Is It Safe To Visit Egypt Right Now?

What now makes Egypt one of the best travel deals in the world at the moment might also be keeping you from visiting the Middle East’s most popular travel destination. Months after Egypt’s January 25th revolution, the country’s travel slate has been wiped clean and at the surface has begun to return to normal.

january 25th egyptian revolution

Demonstrating and democracy-building aren’t the sort of activities most tourists travel for and by-in-large if you avoid the occasional local flare up traveling in Egypt isn’t any more dangerous than it was in early January.

cairo ministry of internal affairsWhat It’s Like Now In Egypt

Having spent the past few weeks in Egypt, the most common question I was asked wasn’t about the Pyramids but rather if it was safe to travel there. In Cairo, aside from the remnants of the burned out Ministry of Internal Affairs building and the now routine Friday afternoon demonstrations in Tahrir Square, you’ll find the Egyptian variety of normal going on.

  • That normal is the inconsistent variety – a common theme in Egyptian culture.

You’ll witness in remarkably chaotic traffic with incredibly skilled drivers, insincere but slick touts, and a strong sense of community across classes and ethnic groups. Egypt is chaotic but not in a state of chaos.

You don’t really begin to notice the effects of the January 25th revolution until you talk to Egyptians. From them you’ll learn there is a general state of uncertainty that masks a potential instability; one that most travelers will be oblivious to during their stay in Egypt.

Localized Incidents You Can Easily Avoid

Probably the most important element to understand about Egypt, post-revolution, is that the entire nation is not currently in a state of uprising. There isn’t anarchy on the streets and daily life goes on routinely. Two recent clashes in Cairo’s Imbaba and Ain Shams districts were at times and specific places that a traveler would have to go out of their way to get mixed up in.

  • Avoid large demonstrations outside of religious sites or government buildings and stick to pharaohs and feluccas.

egypt nile at night

That’s basically the state of travel security in Egypt at the moment, you’ve got to go out of your way to get yourself caught up in major trouble.

Major Objectives Accomplished

With Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarek now resigned, the major point of mass protests makes another national uprising unlikely in the near term (before the upcoming September elections). Still, there are loud but peaceful demonstrations of all size and subject popping up frequently in peculiar places like crowded metro stations. All the result of a new found and rather unfocused democratic freedom, these visual clues are the few you’ll witness from the January 25th revolution.

islamic cairo streets

I walked the Cairo’s busy streets at all hours, strolled around Tahrir Sqaure countless times, and drove past heavily armed soldiers outside of a courthouse keeping guard during a controversial trial. When I went to take a picture of them, all I saw were smiles for the spectacle a lone traveler in Egypt has become these days.

Ironically enough, while many think it’s a terrible time to visit Egypt, it’s one of the best. In the coming days I’ll be writing about catching Egypt at it’s best and making the most out of a rare travel window of opportunity.

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  1. Barbara Weibel says:

    Anil: Egypt has long been on my list of places I must visit and since I have to take budget into consideration it seems like this might be a great time to go. But would your opinion of safety differ for a solo female traver? You know I’m pretty fearless so I’m mostly curious about the restrictions I might encounter as a female traveling in a Muslim country Though I know Egyptian Islam is not fundamentalist I wonder whether I would be required to cover my headmor wear a jellaba.

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    • Giulia says:

      Hey Barbara, I was a solo female traveler in Egypt for many months (until 3 weeks ago, *sigh*), and if you want to go don’t worry, you’ll be fine! You don’t have to cover your head, just wear decently (shoulders and lower legs covered if possible, but it’s not forbidden to wear differently… it’s just a matter of blending in and not catch unwanted attention!).

      Egypt is beautiful… Go for it!!! :)

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      • Anil P. says:

        Hi Barbara, I would second everything Giulia said; you don’t need to cover your head (only when visiting a mosque) but aside from that general decent attire will help discourage unwanted attention.

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    • The jellaba is the garment that men wear in Morocco. Lots of different dress in Egypt from Western dress to the chador, veil, etc. Think conservative, especially outside of urban areas — long sleeves, long skirts/pants, a scarf for visiting religious sites. Personally, I would wait awhile to visit, but this is a good time as far as the budget is concerned.

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  2. Stephen S. says:

    Hey Anil, my first stop of new set of travels is in Egypt and I always get asked if I think it is “safe” or people get asked if I have lost my mind. So I am actually writing a post right now about why I think Egypt is safe and why I have no fear to travel there. You make some great points my friend. Would you mind if in my post I link to your post?

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  3. Mina Sameh says:

    “Egypt is chaotic but not in a state of chaos.”
    My favourite sentence in the post:D

    “All the result of a new found and rather unfocused democratic freedom, these visual clues are the few you’ll witness from the January 25th revolution.”
    The best quote I heard about this subject was by a taxi driver: Egyptians have bought freedom and democracy but they were too lazy to read the users’ manual.

    ” When I went to take a picture of them, all I saw were smiles for the spectacle a lone traveler in Egypt has become these days.”
    I WAS THERE HAHA:D Goodday! :)

    and glad to read finally read ur views about Egypt…waiting for more (about alex ;) :)

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    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Mina,

      You had a very insightful taxi driver it seems! I remember those soldiers and the drive around the courthouse chaos – but chaos is something Egypt does well :)

      Lots of things to write about in the coming weeks from Egypt and Alexandria too!

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  4. Lindsey says:

    I know I won’t be traveling to Egypt but in April of 2013 I’ll be going to Greece. Is it safe to travel to Greece with what is going on in Egypt?? Our layover is in Turkey. Is Turkey ok???

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    • Anil P. says:

      Absolutely, Greece and Turkey have nothing to do with the protests in Egypt. Even in Egypt, the protests have generally been isolated so likely wouldn’t interfere with your travels there if were going.

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  5. dee rush says:

    Is anyone visiting Cairo right now in the mist of the riots outside the US embassy? We are planning a cruise down the Nile in December 2012 and would like to know if all the violence is only around the embassy for the media show or do you feel unsafe in the even the tourist places

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  6. Thanks Anil and Guilia! We get people asking all the time if it’s a good idea yet to return to Cairo. Now I can tell them with authority.

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    • Anil P. says:

      It’s a wonderful time – both safe and affordable!

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      • Giulia says:

        It is safe and affordable – but I still find flights are too expensive! They should reduce airfares to encourage people to come, imho. *Bringing grist to my mill* – I’m broke but I want to go back!!!

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  7. Giulia says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Anil!

    I just want to add something: I know it doesn’t make it look any better, but clashes between Christians and Muslims (like the Imbaba facts) are no news in Egypt and have nothing to do with the Revolution – see blown up Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve… before the Revolution even started!

    So the Revolution per se didn’t make Egypt unsafe for travelers, and medias are just not being fair.!

    It’s actually interesting to be in Egypt now to talk to people now, and listen to their experiences in the protests.
    This obviously happens in few cities like Cairo, Alexandria, Ismaliya, Suez… because basically the Revolution didn’t take place anywhere else!

    Can’t wait for your next posts about Egypt. :)

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    • Anil P. says:

      I agree the media coverage is very bias – I mean, right now in Germany there is a major food panic/contamination problem but I’m sure it’s not being used to scare tourists away from Berlin ;)

      Talking about the revolution, politics, and Egypt’s future was probably what sticks out in my mind from Egypt the most. I was surprised at how open people were to talk about it and how consistent many of the opinions were. A very interesting time to be in Egypt indeed.

      Many more to come from Egypt, and of course reading your posts as well!

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  8. anil sharma says:

    Hi i m visiting Cairo , Hurgada , Luxor , Frafra , on 20th Dec 2012 ,
    How safe it is travelling with wife .

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    • Anil P. says:

      Sorry for the late reply, I was away on vacation. How did your trip end up going?

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      • anil sharma says:

        Our trip was Fantastic .. And fortunately all the Hotels was really very nice we stayed in , people were very nice though you have to Bargain a lot when u buy something , like our Cab driver was asking 2000 pound to go go Cairo – Farafra , but we end up paying him 700.
        everywhere in Egypt you need to bargain a lot , and you can ask for any help to anyone just paying little bribe , we paid little bribe to police people and cud manage to see Karnak Temples in Luxor , even after its closing time .
        So its just an art to know how to Bargain .
        Safety part is no problem for Tourist at all .
        Farafra was the best place in whole Egypt , that is something miracle of Nature .

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        • Anil P. says:

          I’m really happy to hear the trip went well and hope that you have a happy New Year. Thanks for sharing your travel experiences with us!

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  9. Dave says:

    HI,

    I am reading all these high travel warnings against Egypt from different countries governments. i really do want to go though and have tickets booked for December. i am aware that the media does portray the worst of any situation but I was also speaking with an Egyptian the other day and he said very very firmly to cancel any trip there in the near future. i am planning on backpacking around myself solo-so wont really have the added safety of being on a tour I guess- unless i can book cheap tours form Cairo myself? Is this possible? What are your thoughts on the advice i received from the Egyptian guy and the other government warnings?
    Many thanks for the forum,

    Kind Regards,
    Dave

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    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Dave,

      The situation isn’t quite stable but at the moment what will happen in December isn’t very clear. I’d hold on to your travel plans, the disruptions aren’t things you’re likely to encounter. As for cheap tours you can find them – but booking within Cairo is going to take some doing. Lots of options, bargaining, and a fair share of bad deals. Honestly, if you’re comfortable traveling solo, you’ll be fine without a tour.

      Hope this helps a bit but let me know if you have any questions.

      Thanks,
      -Anil

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  10. Chriscr says:

    Hi, I was in Cairo in October (before the most recent clashes). We never felt threatened or unsfe at any time except when trying to cross the road! The traffic system is utter chaos but I must say I think Egyptian drivers know the size of their vehicles down to the last centimetre as they can squeeze through what look like impossible gaps. Everyone was friendly and all the time we heard the phrases “Welcome to Egypt” and “thank you for coming”. The tourist industry is really struggling as there are so few people making the trip now however it is a great time to visit. Can you imagine that I have photos of the Giza pyramids without tourist in sight? On the down side, there have been no rubbish collections for months due to the company responsible for this going bust and the locals are trying to do their best to clean up but obviously this can be a bit haphazard. We had travelled for over 2 weeks in Jordan and Egypt but it took Cairo to have us fighting over the loo and unable to leave the room! Go now while it’s quiet and relax after the madness of Cairo and visit the Red Sea.

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  11. art selikoff says:

    Anil:

    Any suggestion for a good school in Cairo to learn Egytian colloquial Arabic?

    Also, thinking about Syria; any suggestion for a good school in Damascus to learn Levantine Arabic?

    Many thanks,

    Art Selikoff
    Zhuhai, China.

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    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Art,

      I wouldn’t be able to help you since I didn’t attend or inquire about any. I can though post your question to my Twitter account and see if anyone has some good recommendations for you.

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  12. Shane says:

    Glad to see yourself and other writers encouraging travellers to return to Egypt.

    I instantly fell for Egypt when we first visited there five years ago. Though the place at times drove me into an infuriated John Cleese car whipping style rage I’ve never laughed or enjoyed myself so much anywhere else. After introducing us to some of the shared cultural values and food, the country played no small part in encouraging us to consider buying a home in Turkey.

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    • Anil P. says:

      Egypt is an intense series of widely varying contrasts – or something like that :) Some moments were genuinely frustrating but I quickly fell for the place and people as well. Interesting to hear it was one of the reasons behind you ending up in Turkey.

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  13. Karim says:

    the basic sites in Cairo will be pyramids, memphis, sakkara, citadel, musiem, and khan el khalili these places are perfectly safe especially.

    There are also places that even us (the Egyptians) love to visit like:
    wekalet el ghouri, Mohamed Ali Pasha Palace, Amr Ibn El As Mosque, the hanging church, Ben Ezra Synagogue, and of course Tahrir sq.

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  14. Dean says:

    Great info. I was wondering if traveling there would be interesting at the moment, with the lack of tourists which would make prices cheaper as well. Have an awesome trip! I’m jealous.

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  15. Deniz says:

    Until I can go to Egypt myself, I’ll be living vicariously through you. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much…it just makes me want to go there even more! :))

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    • Mr.Egypt says:

      its good thing .. but can you please tell me where exactly did you go in Egypt ??

      Email me please at [email edited out]

      Thanks. Best Wishes for you ….

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    • Anil P. says:

      It’s easy for me to sound like a walking cliche sometimes but Egypt really caught me off guard. The people are incredibly warm and friendly; it’s hard not to bond with the place. I’m sure you’ll get there sooner than later…and if you do I’ll come visit!

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  16. i hope you contact with me and know the more about me … what ever you want to ask me , don`t worry just try it, and i`ll try to answer you if i know the correct answer.

    any way i want to know more friends more people and share together new information and, and …… many things any way i know alot about Egypt especially the Architecture things any way thanks.. all what ever you are for reading this Message.. Enjoy your Time. Best Wishes

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  17. Dan says:

    I can’t wait to go back to Egypt. Got two trips booked for later this year to go diving.

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  18. Mr.Egypt*** says:

    i have many thing to say . I am Egyptian and guys there is many places you have to visit in Egypt many many . i have 20 years old and every holiday i go to another place that i didn’t go before ,, i am in Architecture Academy i `ll be Architecture and there is a lot of things that you `ll be surprised when you see it ,,,, but let me tell you the truth .

    as there is many Wonderful ! things in Egypt there is things not nice to as in place in the World ,, Sorry for this English but any way,, i want you to be positive person so you can enjoy more but don`t worry at all it is very safe very nice and i guess you have to visit it our Winter it `ll be much better for many reason, any way if you want to talk to me or E-mail me you can send to me on [email edited out] it`ll be very nice to talk with you .. even if you`ll come to Egypt to cairo we can be friends to,, thanks every body for reading this Message.

    Enjoy your Time , your Trips , and always be Positive.

    Hey.. about the Moslims people and more i am telling you ,, you`ll not get any Problem at all because the Islam as a religion one of the most Important principals that don`t heart the others what ever they are moslims or not and if you heard some one did wrong or heart another people so you have to know that he is bad man and wrong what he did , so the man is bad but the Religion is good ,, as the student that he don`t study !!! the Student is bad and Wrong but the Education is good … i want to tell some thing else if you`ll go to Egypt go to the old Egypt ,, not just the Ancient Egyptian but even visit the Egypt old Egypt Ancient from more that thousands of years but Old Egypt just 1 thousand and less it is very COOOooool to .

    any way if you want more information you can Send to me on [email edited out]

    Welcome every body comes to Egypt.

    best time in your Life you`ll not just enjoy it,, but you`ll be happy i am sure

    Thanks. & sorry for this long Message and Strange English ^^

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    • Anil P. says:

      First off a note – just edited out your email address as I didn’t want you bombarded with spam and can’t confirm your identity for those reading – if you want to leave contact information you can leave a social networking site link.

      I must mention though your enthusiasm is one I found quite often from Egyptians about getting people to visit. That pride seems to run deep and throughout the population.

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  19. Hulia says:

    After reading all this, I grew an interest in Egypt! Now I want to go there and see what is happening with my own eyes. Thanks, Anil.

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  20. Patrick F. says:

    We were hoping to go to Egypt in Oct. What do people think? Will the elections cause unrest or will it calm things? I just don’t know how long to wait until I book.

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    • Anil P. says:

      It’s unpredictable; it could cause some unrest or things could continue going on as normal. In my opinion a widespread uprising is unlikely even then. If the deals are good I’d say book now; the parliamentary elections themselves might be postponed it’s sounding like…

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  21. Gamal says:

    About the presidential or the parliamentary Elections , the Candidates for parliamentary election will start first as the registration will start in September and may take two months to be completed and people are elected , then comes the Presidential campaign , and the talks about the unrest i don’t think there will be any unrest as this is first election after the toppling of Ouster Mubarak and it will be tightly secured and people whipped the forgers from their official positions and we are doing more to make it Of mere integrity .
    so people including me :D wont allow any violence and it will be peacefully accomplished

    Traditionally Egypt has been seen as a winter destination, with most visitors arriving between October and April. At this time of year, Cairo and Lower Egypt (the area towards the Mediterranean) are pleasantly cool, with average maximum temperatures in the low twenties celsius.

    The Favorite cities to visit :
    Aswan The prettiest town in Egypt with a strong Nubian influence.
    Luxur The hub of Ancient Egyptian monuments and a busy town.
    Abu simbel A historical must-see home to the Temple of Ramses.
    Cairo Home to the mask of Tutenkamun at the Egyptian Museum.
    Alexanria A modern city with a Mediterranean feel and a gentle pace.
    Siwa A great base for exploring the surrounding oasis.
    Shark Elsheik & Hurgada the most fabulous cities in the red sea

    sites to see :
    The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx ,The Egyptian Museum in Cairo , Medieval Cairo , Abu Simbel, Temples of Karnak, Felucca on the Nile, Valley of the Kings , Siwa Oasis ,Luxor Temple , wekalet el ghouri, Mohamed Ali Pasha Palace, Amr Ibn El As Mosque, the hanging church, Ben Ezra Synagogue

    Best wishes and great visit .

    (0)
    • Matthew says:

      Hi Gamal, really happy that you shared so much information in his site! I’m very much interested in travelling to Egypt. wanting to go my whole life! i was thinking to go in February of next year.

      questions:
      1. I am a US citizen, and I am Jewish. will there be a problem for me if I go now that he relations with Israel are not so good?
      2.will Feb and March be good times for scuba diving?

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      • Anil P. says:

        Hi Matthew, while I’ll let Gamal jump in with a reply just wanted to give my advice on your first question – no, it won’t be a problem. As for the second I don’t SCUBA but can ask around to others I know have been in Egypt several times.

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    • Anil P. says:

      The elections will be interesting to watch; though I’d like to be optimistic, I’d say if there is a chance for unrest in the short term it’s right after the elections. I hope that isn’t the case however.

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  22. Gamal says:

    I’m Speechless when i find people who adore Egypt , and those who think of its people and its culture ,
    first of all Egypt is safer than ever , and i liked the word “Egypt is chaotic but not in a state of chaos.” , Egyptians appreciate the tourism and are friendly with tourists , they have reduced the prices to Motivate more visitors to come and have fun in the middle east most popular destination “Egypt”
    about the one who ask about the restrictions they may encounter while visiting Egypt , im proud to tell you that Egypt has nothing to do with the restrictions and people will definitely treat you as an Egyptian , and as a tourist you don’t have to wear something you don’t like ,citing that we have christian people who don’t wear Hijab and wear the same like any Western Lady may wear .
    the most recommended Cities to visit ” Sharm Elsheik , Hurgada , Aswan , Luxur , Alexandria , Port-said , Suez , and sure my City “Cairo” ”
    furthermore im a friend in Egypt i would love to meet anyone coming to Egypt and offer him/her an Egyptian meal and coffee :) ,
    welcome to egypt and have a nice trip

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    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Gamal, Egypt is certainly loaded with things to see and do; wonderful potential for an economic recovery that’s sustained over the long term. Wish we could have met up while I was in Cairo, perhaps next time though, I’ll certainly be back ;)

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  23. AA says:

    Is quite safe to travel to Egypt, you just have to make sure you don’t visit the “trouble” zones.

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