Egypt is often thought of as the land of pyramids, period. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Egypt is home to no less than seven world heritage sites, not to mention its incredible, still preserved history. Travelers should immerse themselves in local culture, explore the wonderful harsh nature and by all means, visit a pyramid or two!
Read on for everything you should know about Egypt.
Dive into our (free) travel guides below!
The Key Info
Travelers can find Egypt in the northeastern corner of Africa and the southwestern corner of Asia. It is 1,001,450 sq. km (386,662 sq. mi) in size, making it the world’s 31st largest country. The Libyan and Western deserts occupy 75% of this total area. As a result, the country has a dry climate with two vegetation zones, desert and desert scrubs.
Egypt shares its borders with several neighbors, including Sudan to the south, Libya to the west, and The Gaza Strip (Israel and Palestine) to the northeast. About 102,334,404 people call Egypt home. 20,900,604 of them live in Egypt’s largest city and capital, Cairo, which is 3,085 square kilometers (1,191 sq. mi) in size. The official language is Arabic, which has many spoken dialects.
Country in Numbers
- Population number: 102,334,404 (Which means 1.31% of the world’s total population lives in the country.)
- Total size of the country: 1,001,450 sq. km (386,662 sq. mi)
- 99% of Egyptians live along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta region. Therefore, they inhabit only 5.5% of the country’s total land area.
- Capital city: Cairo
- Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)
- Language: Arabic.
- Religion: 90% Muslim (predominantly Sunni), 8-10% Christian (predominantly Coptic Orthodox, but Armenian, Greek, and Roman too)
The 5 Largest Cities in Egypt
While you can’t miss seeing Egypt’s ancient ruins, if “local color” is what you want, you will find it in Egypt’s five largest cities:
Cairo – Population: 20,900,604
Cairo is in the northern part of the country sitting neatly on the Nile Delta. Your best bets for sightseeing are the world-famous Egyptian Museum with its King Tutankhamun collection and the Cairo Tower, the tallest structure in Egypt.
Alexandria – Population: 4,546,231
The second largest city in Egypt rests in the north-central section of Egypt. Famous in antiquity for its library and lighthouse, today you can visit Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a re-imagining of Alexandria’s Library, and Pompey’s Pillar, its last standing ancient monument.
Giza – Population: 3,628,062
You’ll find Giza to the southwest of Cairo. Top attractions here include the Giza Necropolis (home of the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx), the Al-Azhar Mosque, and the Saladin Citadel.
Shubra El-Kheima – Population: 1,099,354
Shubra El-Kheima is in the Qalyubia Governorate. Here, you can visit the Palace of Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of modern Egypt.
Port Said – Population: 603,787
A port city in northeastern Egypt, Port Said is both gorgeous and historical. Located along the Suez Canal, you can admire the unique natural and human-made beauty of the area.
Top Tourist Attractions
Whether its Egyptian history or culture, travelers have much to see in the country. Below are the top tourist attractions not to be missed:
Pyramids of Giza
These three pyramids might be the most iconic landmarks ever built. Unfortunately, they are the only wonder left of the “7 Wonders of the Ancient World.”
The Great Sphinx of Giza
Nearby is another top tourist magnet. It’s your chance to experience one of the most popular attractions worldwide — a limestone statue of the mythical Sphinx. Your vacation in Egypt will not be complete without it.
There is no Pharaoh more well-known the world over than King Tutankhamun. You will find him, and other intriguing royal mummies, exhibited at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Other can’t-miss top tourist attractions that must be on your itinerary include Luxor’s Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel Temples, and Mount Sinai, which you’ll know from the story of the Ten Commandments.
Best Time to Travel
Are you wondering when the best time is to travel to Egypt?
While the most popular time to visit Egypt is late November to late February, you may want to avoid the tourist season and its enormous crowds. The good news is Egypt experiences almost no rainfall but plenty of sunshine year-round. You can plan your visit based on what you want to do. For instance, most visitors want to sightsee but wish to avoid the blistering sun.
The best time to visit will be winter, October to February, when the weather is cooler in the Nile Delta region. May to August is summer, which means high temperatures. Plan to frequently rehydrate since Egypt has a dry heat rather than a humid one.
If you want to enjoy outdoor recreational activities like scuba diving and swimming, March, April, and September will provide favourable temperatures to experience the Red Sea.
Holidays in Egypt
While 90% of Egyptians are Muslim, the country celebrates an eclectic calendar of holidays year-round. These are the most important holidays in Egypt:
- Ramadan is the major holiday celebrated by Muslims. There are no fixed days for this month-long observation. If you travel to Egypt during Ramadan, you will find limited sightseeing opportunities and businesses closing early during the day. Taxis are also rarely in service near sundown in observation.
- Leylet en Nuktah is an ancient Egyptian holiday honoring the Nile and is still observed by modern Egyptians on June 17. You’ll spot locals enjoying a picnic near the river.
- Since the other 10% of Egypt’s population is Christian, you’ll find Coptic Christmas celebrated on January 7. While the holiday still marks the birth of Jesus, expect a few differences besides the date. Much like Ramadan, it involves fasting, feasting, and singing.
For a full calendar, visit edarabia.com.
Do I Need a Visa?
Travelers from the EU, the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among other countries, can get a visa for Egypt upon arrival at the Cairo International Airport. You may also get your visa through the Egyptian Government’s official e-visa portal at https://www.visa2egypt.gov.eg. Your single-entry visa is valid for three months from issue and allows the passport holder to travel in the country for 30 days.
When traveling in Egypt, travelers should familiarize themselves with the country’s national currency, the Egyptian pound (EGP). You can further divide the Egyptian pound into smaller currency banknotes known as piastres. One Egyptian pound equals 100 piastres. You may receive piastres in various denominations as both banknotes (200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, 50 piastres, and 25 piastres) or coins (1 EGP and 50, 25, and 10 piastres). Travelers can also use major credit cards, specifically Visa and Mastercard, throughout the country.
DOS and DON’TS in Egypt
First-time visitors to Egypt suffer culture shock upon entering the country. You can avoid plenty of problems and make your trip perfect by following these essential DOS and DON’TS in Egypt.
|Dress appropriately, which, in Egypt, means modestly. You will feel more comfortable blending in with the locals, particularly while visiting religious sites.||Never touch other people, even while talking. Egyptians consider it inappropriate, particularly between members of the opposite sex. Avoid public displays of affection, even among your traveling companions.|
|Have Egyptian currency on you when you travel. While larger hotels, restaurants, and shops will accept credit cards, you might find yourself at a bazaar that only takes cash.||Avoid wearing trainers for desert excursions. They will fill up with sand quickly and slow you down. Wear boots instead.|
|Always ask the taxi driver how much the fare is before getting on.||Never go with locals on the street who offer their services as tour guides. You will be safer traveling with a licensed tour operator. But try to go for a local company, so that your money goes into the community.|
|Learn essential Arabic words like “Hello” (“Say-eeda”) and “Thank you” (“Shok-ran”).||Never touch or sit on monuments at Egypt’s various archaeological sites. Not only is it disrespectful, but you could also damage them.|
|Remember to bargain in shops, bazaars, and taxis. Bargaining is the rule, not the exception in Egypt.||Don’t forget to respect Muslim fasting days. Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public.|
Must-Haves for Your Egypt Packing List!
You’ll want to be well-prepared for a wide range of weather conditions, shopping limitations, and other out of the blue scenarios by knowing the “must-have” items you should pack for your trip to Egypt:
- Weather-appropriate clothes – Egypt is warm year-round, and it rarely rains. You want to bring loose-fitting but conservative clothing to stay physically and socially comfortable.
- Health and hygiene – Bring sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), hand sanitizer, and anti-diarrheal medication. They may not be available everywhere.
- Electronics – Naturally, you’ll want to bring along a camera to capture Egypt’s spectacular sights. Don’t forget to take along a universal travel adapter to charge your camera, mobile, or any other gadget you take.
Secret Tips from Bloggers
Travel bloggers can provide you with useful advice to help you make the most of your trip. Here are some ‘secret’ tips from bloggers:
- Use Uber for all your travel needs in Egypt. The ride-hailing service has pickup locations that travelers can easily spot, says Hiptipico
- Johnny Africa shows how to eat well for the equivalent of $2-$4 per meal by sidestepping Egypt’s tourist areas. You can even buy a complete rotisserie chicken for $5.00.
- Finally, The Intrepid Guide has some vital health tips regarding heat, food, and hydration, so you avoid getting sick during your travels.
TOP 7 Instagrammable Places
- #greatsphinx with 7k posts
- #marsaalam with 312k posts
- #nileriver with 146k posts
- #gizapyramids with 136k posts
- #alazhar with 102k posts
- #abusimbel with 70.2k
- #egyptianmuseum with 50.7k posts
Fun Facts about Egypt
As one of the oldest civilizations around, Egypt has some of the most fun facts to share, like:
- The ancient Egyptians considered cats sacred. They say homes with cats enjoy good fortune.
- Egypt is home to seven official UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Cleopatra is associated with Egypt, but she wasn’t Egyptian. She was Greek.
- Ancient Egyptians invented the 365 days a year calendar to predict the Nile’s annual floods.
- The Egyptian Government must license and monitor residents who have over 5,000 followers on social media under Egypt’s media laws.