When is the Best Time to Visit Egypt?
In terms of weather, the best time to visit Egypt is from October to April, when temperatures are at their most pleasant. However, December and January constitute peak tourist season, and iconic sights like the Pyramids of Giza, the Temples of Luxor and Abu Simbel can get uncomfortably crowded. In addition, rates at Red Sea resorts are at their most expensive.
If minimising expense is a priority, tours and accommodation are often significantly cheaper during the sweltering shoulder-season months of June and September. Realistically, temperatures in July and August make daytime sight-seeing difficult, although the country's coastal resorts offer some respite from the summer heat. In this article, we take a look at:
- Average temperatures
- The best time to take a cruise on the Nile
- The best time to visit the Red Sea
- The best time to visit Egypt's Western desert
- Ramadan and travel to Egypt.
Note: The political climate in Egypt is currently unstable, and as such we recommend seeking up-to-date guidance before planning your trip. See Is it Safe to travel to Egypt? for more information, or check the U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts & Warnings.
The Weather in Egypt
For most people, weather is the key factor in deciding when to visit Egypt. The climate is typically hot and sunny throughout the year, and there is very little precipitation south of Cairo. Even in the wettest places (Alexandria and Rafah), it only rains on an average of 46 days per year. Winters are generally mild, with daytime temperatures in Cairo averaging around 68°F/ 20°C. At night, temperatures in the capital can drop to 50°F/ 10°C or lower. In summer, temperatures reach an average of 95°F/ 35°C, exacerbated by intense humidity.
It is important to remember that many of Egypt's ancient sights are located in desert regions that remain hot despite the proximity of the Nile River. Climbing into an airless tomb on a 100°F/ 38°C day can be draining, while several top attractions are located in southern Egypt, where it is even hotter than Cairo. If you're planning on visiting Luxor or Aswan from May to October, make sure to avoid the midday heat by planning your sight-seeing for the early morning or late afternoon. Between March and May, the khamsin wind brings frequent dust and sandstorms.
Best Time to Cruise the Nile
With this in mind, the best time to book a Nile cruise is between October and April. Temperatures are manageable at this time of year, allowing you to get the most out of day-trips to iconic sights like The Valley of the Kings and the Temples of Luxor. For the same reasons, travel during the peak summer months from June to August is not advised. Average highs for Aswan exceed 104°F/ 40°C at this time of year, and there isn't a lot of shade to offer respite from the midday sun.
Best Time to Enjoy the Red Sea
June to September is a good time to visit the Red Sea beach resorts. Despite being the peak of summer, temperatures on the coast are much cooler than those of the country's interior. Average summer temperatures at popular beach resort Hurghada hover at around 84°F/ 29°C, while the sea temperature is a balmy 80°F/ 27°C - perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. In July and August, however, it's important to book well in advance, as resorts can get busy with vacationing Europeans and Americans, and with wealthy Egyptians seeking to escape the heat of Cairo.
Best Time to Visit Egypt's Western Desert
Summers in the desert should be avoided, as temperatures at destinations like Siwa Oasis routinely exceed 104°F/ 40°C. During the depths of winter, nighttime temperatures can plummet to just below freezing, so the best time to visit is halfway between the two in either spring or autumn. February to April and September to November are the optimum times temperature-wise, although spring visitors should be aware of possible sandstorms as a result of the annual khamsin wind.
Traveling to Egypt During Ramadan
Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of fasting and the dates change every year according to the dates of the Islamic calendar. In 2016, for example, Ramadan was held from June 6th - July 7th, while the 2017 dates are from May 27th - June 24th. Tourists are not expected to fast when visiting Egypt during Ramadan. However, shops and banks tend to close for much of the day, while many cafés and restaurants do not open at all during daylight hours. At night, there is a generally festive atmosphere as eating and drinking resume.
Towards the end of Ramadan, there are several festivities that are fun to experience and observe.
Article updated by Jessica Macdonald on August 5th 2016.