Egypt Travel Tips

Choosing to visit Egypt independently, without a travel agency or packaged tour, is an adventurous and excellent decision! This choice does mean you’ll need to do some planning, but it’s totally doable—and it’s exactly what I did for my road trip to Egypt. I’m excited to share all the details and experiences from our amazing self-guided journey.

Wondering about transportation, whether to hire a local guide or what you should know before setting off? I’m here to spill everything in this introductory blog post dedicated to Egypt. You’re in the perfect spot for the best Egypt travel tips on planning and prepping for your Egyptian adventure. Let’s jump into my advice for organizing a memorable trip to Egypt!

Formalities for entering Egypt

 Pyramid In Egypt

Let’s start at the beginning: how to enter Egyptian territory? If you are European, an entry visa is required upon your arrival in Egypt. To obtain it, you have two options:

And it’s the second option that I recommend you choose! Indeed, the administrative procedures for obtaining a visa online generate additional costs. And believe me, it won’t save you more time at the airport if you already have your Egypt visa.

So my advice: prepare your 25 USD with you, and buy your visa at the airport.

HOW TO OBTAIN YOUR VISA ON ARRIVAL?

Nothing could be simpler, all you have to do is go to a currency exchange office , a bank, or other store before going through customs (there is no shortage of choice, you will see). The official price is set at 25 USD.

Arriving in Egypt by plane

Egyptian Airplane

The timing of your trip to Egypt plays a crucial role, especially if you’re starting in Luxor. You’ll need to stop in Cairo first, as, to the best of my knowledge, Luxor doesn’t have direct international flights.

A tip for snagging affordable airfare is to use flight comparison tools like Skyscanner. Booking your tickets well in advance is also a smart move since last-minute fares tend to be pricier.

MY OPINION ON EGYPTAIR

BE PREPARED! The airline EgyptAir is unfortunately renowned for its frequent delays.

So I do not particularly recommend it.

When to go to Egypt?

Aswan
Aswan

Discussing Egypt’s inland travel, it’s crucial to distinguish the weather from that of the Red Sea coastal cities. Egypt’s arid climate demands careful planning around travel dates. My visit at the end of May wasn’t ideally timed. Based on my experience, I’d recommend against traveling in late May or early June for three main reasons:

  1. Extreme Heat: Temperatures soared to nearly 45°C, particularly striking at Abu Simbel.
  2. Overcrowding at Sites: The tourist spots were swamped with visitors.
  3. Costly Flights: Airfares spiked during this period.

The scorching heat significantly hindered my sightseeing efforts, with little to no shade in many interior parts of the country. Even finding local transport like Careem (the regional Uber alternative) or taxis was tough midday, as locals tend to stay indoors to escape the heat. To enhance your travel experience, avoiding the end of May and June is best. Autumn and winter months are generally better for exploring Egypt, making excursions more enjoyable.

How long to visit Egypt?

Siwa Oasis
Siwa Oasis

Contrary to what many travelers think, Egypt is a big country. It is sometimes necessary to travel long distances to get from point A to point B (I cover the subject of transport in the “How to get around Egypt” section below). You will therefore have to take these journeys into account during your trip to plan your itinerary.

How long does it take to visit Egypt? It all depends on what you want to see. For my part, I chose to make the most of the country and chose to stay 15 days. And yet, I did not manage to visit everything: I did not go to the Red Sea or Alexandria. But in my opinion, 2 weeks in Egypt will allow you to visit a very large part of the things not to be missed in this beautiful country. I think I would have been frustrated with only 1 week of travel. In 3 weeks, you will be able to appreciate the country in its entirety, and if you have the chance to do it, do it!

Once your travel duration is set, you can build your itinerary. I’ll give you some advice right after to define your itinerary.

Choosing your itinerary for a trip to Egypt

Here are the tips that I applied to build my travel itinerary in Egypt. I first made a list of the must-sees and things to do there and then calculated the distances between the stages.

THE UNMISSABLE THINGS IN EGYPT

Siwa Salt Lake
Siwa Salt Lake

Egypt is a nation with an incredibly rich history, arguably among the richest globally. With such a profound past, Egypt is brimming with must-see sites. Notably, Giza is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Beyond the famous historical monuments and treasures of places like Luxor, Egypt offers much more. I highly recommend taking in the stunning views of the Nile Valley, Lake Nasser, and Nubia, which provide breathtaking panoramas. The contrast of lush riverbanks against the backdrop of the desert and barren mountains is truly remarkable. You’ll find the differences between Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt particularly striking, showcasing the country’s diverse landscapes and rich heritage.

So here’s what you shouldn’t miss:

And here are some activities that you might like from this selection:

Once you’ve chosen your visits, it’s time to build your itinerary!

SOME ITINERARY IDEAS

 Egypt Travel Tips

Here I present some itinerary recommendations for your trip, depending on the duration. Of course, this is only an indication, feel free to modify it as you see fit. It all depends on whether you prefer to enjoy the Red Sea or spend more time in Upper Egypt (South of the country).

DayHighlightsOvernight
Day 1Arrive To CairoCairo
Day 2See the Great Pyramids Of GizaCairo
Day 3Cruise to Luxor TempleLuxor
Day 4Continue Along the Nile to the Valley of the KingsEsna
Day 5Visit Edfu and Kom Ombo TemplesKom Ombo
Day 6Travel to Aswan & See Philae TempleAswan
Day 7Return to Cairo Before Transfer to AlexandriaCairo
Day 8Tour the Catacombs, Roman Amphitheater & National Museum of AlexandriaAlexandria
Day 9Visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Citadel of Qaitbay, and Montaza GardensAlexandria
Day 10Travel Overland to Siwa OasisSiwa
Day 11Explore the Siwan House, Oracle Temple, Cleopatra Bath & Fitnas IslandSiwa
Day 12Go On a Safari Tour & Enjoy a Bedouin DinnerSiwa
Day 13Drive Back to CairoCairo
Day 14Depart Egypt – End of Trip

How to get around Egypt?

A frequently asked question among travelers planning their Egypt trip revolves around how to move from one city to another, focusing on inter-urban transport options available for navigating the country.

RENT A CAR?

 Egypt Travel Tips

Although I usually enjoy renting a car for road trips, I decided against it in Egypt. Renting a car is an option there, and I’ve seen tourists opting for it. However, I quickly realized that driving in Egypt can be extremely chaotic and challenging. Despite my driving experiences in Jordan and Lebanon, I chose to rely on local public transportation instead.

Looking back, I’m quite pleased with my decision not to rent a car in Egypt.

Another factor to consider is the presence of numerous checkpoints on most roads, established to enhance safety. These checkpoints are manned by the military, who may stop vehicles to check identities and purposes of travel. While traveling by bus or train, I didn’t encounter any checks (Siwa being an exception, which I’ll discuss more in a dedicated article about traveling in Siwa). I also heard that if you’re traveling by car from one city to another, you might need to report to the police, though I haven’t confirmed this personally.

TRAVELING BY INTERNAL FLIGHTS

View From Airplane On Egypt

Taking internal flights in Egypt offers a super quick and budget-friendly way to travel, especially popular among those looking to journey from Cairo to Luxor. This route is a favorite for tourists aiming to explore Upper Egypt swiftly, considering it would take around 7 or 8 hours by car. Egyptair is the main airline operating these domestic flights.

For those wanting to visit the Abu Simbel site near the Sudanese border, Egyptair provides flights from Cairo. However, it’s important to note that these flights aren’t available daily, so checking the Egyptair website for the schedule is a must.

Remember, there are also more eco-friendly and slower travel options like buses and trains that you might want to consider.

TRAINS IN EGYPT

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Egyptian train

On my trip to Egypt, I traveled from Luxor to Aswan using the local train service. If you’re considering this mode of transportation, I strongly recommend opting for first-class tickets. It seems that station guides and employees almost invariably urge this choice. The price difference between the two classes isn’t substantial, but first-class is considered to be more “secure,” as we were informed.

It’s wise to purchase your train tickets at least a day before your planned departure. Train capacities can suddenly surge, leading to fully booked scenarios.

Be aware that punctuality isn’t a strong suit of Egyptian trains; they’re often 1 to 2 hours late. This delay stems from a tragic train collision in 2002, which led to a nationwide reduction in train speeds to prevent such accidents. Consequently, trains in Egypt are now significantly slower and frequently halt en route. I experienced this firsthand and reached my destination much later than expected. Patience will be necessary.

BUS AND NIGHT TRAIN TRAVEL IN EGYPT

Bus In Egypt

Because of the very large distances between different points of interest, traveling at night in Egypt has gradually developed. Today, it is possible to use transport such as trains and buses to get around after dark.

I tested both:

What appealed to me with these options was, above all, the time-saving and cost-saving. That’s one less hotel to pay for, and I don’t have to sacrifice a day of my transportation schedule. In both cases, I arrived early in the morning around 8-9 a.m., and travel times were 12 to 14 hours. Well, that’s what I experienced, some other travelers were lucky with the night bus to Siwa, their journey only lasted 9 hours! But I think this is an exception.

For the sleeper night train, we chose the company Abela Train, and I highly recommend booking your tickets at least 1 day in advance. You can go directly to Aswan or Luxor train station to buy them. The ticket costs around 90 USD per adult.

LOCAL UBER: CAREEM

Careem Taxi In Egypt

This was our daily means of transport to move around big cities. Careem is the local Egyptian Uber that allows you to go without having to pay. The advantage? Prices are fixed in advance, so no scams are possible. In addition, we meet locals who are often surprised to have me alone, and – when communication allows it – it is a wonderful means of exchange. So of course you have taxis, but it’s much more expensive!

Be careful, some drivers do not speak English very well. At this point, you can check it when the driver calls you once the trip has been accepted, they do it each time to validate. As a result, I immediately feel on the phone whether communication will be easy or not. And if you have a bad feeling, you can choose another ride on the app.

In short, for me this application really helped me, and I sincerely recommend it. I just warn you that in the low season (June – July – August), it may be more difficult to find drivers in the middle of the day due to the heat.

I was able to use the Careem app in Aswan, Luxor, and Cairo. However, the app did not cover Siwa town.

My health advice

 Egypt Travel Tips

During your trip to Egypt, make sure to hydrate regularly! Believe me, we don’t do it enough. Depending on the time of year, temperatures can be stifling in both the North and the South. And with the many visits in full sun (sometimes you have to seek shade), dehydration can quickly occur and spoil the trip.

Be careful, the water is not drinkable in the vast majority of the country. I therefore recommend that you do not drink tap water. I thought I read that the city of Cairo had healthy water, but honestly, I didn’t risk it. Unfortunately, you will have to favor water bottles… or use a filter bottle.

I do not particularly recommend consuming raw fruits and vegetables, which are usually washed with running water. If you don’t trust Egyptian street food, you can always look at the good addresses recommended on TripAdvisor. However, don’t hesitate to try some specialties like traditional bread, it’s very tasty! I detail what to eat in this beautiful country in the section “What to eat in Egypt?”

Regarding vaccines, the following injections are recommended but not obligatory (WHO recommendations):

Security in Egypt: How To Avoid scams

 Alexandria Egypt Travel Tips
Alexandria

Scams and tourist traps are a global phenomenon, with local businesses often targeting tourists’ lack of knowledge about prices and customs. It’s primarily our lapse in judgment that gets us into these situations. Egypt, known for its rich history and monumental sights, is no exception. The persistence and cunning of Egyptian touts can turn off many visitors, especially those who grow weary of endless haggling and the barrage of offers for seemingly worthless items.

However, recognizing common scams in advance can save you both money and frustration, and enjoying your visit more!

Do you need to travel with a guide?

Esna
Esna

Apart from safety, I would like to remind you that it is not obligatory to travel with a guide in Egypt. It’s certainly more pleasant and easier to organize, but you can also travel around the country or visit temples on your own! To tell you the truth,I only had guide for a few days, but most of the time I wandered alone. I appreciated these moments because I could get off the beaten track, which unfortunately many cannot do because of the organized tours or cruises.

I will still say that it is strongly recommended to use a guide for certain visits, such as:

Please note that you do not have to book a complete trip with a guide, you can choose just a few stages (which was my case). I had 1 guide for 1 day in Luxor and 1 day in Aswan. But for Abu Simbel and Siwa, they were other separate guides.

However, I can sincerely recommend my different guides to you if you are looking for people you can trust. If this interests you, do not hesitate to contact:

What to eat and drink in Egypt ?

Egyptian Tea
Egyptian tea

I can assure you that Egyptian cuisine is absolutely delicious. It reminds me a lot of Lebanese and Jordanian cuisine on certain points.

Here I list some local specialties not to be missed:

Let’s also talk about a real institution: Egyptian tea ! It is also an obligatory part of Egyptian hospitality. I loved receiving it every time I was invited somewhere and it is invigorating. You can ask for an “Egyptian tea” which is sometimes flavored with mint, or even a hibiscus tea, which is also very appreciated by the Egyptians.

Where to stay in Egypt?

When choosing my accommodation, I favored booking on Booking.com because the offer on Airbnb seemed a little limited to me. In addition, we had booked a little late… but you never know, maybe the offer will be more extensive for your departure, don’t hesitate to take a look.

Booking.com