Egypt is a land of pyramids and the mighty Nile, understandly popular with tourists, and visitor numbers are on the rise. Traveller safety in the region is subject to change, with civil unrest, tourist scams and terrorism all presenting threats in recent years. Although tensions have stabilised recently, parts of Egypt including the Sinai Peninsula and all land borders are still unsafe for travel.
It's advisable to assess the likelihood of danger when visiting tourist hotspots, especially religious sites. Although uncommon, attacks at tourist sites do occur, so monitoring your threat level through local news sources, avoiding getting caught up in large crowds, knowing of any religious or public holidays that could attract protests or civil unrest, and considering a small group tour can help you stay safe in these situations.
Safety in public places
When travelling around markets, especially at night, be wary of pickpockets and petty crime, as this is often a problem in Egypt's public spaces. Leave your valuables at home or securely locked in your hotel safe and only bring the amount of cash you will need for the day.
There are a number of scams that are designed to target travellers in Egypt, especially around tourist sites such as at the Pyramids of Giza. One of the most common is the 'present' scam – vendors will give you a 'free' gift, sometimes with your name on it, but will demand a donation or payment, say, for a sister's wedding or family grievance. Another cash grab is locals offering you safe passage across a busy street or showing you a shortcut to a point of interest. This could be seen as an act of goodwill, but you can't be sure – many locals will ask for a baksheesh (tip) even if they just crossed the road with you, or they may take you to a specific gallery or shop where the scam will continue.
Taxis are also a common way in which tourists can be taken for a ride, if you will. If your cab has a meter, ensure it is turned on before you leave, and if it doesn't have a meter, negotiate a price before accepting the ride. It's also customary to leave a small tip. Be wary of any extra charges that your driver may add – extra persons, extra baggage etc. Agreeing on a price upfront is your best option.
Be careful with handing your camera over to locals at tourist hotspots. What you might consider asking for help to take a photo is what many locals see as a money-making opportunity. And when it comes to taking photos, be careful what you snap – it is prohibited to take photos of military installations, public buildings, some bridges and canals (including the Suez Canal), and not obeying this rule could get you in some serious trouble with the local authorities. Drones are also prohibited.
Safety for LGBTQIA+ travellers
Egypt is not a safe destination for LGBTQIA+ travellers who wish to openly express sexuality and/or gender identity outside of a very rigid, heterosexual binary. Public displays of affection for any travellers are advised against as they can draw unwanted attention. For more information on safety for LGBTQIA+ travellers in Egypt, go here.
Safety for solo female travellers
In some areas in Egypt, female travellers may feel uncomfortable when travelling. While violent assault and crime is relatively rare in Egypt, verbal harassment on the streets is common, and women are often specifically targeted if walking alone. Female travellers, especially if by themselves, can attract unwanted attention from men on the streets and have an increased chance of being followed, accosted and sometimes assaulted. If possible, travel in groups of three or more and stay to well-lit streets when on the move, and avoid going into the back room of a shop where you cannot see the street.
Female travellers have also reported incidents of assault from taxi drivers in Egypt. If you wish to travel by taxi in Egypt, it's safer to travel as part of a group.
Part of Intrepid’s travel ethos involves respecting local cultures and sensibilities. In Egypt, it is important to be more conservatively dressed than what you may be used to, especially in and around religious sites such as mosques. For women, consider clothing that covers knees and shoulders for day-to-day travel, but when visiting religious sites, ensure that your clothing covers elbow to ankle. It's also important to cover your hair with a scarf. For more information about what to pack for Egypt, go here.
Tips for staying safe in Egypt
- Avoid large crowds of people and political demonstrations
- Travel in small groups and avoid walking alone, especially at night
- Secure your valuables and don't carry excessive amounts of cash
- Be wary of scams at tourist sites
- Dress conservatively, especially at religious sites
Our tours in Egypt