Before going on a holiday to Egypt, it is wise to closely read the travel tips on this page. This way, you won’t get surprised by the time difference or the climate in Egypt, you will know what the best time to visit Egypt is, and where your holiday destination is on the map. The local currency is Egyptian pounds. Below, you can also read about paying for things in Egypt and how to best avoid high transaction fees during your holiday.
Egypt is a country with a rich history; just think of the stories about Cleopatra alone. But Egypt is more than a desert with a river and some pyramids. The country has a surface area of over a million square kilometers, and when including the surrounding suburban sprawl, Cairo has the largest urban area on the African continent. Are you going on a holiday to Egypt? Get up to speed through this page to get a good picture of one of the most beautiful countries of the African continent. Properly prepare for your trip with the information on this page, and don’t forget to arrange your visa on time.
Facts and numbers
|Capital||Cairo (16 million inhabitants)|
|Religion||Islam (90%), Christianity (10%)|
|Currency||Egyptian pounds (EGP)|
|Time difference||From London: 1 hour (summer) or 2 hours (winter) / From central Europe: None (summer) or 1 hour (winter)|
|Flight time||4 to 7 hours|
|Travel adapter||From UK and Ireland: Required / From central Europe: Not required|
|Tap water||Not safe to drink|
|Visa||A visa is required|
|Safety||Read the Egypt travel advisory|
When you look at the map of Egypt, it clearly shows that the country is on the border between the African and Asian continents. The largest part, through which the Nile flows, is part of Africa. The northeastern part of the country, named Sinai, is in Asia. The border between these two continents lies at the Suez channel. Sinai is a popular destination in Egypt, especially for tourists that can appreciate the resorts in Sharm-el-Sheikh. Most inhabitants, however, live in the African part, in and around the capital Cairo. Like most cities in the country, Cairo lies on the bank of the Nile. The Nile is the lifeline of the country, being about 6000 kilometres long. The river originates in Rwanda and Burundi, and flows through Lake Victoria in Tanzania and Uganda through South-Sudan, Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean, north of Egypt.
A visit to Egypt’s pyramids is a must for many tourists visiting Egypt for their holiday. The most famous and popular pyramids are near Cairo. These include the pyramids of Giza. Giza is a suburb in Cairo and its pyramids belong to the oldest constructs of mankind. The pyramids of Cheops, Khefren and Mykerinos are part of this. The Sphinx, one of the seven World Wonders, can also be found here. Another tourist attraction is Luxor; a city of about half a million inhabitants, situated at the Nile, halfway at the part of the river that flows through Egypt. A popular way to explore Luxor is by making a cruise across the Nile.
Resorts and diving spots in Egypt
Aside from the buildings from antiquity, resorts are also a popular destination in Egypt. The most famous resorts are in the Asian part of Egypt; Sharm-el-Sheikh and Dahab. The African side has various popular resorts of its own, along the Red Sea. These include Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Safaga and Soma Bay. On top of being places for relaxation, the resorts are also a great staging ground for more active holidays. The most beautiful diving spots in the world can be visited from the resorts around the Red Sea. The largest part of Egypt on the map is rarely visited by tourists. This is because this is mostly made up of desert, and the travel advisory for Egypt discourages visiting large parts of the country.
The Sphinx, one of the oldest and well-known Egyptian constructs
Egypt was one of the first civilizations on earth. It originated about 5300 years ago along the Nile and has held strong for about 3000 years. The creation of this civilization was in part due to the emergence of the Sahara; as the land dried up, people starting moving closer to the Nile. The fertile ground made it an ideal place for an economy based around agriculture to arise. Egypt was controlled by pharaohs. The first pyramid was built around 4500 years ago.
Most tourists that go on a holiday to Egypt use the following airports, where layovers are often required:
- Cairo (CAI)
- Sharm-el-Sheikh (SSH)
- Luxor (LXR)
- Hurghada International (HRG)
- Marsa Alam (RMF)
- Alexandria (ALY)
- Aswan (ASWE)
Climate and optimal travel period
About 96% of Egypt is made up of desert. It is thus no surprise that Egypt has a desert climate. That it can get warm should be no surprise, but also keep in mind that it can get quite cold in the evening and at night. A warm sweater or vest might come in handy. The difference between the hottest and coldest moment of the day can be as much as twenty degrees Celsius. In Cairo and around the resorts at the Red Sea, these differences are smaller; the average difference in temperature in a single day is around 11 to 15 degrees. The hottest months are April to October, during the day it can reach over thirty degrees Celsius. It rarely rains in Egypt, at most 20 days a year. Most of the rain falls in the north, near the Mediterranean. The further south you go, the less rain you will encounter. Around Cairo, as much rain can fall on a yearly basis as during a single rainy day in the UK. South of Cairo, the climate is even more dry. Tourists won’t need to worry about rainfall.
Desert climate in Egypt: get the right clothing
Like the UK, Egypt is in the Northern Hemisphere. This means that summer falls during the same period. The hottest months are from April to October, it can reach over thirty degrees Celsius during the day. During the summer months, temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius in the shade are not a rarity. Many travellers go on their holiday during the summer, but Egypt is also becoming increasingly popular during the winter. The winter sun still brings temperatures of 21 to 27 degrees during the day. Because it can cool down to 15 degrees Celsius during the evening, it is wise to bring appropriate clothing. Due to the strong sun, it is highly recommended to use sunscreen and to wear light, long-sleeved clothing. Bringing sunglasses and a hat is also strongly advised.
During April especially, a very warm wind is a frequent phenomenon. This wind often brings desert sand, which can irritate people with sensitive skin or contact lenses. In case of a rising desert wind, the temperature in Egypt can rise as much as twenty degrees in a few hours.
Optimal travel time for holidays to Egypt
It is wise to read up on the climate of Egypt to find out what the best time to travel to Egypt is. The best travel time can be hard to pinpoint on a calendar (incidentally also an Egyptian invention). More and more tourists are going to Egypt outside of the summer months. This makes an Egypt an ideal holiday destination. Despite the fact that summer in Egypt falls during the same months as in Europe, visiting during winter can be a very pleasant experience. The optimal travel period to go to Egypt would thus be from September to March. As the weather is nice throughout the year and the country does not have a rainy season, one can also say that anytime of year is the best time to travel to Egypt.
Currency: paying with the Egyptian pound
In Egypt, people pay with the Egyptian pound. One euro translates to about twenty Egyptian pounds. Similarly, one British pound can also get you around twenty Egyptian pounds. The exchange rate is currently very favourable for people with bank accounts in euros or British pounds. This means that hotels and restaurants are very affordable. Going out for dinner is already very affordable. An average dinner will cost the equivalent of about three to five euros or pound sterling.
Pay with debit card or credit card?
In Egypt, you can pay in various way. Debit cards issued by European countries are accepted virtually everywhere. The number of ATM’s is limited, however. It’s generally cheaper to pay with a debit card (bank card) than with a credit card. But usage of a debit card often comes with fees of its own, in the form of transaction costs for each payment. The cheapest way to pay is therefore to withdraw cash money and pay with that during the holiday in Egypt. Using exchange rates is often very expensive, both before departure as well in Egypt. It is therefore wise to withdraw enough money right after arriving to last a few days.
Unblock card before leaving for Egypt?
Both credit cards as well as debit cards are often secured against misuse. For instance, they are instantly blocked if someone uses them in a foreign country, if the bank does not expect this. You should therefore inform your bank that you are going on a holiday to Egypt and plan to use your card for payments or withdrawals there.
A mosque in Cairo, the capital of Egypt
Internet, wifi, and calling during holiday in Egypt
Most tourists like to use their holiday to completely relax, but they would still like to be reachable. There are three ways to easily stay reachable in Egypt.
|Use European simcard||Easy||Very expensive|
|Buy local simcard||Cheapest option||Other phone number|
|Arrange Wifi in advance||Simple||No phone (cellular service)|
It is not recommended to use European simcards in Egypt. The rates charged can be very high. At the airport in Egypt, you can buy cheap prepaid simcards. Keep in mind that it might not always be easy to recharge your call credit during a holiday. A third possibility is renting a MiFi, which is a portable Wifi-hotspot unit with a built-in simcard. These can be rented for holidays to Egypt, with rates that are often far cheaper than using regular European simcards. Furthermore, with a single MiFi unit, internet can be generated for multiple travellers. However, calling can only be done through Skype and other online protocols.
Egypt refers to their time zone as Egypt Standard Time (EGY), which is the equivalent of Eastern European Time. This means that in Egypt, it is 2 hours later than in the UK. As Egypt does not observe daylight saving time, this difference becomes 1 hour during summer.
Apply for Egypt visa
Egypt requires a visa to travel to; each traveller needs to be able to present a visa on arrival to make it past the passport check. It is relatively simple to acquire the Egypt visa, this can be done through the application procedure.
Apply for an Egypt visa
Safety and health in Egypt
For a safe holiday, it is recommended to closely read the travel advisory for Egypt. This also contains several health tips to avoid the chance of illnesses as much as possible