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Egypt Travel Guide: What you need to know for visiting Egypt

by Catherine Carey | August 7, 2023
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Situated in northeastern Africa, an Egypt trip is a very popular plan for history loving-tourists due to the pyramids, temples, its ancient civilization's legacy and some of the most fantastic beaches in Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh.

But what to do in Egypt? The activities range from visiting ancient Egypt cities, the iconic Great Sphinx and the colossal pyramids of Giza to seeing the stunning Luxor Temple and the Valley of the Kings.

Learn the facts about this country in this Egypt travel guide: flag, geography, traditions of Egypt, climate and weather in Egypt, visa Egypt, gastronomy, main tourist attractions and more! 

Egypt Flag

Egypt flag

The Egypt flag has three horizontal red, white, and black stripes and the golden Eagle of Saladin. It was hoisted on October 4, 1984.

The colors of the flag of Egypt have different meanings: 

  • The red stripe represents the time before the 1952 revolution, which culminated in the declaration of the Republic of Egypt.
  • The white stripe symbolizes the beginning of the revolution and how the victory of the revolution was achieved without shedding blood, marking the end of the monarchy.
  • The black stripe represents the end of British colonialism.
  • The Eagle of Saladin is the Egyptian national emblem, representing the power of Egypt. There you can read "The Arab Republic of Egypt."

Geography of Egypt

map of egypt

What continent is Egypt in? Where is Egypt? The majority of Egypt is in northern Africa and, as you can see in the map of Egypt, it shares its borders with Libya, Sudan, Israel, Palestine, and the Gaza Strip. The small part of Egypt that shares a border with Israel, the Sinai Peninsula crosses the border into Asia.

Egypt has a total area of 1,001,450km2 and a population of 108,147,850, divided into 27 governorates.

Egypt boasts a coastline of almost 2,500 km, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the east.

Southern Egypt's landscape contains low mountains and desert. Northern Egypt has wide valleys near the Nile and desert to the east and west. In the north of Cairo, there is the triangular Nile River Delta which makes it a fertile land completely covered with farms.

One of the most significant landmarks is the Nile, a river that flows from north to south and stretches approximately 1,550 kilometers in length. It is the world's second-longest river and a very attractive tourist spot. We recommend exploring the Nile on a cruise. There are multiple options, offers and packages.

Its geographical location places Egypt in the Eastern European Time (EET) zone: UTC+2 during standard time and UTC+3 during daylight saving time. 

History and Heritage in Egypt

The origin of the Egyptian people is not precisely known. It is believed that the first people to live on the banks of the Nile settled there over 8,000 years ago.They were hunters and fishermen. 

The civilization of ancient Egypt emerged around 3100 BC due to the favorable soil conditions and the vast deserts on both sides of the Nile, which served as a natural barrier against enemies.

Pharaohs ruled in this civilization and were considered living gods. Their tombs and temples are among the greatest treasures left by archaic Egypt. The Egyptian civilization practiced a polytheistic religion, with gods such as Osiris, Isis, Horus, and Seth.

The Egyptian Empire came to an end in 31 BC, just as the Roman Empire under Augustus ended the Ptolemaic dynasty, with Cleopatra being the last queen to occupy the throne of ancient Egypt.

In more recent times, in 1882, the British invaded and occupied Egypt. They wanted to control the Suez Canal to shorten the trip between Asia and Europe. In 1952, Egypt became completely independent from Great Britain. 

Culture and traditions in Egypt

Overall, visiting Egypt is easier thanks to its people: Egyptians are friendly and hospitable. They are very joyful and love to celebrate with their families and friends. The Food at these events is a central piece. 

One of the most significant elements of Egyptian culture is their architecture, and their pyramids are iconic symbols. Functioning as tombs, they allowed the soul of the Pharaoh to embark on its journey to another life. They featured a system of passages and chambers.

Religion has always had a strong influence on Egypt. The ancient polytheistic religion was replaced by Islam, and today the country is predominantly Muslim, with 90% of the population being Muslim. In this sense, dressing appropriately is important:

  • Men can wear regular pants and shirts but should avoid wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts.
  • Women should cover their shoulders and legs up to their knees. They should avoid tight clothing, shorts, and transparent blouses at all times.
  • To enter mosques, men must cover their knees and legs, and women must cover all up to their ankles.

The language in Egypt is Arabic, but a lot of people use one of many Egyptian-Arabic dialects. The plug type used is C and F.

Egypt Gastronomy

Egyptian cuisine reflects the influences of Mediterranean, African, Middle Eastern, and Muslim traditions. Some of the typical dishes of Egypt include:

  • Fuul medames: A dish made from cooked fava beans, often served with olive oil, lemon juice, and various spices.
  • Warak Enab: Stuffed grape leaves filled with a mixture of rice, vegetables, and sometimes meat.
  • Kushari: A popular street food made from a mix of rice, macaroni, lentils, chickpeas, and fried onions, topped with tomato sauce and garlic vinegar.

As for sweets and desserts, some common ones to try on an Egypt trip include:

  • Ruz bi laban: A rice pudding made with milk, rice, and flavored with vanilla or rosewater.
  • Mahallabiye: A milk-based pudding thickened with rice flour and flavored with rosewater or orange blossom water.
  • Baklava: Layers of phyllo pastry filled with nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.

The most common beverages in Egypt are Arabic tea and coffee. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed for Muslims, but tourists can easily find them in certain places.

Kushari

Weather in Egypt

The weather in Egypt is mainly dry, hot and dominated by desert. Generally, it is not cooler than 30 degrees during the daytime in summer. It can also reach 43º C in desert areas during summer. Don’t be fooled, these desert areas can cool down at night. You might need a jacket when temperatures reach 7°C. 

Nevertheless, Egypt is a vast country with diverse climates. The coastline near Alexandria boasts a Mediterranean climate, while the Cairo region is semi-arid. The deep south is characterized by an arid climate.

The best time to go to Egypt is spring because you will avoid big crowds and temperatures are hot but enjoyable. 

An interesting phenomenon that Egypt experiences are the so-called Khamsin: hot wind storms. These carry sand and can increase the temperature by 20ºC in two hours and last for days. 

Egypt currency

The official Egypt currency is the Egyptian pound (EGP). You can find banknotes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 pounds; plus 5, 10, 25 and 50 piastres and coins of 5, 10, 20, 25 and 50 piastres and 1 pound.

When visiting Egypt, you can change currency at the airport, banks, hotels and exchange offices. You can use your credit card in Egypt without problems.

Main tourist attractions in Egypt

Egypt is famous for its thousand wonders to visit. Below, we present the cities, natural attractions, and monuments that you should see when visiting Egypt.

Cities

Cairo

In the capital of Egypt, Cairo, you will get to experience the rhythm of the most inhabited city in Africa and get to see some of Egypt's most important landmarks like the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, the Egyptian Museum (one of the most important archaeological sites in the world) and the pyramids of Saqqara and Memphis.

Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hassan

Luxor

In Luxor you will be able to see the greatest number of treasured monuments in the country: the Luxor Temple, Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the Colossi of Memnon. 

Alexandria

Its name, in honor of its founder, Alexander the Great, is permanently associated with the Library of Alexandria. In 2002, the new Library of Alexandria was inaugurated to commemorate the most important library that ever existed.

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which unfortunately was destroyed by earthquakes centuries after its construction.

Natural attractions

In Egypt, there are marvelous deserts covering 90% of the country, as well as beautiful beaches. Some of the highly recommended beaches are located along the Red Sea. We suggest visiting the cities of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh for snorkeling and diving.

Another beach destination is Giftun Island, which is actually an archipelago of three islands, located near Hurghada. In its marine park, you can find enormous marine biodiversity.

If you are into mountainous landscapes, you should head to the Sinai region to visit Mount Sinai.

Monuments

Pyramids of Giza

These pyramids consist of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, and they have stood for over 4,500 years

Great Sphinx of Giza

The Great Sphinx of Giza is a sculpture with a human head and a lion's body, located next to the Pyramids of Giza. It is believed to have been established around 2,500 BC as part of the burial complex of Khafre.

Temple of Karnak

It is one of the largest temple complexes in Egypt. Its architecture will leave no visitor indifferent.

The Valley of the Kings

In this area of Luxor, you will find the tombs of the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom. Here is the famous tomb of Tutankhamun.

The Temple of Luxor

This famous temple is known for its sphinxes and columns, architectural marvels that are worth a visit.

Great Temple of Abu Simbel

Security in Egypt

Is Egypt safe to visit? The short answer is yes, it is safe to travel to Egypt, according to tourism experts. However, as with most places, you should take some security measures:

  • You should not leave tourist routes.
  • Avoid demonstrations and very busy events.
  • Keep your belongings close to you.
  • Don’t take all your money with you.
  • Agree the price with the taxi drivers at the beginning of the trips.
  • Carry with you every means of sun protection possible (hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.). 
  • Only greet Egyptians with your right hand as the left hand is considered impure.
  • Homosexuality is still a crime in the country. Don’t be overly affectionate in public.

Do I need a visa for Egypt?

Apart from this Egypt travel guide, you should know that, in order to visit Egypt, there are some Egypt entry requirements to follow. Most travelleres are required to apply for an Egypt visa

This is a simple procedure that can be done online with Visagov.com. You will fill in an application form, upload a photograph of your passport and wait for a few days to get the visa in your email. We will handle all the process,  so you don’t have to worry about anything. Please print out a copy of your electronic visa to show it together with your passport.

You can also read more information on how to get a visa for Egypt.