Is It Safe in Egypt?

Cairo Skyline, Egypt
Matt Champlin / Getty Images

Egypt is a beautiful country that has attracted tourists for thousands of years—literally—and is famous for its ancient sights, Nile River cruises, and lush Red Sea resorts. Generally speaking, Egypt is a safe country to visit, especially if you're going to the cities most frequented by tourists, such as Cairo, Alexandria, or the resort towns around the Red Sea. The political turmoil that started with mass protests in 2011 and led to a government overthrow has mostly stabilized, although travelers should be alert to the possibility of terrorist attacks.

Travel Advisories

  • The U.S. State Department advises American travelers to "exercise increased caution" when visiting Egypt due to terrorism.
  • The State Department recommends that foreigners do not travel to the Sinai Peninsula (with the exception of Sharm El-Sheikh), the Western Desert, or border regions due to a heightened likelihood of terrorism.

Is Egypt Dangerous?

Although terrorist attacks in tourist destinations are rare, it's important to be alert. Check government travel warnings regularly and make sure to heed their advice. Vigilance is crucial, as is following the directions of local security officials. Try to avoid crowded areas (admittedly a difficult task in big cities like Cairo), which may be targeted for potential attacks. Places of worship, including mosques and Coptic churches such as the Hanging Church in Cairo, are also considered high-risk destinations, especially during holidays such as Coptic Christmas or during the month of Ramadan.

The Sinai Peninsula is considered to be one of the most dangerous places to visit in Egypt, although the popular resort area of Sharm El-Sheikh at the southern part of the peninsula is deemed safe by the U.S. State Department as long as travelers arrive by air.

As in most countries with a high poverty level, petty theft is common in Egypt. Take basic precautions to avoid becoming a victim, such as being hyper-aware of your valuables in crowded areas like train stations and markets. Keep your money and identification in a safe place such as a money belt and don't carry large sums of cash on you. Violent crime is relatively rare even in Cairo, but it's still not a good idea to walk alone at night. Scams are common and usually include ingenious ways to get you to purchase goods you don't want or to patron a relative's shop, hotel, or tour company. Most of the time these are annoying rather than dangerous. 

Is Egypt Safe for Solo Travelers?

Solo travelers in big cities like Cairo or Alexandria should exercise the normal precautions they would take when visiting any large city, including being alert to pickpockets and avoiding nighttime strolls in seedy neighborhoods. You'll likely be approached and pressured by strangers who want to sell you some good or service, but just politely decline. Thefts or assaults in taxis are rare, but a taxi driver might take advantage of a solo foreigner by driving around to run up the meter, which is why Uber or a private car are generally considered the safest way to get around.

Is Egypt Safe for Female Travelers?

Egyptians are naturally warm and friendly, although that friendliness can turn into unwanted attention for female travelers. Foreign tourists already stand out in a crowd and women traveling alone may experience an increased volume of harassment, with catcalling and unsolicited compliments being the most common aggravations.

Wearing clothes that cover your shoulders and legs not only shows respect for the local Muslim culture, but it can also help ward off leery comments. Sexual harassment is sadly prevalent on subway trains around the world, but the Cairo metro always has at least one car reserved exclusively for female passengers. Women traveling alone are likely to receive more attention than those traveling with a man or a mixed group, so joining an organized tour is one way to blend in while also getting the most out of sightseeing. Try a museum and food tour around Cairo or a full-day tour to see the Pyramids.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Egypt is a conservative country and even though same-sex acts are not technically prohibited, LGBTQ+ locals and foreigners have been harassed and even arrested for "debauchery." Public displays of affection in Egypt are frowned upon for all types of relationships, but gay and lesbian couples should be particularly prudent. Locals may ask you if you're married or if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend as a friendly way to make conversation, but use your best judgment in how to respond.

The biggest risk comes with using dating apps, especially for gay men. Egyptian police have been known to create fake profiles and use them to entrap individuals, so it's best to avoid them completely.

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

Egypt is a relatively safe country for BIPOC travelers without any major concerns. Travelers of color are likely to stand out for being tourists, but that applies to virtually all foreigners. When visiting internationally popular tourist destinations like Cairo or the Pyramids, locals are accustomed to seeing visitors from all parts of the world.

Many native Egyptians have tan skin typical of North African Arabs, but dark-skinned South Egyptians, as well as Black immigrants from neighboring countries, are often subjected to racism and xenophobia. Black travelers are usually easily identifiable as tourists based on their clothing, accent, or style and therefore not exposed to this treatment, but should be conscious to possible comments from locals.

Safety Tips for Travelers

  • Before traveling to Egypt, register with your home country embassy to keep them informed of your travels in case an emergency arises.
  • When carrying around cash and identification, keep it safe by putting it in a money belt or some other pack that's inaccessible to pickpockets.
  • Local law prohibits protesting without a permit, so steer clear of demonstrations. Even being near a protest without participating can draw the attention of Egyptian security forces.
  • If you're a victim of a crime, reach out to local police by dialing 122 as well as to your embassy.
  • If you're offered a "free" service at a local tourist site, such as an exclusive tour, it's typically a scam to make you pay at the end. Legitimate employees at tourist attractions will often step in and help when you're being pursued by a particularly aggressive heckler.
  • Vaccines for typhoid and hepatitis A are recommended for all travelers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before entering Egypt, but not compulsory. 
Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Department of State. "Egypt Travel Advisory." March 6, 2020;

  2. Human Rights Watch. "Egypt: Security Forces Abuse, Torture LGBT People." Retrieved December 22, 2020.

  3. AP News. "Fleeing war, poverty, African migrants face racism in Egypt." January 2, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Egypt Traveler Review." March 12, 2020.