and enjoy watersports, shopping, and entertainment.
  • Nile River – If you’re looking to travel to other parts of Egypt (such as Aswan and Luxor), you may consider traveling on the Nile River. Nile River cruises can be a great way to see the country and its diverse scenery.
  • Temples – Visiting ancient temples are perhaps the second most popular activity for tourists in Egypt after the pyramids. You’ll see carvings, paintings, and hieroglyphics.

Despite safety concerns, there’s no shortage of sights in and around Egypt.

Safety tips for traveling to Egypt can help alleviate any concerns you feel about the region, and once you’re there, you’ll have a window into another world. 

View-from-water-of-coastline-in-Nuweiba-Sinai-Egypt

What Is the Safest Way to Travel Around Egypt?

Travelers – especially budget-conscious travelers – should think this question through before you plan your entire trip to Egypt.

It’s not often what people want to hear, but safe travel isn’t the cheapest type of travel in Egypt, and the buses that crashed in Egypt in the last decade have spooked tourists about whether or not they can gamble with their lives on vacations.

Here are tips for traveling to Egypt so you can maintain your safety above all else.

Most tourists find themselves on a bus in Egypt at some point.

This isn’t always dangerous – not every bus will crash.

However, it’s nearly always uncomfortable as the bus bumps up and down on poorly maintained roads.

You’ll probably be more than a little uncomfortable, and unfortunately, this style of driving isn’t isolated to bus drivers.

For the best result, do research and select a bus company with a good reputation among Western travelers.

It may be slightly more expensive, but honestly, it’s often worth it.

It’s also smart to always travel with a friend, so you have someone to commiserate with.

If you need to tell the bus driver to slow down (which may or may not be effective) then it’s often more effective to have two people doing that.

If you’re feeling unsafe on a bus, it isn’t recommended to get out and walk at an unknown location.

Remember that Egypt has a harsh desert climate and that can impact you a lot faster than you realize.

Many of these same rules apply to ferries.

Make sure you research ahead of time and don’t get on a ferry that appears overly crowded.

Spending a few extra bucks isn’t the end of the world when safety is involved.

Oh, and when it comes to arriving at the airport, schedule a car with your hotel or accommodation.

This is often better than attempting to arrange transportation at the airport.

Camel-looking-at-the-camera-in-Cairo-Egypt

Understand Local Customs and Social Norms

One of the most important tips for traveling to Egypt, or anywhere for that matter, involves how you should expect to interact with the locals.

Obviously, Egyptians are extremely used to tourists coming to their country, as people have been doing so for thousands of years.

As such, you should be ready and willing to shape your behavior to fit their customs and norms instead of expecting them to fully embrace yours.

Despite all of the very real talk about how you should watch for scams and the like from local hustlers, the fact of the matter is that you’ll find this element in any country you visit.

For the most part, the Egyptian people are extremely kind, polite and genuinely friendly to those who visit the country.

If it’s your first time to Egypt, then you can rest assured that you shouldn’t encounter much in the way of rude treatment.

One of the tips for traveling to Egypt that people have found helpful is that visitors need to get used to what seems like an unending amount of small talk or pleasantries when starting almost any conversation.

People will ask about your family, how you’re doing and any number of other things before getting down to the point of the conversation.

Simply be polite and gently try to steer the conversation towards the point.

Another very important entry on any list of tips for traveling to Egypt is that you need to practice conservative behavior in public.

If you’re traveling with a romantic companion, for instance, understand ahead of time that public displays of affection are frowned upon.

You shouldn’t even hold hands there, as it could draw angry looks and even some comments that won’t be friendly in nature.

Man-leading-a-horse-in-Saqqarah-Egypt

The same holds true for how you dress in general.

One of my top Egypt travel tips relates to what clothing to pack for your journey.

Unless you’re spending the day at a beach resort, do not wear shorts.

This is simply not done in Egypt except in that circumstance.

In addition, your shirts should cover your shoulders, so no tank tops or sleeveless tops.

If you’re invited into someone’s home, be prepared to take off your shoes and, of course, to offer a gift such as sweets.

Finally, one of the more overlooked tips for traveling to Egypt involves the use of your hands.

Yes, this may seem strange to many of us, but basically, the left hand is expected to be used for “dirty” tasks and the right hand for everything else.

Therefore, if you’re eating, use your right hand to put food in your mouth.

If you’re eating out of a communal bowl, do not put your left hand inside of it or you will offend everyone else who’s there.

This all may sound somewhat difficult and complicated, but in reality these are relatively simple rules and norms to follow.

If you follow them successfully, you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of warm greetings and genuine hospitality.

Final Thoughts

Traveling to Egypt is fun and exciting.

You’ll see so many sights you’ve only read about in history books.

These tips for traveling to Egypt are intended to make your journey both easier and safer.

When you’re ready to pack, check out our What to Pack for a Trip to Egypt blog.

It’ll help you understand some of the local customs and culture that can help you look local and have a more immersive experience.

Do you have any additional tips for traveling to Egypt? If you do, comment below!

If you are still feeling overwhelmed, or simply do not have the time to plan your trip to Egypt, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!

EXPLORE THE WORLD WITH US

Sign up below to join the Brillini Travels family. You will be the first to receive travel content to inspire your next trip, delivered straight into your inbox.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.