Women absolutely can and should visit Egypt. The majority of our guests are women and they always have a great time. It is a tricky balance to find when writing a guide to Egypt that focuses on women as we want to inspire people to visit Egypt, but we also know that the differences between cultures usually impacts women a little more than men. Female travellers are inherently bold and adventurous, but they also have more things to worry about when they explore the world. So, this is our short and sweet guide for women visiting Egypt. And if anything here inspires you to visit Egypt with us, browse our most popular Agatha Christie-inspired Egypt Tours and please contact us if you have any questions.
What is the Mixture of Religious Demographics in Egypt?
Given how different religions view women, it is sometimes useful for people to understand the mixture of religions and cultures in the countries they visit. While there is an overwhelming majority of Muslim people in Egypt, approximately 15% of Egyptians are Christian, significantly higher than Jews, Buddhists, and other religions (which together comprise less than 1%). On the most part, the religious minorities in Egypt live in harmony with the Muslim population, with their differences acknowledged and respected. Women of faiths other than Islam should be fine in the popular tourism areas as Egypt is a little more progressive than any other Arab nations — which leads nicely to our next topic…
Egypt is More Progressive Than Most Arab Nations
The first thing worth mentioning is that Egypt is more progressive than most Arab nations. Now, there is no scoring system for progressiveness in this part of the world, and there really shouldn’t be, as we should respect and appreciate the cultures of the countries we visit on our travels. However, looking at Egypt from a North American or European perspective, you’ll find that women have more freedom and autonomy than in many of the neighbouring countries. And this freedom can be seen in how women dress.
How Should Women Dress in Egypt?
Women in Egypt are not required by any law to dress a certain way. There is no legal dress code whatsoever. Culturally, however, there is a mixture of preferences, with some women choosing to wear a niqab (face covering) and some women choosing to wear a hijab (hair and neck covering). Many women also do not wear any kind of covering at all. Any form of dress code is specific to different localities and even different families. As a female tourist to Egypt, no local will expect you to wear a hair or face covering.
However, while there are no laws, there is an expectation for women to mostly dress modestly in Egypt. Women can often wear shorter skirts and shorts at the big tourist hotspots, such as the Pyramids of Giza, Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, etc., but if you’re worried at all about standing out to the locals, then it’s probably better to wear longer skirts, trousers, and anything more modest.
Egypt’s hot weather is another factor as most tourists won’t be used to average summer temperatures of 94°F (34°C), and that’s not accounting for the hotter days when it can rise to 122°F (50°C). Even in January, the average temperature is 66°F (19°C), which for many people used to cooler climes is still shorts weather. The temperature can make it tricky for women to find something cool enough to wear that is also considered “modest”. Linen and other highly breathable fabrics are best, and opting for something like linen trousers and a linen blouse can actually help protect your skin from the sun and keep you cooler than if more skin were exposed.
How Should Women Behave When in Egypt?
The quick answer is that you should behave as you do when you’re on holiday in most places: be careful but have fun. While the onus should be on men’s behaviour rather than women’s, this is a practical matter for any traveller to consider, regardless of personal values.
Try not to wander too far in places you don’t know and, if possible, try to travel with a friend or partner when you can. While we’d like to tell you not to worry about any street harassment, we can’t. Although we will say that most women simply experience some catcalling and nothing worse. The local men may leer and say a few things, but it’s rare that it goes beyond this. With regards to how you should behave in response to this, we urge you to use your best judgement and suggest that walking away is usually the best option.
Ultimately, Egypt is a wonderful country packed with fascinating history and culture. For avid travellers out there who prefer their history to be as ancient as possible, there is nowhere better in the entire world. Whether you’re a woman or a man, you’ll have a great time here and you shouldn’t need to worry too much about your clothes or your behaviour. The fact that you’re reading this guide shows that you’re taking care to plan for your trip, so we’re sure you’ll be fine.
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