Is Egypt Safe to Travel?

Travel

People have been flocking to Egypt to see the pyramids of Giza for over 4,500 years — and seeing as how the Great Pyramid is the only “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” still standing, it’s not hard to see why. 

But there’s so much more to Egypt than just the pyramids. You’d be doing yourself a disservice to not spend some time exploring the country’s cities and historical sites, and getting to know the people.

But you might also be wondering—is a trip to Egypt safe?

Sultan Hassan Mosque, Cairo

Frankly, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses for Egypt, which makes the question of whether or not it’s okay to travel to Egypt a valid one.

There are still a lot of things you should consider and understand before traveling to Egypt. It’s a wild and confusing place, but amazing in equal measure. Let’s have a closer look.

Is it Safe to Travel to Egypt?

Yes, it is safe to travel to Egypt. But like any place, there are precautions you should take.

The issue of safety in Egypt is best understood by taking a deeper look at the last decade or so. Egypt has experienced periods of conflict throughout its very long history. The last period of violence can mainly be traced to the Arab Spring of 2011.

Cairo, Egypt was launched into a revolution in early 2011 which eventually included the whole country. There were months of demonstrations, marches, and strikes. Many of these turned violent (even deadly) due to the strong, oppressive response from security forces.

Eventually, things settled down, but not without issue. Egypt went through a number of presidents and even a brief period of military rule before things truly calmed down.

With all the international news coverage during this period, Egypt quickly earned a reputation as a dangerous place to visit. Tourism, of course, plummeted.

Unfortunately, once a place is labeled unsafe, it’s hard to change that perception on an international scale.

Rooftop of Lotus Guest House, Cairo

Egypt’s countrywide instability of 2011 is long behind it. Today, tourism has once again picked up and is considered secure.

However, there are a couple of regions that are still highly volatile. It’s also fair to mention that Egypt’s safety record has a tendency to ebb and flow. Small attacks have occurred in tourist regions since 2011 and as recently as 2019.

If you are planning on visiting, your best option is to keep an eye on the news and any travel advisories. Learn more about which areas specifically aren’t safe, and just steer clear of those ones.

Is Egypt Safe to Visit Right Now?

Now is actually one of the safest times to visit Egypt. It’s more stable than it has ever been in the past decade!

While terrorism is an ongoing threat in this region of the world, most attacks are carried out against religious minorities, government facilities, or military forces.

As a tourist, your chances of being affected are very low.

Follow official recommendations from Egypt and your home nation. Basically, stay away from major conflict areas in the Western Desert and Northern Sinai. Also, avoid demonstrations and religious festivals.

In the major tourist areas, you will likely feel a sense of heightened security. The Egyptian economy recently suffered quite a bit with the drop in tourism. As such, local authorities have increased their presence and are working hard to make sure nothing happens that might affect tourism rates.

So yes, plan that trip to Egypt.

Travel Insurance in Egypt

No matter where you go in the world, travel insurance is a must. If I’m being totally honest, not getting travel insurance before your trip to Egypt is just plain irresponsible.

As the adage goes, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Specifically for travel to Egypt, insurance can save you from losing out on the whole cost of your trip. It’s secure there today, but with the volatility of the region, that might not be true tomorrow. If the situation changes overnight, travel insurance will usually cover the cost of your lost flight, tours, hotels, and more.

Once you get to Egypt, travel insurance will protect you against pretty much everything else, like illness, accidents, and pickpockets.

Last but not least, insurance is a good idea if you plan on taking a taxi or bus pretty much anywhere. Egypt has some of the worst roads and some of the highest rates of car accidents in the world.

(And on that note, please watch out when crossing the road. Egypt’s traffic is notoriously crazy.)

As for which travel insurance company to choose, I recommend a policy from World Nomads. It’s affordable, easy and quick to purchase, and will cover you throughout your trip. You most likely won’t need it for your travel to Egypt but it’s always a smart idea to have insurance, just in case!

Get a quote for your trip by filling out the form below or click here for my full review of World Nomads.

Egypt Safety Travel Tips by City

Egypt is a large nation, spanning from the Western Desert to the Red Sea. When it comes to how safe the country is, it really depends on which region you are talking about.

To help, here are some safety travel tips broken down by city and region.

Cairo

As the biggest city in Egypt and home the Great Pyramids of Giza, Cairo has its own set of safety issues. Here are a couple of tips you’ll want to keep in mind particularly when visiting this city.

Avoid demonstrations. As the capital, this city has many political demonstrations and they are seen as prime targets for terrorists. Female travelers should also avoid them as sexual assault in large demonstrations is a major risk.

Watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers. Violent crime is actually very rare here, but petty crime like pickpocketing has seen an increase in recent years, especially in the capital (and specifically on the city’s metro). Carry a decoy wallet and the majority of your spending money in your shoe.

Cairo is also where you’re most likely to run into a travel scam. While there are plenty of helpful, honest people out there, the best travel advice on Egypt might be to just say “no thank you.” This includes saying no to anyone offering to “help” you, avoiding taking any “gifts” from market vendors, and always knowing the approximate taxi fare for where you are going before getting into a taxi.

Cairo Crowds

Alexandria

Another one of the major cities, Alexandria has some of the same issues as other urban areas.

Petty crime is considered a problem and mainly an issue in the busy markets or at tourist sites. Demonstrations and marches that start in the capital will often spill over to Alexandria. Avoid them here as well. Scams are a little less common than in Cairo, mostly due to the slightly lower tourism numbers, but they’re worth watching out for.

Overall, you’ll probably find that Alexandria feels calmer and safer than the capital. Alexandria is like Cairo’s little sister.

Luxor

Southern Egypt is a popular destination for travelers with its many important temples and tombs. Luxor is at the core of the action and a lot of the city revolves around the tourism industry. 

Unsurprisingly, this makes it a hotspot for aggressive salesmen and, to a lesser extent, scams.

If you go into the city with the right mindset, you’ll be fine. Try to appreciate the entrepreneurship and salesmanship of the people.

Guards at the temples will offer to “show you around” and then demand a tip. Shopowners will give you gifts then act incredibly offended if you don’t buy something from them. Assume the price you are given, whether for a boat ride or a souvenir, is way overpriced and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Luxor Temple

Aswan

The small city of Aswan is overall considered secure and has a very authentically Egyptian vibe. There aren’t quite as many tourists here as in Luxor but tourist scams are still somewhat of an issue. The city is also very conservative, which visitors should keep in mind.

The biggest concerns in Aswan are probably for women traveling solo. As a conservative city, women are expected to cover up more and it’s not recommended to walk alone. You will also probably face more unwanted attention and street harassment as a foreign woman.

Sunset on the Nile in Aswan

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel is a very popular day trip from Aswan. Visitors come to see the famous Abu Simbel temple complex which is almost as iconic as the Great Pyramids of Giza. Abu Simbel itself is a very small village and is quite safe.

The road between Abu Simbel and Aswan has faced safety issues in the past. It was once highly recommended that visitors only make the trip as part of a daily convoy of tourist buses or with a tour operator and police escort. Today, things are much more relaxed, and there are a number of military and police checkpoints along the route.

Aswan from above

Northern Sinai Peninsula

I don’t have any travel tips for the Northern Sinai Peninsula other than don’t go. This, along with the Western Desert, is by far one of the most dangerous areas of Egypt. 

Terrorism is a huge problem. Authorities have set a curfew for parts of the region and have declared a state of emergency. While most of the violence and attacks are aimed at government forces, a foreign tourist traveling in this region is a prime target for violence.

That said, Southern Sinai is totally safe and specifically in the Sharm el-Sheikh perimeter barrier.

Sharm El-Sheikh

The Red Sea is said to offer some of the best scuba diving in the world. At the heart of the Red Sea diving world is the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh. Although located in the Sinai region, Sharm el Sheikh is a very protected zone and is relatively secure.

Because of its popularity with tourists, Egypt has invested a lot of money in keeping this area of the Sinai region protected. This includes extra air travel restrictions and safety measures after a major attack on a Russian plane a few years ago.

All that being said, it sits right in a major “hot zone” for terrorism. If you plan on visiting, it’s best to keep an eye on the news. Don’t hesitate rerouting your trip somewhere else if things seem to be getting dicey.

Dahab

Another very popular Red Sea resort town is Dahab. Also located in South Sinai, Dahab technically falls in the “don’t travel” area of Sinai. The government hasn’t fortified the town quite as much as Sharm el-Sheikh.

Dahab hasn’t had any issues or attacks since 2006. It’s overall a very laid-back and relaxed beach town with little crime.

Waves crash on the shores of Dahab

Is Egypt Safe to Travel Alone?

Yes, Egypt is safe to travel solo — but let’s break down some issues you might want to think about if you are considering traveling alone.

Overall, petty crime is very uncommon. Walking alone won’t be much of a risk for men traveling solo. The chances of being mugged, even if walking alone at night, are very low. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.

If you do run into trouble, Egyptians, as a whole, are extremely friendly and helpful. They want tourists to enjoy their homeland, and understand the value of a solid tourism industry. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.  

Women traveling alone, on the other hand, will often face a much different reality. But I’ll discuss that a bit more in a section below.

The last suggestion I’d make to solo travelers is to not blow-off every tour company or group travel type experience. Solo travelers are usually less likely to enjoy the large tour bus type experience, but if there was ever a place in the world to hire a tour operator or tag along for a day tour, it would be Egypt.

By booking a day tour, you can go from wandering around a dusty old temple alone to being transported through history. Throughout my trip, the local guides were incredible and full of historic knowledge. Plus, booking tours is a great way to meet other travelers.

On the other hand, it could be argued that traveling alone might actually be safer. Specifically, I’m referring to terrorist attacks; on the rare occasion that they do occur, they tend to target large tour groups and tour buses. 

I want to stress the fact that a terrorist attack is still highly unlikely and something you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about. If you can’t shake that anxiety, however, hire a private guide or stick to small group tours.

Is Egypt Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Yes — I know plenty of women who’ve traveled safely to Egypt solo. But I also know that many women have fully appreciated having a male companion with them on their trip.

This is a very conservative country. While you will see women walking around the larger cities alone quite often, in more rural areas it’s much less common.

As a woman traveling alone in Egypt, be prepared for intense street harassment. Men will cat call you, follow you, and in some cases, try to grope you. Many men here simply see a solo woman as an easy target.

The sad fact is that sexual harassment is rampant. A 2013 United Nations study found that “virtually all Egyptian women have been victims of sexual harassment.” An astonishing 99.3% of the women reported having been sexually harassed.

I don’t want to discourage any women from visiting Egypt. Since that 2013 report, Egypt has very much toughened its laws on sexual assault (including jail time up to five years), and even if your only option is to go alone, I still think it’s worth it. Seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Luxor Temple, and the Valley of the Kings is truly a magical experience.

That being said, here is my advice:

  • If you’re staying in a hostel, make plans with other travelers and always try to have at least a 50/50 ratio of men to women in your group.
  • Join a tour group or day trip. Having a local Egyptian tour operator is a great way to buffer yourself from unwanted attention.
  • And always, always dress as conservatively as you can.

Also, while it’s not the same topic, I wanted to make another point as we are discussing how conservative Egypt is:

LGBTQ+ Travelers Should Be Especially Careful

While Cairo is a bit more open and welcoming to LGBTQ+ travelers, most of Egypt is not.

Public displays of affection, even between married heterosexual couples, is frowned upon. For LGBTQ+ travelers, such signs of affection could prove to be very dangerous.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to hear of harassment and even physical attacks on LGBTQ+ couples.

Is it Safe for Americans in Egypt?

Yes, it is safe for Americans to travel to Egypt. Thankfully, most Egyptians understand that individual tourists don’t represent the whole international policy of the United States. Even if someone in Egypt has particularly strong views on the current US administration, they are unlikely to treat American travelers any differently.

Usually if someone has an issue with a tourist it’s based on them being a “Westerner” rather than an American. Travelers from Australia or the UK are as likely to have an issue as a US citizen. It’s more about the clash of cultures between a conservative Muslim country and more liberal Western countries. 

If you are from the US and planning to visit Egypt, it’s worth keeping an eye on diplomatic relations before you leave. Just check to make sure the US government currently has no extra precautions on visiting the tourist regions of Egypt.

Is the Water Safe to Drink in Egypt?

I don’t recommend drinking tap water in Egypt. Most of Egypt is a vast desert. While the Nile brings water and life to the center of the country, it’s easy to understand how clean water might be an issue in such a predominantly desert country.

Technically, tap water in Cairo is considered drinkable. The water tested leaving the water treatment plant is highly chlorinated but still within international guidelines. The problem is where the tap water reaches you.

The capital has many old buildings and water storage tanks that are not up to standard. Residential water pipes often test high for lead and other contaminants. My recommendation is to stick to bottled water no matter where you are in Egypt.

Outside of the major cities the issue is much clearer. Basically, avoid all tap water. On that note, you should also probably avoid ice in your drinks unless you are ordering at a particularly nice hotel or restaurant.

Bottled water in Egypt is cheap and easy to find. If you want to avoid plastic, consider packing a Lifestraw Go water bottle
for filtering your own water.

Is the Food Safe to Eat in Egypt?

As with Egypt’s issues with clean water, you need to also be careful when it comes to food in Egypt. 

People in Egypt have nicknamed their all too common stomach bug “The Pharaoh’s Revenge” (the Egyptian version of Montezuma’s Revenge). While most of the time people get sick from bad water, food that is washed or cooked in that water is also a good way to pick up a stomach bug. 

To avoid getting sick on your trip, stick to food that is fully cooked or that you can peel. Street food might be delicious but it’s even more important here that you avoid anything not properly cooked.

I did have a few salad type dishes on my trip. These were mostly served as part of the buffet on my Nile Cruise. In this case, I took the risk as it was a nicer boat and full of tourists so I assumed the chefs took extra precautions.

Basically, the nicer the place, the more relaxed you can get about what you order. If staying in a fancy hotel in Cairo, you can probably order anything on the menu and even opt for ice in your drink. With street food in a small town on the Nile, take the opposite approach and be extra cautious.

Are Taxis in Egypt Safe?

Taxis are mostly safe in Egypt, but you need to use good judgment. When it comes to taxis, you mainly have to worry about three things: erratic drivers, getting scammed or getting harassed. 

To start with, we need to talk about how people drive in Egypt. If you think you have seen bad traffic, I can guarantee that Egypt, especially Cairo, will surpass your expectations. In fact, the country has one of the highest rates of vehicle accidents in the world.

I have a clear memory of my first hour in Cairo thanks to an insane freeway experience. I was sitting in a taxi, flying down the freeway towards Giza and looked out the window to see a horse-drawn cart coming towards us — on the wrong side of a major freeway. Our driver seemed to think this was no big deal and just sort of swerved out of the way.

That’s a pretty good description of Cairo traffic. Pure chaos.

Cairo trafficCairo traffic
Traffic is crazy in Cairo!

The next issue when it comes to taxis in Egypt is the honesty of your driver. Meters almost never work, and if you don’t know the approximate fair rate, you will get overcharged. Some taxi drivers are especially aggressive and can get quite vocal to the level of verbal abuse if you question their rate.

Women should take extra precaution when taking a taxi, especially if alone. Never sit in the front seat as this is often seen as a sexual advance. It’s also helpful to have your phone with you and a map of your location to make sure your driver isn’t going off course.

Having said all that, the majority of drivers you’ll encounter in Egypt are honest, hardworking people. You’re more likely to make a new friend than a foe.

If you are in Cairo or Alexandria, consider using a ridesharing app like Uber or the local equivalent, Careem. Most of the smaller Egyptian cities don’t have these options yet, but they can be quite useful and more secure than a taxi off the street.

Is Egypt Safe to Live?

Living in Egypt can be an incredible experience, and it can also be quite safe with the right precautions.

Most foreigners moving to Egypt end up in Cairo. The city has many of the usual problems in urban areas but overall, for a city of its size, crime is quite low. The more wealthy neighborhoods in the city are the safest, including New Cairo, Maadi, and Zamalek.

Something to consider when living in Egypt is the ongoing and changing political climate. While things are relatively calm now, that could change quickly as anyone who was in Egypt in 2011 can attest. If you are planning on living in Egypt, it’s a good idea to keep up with political news and always have a backup plan if you do need to leave in a hurry.

So, is it Dangerous in Egypt?

No, Egypt is not dangerous…for the most part. Labeling a whole country as dangerous or safe is unfair unless you are talking about someplace in a literal war zone. Egypt is far from a war zone.

Looking at a countrywide level, Egypt has a lot of issues. Terrorist groups are still a major concern in the Sinai region.

Breaking things down, much of the country is secure. Petty crime rates are lower here than many places, even in Western Europe. The Egyptian authorities and everyone in the tourism industry are also working hard to protect international visitors.

Is it safe to travel in Egypt? Maybe. But for tourists coming just to visit iconic Egyptian sites like Luxor and Giza, the answer is much closer to “yes.”

Don’t miss out on seeing some of the world’s most incredible ancient wonders just because some people in the world want to demonize a whole country. At the same time, be prepared, use common sense, and go into your trip with open eyes.

You’ll see some incredible things.

Most importantly, protect yourself from potential issues and give yourself some peace of mind by getting travel insurance before you go. Click the button below to get a quote.

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