Egypt is a land of wonders. From the iconic Pyramids of Giza to the tranquil beaches of the Red Sea, you could spend weeks exploring and never run out of things to do. Thanks to a resurgence in tourism and a blistering climate, it’s crucial to know the best time to visit Egypt before you plan your trip.
Egypt’s popularity with tourists has ebbed and flowed over the years. This is largely due to safety concerns. However, the country’s safety issues have all been tackled, and Egypt is experiencing a major boom in tourism.
This uptick in visitors means that legendary sites like the Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings, and the Pyramids of Giza are absolutely packed during the high season. While the solution is usually to travel in the low season, that strategy doesn’t work in Egypt. The low season in Egypt occurs during its hottest months, where average daytime temperatures can be well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Weather Varies Greatly by Region in Egypt
Before diving into the best time to visit Egypt, it’s crucial to recognize that Egypt is a very large country, and its weather varies greatly by region. The Western Desert is different from Upper Egypt, just as Sharm el Sheikh differs from the Nile Delta. Some parts of Egypt are sweltering all year long, while others get pretty chilly in the winter.
Upper Egypt is the southern part of the country, around Luxor and Aswan. This region is known for sweltering heat throughout most of the year.
The Western Desert, where Siwa Oasis is located, extends from the western bank of the Nile to the border with Libya. It is categorized by very little rainfall. The same can be said for the Eastern Desert.
The Sinai Peninsula is packed with mountains, and its higher elevation actually makes it susceptible to cooler temperatures at times. Despite the winter sun, its coastal cities of Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab get a little cooler in the winter, too. For most westerners, the weather is still warm enough to swim at Sinai’s beach resorts in winter.
Middle Egypt, where Cairo is located, is hot for most of the year, but not nearly as hot as places like Luxor. Its position in the Nile Valley keeps it warm all year long. Finally, Lower Egypt, where Alexandria is located, experiences a warm Mediterranean climate similar to Greece or Southern Italy.
When Is the Peak Season in Egypt?
The peak season in Egypt occurs in the winter months, from October to March. This is when the weather is at its coolest, and you can comfortably visit all of Egypt’s top tourist sites. Despite being in the desert and fairly close to the equator, the winter months are actually filled with pleasant weather.
The problem with visiting in the winter is that while the weather is comfortable, the congestion is not. As this time of the year is the peak tourist season, you can expect massive crowds, terrible traffic, and long lines. This is especially true in Egypt, as its tourist sites are truly legendary and many tourists travel to Egypt solely to see these sites.
Another hidden downside of visiting during the peak season is that you will never get good pictures at the ancient pyramids or ancient temples. The crowds will be massive from the time that the major tourist sites open to when they close, and your pictures will have a sea of people in the background. The worst of this is at the Giza Pyramids, where the high tourist season means massive lines and a chaotic experience on the Giza Plateau.
When Is the Low Season in Egypt?
The low season in Egypt is during the summer months, from May to August. Summer temperatures are unbearable, especially in Southern Egypt. The temples of Luxor are likened to ovens during these months, and a tour guide told us you can literally fry an egg on the sidewalk in Luxor in July.
We visiting Egypt in late August. I’d be lying if I said the weather was pleasant at all, but I was definitely surprised by how tolerable it actually was. I was expecting sweltering heat, but the reality was we experienced much cooler temperatures at times throughout our trip.
There were days along the Red Sea Coast where we experienced extreme heat, around 105 degrees. However, for the majority of our trip, both in Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula, the weather was very tolerable. During our trip, average high temperatures were around 95-100 degrees, and if a breeze started to blow, we hardly felt the heat at all.
I’d absolutely say that Southern Italy and Florida, two places known for their hot and humid climates, are much worse than Egypt. The reason for this is humidity. The Mediterranean coast of Egypt might be humid, but everywhere else seems to be a dry desert heat like what you’d find in Arizona.
When Is the Shoulder Season in Egypt?
The shoulder season in Egypt takes place from March to May and September to October. During these months you can expect slightly cooler temperatures than the summer season and fewer crowds than during the peak season. Average temperatures in Egypt in October still crack a high of almost 90 degrees, with certain places being even hotter.
Simply put, unless you visit in December and January, Egypt will be very hot during your trip. There is no other way around that. However, the somewhat cooler weather coupled with the smaller crowds can make the shoulder season some of the best months to visit Egypt.
When Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Egypt?
There is no one answer to the question of “when is the best time to visit Egypt?” because the best time is different for everyone.
If you can tolerate the heat and hate the crowds, there is one answer. If you’re very sensitive to the heat there’s another answer. For good pictures for Instagram, there is another answer, and I could go on forever.
I will break out the best time to visit Egypt for different groups below, as well as what you can expect during these times.
To Avoid the Crowds
If you solely want to avoid the crowds at all costs, I recommend visiting Egypt towards the beginning or end of summer. I really don’t recommend visiting in July if you can avoid it, but early June and late August are optimal times to beat the crowds. The temperatures will be sweltering, but manageable in most tourist sites outside of Luxor and Aswan.
Luxor and Aswan are incredibly hot, and visiting during the summer can be very taxing on your body. But standing in line for hours in the winter can be taxing too! Places like the Abu Simbel Temple, the Valley of the Kings, and the Luxor Temple are unpleasant to visit for different reasons all throughout the year, so really it’s just about picking your poison.
We visited the Pyramids of Giza in late August, and the weather was incredibly tolerable. This was not a rarity, either! We spent a full week in Cairo, and there wasn’t a single day that was too hot to handle.
I was able to get pictures at the Sphinx without a single person in the background, and the pyramids were way less busy than we anticipated. During the peak season, locals told us that the Giza Plateau is absolute madness. To me, the ideal time to visit Egypt to avoid crowds is in August.
To Beat the Heat
If weather is your driving factor, your best bet is to visit during the peak season of winter. During the winter, the crowds are immense but this is for a reason. The winter weather in Egypt is incredibly comfortable in comparison to the summer.
By all intents and purposes, the winter in Egypt offers good weather for visiting tourist attractions. This is what makes it the most popular time to visit Egypt. While temperatures vary depending on where you visit in Egypt, you may not even need a sweatshirt or jacket if you visit in December.
If you visit in the winter, it’s a good idea to budget extra time in your travel plans each day. Lines for popular attractions will likely be massive. If you want to have a good time, plan on doing less than you might initially want each day to avoid stress.
To Get Both Cooler Temperatures and Smaller Crowds
If you want the best of both worlds, you need to visit in the shoulder season. During this time, crowds are smaller than the peak season and the weather is cooler than the summer. The shoulder seasons are a great time to visit Egypt if you’re unwilling to combat either extreme crowds or extreme heat.
Most would say that this time is the best season to visit Egypt. Personally, I disagree. This is the best time to visit if you can’t handle the heat, but if you can, I absolutely recommend early or late summer over the shoulder seasons.
August Is the Best Month to Visit Egypt
My opinion differs from the majority of sources on the internet, I know. But I found visiting Egypt in August to be the best decision I could have possibly made.
I brought my wife and toddler to Cairo, Dahab, and St. Catherine at the end of August. The heat was fine for us on most days. There were a couple of days when the heat was hard to handle, but it was much more pleasant than expected the rest of the time.
This is the least popular time to visit Egypt – especially places inland and not along the Red Sea. If you can tolerate the heat, you can take advantage of low season accommodation prices.
Prices Are Low and Crowds Are Small in August
We were able to stay at the Marriott Mena House in Giza for significantly cheaper than the peak season price. This is often regarded as the top hotel in all of Egypt, and it was actually fairly affordable at this time. We were also able to stay in the Le Meridien Dahab and Le Meridien Cairo Airport, both posh 5-star hotels, at incredible prices.
Beyond all of that, the crowds were practically non-existent. We never had to wait to do anything. At the Giza Pyramids, we only had to wait two minutes to buy tickets, no time to enter, and less than five minutes to enter the Great Pyramid’s interior.
We never imagined getting pictures at the Sphinx or pyramids with literally no people in the background. We’ve visiting 6/8 Wonders of the World now, and this was the least busy one we have ever experienced, thanks to the timing.
August Is Not the Best Month for a Nile River Cruise
If you’re going on a Nile cruise, maybe this advice doesn’t apply. Most Nile River cruise options only visit Southern Egypt, which is borderline insufferable at this time.
If Luxor and Aswan are only a couple of days of your trip, the heat is manageable. But I wouldn’t sign up for five straight days of Luxor heat in August.
Should You Visit Egypt During Ramadan?
Ramadan is the holy month in the Islamic Calendar. It takes place once per year, and is a period of intense fasting and prayer for Muslims. From early morning until late at night, devout Muslims can consume nothing, including even water.
Some sources will tell you that this is the worst time to visit Egypt. In fact, they likely say this about any predominantly Muslim country. Personally, I don’t think that is always the case.
Visiting Egypt during Ramadan could make for a very cool cultural experience. I visited Morocco during Ramadan and admired the intense faith and sacrifice of the locals. As a Christian, I could appreciate the devout love for their God.
It is true that many things will close or operate at odd hours. If your goal is to visit all of the top tourist attractions, I’d probably avoid visiting Egypt during Ramadan. However, if you want to really experience local culture, Ramadan could actually be one of the best times to visit.
Hopefully this post answered the question any questions you have about the best time to visit Egypt. If you have any questions, let us know by dropping a comment below!