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.

The good news: It’s a dry kind of heat with an 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. 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

38 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.

  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!

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