You’re about to head off on your trip to Egypt and you aren’t sure what you need to pack or even wear. When I was initially packing, I was worried about what was considered appropriate attire for women. Egypt is modern but conservative. The good news is that things are pretty straightforward and following a few key packing tips will have you visiting Egypt with confidence. This post has 10 essential items that need to be on your Egypt packing list. You will also find a comprehensive checklist, including travel gear and which items to leave at home. This packing list will certainly help you plan what you are going to wear in Egypt!
Weather and the Best Time to go to Egypt
The weather in Egypt is something you will want to consider although the majority of the year has pretty high temperatures. The high season, and the most popular time to visit, is the winter. December through February has warm daytime temperatures and cool weather by night. Shoulder season occurs from October-November and March-April. This time of year is very hot during the day, and so it is best to plan activities for the morning and evening. May through September temperatures can be excruciatingly hot, so I don’t recommend visiting during those months. If you are wondering what the best clothing to wear in Egypt are, check out the 10 things you will want to pack below.
What to Wear in Egypt
There are two things people are typically thinking of when trying to figure out what to wear in Egypt. The first is the temperature. Egypt is a desert which means most of the things on your packing list will be for warm, dry weather. The second and bigger consideration, is the type of clothing that is appropriate for a conservative country like Egypt. The good news is that modest clothing for Egypt doesn’t mean that you have to be fully covered all the time.
Since the sun can be very strong, sunscreen and a hat is essential. Closed toe shoes work the best when you are out touring dusty monuments. Typically this is a trip where you move around a lot so it will make your life easier if you can pack everything for Egypt in a carry-on suitcase. Since all your clothing will be lightweight, it will be easy to pack in a smaller bag. Compression packing cubes can help you fit everything into a smaller suitcase as well.
What Men Should Wear in Egypt
In Egypt, men dress smartly. They wear pants and a short sleeve or long sleeve shirt. Some wear the more traditional abaya, which they jokingly refer to as Egyptian air conditioning. My husband wore shorts and he was assured by people that it was okay but no Egyptian men wore shorts. Men can generally wear what they want in Egypt.
What Women Should Wear in Egypt
Choose lightweight and airy clothes that don’t expose a lot of skin. Outside of beach resorts, crop tops or anything baring your stomach is a hard no. Shorts are typically a resort thing only but I did see them worn by tourists in big tour groups. If you will be in a big group and want to wear them, it’s probably fine but avoid short shorts. If you’re NOT in a big tour group, I would avoid them. I wore shorts to the train station in Luxor, attracting unwanted attention and almost died of embarrassment. You can see the video that shows it all here.
The easiest way to dress was to bring midi or maxi dresses that were sleeveless. Then I brought a long sleeved button up shirt to put on top when we were near people. Some cabs don’t have air conditioning and being able to get rid of sleeves was a dream come true. You can also wear t-shirts with pants or long skirts. Just make sure they aren’t low cut v-necks.
What to Wear in Cairo
What you wear in Cairo might be different than other parts of your trip. Cairo is a big city with great restaurants and nightlife. You can wear what you would typically wear for a night out as long as it is conservative. There is no dress code per se in Egypt. Local women wear the same things we do including fitted clothing like skinny jeans and leggings. They typically wear tops that are loose and long sleeved with high necklines (no cleavage showing). They don’t wear tank tops, anything with their stomach showing or mini skirts.
For the Pyramids of Giza, you will need clothing that is modest and offers sun protection. Mosques in Cairo will require women to have shoulders covered, long skirts or pants and head covering. They will typically have you remove your shoes.
10 Things You Will Want to Pack for Egypt
1. When Packing for Egypt a Scarf Should be #1 on Your List
Something that most people don’t think to pack for warm weather is a scarf but you will wear it often in Egypt. Bring one like this lightweight linen beach gauze shawl that can also cover your shoulders if necessary. It is necessary to have your head covered in a mosque. I brought a scarf but forgot to take it with me when we were going shopping in Cairo. We happened upon a beautiful mosque and they wouldn’t let me in without putting on this borrowed, unfortunately smelly, abaya. The moral to this story is to pack a light-weight scarf or two in your bag AND it carry with you.
2. A Power Bank to Keep Your Phone Charged
A typical day trip in Egypt means that you’ll be using your phone for navigation, photos, videos, getting an Uber and staying in touch. Often that means being out all day or hours traveling between cities. You need back up power. One of the most important items on your packing list for Egypt is a portable power bank that can charge up to 3 devices simultaneously. You can easily keep it in your pocket or purse all day long.
3. Secure Purse, Day Pack or Money Belt
An anti-theft travel purse or safe back pack is a must no matter where in the world you choose to travel. Tourists are an obvious target for pickpocketing, and at the bigger tourist sights in Egypt, you will find people trying to sell you scarves or things they can use to cover your bag while they grab something. Stay away from these people and have a secure bag.
A purse must completely close. If you use a tote bag, it should completely zip shut so a stranger can’t reach in. For Egypt, I found it best to wear a small cross body travel wallet that held my credit cards, passport, phone and a few extra things like lip gloss and hand sanitizer. The cross body strap held it in front of me and I kept my hands on it when walking through a crowd. The other reason I really like it is because it easily fits in my travel backpack so it’s not an extra item for carry on.
Backpacks are really useful but are easy for someone to access when they are on your back. The outer pockets should only have things you don’t mind losing. Passports, wallets or phones should be in compartments that are in internal pockets that zip up. When you are in a crowd, wear your backpack as a front pack for safety. Consider buying a cable lock to secure the front compartments of your back pack secure. They’re so inexpensive and will give you complete peace of mind. We personally use this camera backpack that is much safer than a normal pack. The part that would normally open up on the front is placed against your back so no one other than you can access it.
4. Long Sleeve Button-Down Shirt
While Egypt is a more progressive middle eastern country, it is still important to be respectful of the culture and religious beliefs of its people. Furthermore, Egypt is hot. To stay as cool as possible and protected from the sun while sightseeing, yet still maintain a respectful demeanor, a basic button-down shirt is a must for your Egypt packing list. Not only is it a versatile piece of clothing for Egypt, but you will wear it during the day or out at night.
5. A Comfortable Maxi Dress
When people ask me what to wear in Egypt, my first answer is a lightweight maxi dress. I found this super soft, lightweight jersey fabric, cami maxi dress that doesn’t wrinkle, comes in 22 colors and is the best deal. The other dress I found and love is this button up, short sleeve maxi dress that comes in tons of prints and colors. It’s also a great deal and the flowy skirt looks amazing for an Instagram post . You could pack 2 of each of these dresses to your list for Egypt and barely use any of your packing space. That’s how lightweight and perfect they are. With a long sleeve shirt to go on top, you would have 8 outfits..
6. Wear Comfortable Shoes for Sightseeing in Egypt
There are endless sights to see throughout Egypt, many of which require walking on paths and often through dirt. Since you’ll be doing a lot of walking, your shoes need to be comfortable and protective. Sandals are not a good option for walking around the Pyramids of Giza. My favorite sneakers to wear on vacation are super comfortable, inexpensive, easy to clean off and they get replaced when necessary. They were perfect to wear in Egypt for almost everything.
As previously mentioned, comfortable shoes are a must! Beyond having regular walking shoes, when going into town to shop for food or trinkets, or even just lounging around the hotel, it’s always nice to have a pair of open, breathable sandals to throw on when you aren’t doing anything too strenuous. The beauty of sandals is that they take up almost no space in a suitcase and are an easy thing to put on when you want to go out for a meal. I recommend trying a pair of Sam Edelman sandals, they are so comfy and cute!
7. Make Sure to Pack Sunscreen with High SPF
As we all know, most of Egypt is desert land. Sun constantly beats down on you, and there is very little shade available to take cover. Because of this, it is imperative that you protect your skin by applying high SPF sunscreen throughout the day. I have 2 favorite sunscreens that I use. The first is a weightless, clear 40 SPF sunscreen that also works as a makeup primer. It’s my go to everyday sunscreen and it’s perfect travel size will last you for the whole trip. The second is a sheer, dry touch 100 SPF sunscreen that will last for more active pursuits and is a great price and travel sized.
8. Hat to Block the Sun
Sunscreen will only take you so far. You will wear a hat constantly in Egypt. A wide brim straw hat is the best to block the sun. I like to take an inexpensive packable hat with me that I don’t mind losing or damaging. Other people prefer a designer packable hat that you can put in your suitcase.
9. A Sun Umbrella is a Great Idea for Your Egypt Packing List
The inexpensive 50+ UV protection sun umbrella I packed for Egypt was a lifesaver at the Pyramids of Giza. We were out in the sun for hours with no shade protection and it cut down the amount of heat, which made all the difference. It comes in white and black underneath. We tested both and the black definitely was cooler and cut down glare. To take it up another notch, this double sun umbrella will provide even better protection. The umbrella is so compact that it’s easy to pack in your suitcase or daypack. no room in my suitcase and easily fit in our backpack for the day.
You’ve heard about the sun in Egypt repeatedly so you’ll understand why this is not the time to forget to pack your sunglasses. Whether you pack trendy sunglasses, Aviators or inexpensive polarized sunglasses that you don’t have to worry about, just make sure you have something to cut down the glare.
Packing List for Egypt
- Passport with at least 6 months of validity
- Credit cards, ATM Card and some cash including $25 for visa on arrival
- Driver’s License and insurance card if you plan to rent a car
- A hardcopy of your Travel Insurance policy
- Comfortable sandals
- Comfortable closed-toe walking shoes
- Maxi dress
- Lightweight maxi skirt
- Button-down shirt
- A lightweight sweater or light jacket
- Loose fitting wide-leg pants
- Lightweight scarf
- Compression socks
- Bathing suit
- Packable hat
- Sun umbrella
- Secure purse
- Water bottle
- Cell Phone
- Power adapter
- Charging cords
- Power bank
Things to Leave off Your Egypt Packing List
- Shorts – Although we typically wear shorts in high temperatures, Egypt is extremely conservative. It is best to not show much skin unless you are on a specific tour or Nile river cruise where shorts are allowed.
- Tank tops and crop tops – Unless you are by the pool or beach, these shouldn’t be worn.
- Heavy jackets – you will rarely ever need any heavy clothing in Egypt. To cover up, a light cardigan or button-down shirt is perfect.
- Valuables – It’s important to leave as many valuables as possible behind. Tourists are very easily targeted, especially in popular destinations, so make sure to keep your essential valuables close to you.
Egyptian Visa & Money
In Egypt, Visas are offered upon arrival. This means that when land in Cairo, you can enter the country by purchasing a visa. In this case, make sure you bring along 25 USD exactly and purchase your visa before entering customs. We had no problem with this, although we arrived very early in the morning. You can purchase your Egypt visa in advance here, or if you are on a tour, they will likely coordinate the visa process with you.
The currency in Egypt is Egyptian pounds. Cash is necessary and there are many ATMs available throughout the country. However, there is a limitation as to how much you can withdraw so be aware of that.
Safety in Egypt
Even though this is definitely not something you would typically find in a packing guide, many people worry about safety in Egypt. There are some things you can do to plan ahead. Start by looking up the Egypt Travel Advisory to be aware of any current issues. Since things are constantly changing in the world, we highly recommend travel protection. There are 2 ways we protect ourselves. We book our tickets with our Chase Sapphire Preferred that has built in travel protection and we use World Nomads travel insurance. If we ever need to cancel a trip, we are totally covered.
One last note regarding safety: always be aware of your surroundings. No matter where in the world you travel, even if it is within your own country, be alert. Tourists are always a target. The less touristy you look, the better. As mentioned above use a secure travel purse or secure backpack to protect yourself from petty theft. For more information read our Egypt Travel Tips.
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