The best time to visit Egypt is Spring or Autumn. Find out all the details and a month by month comparison in this blog post.
Egypt is a country full of ancient history, beautiful beaches and amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites (check out my list of the 20 top highlights). It also happens to be a very hot country. Except for the few verdant stretches along the River Nile, most of the rest is a big scorchingly hot desert. If you are wondering about the best time to visit Egypt, this blog post was written for you.
By common consent, mid-March until mid-May and mid-September until mid-November are the best times to travel to Egypt. In these transition months, temperatures stay within pleasant limits. The Summer months, especially July and August will see average (!) temperatures of 94° F / 34° Celsius and more, while the winter months will be quite cool, especially at night (down to 50°F / 10°C).
So, what’s better? Spring or Autumn in Egypt? If you can take your pick, then Autumn will be better, as a hot sand wind, the Khamsin, occurs in the first half of the year (from around April to May). Don’t think of it as a constant sand storm, but rather short bouts that last a few hours. Still, the sky will be quite dusty, while you usually have a clear blue sky in autumn.
The best time to visit Egypt by region
Egypt is quite the large country (390,000 square miles) and it’s probably no big surprise the climate varies a bit from region to region. As you will probably travel around a bit (read my perfect 14 days Egypt itinerary for some inspiration), it pays off to look at the differences.
The best time to visit Cairo
Most international flights will arrive in the capital of Egypt and most tourists will want to spend some time there (do read my guide to the best things to do in Cairo).
Roughly 80 miles away from the coast, Cairo still benefits (a bit) from the Mediterranean climate prevalent in North Africa, and is usually far cooler than Luxor or Aswan in the desert below. We are talking about a temperature difference of 5-10°F (3-5°C).
To give you a good impression: While the average temperature in Luxor can reach up to 106° F (41°C) in August, the temperature in Cairo will usually “just” be around 94° F (34°C) during that time of the year.
In winter, rain might even occur (though it’s usually just a short drizzle that barely reaches the ground), and temperatures will be quite cold at night in Cairo. During my last stay in Mid-March, I was glad I brought a jumper for the evenings. With 59°F (15°C) in the evening, you don’t want to run around in shorts and t-shirts (just in case, read my guide on what to wear in Egypt).
If you are visiting just Cairo, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as cooler temperatures actually mean less of a crowd. Also, for visiting museums or the Pyramids of Giza (here is my guide), cooler temperatures are preferable. In this case, I’d only try to avoid July and August and pack accordingly if you plan to visit Cairo in January or December.
Still, April or October are probably the best months to visit Cairo, as both Luxor and Hurghada/Sharm El-Sheik won’t be too hot around that time yet. That way, you have pleasant temperatures during your whole trip.
Best time to visit Luxor and Aswan
Both Luxor (read my guide) and Aswan (read my guide) are located deep down in the Sahara desert. While the River Nile shrouds the Ancient Egyptian cities into a small band of greenery, it does not really help to cool down the temperatures. March, April, October, and November offer a good mixture between not overly hot days and pleasantly warm nights.
You should really avoid visiting Luxor or Aswan in July or August. The areas around the big temples and especially the valley of the Kings or Abu Simbel will heat up to a point where even drinking tons of water and carrying an umbrella will avail you little. Expect to feel like entering a furnace, where even the best air-conditions in a bus are prone to fail under stress.
The good news: The Egyptian climate is so arid it almost never ever rains here.
Best time to visit Hurghada
So, what about the Red Sea? When is the best time to visit Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh and everything in between? As I assume you will want to go snorkeling, you’ll probably want to avoid the winter months from late November until February.
Again, the best time to visit these parts of Egypt is probably April, May, September and October, but if you don’t mind the heat and frequently take a dip the pool/sea, even the summer is possible. Temperatures around 96°F (36°C) are quite common in July and August.
Many people go on day trips to Luxor / Valley of the Kings from Hurghada. You probably don’t want to do this in high summer, as you’ll spend the day in the bus only to arrive in a very, very hot temple/tomb where you want to leave before you even entered.
Best time to do a Nile Cruise
Are you planning to do a Nile Cruise? Then absolutely read my review of the fantastic Oberoi Zahra cruise ship. Other than that, I really can’t add a lot to the things I said above. All Nile cruise ships have excellent air-conditions, and the day tours from the ship won’t differ a lot compared to staying at a hotel.
The pool on the deck will get quite hot starting from May, and this about the time visiting Luxor or Aswan starts to get uncomfortable as well. So, again, rather stick to Spring or Autumn for your Nile cruise.
The worst time to visit Egypt
So, by now you already should know that July and August are the worst time to visit Egypt. It’s just too hot, especially for sightseeing. While you can probably endure the heat under a nice umbrella in your all-inclusive resort in Hurghada, the Valley of the Kings or the Pyramids of Giza are simply unbearable. If you don’t mind temperatures above 122°F (50°C), then you’ll benefit from low prices and tiny crowds.
You should also know that March and April see quite a lot of dust in the sky. I already mentioned the Chamisin winds, but there is also the sugar cane harvest that accounts for a lot of airborne dust. Usually, this doesn’t impede your travel plans at all, but it’s less likely to see blue skies.
Visiting Egypt during Ramadan
The majority of the Egyptians are Muslims (around 90%), and rather conservative. Ramadan is observed quite strictly, and out of respect, you should behave accordingly.
Granted, Ramadan does not apply to Non-Muslims, so theoretically speaking you can eat or drink during the day however much you like. Do keep in mind that local restaurants, shops or museums might be closed during this time. Standard western hotels will cater to the needs of their guests, though. As there is a Coptic Christian minority of about (5-15% depending on the region), some shops and restaurants will always be open.
- Ramadan 2020 will start on April 23rd and lasts until Saturday, May 23rd
- Ramadan 2021: Monday, April 12th until Tuesday, May 11th
As Ramadan coincides with one of the best times to travel to Egypt, it really shouldn’t put you off. The security standards in Egypt are quite high(read my guide to travel safety in Egypt), so you probably won’t leave your tourist bubble a lot. You’re either in your hotel or doing an organized tour, and here it really doesn’t matter.
The only thing you should keep in mind that waiters, room attendants and the rest of the hotel staff probably won’t be able to eat or drink during the day time. In my experience, this usually leads to slower service (to be quite frank, you will experience this in Egypt no matter the time you visit).
If you are traveling independently, then Ramadan can be a lovely time to visit, as nothing beats being invited to an Iftar (fatoor) at a local family.
So, which is the best month to visit Egypt?
October is the best month to visit Egypt, shortly followed by April! In days past you had to avoid general holidays in Europe (Easter Holidays in particular), but as Egypt is not as popular as it once was, you won’t find the top tourist attractions crowded anymore – not even during the peak tourist season.
April and October also happen to be the most expensive months, so it pays off to compare prices with March/September. As visiting Egypt is quite cheap at the moment, I wouldn’t fuss over a dollar or two, though! Some people like to experience the sun festival in Abu Simbel (February and October 22nd) and other special occasions, so I recommend you to do some further research if that is something you are interested in.