Tourism in Egypt is bound by the seasons. While only the hardiest want to troop through temples during the scorching heat of July and August, Egypt’s mild winter brings in flocks of visitors to flop on the beaches, gawk at Giza’s pyramids and cruise the Nile.
A happy medium can be reached by traveling during fall and spring when the press of fellow travelers isn’t as intense at major sites and daytime temperatures hover mostly at manageable levels.
High season (mid-October—February)
Best time for exploring without the sweat
If you’re here to delve into Luxor’s glut of Pharaonic riches, winter brings blue skies and pleasantly warm daytime weather to make long days of rambling around ancient ruins a pleasure rather than a chore.
This is the most popular season to head into the Sinai or the Western Desert for outdoor adventures or bask in the winter sun between learning to dive in South Sinai and along the Red Sea coast.
Be aware, it will get colder than you probably expect during the depths of winter in Cairo and Alexandria (and everywhere else after dark) so you also need to pack something warm.
Since this is peak tourist season, expect high accommodation prices, especially between Christmas and New Year.
Shoulder season (March—May, September—early-October)
Best time to avoid the crowds
Traveling during shoulder season often brings the best of both worlds. Major monuments aren’t as packed and there’s usually an accommodation bargain or two to be had.
Daytime temperatures can still be very hot in May and September so shoulder season travelers sensitive to heat (and families traveling with little ones) would do well to aim for March, April or October.
Note: spring brings occasional dust storms, which can disrupt flights.
Low season (June—August)
Best time to dive in the Red Sea
The weather switches to sweltering as average high temperature hit 108°F (42°C). Luxor’s temples and tombs open at 6am so it’s still possible to beat the heat by being an early bird.
Expect to be greeted with an ironic “Welcome to Alaska!” in Aswan. Unless you’re made of extremely tough stuff, it’s best to skip the Western Desert.
Summer is when serious divers head to Sharm el-Sheikh and the Red Sea coast. They’re willing to take the baking heat on land in return for the payoff of calm, warm sea conditions and fantastic underwater visibility. More casual divers can rest easy giving summer a miss though; Egypt can be dived year-round.
Just to flip the low season rule, summer is the peak domestic-holiday period along the Mediterranean coast as half of Cairo decamps to the beach. Yes, it’s still boiling in Alexandria but at least there’s a breeze.
Can I travel during Ramadan in Egypt?
The dates for Ramadan (the month when Muslims fast during daylight hours) change annually as the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar year.
If you’re traveling during Ramadan, be aware that tourist sites, along with most shops and services, operate shorter hours and many non-tourist orientated restaurants and cafes only open after sunset.
In Egypt, non-Muslims are not expected to observe the fast but visitors should politely show respect for fasters by being discreet – don’t blatantly swig from your water bottle or munch snacks on the street.
Egypt’s Red Sea Coast promises days of diving, kite surfing and desert adventures
January is the best time to head to the beach
Northern Europeans escape gray skies back home by basking on the beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh and the Red Sea coast. There is pleasant daytime weather across most of the country, though in Alexandria and Cairo be prepared for rain.
Key events: Egyptian Marathon, Cairo International Book Fair
February is prime hiking season in Sinai High Mts.
A great month for hitting the Sinai High Mountains and the oases of the Western Desert on outdoor adventures as it’s less chilly after dark.
Key events: Ascension of Ramses II (also called the Sun Festival)
March is sandstorm season
The sand-loaded khamsin wind begins blowing and the resulting sandstorms can disrupt travel, occasionally grounding flights, preventing feluccas from sailing in Aswan and making sightseeing impossible due to low visibility. Add an extra day or two into your itinerary in case plans go awry.
Key events: D-Caf
April is the perfect time for a felucca trip
The khamsin is still an issue but when it isn’t blowing, this is a near-perfect month for Egypt travels. The warmer evenings make it particularly good for overnight felucca trips from Aswan and camping in the White Desert.
Key events: Ramadan, Sham Al Nassim, 3alganoob music festival
May is for budget travelers
Temperatures begin to rise and crowds disperse at the Nile-side temples. There are usually some good package-deals for resorts like Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, El Gouna and Marsa Alam.
Key events: Eid Al Fitr, Moulid of Abu Al Haggag
June is low season
Egyptian schools let out for the summer in late-June and Egyptian families’ bee-line to the beaches of Alexandria and Marsa Matruh. By the end of the month, the heat is in full force, making visiting inland sights an extremely sweaty experience.
Key events: International Cairo Biennale
July is hottest month of the year
If you’re not used to searing temperatures, July and August are the worst time to come to Egypt. But crowds are thin and costs are way down, except on the coast where temps are much cooler. If you do head here in mid-summer though, it’s mango season.
Key events: Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
August is vacation season for Egyptians
August is the peak domestic-tourism month. Expect beach areas, especially along the Mediterranean, to be thronged. Book trains a few days in advance if you can.
September is prime diving season
The weather gets generally bearable for an entire day out and about. Late-September and October are good for combining both on-land and underwater adventures if you're a casual or newbie diver.
October is the ideal time to travel to Egypt
October is one of Egypt’s best travel months. The light along the Nile is at its most soft and clear – great for photography in Luxor and Aswan – while in the Western Desert oases, the date harvest is in full swing.
Key events: Cairo Jazz Festival, Birth of Ramses at Abu Simbel, El Gouna Film Festival, Moulid of Sayyid Al Badawi
November is a good time for camel treks and hiking
Large tour groups flood back into the country; perfect time to high-tail it to the desert for camel treks and hiking. In Cairo, the cooler weather makes November a good bet for long strolls to discover the capital’s madrassas and mosques.
Key events: Cairo International Film Festival, Arab Music Festival
December is for cruising on the Nile
Peak period for Nile cruises so prices rocket. Divers should note that sea conditions can get choppy on boat dives though shore dives are generally fine. Bring wet weather gear for Cairo and Alexandria.
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