What to wear in Egypt and what not – advice from a seasoned traveler.

Are you planning a trip to Egypt? Are you currently wondering what to wear in Egypt?

Then this guide is for you. Egypt is a wonderful country (just check out my list of the 20 best things to do in Egypt), but the combination of the hot climate and the conservative Muslim culture does pose a problem not that easy to solve. Is it okay to wear shorts? And what to wear in Egypt when entering a mosque?

I’ll answer all of these questions in this detailed Egypt packing list. I guess this truly is a must read before you travel to Egypt just like my Egypt itinerary (click here).

But let’s get into it, shall we?

Preface – The weather in Egypt

Me in front of Abu Simbel great temple Egypt. If you are wondering what to wear in Egypt, this will give you a proper impression on what to pack for Egypt in March
Me, wearing linen pants & shirts, a straw hat, and sandals

Egypt is hot throughout the year. It is basically one big desert, it almost never rains (like 2 days a year), and the only thing you possibly have to worry about is a sandstorm. The sun will be extremely intense no matter the season you travel. Expect temperatures starting from 30° Celsius / 86° Fahrenheit and way above (read my detailed guide to the best time to visit Egypt here).

The good news: It’s a dry kind of heat with extremely low humidity so it won’t feel as hot as it actually is. Still, places like Cairo, Luxor or the famous Valley of the Kings will be a true furnace in summer (especially June to August). I cannot recommend visiting unprepared! Usually, it doesn’t cool off all that much during the night.

If you are visiting Egypt in winter (November, especially December & January, until March), you will be able to enjoy cooler temperatures around 10 to 25 ° Celsius / 50  to 77 ° Fahrenheit. The sky can be a bit overcast during that time of the year. But for visiting temples (Karnak / Luxor) or the Giza pyramids it might be the more enjoyable time of the year to travel.

What to wear in Egypt

What to wear in Egypt? I only wore lose & long clothes and made sure to always stay protected from the sun
Colonnade inside the Philae Temple

Can you wear short trousers in Egypt? How do women dress in Egypt? Are sleeveless tops okay? Well, yes and no! There really is no dress code in Egypt for tourists.

But, you should know that Egyptian men dress rather smartly and are rather conservative – both the Islamic majority and the Christian minority. You will see most men in shirts, long trousers, and leather shoes. Rather no jeans, no t-shirts. And what do women wear Egypt? You will see few Egyptian women fully veiled, though abayas (loose overgarment/robeand lose veils are abundant. If you like the style, you will find cheap cotton abayas at most souvenir shops (they are actually quite comfortable!).

This doesn’t mean you can’t wear shorts. In the tourist regions (like Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh), on the beach or in the hotel it is totally acceptable to wear shorts. I’d recommend you to dress smartly anyway. In mosques, women are required to cover their shoulders & wear a veil, while men should be mostly covered as well.

You’ll often read that tourist should respect the local traditions and not wear shorts. But I’d say this is only one side of the truth, as travelers from these countries often don’t refrain from wearing the full veil when visiting western countries either. Instead, I believe you should always show your best. Respect and tolerance don’t have only this one face. Midriff-baring tops or tank tops might be stretching it a bit too far, though (but are okay as long as you don’t leave the beach or your hotel).

Note: During Ramadan, the locals might be a bit more sensitive to all forms of touristic “misconduct” and you really should respect the traditions around this special time of the year!

Egypt packing list

Note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I do not recommend products I have not reviewed thoroughly myself.

The pyramids of Giza near Cairo in Egypt with camel riders in the foreground
The pyramids of Giza

Egypt is a hot country and laundry service is extremely cheap, so I recommend you stay away from overpacking and just pick a small suitcase. Here is what you need to pack for your Egypt vacations:

A) Clothes to wear in Egypt

Do remember that you will sweat quite a lot, there’s a lot of sand/dirt in the temple ruins, and also remember that sunscreen (mixed with sand) can leave ugly yellow stains on your clothes not easy to remove. So, rather pack a spare or two. And remember to bring at least one smart casual outfit for visiting mosques/good restaurants.

  1. Shorts or short skirts as you see fit (covering the knee, if possible)
  2. A couple of T-shirts
  3. At least one shirt, blouse or smart looking top
  4. One pair of long trousers
  5. A veil/shawl (women only; you can buy it at most souvenir shops as well)
  6. Swimsuit or bathing suit
  7. Swim Tee / Rashguard (I got this one; it’s cheap and does the job -> only needed for proper sun protection while snorkeling)

Note: You probably won’t need shorts when visiting in winter. Rather pack a light jacket instead. You will need it in the evening. Also, some places will be air conditioned quite heavily.

B) What shoes to wear in Egypt?

What to wear in Cairo? As I visited a lot of mosques, I knew what to pack for Egypt: lots of conservative & smart outfits
Muhammad Ali Mosque in Cairo: Long trousers and white shirt

Picking the right kind of shoes for Egypt is sort of tough. Again, the hot climate and local traditions are sort of in conflict. You’ll probably have to pick a middle ground. Also, know that the ground in most temples and around the pyramids is not even, usually quite sandy with rocks in between. High heels won’t get you far. Instead, bring:

  1. Comfortable light walking shoes. Trekking sandals can be a very good option (I’m using these Teva sandals | women’s version)
  2. Sandals as you see fit.
  3. Beach shoes or flip-flops; the sand will be too hot to walk on. I’m using Adidas ClimaCool Water Shoes, though the ground underwater is usually not rocky or dangerous.
  4. One pair of closed shoes/leather shoes
  5. Socks – you are not allowed to wear shoes in Mosques. Decide for yourself if you want to run around barefooted or not – it certainly won’t kill you ;-)

Note: Due to the extremely hot ground, it is not uncommon for the glue of your shoes to melt (happened to me more than once). It might be a smart idea to bring spare sandals/flips flops along.

C) Electronics

In Egypt the supply voltage is 220 V. There is either a Type C or a Type F socket. Please do check the electronic devices you will want to bring before visiting (there always is an appliance rating plate that tells you).

  1. Visitors from the US or the UK will need a Power adapter; Buy an international one you can use on your next trip
  2. If your electrical appliances do not support dual voltage or 220 V, you will need a step-down converter. This one is cheap and does the job
  3. Camera, SD cards, and battery charger
  4. Kindle Paperwhite or any other e-reader (you might spend quite some time on tour buses or beach :P)

D) Toiletries & Medicine

Pharmacies or drug stores can be a bit harder to spot in Egpyt, though most hotels will usually be able to provide you with the most important medicines in case of an emergency. That being said, diarrhea is a MAJOR issue in Egypt. Definitely stick to “peal it, cook it, or leave it”. Don’t drink fresh juices or anything with ice cubes (except they only use filtered water and you REALLY trust them; I wouldn’t!). Do bring:

  1. High SPF sunscreen (I love the Neutrogena Wet Skin Spray; especially for days on the beach)
  2. After sun lotion (you’ll thank me later); I use the Nivea After Sun Lotion 
  3. Something strong against diarrhea (do consult your doctor)
  4. Diarrhea prophylaxis (Perenterol is a very good choice; start 7 days in advance)
  5. Sanitizing gel & hand wipes
  6. Painkillers (I really can’t cope with air conditioning; sunstrokes are a possibility as well)
  7. Blister plasters (your feet will sweat a lot; I love Compede)

Other stuff to pack for Egypt

Front view of the hatshepsut temple near Luxor, Egypt
Hatshepsut Temple

It is quite important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Egyptian tap water is not drinkable and I don’t recommend using sterilizing agents either as they mostly don’t kill tapeworm eggs! You won’t need to bring a canteen, but a shoulder strap to carry your water bottle (something like this) will be quite a smart idea. In theory, you could also bring a small daypack, but it usually means you’ll sweat a lot on your back.

Also, consider bringing a small umbrella if you got a sensitive skin and don’t forget a hat. The extra shade it offers can be a true lifesaver – at least for people like me who still get a sunburn despite wearing SPF 60 sunscreen and only sticking to the shade.

Quite obviously, you also need to bring sunglasses ;-)

What to wear in Egypt on a Nile river cruise

A Nubian village on the Elephantine Island in Aswan, Egypt
A Nubian village on the Elephantine Island in Aswan

If you are taking a Nile river cruise (or touring lake Nasser), you really don’t have to pack much differently. Most cruise ships do have a pool on the upper deck, so you will need a bathing suit as well (you absolutely cannot swim in the Nile).

There are billions of midges around the Nile, though very few mosquitos. Bringing an anti-bug spray might be a good idea, although better cruise ships will have equipment so you will be able to sit on the upper deck after sunset without trouble (Just don’t open the window of your cabin at night!). If you just plan to ride a Felucca this will be no problem, as they only appear at night.

Not even the top luxury Nile cruise ships (like the Oberoi Zahra; read my review here) will have a special dress code or formal nights. As long as you pack some smart outfits, you’ll be fine and there really is no need to pack extra clothes. Again, restaurants on the ship will usually be air-conditioned and sometimes even quite chilly.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to point you towards my free Egypt itinerary you can download in the form below. Just enter your e-mail adress and download it from the confirmation e-mail!

So, this was my guide on what to wear in Egypt. Got any questions? Leave a comment below. And don’t forget to pin this article to your Pinterest board!

What to wear in Egypt? A detailed Egypt packing list to prepare your perfect trip to the beautiful country on the river nile. Is it okay to wear shirts, what is the general dress code and what to women wear in Egypt. This comprehensive travel answers all your packing related questions for Egypt. #Egypt #travel #africa #travelguide #packinglist

76 COMMENTS

  1. I loved your artical, but I think you might need an edit or two. You warned “There are billions of midgets around the Nile” worth a good laugh, but I think you meant magots.

    • Hey Debra – that was indeed one t too much. I meant midges ;-)
      Though, there were midgets in ancient Egypt. They usually worked as jewelers.
      Thank you for your comment!

      • I honestly didn’t know anywhere but Scotland had midges… I have to admit this has slightly out me off though visiting the pyramids is a lifelong dream. I am midges favourite snack.

      • Heh! Well, as far as I know these in Egypt don’t really bit. But the billowing insectoid clouds along the nile are so dense I doubt you can breath – at least at night.

  2. Followed few of your posts, found them helpful, Thank you for the information.
    Just a small piece of advice, Some parts were more of a personal view that was not needed where you mentioned about “travelers from these countries often don’t refrain from wearing the full veil when visiting western countries”
    If there is a sign that says don’t wear a certain thing and you still wear it that’s fine but to find a lame excuse to justify like that was not really necessary.

    • Hey Syma,

      thank you for your reply. Please be aware that this is a personal blog so personal views will always be a part of it. Thank you.
      That being said, I never said “ignore the signs” and I never was that kind of guy.
      I do live in Munich where a lot of travelers from the middle east visit in summer. A lot of the visiting women wear the niqab. Now I personally don’t care at all, but a lot of my fellow Germans do.
      But if we can tolerate it, i’m quite sure they can cope with us wearing shorts in a non-religious, non-official context.

      Now, I certainly don’t travel that way. Wearing a provocative outfit in the middle east won’t exactly get you the best table in the restaurant, just like wearing a niqab probably won’t help you with the locals in France.
      But i’m well aware that there are a lot of travelers out there who don’t want to wear long trousers all the time, and really like wearing shorts in Egypt. Hence my advice.

    • I agree with you Syma; the reason the Muslim women still wear their traditional dress when in another country is because of modesty! Norman….it has nothing to do with the choice of changing your style of clothing just because you are in another land. It has to do with modesty.

      • I am aware, but modesty is in the eye of the beholder. There are cultures where a bare breast is no problem at all, but a bare neck is…or bare knees. Most Europeans find a veil offensive, etc.

        As a traveller you should always adjust to the local customs, and if you can’t or don’t want to: stay at home!

  3. Thank you for your information which really gives us a good guidance on what we should take with us and what not we should take when visiting to Egypt. Thanks. now we can buy necessities as to your listing.

  4. Thanks very much for your insight. going on a nile cruise in March 2019. We are first time visitors to Egypt. I had wondered how “fancy” people dress in the evening for dinner on the ship. Hoping not to have to bring too many extra clothes for evening attire. I hope they don’t mind repeat outfits several evenings.
    Lots of Imodium seems to be as important and the right clothes, a hat and sunscreen.

    • Hey Regina,
      While I cannot speak for all Nile cruises, I’m pretty sure there is no need to overpack, and I felt that anything fancy usually felt a bit out of place. You are not on the Queen Elisabeth II ;-)

  5. Can you wear 3/4 pants and a tee shirt for during the day in the winter months of December and January. We are travelling to Cario Luxor and Aswan. Thanks

    • Hey Roseanne,
      Well that really depends on your personal perception but as the average temperature maximum for December and January is around 20° Celsius, I personally would say you’ll be better off with jeans than 3/4 pants ;-)
      Please be aware that it can get quite cold at night/ in the evening. Even in December, there can be hotter days and colder days, so a good mix is probably what you are looking for.

  6. Hi Norman,

    I’ll be travelling to Egypt next week from the 21st November onwards. Have seen the weather fluctuating was wondering what to wear. 24-27 degrees in the day is it considered hot? Or cooling as I know it’s winter now.

    • Those are about the average temperatures for Egypt in November. I’d call it pleasantly warm. Shorts and t-shirts will be fine. Be aware, though, that it will cool down to about 14° degrees at night, so depending on your activities and what you plan to see, you might want to bring a light jacket or a jumper.

  7. Hey, I love your article about Egypt but I just wanted to add a few things. I’m from Egypt and I live here and I can reassure you that in winter it rains a LOT. So if your coming in winter you might as well pack a coats (depends on your personal perception) , long sleeve shirts and light jackets. There is no specific dress code, you can wear whatever you want especially in hurghada, sharm el sheikh, Marsa allam, Dahab, luxor and aswan. Men and women ofcourse, can wear t shirts and shorts as they like but when visiting a mosque just cover appropriately in respect for the holy place.

    • Well, for a German “a lot of rain” might mean slightly different things than to an Egyptian. I’m fairly positive we do have single days here where it rains as much as in Cairo in the last decade altogether (a view most climate diagram support with hard data) ;-)
      That being said, it does get cold, and I did mention to bring a jacket in winter. Again, for me, cold starts at minus 5 degrees. To me, Egypt is pleasantly warm – even in December!

  8. Hey Norman,
    Quite curious, what diseases can humans get from midges when bitten, what are the symptoms and what cures are there? What other precautions should i take especially since I am having a horse ride ?

    • The tiny midges are no problem and don’t actually bite. They are just extremely annoying. If you were to go deeper into the nile delta, then mosquitos are a problem.
      You’ll have no problems during the day and so none during your horse ride (except that would be through the marshes of the nile, which I am pretty sure it will not be :P)

  9. Thanks, this was great! My husband and I are going to Cairo in September for our anniversary and I’ve been stressing over what to wear! Lol I’m super excited and glad I ran across this.

  10. Thank you for your post. My husband and I are frequent travelers and Egypt was his destination of choice for his 50th, so we will be going April 2019 (while the weather is still “mild” compared to his true birthday month of July). I appreciate your tips!

  11. My friend and I are going to visit Egypt next week. It appears and as you mentioned, the ground around the Pyramids and to various temples is sandy and rocky…. Do you suggest to wear a pair of light walking boots?

  12. Hi Norman, I enjoyed your article. Do you have any recommendations regarding travel with a four-year old? We are excited to be going in January. Bring our own carseat?

    • Hey Gigi,

      I cannot possibly answer this, as I have no experience with traveling with kids. Not sure what you would want to do with the car seat, though. You won’t need it in taxis in Cairo, and neither in an overland bus or on the train/plane.
      One thing I really would like to stress is hygiene, though. It’s incredibly easy to catch Diarrhoea….this might be quite an issue with a young child! ;-)

  13. Hey! I’m going to Cairo in the next two weeks. Do you have any tips regarding safety in Cairo? Are there any areas you would recommend to strictly avoid? Thanks. Sylwia

    • Hey Sylwia,

      actually I couldn’t think of any. Well..i wouldn’t walk around alone at night in backalleys and I wouldn’t visit the suburbs alone. But you were probably not going anyway.
      The most “dangerous” area is around Tahir Square, as they know tourists come here and you will most certainly encounter somebody showing you a “shortcut”. Just say no and go on. Google map is your friend ;-)

  14. Hi! thank you! again! I just came back from Egypt. Yes, a pair of walking shoes were sufficient. I was wearing my pair of Ecco sneakers. It turned out great!

  15. I am travelling to Hurghada and then a cruise on the Nile in 3 weeks time (end of Sept, beginning of March) with my sister. Can you advise on what currency we should take? Are GBP acceptable or USD to pay for things like excursions or should we convert all into EGP?

  16. Hi Norman
    Thanks for the insight. We are planning a March visit.
    The thing that worries me is diaheria. So is reputable bottled water brand you can recommend? Is it too late to plan a late March visit now?

    • Hey Bob,

      while it is okay to worry, I don’t think you have to worry about bottled water brands…just take whatever is available and you will be fine. As for March. That utterly depends on hotel/tour vacancies, which you have to check yourself. But I don’t think so :P

  17. My family and I are booked for Cairo / Giza/Nile Cruise trip the end of May 2019. Is bottled water plentiful there in Cairo? Also do you know what happened to that hotel Pyramid Valley in Cairo at the Giza entry? We were originally booked there, but was notified the hotel is no longer standing and was torn down. We had to book another one.

    • You will find bottled water everywhere. Nothing to be worried about!
      Got no idea, why that hotel closed, but the tourism industry had it rough in the past years. Lots of hotels had to close.

  18. Thanks Norman,

    A few thoughts/questions for you:
    – it looks to me that in March, the temps are warm (not hot) in Cairo, Alexandria, lower Nile; slightly hot in Upper Nile (Aswan); and definitely cool at night (jacket + long sleeve light shirt)… do you agree?
    – I like to bring lots of plastic bags… various sizes, when I travel. Put them in my day pack (which should be fine in March). Put purchased/unfinished food, trash, dirty cloths, wipes, bug spray, etc. in them. One large trash bag in case it rains (put back pack in bag)
    – do you think the Hummus, Baba ganoush, chick pea pastes are OK to eat (are they adequately cooked)?
    – any special clothes for sand storms?

    • Hey Richard,
      – well…some nights in March can be cool, so one long-sleeved item might be a good idea…a jacket definitely not (except your freeze extremely easily)
      – It won’t rain in March, big promise. And if it does, it will be a light drizzle that evaporates as soon as it hits the ground
      – those usually aren’t cooked, so it totally depends on if you trust the restaurant and your stomach. I’d stay away from it
      – bring a light scarf to wrap around your head on the odd chance you need to weather a sand-storm or ride a camel :)

  19. Hi
    I really enjoyed your advice, we’re going to Cairo on Saturday for 2 nights then on a Nile cruise for 7 nights. I’ve been so worried about wearing the right thing not to offend anyone and can see now that it’s not as strict as I thought a relief as I thougjt I was going to roast.
    One question in light of recent troubles did you feel safe when visiting tourist attractions etc.
    Going to Egypt is a life long ambition, we’re going to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary so can’t wait however a little apprehensive .

    • Hey Sheena,
      I can’t really tell you there is no risk. Travel always comes with a risk, but if you are afraid for your life or anything like that, fear not. Your nile cruise will be perfectly safe, at least as far as I have come to experience them :)
      I felt entirely safe visiting the tourist attractions, though you will find a horde of peddlers in front of each trying to sell you something. Just walk on and ignore them and enjoy 4,000 years of history! :)

  20. Thanks for the information about Egypt. We are off to Egypt for a tour in April 2019 and will take your advice about clothing, food and drink and look forward to knocking another historical site off of our bucket list.

  21. Thank you for all of the information, I have been pouring over it daily as our 10 day trip is in three weeks. I have a couple specific questions and I apologize if you’ve answered them, but I haven’t seen them addressed as yet. We are traveling from the US and I’ve read that its cheaper to just get a sim card for our Verizon phone once we are in the airport in Cairo then to pay the very expensive fees to upgrade to an international plan. What are your thoughts on that. Also, I was thinking of snorkeling in the Red Sea for a day trip. Would you recommend this or a different snorkeling destination? We are staying in Cairo the whole 10 days. Thank you for any assistance.

    • Cant really help you with the sim card, as I am from Europe and never really use my phone on vacations. As for snorkeling, why not spend 3 days at the beach? A day trip is probably a bit cumbersome.

  22. I like how you mentioned that weather can become a deciding factor when it comes to packing up clothes and going on a trip–white clothes are usually the best to bring along when going to places that are hot all year around. White is a color that reflects heat well and can keep you cool during the daytime, and so should be a part of the baggage that you should bring along. I’m looking to pack for a trip in a few days, and I was wondering if it was a good idea to bring white shirts along, and apparently, they are.

    • Well, I love white shirts…but you do have to consider that sand and sunscreen are not the best combinations when it comes to white stuff. But, as you said, it’s a good color to wear when it’s hot outside!

  23. I found this article a bit odd, if I am being honest. The whole, men don’t wear jeans or t-shirts comment I found a bit ridiculous. I’ve lived in Egypt going on 30 years now, there are plenty of men and women who wear jeans and t-shirts! While I am British my husband is Egyptian and a consultant anaesthetist and when not at work he wears nothing but jeans and t-shirts and sneakers/tennis shoes.

    • Hey Josephine,

      thank you for your valued input. While I did indeed see jeans and t-shirts, I never saw older local men wearing them. The younger generation – that’s different. Also, those closer to the tourist industry. But that’s why I wrote “most men”. Still, as I don’t want my readers to get confused, I did optimise the wording a bit. So, thank you for pointing that out.

      But to be quite honest with you. Jeans are not the best thing to wear in Egypt when it’s hot. Light cotton or hemp trousers are so much smarter ;-)

  24. Norman, truly enjoyed all comments re Egypt travel. My concern, and has been for four months, is clothing issues, particularly women’s clothing. I’ve run all over Connecticut trying to find long skirts, bought four, two of which came after a month of travel from China, and now to find out it’s unnecessary shames my Googling. I should have checked your website out first. At any rate, I’m very grateful for your information and enjoyed the comments made by the folks who actually did have the great good luck to find you earlier. I have no further question, just wanted to congratulate on a wonderful offering of practical travel information. Our travel is two weeks April-May, No. 1 on my bucket list, and I can’t wait!

  25. Thanks for your report. I’ve only just seen it and we go on Friday. It has helped though to show us a few things we hadn’t thought of and allow us to feel more prepared.
    I do wish some people would not be smart and a bit mean, in their comments to you. You have written the articles on Egypt, as you know it, and we can take or leave your advice.
    Anyway thank you for the help, it is much appreciated. Also thank you to others you have left some tips here as well. Happy Travels! 🧳

  26. Hi Norman,
    We are planning a trip in Dec 19. Will be staying mostly at Hurghada. Can you kindly let me know the following:
    a) The ideal clothes to wear – being winter time
    b) Do we need to book tours beforehand online or is it better and easier/cheaper to book in Egypt?
    c) Traveling around Egypt — the safe and cheap way – what do you recommend?
    d) We would like to see Suez / Alexandria as also Aswan – where do you recommend is the ideal place to book the trips from?

    • Shirts and jeans/trousers will be fine. But do bring a light jacket as it cools off considerably during the night. A t-shirt or two might be good for the occasionally warm day.
      I would book tours in advance, simply because in winter time there is less touristic activity.
      As for traveling around Egypt. Train or tourist bus – you don’t really have any other option. Fastest and safest way is plane.

  27. Thanks for the personal insight, extremely helpful. I agree (from living in Southeast Asia for years) that the heat/dress customs issue can be tough to navigate without good solid advice and personal experience.

    • I’d say that depends, really. It’s an option and they are quite comfortable, but it may look a bit weird in the end. But I wouldn’t say it’s rude.

  28. there is basically no dress code in Egypt, I’m Egyptian and I can assure you! Wear shorts with pride though it might be a bit disrespectful to wear in a mosque?

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