While it’s great to simply jump into travel with both feet, not worrying about safety at all, the reality is that we all worry about our safety when we visit a new country. This guide is Literary Tours in Egypt’s honest attempt to allay worries and offer useful information to anyone planning a trip to Egypt. If anything we say here inspires a question or two, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
How Safe is it to Visit Egypt?
Firstly, let’s look at the general state of Egypt’s safety at the time of writing this guide.
Egypt is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, with over 10 million travellers (sometimes as high as 14.5 million) visiting the country annually before international travel was disrupted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that around 12% of Egypt’s population are employed in tourism-related roles. So, the short answer to our question “Is it Safe to Visit Egypt?” is straightforward enough: yes, as millions visit in relative safety each year.
In Egypt, you are likely to be one of the millions of travellers who enjoy the best the country has to offer without incident, and you can be guaranteed that during your time in Egypt you will meet helpful, welcoming people who are well-versed in assisting guests. That being said, Egypt (like countries the world over) does have its security issues and visitors need to be mindful of certain risks when journeying through the country.
While we have [hopefully] clearly answered the question of Egypt’s safety, the longer answer is more complicated and we would like to offer safety tips to keep in mind when visiting Egypt. And while you are here, planning your next adventure, be sure to check out our Personalised Egypt Guided Tour Packages — expertly guided trips, tailored to your needs!
Information for Tourists on COVID-19 in Egypt
Given the importance of tourism for the Egyptian economy, the global COVID-19 pandemic hit the country particularly hard, with a couple of tourist seasons cut short and cancelled due to the international restrictions on air travel. However, this centrality of tourism in the Egyptian economy has led to the country taking swift and careful measures to ensure that safety guidelines are being adhered to and that travel is impacted as little as possible.
Looking at the most recent figures, Egypt’s transmission rates have remained relatively low, with the country not even being within the top 75 countries for total COVID-19 infections. Tour companies like our own are following the latest government advice to keep our guests safe — social distancing rules are followed, facemasks are being worn, vehicles and communal areas are being cleaned throughout the day, hands are washed, and guides stay informed of the latest daily news. And at Literary Tours Egypt, all our guides are fully vaccinated.
As a guest in the country, keep yourself safe by covering your face when inside busy, enclosed spaces; always make use of the hand sanitiser provided; keep a safe distance from others.
Navigating Egypt’s Streets
Egypt is a deeply religious and, at times, conservative state. Within Islamic tradition, modesty is a virtue and public displays deemed immodest can cause tension. When travelling through Egypt, respect these ideas of modesty. There is no formal or official type of dress you are expected to wear, but both men and women should refrain from wearing shorts and women should keep their shoulders and cleavage covered. If someone’s dress is regarded as inappropriate, they may attract unwanted attention on the street.
Women travelling solo in Egypt have reported sexual harassment in Egypt, especially if they appear recognisably foreign — this can range from catcalling to being groped. Try to travel within a group at all times, but if you are in the country alone, consider joining guided tour groups when you are exploring and try to stay within mixed male/female travelling parties. For more on this, read our Women’s Guide to Visiting Egypt.
Finally, LGBT+ visitors should not engage in public displays of affection with same-sex partners when travelling, as such relationships are not widely accepted. Adopting conduct more conservative than you are perhaps used to will limit unwanted attention.
Pickpockets and Scams in Egypt
Violent crime rates in Egypt are very low (much lower than in many Western nations) and the chances of you running into danger randomly on the street are exceptionally thin. While drinking alcohol is permitted in Egypt with plenty of bars and restaurants serving alcoholic drinks, the consumption is moderate, meaning the alcohol and drug-fuelled street violence that plagues some popular tourist destinations is largely nonexistent here. However, there are some risks concerning pickpockets — especially in major cities like Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor.
Always keep your cash and cards safe — make use of a money belt, or decoy wallet designed to protect you from falling victim to pickpockets. And, as obvious as it sounds, be mindful of your surroundings! Often pickpockets will create a scene or engage you in some way to distract you from the theft taking place. Be cautious when you are approached by strangers and know where your belongings are.
Finally, it’s no secret that Egypt is home to the same financial scams found in other tourist hotspots: overpriced taxis and tours, shop owners raising prices for tourists, sellers pressuring people into buying things they don’t want. Investigate the cost of taxis and tours before making arrangements and never be afraid to politely say no! Sellers are used to tourists and you won’t offend anyone by being assertive, so long as you do so in a mannerly way. Learn more about using some key Arabic phrases in our Practical Guide to Visiting Egypt.
Political Turmoil in Egypt
Our final note is on the topic of political disturbances and terrorism. As many readers will know, Egypt was at the centre of the Arab Spring in 2011. In the years that followed, the political uncertainty would intermittently spiral into violence. Fortunately, the political landscape has since stabilised and Egypt has enjoyed a decade of relative calm.
To keep yourself right, always check your home government’s travel advice before arriving in Egypt; this will make you aware of any possible political disturbance.
Lastly, Egypt has been home to some tragic acts of terrorism — something all too common internationally in recent years. The positive news is that the Egyptian government has taken great measures to heighten security, and the protection of tourist hotspots is a priority for Egypt. The chances of being involved in any such event are extremely low, but if you are concerned, consider touring in guided groups and plan your travel away from religious festivals which are occasionally the target of sectarian attacks.
This brings to a close our guidance on some of Egypt’s safety concerns. As one visitor in millions, you are unlikely to face many of the things listed here. But when journeying away from home, in distant cultures, it always pays to be cautious and well-informed. If you have any comments or questions about this blog or our tours, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We wish you good luck on your journeys through our beautiful country!
This article was originally published in October 2021 and most recently updated in March 2022.