Is there a best time of year to visit the famous sites of Egypt or relax at one of the country’s many Red Sea resorts?
You can learn more about visiting Egypt, including practical visa information, safety, dress code and much more on our Egypt with Kids homepage.
Weather in Egypt
Although much of Egypt sits in arid desert conditions, don’t be fooled into thinking this means it’s scorching hot year-round. Egypt tends to be cooler year-round than most of the Gulf countries, however, you shouldn’t expect the indoor lifestyle and creature comforts of the modern Middle East cities such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
You’ll find a considerable difference between the weather in Cairo and Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast compared to Luxor and Aswan in Upper Egypt.
Summer weather in Egypt
Many of Egypt’s most famous sites are in the desert with limited shade which can exacerbate conditions. You will find many tours and activities start very early in the day or are left until sunset to avoid the midday sun.
During the hottest summer months, the country’s Red Sea beach resorts are at their busiest but tourism activity elsewhere slows almost to a halt. Red Sea water temperatures in the summer are around 80F (27c) whilst air temperature is around 95F (35c).
In Cairo, expect peak summer temperatures in excess of 95F (35c) and high humidity from the end of July and into the fall. Aswan and desert summer temperatures are in excess of 104F (40c).
What to expect in the Egyptian Winter
As long as you come prepared, winter temperatures are quite tolerable for most. Expect to need jumpers, possibly coats, scarves and beanies for cold early morning starts, but stripping to t-shirts and sun hats by mid-afternoon – a complete guide on what to wear in Egypt can be found here.
Lower Egypt, which includes Cairo & Alexandria can experience some winter rain though it is typically mild and sunny year round.
You can expect winter high temperatures of 68F (20c) in Cairo, dropping to 50F (10c) overnight.
Visiting during Egypt’s shoulder seasons
This leaves a great range of shoulder season still from February to May/June and September to early December where crowds are not too bad and temperatures not too hot.
How close you can creep to summer really depends on your tolerance for heat… Those already living in the Middle East or other tropical countries may continue to find it pleasant until close to the peak of summer.
One thing to be aware of if visiting in the spring is the Khamsin – this weather phenomenon can occur March to May, bringing with it thick dust and sandstorms. It’s difficult to predict and normally only lasts a few hours at a time but may hamper spring break plans.
Holidays and crowds in Egypt
As you would expect, the cooler weather brings much greater crowds, especially over the Christmas to New Year period when most countries around the world have public holidays and school holidays.
If you are not a big fan of crowds and lining up, I strongly suggest you DO NOT travel over this busy fortnight or so when everything will be at capacity and you are no hope of taking a photograph without hundreds of heads in it.
Egypt School & Public holidays
Egyptian schools follow a three-term system with breaks in December/January, April and July/August, though these are unlikely to have as much impact on your travel plans as school holiday’s in Europe/US in terms of visitor numbers.
Being a majority Arab country, the Holy Month of Ramadan is observed around the country. Muslims will be fasting from sun up to sun down and whilst visitors are not expected to participate in the fast, they should be mindful of those who are.
Ramadan dates for 2021 are estimated to be 12 April 2021 to 11 May 2021
Operating hours may change during this time with many businesses closing mid-afternoon, but then opening until late into the evening.
Other main public holiday’s in Egypt to be aware of:
- Revolution Day – January 25
- Coptic Christmas Day – January 7th
- Coptic Easter – dates vary
- Labour Day – 1 May
- Eid-el Fitr – end of Ramadan – dates vary
- Sinai Liberation Day – 18 June
- Revolution Day July – 23 July
- Arafat Day & Eid Al Adha – dates vary
- Moulid el Bibi – Prophet Mohamed’s Birthday – dates vary
Whilst most of these may not impact directly on tourists, they can be periods when heightened security measures are announced.
Seasonal Activities in Egypt
So other than the weather and the crowds, what else might you want to consider when timing a trip to Egypt?
- Nile cruising is at its best from later October through to April.
- Diving in the Red Sea is considered to be good year-round, though obviously water temperatures will be more pleasant March through to November.
- You are the best chance of sighting dolphins off the Dahab coast is March to November.
- Interested in visiting Abu Simbel for the Sun Festival? This occurs twice a year on 22 February and 22 October.
- The Western Desert, including locations such as Siwa Oasis, are best visited from September to November, missing the peak heat but before you experience freezing conditions overnight. You can also visit in the spring but may encounter the unpleasant khamsin winds.
- A week after Coptic Easter, Shem Al Nessim is celebrated to welcome the spring, more of a local celebration but a great sight to see.
So when is it best to visit Egypt?
The short answer is October to April, but as you can see there’s more to the country than just the main tourist sites along the Nile. Avoid the winter break from December to January if you want to avoid the peak crowds and top prices.
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