Our recommendation to visit Egypt
Our recommendation to visit Egypt and neighboring countries
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Egypt Travel advice
Events and festivals in Egypt
Egyptian culture and society was always been strongly linked to religion. With a Muslim majority, many of its festivities and celebrations have to do with certain dates in the Qur'an like the birth of Muhammad, the moment in which Abraham gave his son as an offering to Allah, Ramadan or the New Year according to the Arabic calender.
Also, the Egyptians do not forget their gods of the past nor their ancestral traditions linked to life in the countryside and along the banks of Nile River. Some of the festivities thank and ask the gods for an abundance of crops and successful harvests. Cairo also plays host to a number of cultural celebrations every year such as festivals of cinema, literature and music.
August (21) Eid Al-Adha
Also called the Feast of the Lamb or the Sacrifice, this religious celebration commemorates the day when Abraham was going to kill his son but instead Allah offered him a lamb. During those days there is a massive pilgrimage of the faithful to Mecca, while those who remain in the cities celebrate by offering the parts of a lamb to the needy, to friends and to family.
April (29) Sham el Nessim
More than 4,500 years old, this Egyptian festival commemorates the arrival of spring. In Ancient Egypt it was customary to make offerings to the gods with seasonal foods to thank them for good harvests. Currently, this festival attracts thousands of people who come to the Nile to enjoy its seasonal cuisine such as herring and vegetables. They also sing, dance and sail in traditional felucca boats along the river.
May (5) Ramadan
Ramadan is celebrated in all Arab countries on a date depending on the lunar calendar. This holiday is known because, throughout the month, Muslims practice fasting from dawn until the sun sets as a symbol of respect for Allah, as dictated by the Koran. In Egypt during those days you can see restaurants, cafes and houses decorated with the colors of this holiday. Many of them open until dawn and sell speciality products like nuts and dates for when the daily fast finishes.
June (5) Eid al-Fitr
This Islamic holiday, which is celebrated after Ramadan, celebrates the breaking of the fast. The Eid al-Fitr begins in the early morning, at which time you can hear the prayers of the faithful in the mosques. Afterwards, they all enjoy a good breakfast together and visit the houses of family and friends to enjoy further communal eating and festivities. Men often show off new white clothes and children receive gifts.
July (18) Day of the Prophet
This Muslim feast pays homage to the birth of Muhammad, the prophet of Allah. In Egypt this celebration is enjoyed more intensely than in other Arab countries. The mosques are illuminated, the streets of Cairo are filled with stalls and there are markets selling traditional food.
August (15) Wafaa Al Nil
Translated as the "Bride of the Nile", this traditional festival celebrates good harvests due to the absence of floods after the construction of the Aswan dam. According to legend, ancient Egyptians sacrificed a virgin by drowning her in the Nile as an offering so that the gods could help them to obtain a successful harvest. A tradition that has survived over time, but exchanging the woman for a wooden or clay doll that is dressed as a bride.
August (2-8) Arab Music Festival
Held annually, this festival that is organized in the Egyptian capital of Cairo brings together the best national and international artists of Arabic music. The performances, organized by the Cairo Opera, take place in the Giza Exhibition Center, in a large venue where spectators from all over the world attend every year.
September 11 Muslim New Year
The Muslim New Year depends on the lunar calendar, so it can vary from year to year. On this day the exodus of Muhammad is celebrated,and the faithful go to the mosques to pray and to enjoy different ceremonies. The same New Year's Day is a national holiday, so most people have the day off work to enjoy the nationwide celebration.GO TO EVENTS
Food in Egypt
Due to its rich history, ancient culture and excellent location, on the shores of the Mediterranean, Egyptian cuisine has rich ingredients from both the sea and the fields that cover its vast territory. The invasions and conquests that they have suffered in the past have left a legacy of numerous foods from the Middle East making their cuisine more similar to Arab than African. Meat is one of the most used food in the preparation of their dishes. Also bread and yogurt sauces, which resemble Turkish and Greek due to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. In Egyptian cuisine there is no shortage of rice, with which some of its most popular dishes are prepared, such as mashi and kushari. It is also a gastronomy rich in sweets, where you can find delicious delicacies such as baklava.
This Arabic dish has its origins in Ancient Egypt. Traditionally, many of the farmers ate it for breakfast, since it was the staple food of the day. Composed of fresh bread and hard bread mixed with yogurt, fatteh can be accompanied by chicken and aubergines or chickpeas. Today, this Egyptian delicacy can be found in most restaurants in the country,often in different variations.
These balls of minced beef or lamb are very typical in Arab countries. They are usually seasoned with spices and onions, which gives them a certain sweet taste. They can be roasted, fried or cooked, and are usually accompanied by tomatoes, pitta bread, rice or vegetables, depending on the restaurant and region. Although they are not unique to Egypt, due to their popularity they can be found on almost every menu.
Very popular in the countries of the Middle East, the kebab is composed of lamb or chicken meat. Unlike the classic Turkish kebab, in Egypt it is usually served on a skewer that is baked in charcoal with parsley. Depending on the restaurant it can be accompanied by vegetables, also roasted, or rice and salad. One of the most popular is the kebab Hal-la, which is cooked in a pot with onion and is accompanied by roasted potatoes, in addition to rice and is then covered with a meaty sauce.
The kushari is one of the best known dishes of Egyptian cuisine, although its origin is Persian. It is composed of a base of rice, lentils and chickpeas seasoned with a little garlic and vinegar and finally covered by tomato. Although it is a dish of vegetarian origin, depending on the region of the country and restaurant is sometimes also included pieces of meat. The kushari is one of the tastiest dishes in Egypt, although the tomato sauce is usually quite spicy and for some palates can be a little too spicy.
The origin of the baklava goes back to ancient Mesopotamia. Throughout history, due to the invasions and conquests of the peoples of the Middle East, this sweet began to spread throughout the Arab territory making it today one of the delights of Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Syria, among others . Consumed as a dessert, the baklava is composed of thin sheets of puff pastry dipped in honey or syrup that are usually filled with almond paste, hazelnuts or other nuts. They are cooked in the oven and, usually, their shape is triangular. It is served as an accompaniment to tea or coffee.
In Egypt it is common to find different poultry dishes. One of the most popular is the stuffed pigeon. Their main characteristic is that they come from the organic hatcheries, so they are healthy birds. Although traditionally cooked for special occasions, because of its popularity today it is possible to consume it throughout the year. In many restaurants it is usually served whole, stuffed with pieces of liver and gizzards finely chopped and seasoned with salt, pepper and oil. They are served with a salad, vegetables or rice.
Also called as okra, this vegetable little known in the West is very common in Egypt, where in ancient times it was used as an ingredient in delicious dishes. Although there are different specialties that incorporate the bamia, the best known of all is the one that is made with tomato and that includes meat, onion, salt, onion and lemon juice. Its main characteristic is that it provides nutrients and fiber, which is why it is a very healthy option.
The mashi is one of the simplest Egyptian dishes, but no less tasty. It is composed of rice which includes minced meat, spices, grape leaves, tomatoes, green peppers and aubergines. In some restaurants nuts are added at the end such as almonds, pine nuts, nutmeg and pistachios. A healthy and tasty mixture that is prepared in many of the country's households.
One of the tastiest dishes in Egypt. It is composed of beef that is cut into small pieces and seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices. Later it is mixed with bulgur wheat and other vegetables and, once it is all mixed together, it is cooked in the oven. In some restaurants, they also add pine nuts or other nuts. It is usually consumed cold and accompanied by yoghurt sauce or hummus.
This delicious Egyptian dessert adopts the name of its main ingredient: the kunafa, a sweet spiced dough that can be found in most Arabic bakeries. Throughout history it has been consumed by different countries in the Middle East, the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. Although it adopts numerous varieties, the most popular kunafa is one that is made with mozzarella cheese, butter, sugar and lemon juice.GO TO GASTRONOMY
Shopping in Egypt
Egypt is a good country for shopping, because it's cities have wide range of markets where they sell some of the most typical products of the country. The largest and best known of all is the Khalili, located in one of the oldest areas of Cairo. Through its narrow streets you can find many stalls with traditional shisha, poufs, carpets, ceramics, paintings, perfumes and clothing of all styles. The most sought-after purcase, however, is the djellaba, the typical Egyptian costume that is made up of a tunic of different colors and embroidery. Goldsmithing is one of the trades with the longest tradition in the country, as well as the classic papyri with engravings of hieroglyphics . The most advisable thing is that, in both cases, that you purchase these items in places that offer a guarantee of authenticity. There are numerous factories and workshops that can be accessed by taxi or on a private that offer quality pieces.
Also called hookah, shisha is the container of metal and glass that is used to smoke flavoured tobacco. It is a habit deeply rooted in Arab countries, so in addition to being able to find it in numerous restaurants and tearooms, this product is also available to buy in almost all stores in the country. There are different sizes and designs, and they will surely be hand painted with some Egyptian motif. One of the best places to buy at a low price is in the Khalili market in Cairo, where you will find a variety of them. Even if you do not intend to smoke through them, they are great items for decoration.
Egyptian crafts have a long tradition, since ceramics have been made here since Ancient Egyptian times. Some of the most common ceramic products are the figures of ancient pharaohs such as the bust of Tutankhamun or Nefertiti. You can also find figures of the Colossi, as well as ceramics tiles depicting scenes from Ancient Egypt. Clay is another of the materials most utilised by artisans, so it is also common to find small replicas of the pyramids made of clay. Throughout the country, especially in the small towns that dot the banks of the Nile, you can find houses with craft stalls outside.
Papyri are one of the most famous products of Egypt due to their history, tradition and popularity. Formerly, this was the material used to perform important deeds of society and was exported to other countries. Papyrus often feature numerous hieroglyphics where scenes of the daily life are recorded, imagery of the Egyptian Gods and notes about important events. In fact, thanks to the conservation of these ancient papyri, today we are able to know how the pyramids were built. In Egypt you can find printers and shops where you can buy papyri with typical motifs or even with your own name. We recommend avoiding those that are sold on the street, as many of them are fake and of poor quality. To know if a papyrus is authentic you can pass a wet finger on its surface and, if the water does not pass through, it is good quality.
This is the original dress of the Egyptians: a traditional Arab tunic that covers the body from the neck to the feet. Traditionally men's is usually white with some red motifs on the neck, while women can choose from a wide range of colors and embroidery. Depending on the material, wool or cotton, as well as its design, the price can vary. On a trip to Egypt, visitors often attend a djellaba party, which is why it is one of the most consumed products in the country. They are available to purchase in many of the textile shops that are located in the towns near the Nile, as well as in the more traditional shops in the city of Cairo.
One of the most sought after products by travelers in Egypt. Many of the streets of the great Egyptian cities like Cairo or Alexandria are full of perfume shops. On guided tours it is common to stop at some of the perfume houses that are scattered along the road. The most advisable thing is to buy it in these type of shops, since they often offer you a guarantee that it is an authentic perfume and not watered down. One of the best known is Alamir Perfumes Palaces, famous for its scent called ‘Secrets of the desert’. It is located near Giza and is authenticated by the government.
Goldsmiths have a long tradition in Egypt, because in ancient times the jewels were used for religious purposes and to ward of evil spirits. Although initially very basic materials were used, after the discovery of desert quarries, some precious stones like turquoise and agate began to be embedded in the metals and gold pieces began to be manufactured. Jewelry was not used exclusively for personal beauty purposes, but also applied to tombs, crowns and accessories. Today, these jewels are one of the most precious souvenirs for travellers to Egypt. If you want to buy gold, it is best to do it in the markets of Gamee Plaza or in the jewellers located in Maadi or Zamalek neighborhoods, in Cairo. In Khan El Khalili there are also a large number of goldsmith shops, although not all the pieces sold are of good quality.GO TO SHOPPING
Egypt tourist attractions
More information about Egypt
Egypt is famed for its ancient civilisation; the name alone evokes images of pharaohs and giant pyramids. A transcontinental country, linking North Africa to the Middle East, Egypt is bordered by Libya, Suda, Israel and the Gaza Strip and has coastlines on the abundant Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Its capital is Cairo, where visitors can experience the splendour and mystery of the Great Pyramids, perhaps Egypt’s most iconic sight. Other important cities include the port city of Alexandria, located on the northern coast, and Aswan, a city on the River Nile, known for its archaeological sites such as the Philae temple complex. From the dusty, dry lands of the Sahara Desert to the sunny shores of the Red Sea, world-renowned for its coral reefs, Egypt is a country of contrasts. The national language is Arabic, spoken by the majority of the 95 million inhabitants. Much of the population is concentrated in cities, towns and rural communities along the fertile Nile Valley and Nile Delta, the only arable land in the country. On a holiday to Egypt you can expect to be greeted by warm hospitality; locals will often invite visitors to share strong Arabic coffee with them.
History of Egypt
Undoubtedly, Egypt boasts one of the longest histories in the world, spanning back to at least the 4th millennium BC. Sometimes cited as the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’, the country appeals to travellers for its ancient monuments, which are most abundant around the fertile Nile Valley, and include treasures such as the Giza Necropolis, the Valley of the Kings and the iconic Great Sphinx. Ancient Egypt, the famous epoch in history, still immortalised today in literature and film, is heralded for its amazing progression in language, writing, architecture, organised religion, agriculture and government, with the earliest known hieroglyphics estimated to date to around 3200 BC, and the first pyramid structures thought to have been built in around 2700 BC. The first unified Ancient Egyptian kingdom began in 3150 BC and reigning dynasties continued for almost 3000 years, with different kingdoms and intermediate periods within this time frame. The most well-known pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun and Ramesses II were present in the period of the New Kingdom, between 1550 and 1070 BC. During this unique time in the country’s history, Egyptian culture, religion and traditions flourished. Concepts and practices, such as the after-life, mummification and cosmic order were popular at the time and still ignite the imaginations of historians and everyday people in the present day. Fast-forward to today and Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, although it was an early centre of Christianity, before the 7th century. Despite a turbulent history of occupation, the nation declared independence from the British Empire in 1922, although the influence of the empire remained until the revolution of 1952. For travellers wishing to experience one of the world’s oldest civilisations, a package holiday to Egypt allows visitors to walk in the footsteps of the pharaohs and immerse themselves in the splendour of times gone by.
Nature in Egypt
More than 90% of Egypt’s land consists of desert areas, with an extremely arid climate and a near-impossible challenge of growing crops or sustaining life outside of the Nile Valley or in the rare oases such as the Siwa Oasis and the tropical paradise of the Dakhla Oasis in the Western Desert. The other-worldly sand dunes of Egypt’s deserts once acted as protection to the kingdom of the Pharaohs from the threat of western invaders. The urban centres of Cairo, Alexandria and Aswan contrast with the idyllic Red Sea resorts of Hurghada and Sharm el Sheik, popular with holidaymakers for their up-scale hotels and scuba-diving opportunities. In fact, the coral reefs of the Red Sea are some of the most biodiverse in the world, and the exceptionally clear waters are perfect for admiring the marine life which inhabit the reefs such as Clownfish, Pufferfish, Butterflyfish, the impressive Lionfish and the colourful Emperor Angelfish. Perhaps the most famous natural attraction in the country is the mighty River Nile, the longest river in the world, which spans the country from north to south. The yearly floods of the river, which historically fertilised the Nile Valley and nourished precious crops, has been halted since the completion of the Aswan Dam in 1970, changing the agricultural practices in the area ever since. Today, Nile river cruises are an extremely popular choice for visitors wanting to experience the changing landscapes of the Nile Valley and the historical monuments and sights along the route. In contrast, the backdrop of the snow-covered Sinai mountains in the peninsula of the same name provide a unique sight in an otherwise warm, sunny and dry climate.
Sights in Egypt
Egypt is a sightseers paradise, with a multitude of exciting sights to discover. At the top of most lists is the Giza Pyramid Complex, on the outskirts of the capital of Cairo. Here, visitors can explore the three great pyramids, the site of the workers' town, where the builders and engineers of the pyramids lived, and the famous Great Sphinx. This complex is considered the oldest Ancient Wonder in the world, and, amazingly, the only one of the wonders still in existence today. Through sheer workmanship and labour, these great pyramids were constructed to house the remains of the famous Pharaohs and to store the items that were considered neccessary for the deceased to successfully survive in the after-life. Located close to the Sudanese border, the temples of Abu Simbel are another of the remnants of Ancient Egypt considered to be an unmissable sight on a trip to Egypt. Constructed by Ramesses II, the temples are carved into the rock face and feature statues of gigantic human figures and intricate hieroglyphic carvings. Finally, the Valley of the Kings stands out as a must-see destination for the significant role its excavation has played in the understanding of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. It was the main burial place of the most famous royal figures of the New Kingdom, and since its discovery at the end of the 18th century, and the subsequent discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun on the site, it has been shrouded in much mystery and intrigue. A tour of Egypt is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the country’s fascinating history and heritage and to experience the sheer scale and majesty of a number of the world’s most famous archaeological sights.
Back in the era of the Pharaohs, Egypt led the way in the arts, creating the first synthetic colour pigment, ‘Egyptian Blue’, and inventing various unique design codes and practices. Today, the country is one the the Arabic cultural trendsetters, and a leader in the cinema industry throughout the Middle East. Egypt also has a rich musical tradition, with influences from both the Mediterranean and Africa, and is famously the birthplace of belly dancing, the characteristic dance of the region. In literary fields, Egypt has stood out for producing the first Arabic language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, the author Naguib Mahfouz, who was awarded the prize in 1988 for his numerous works, many of which are set in Egypt. Of course, with such an impressive history, the culture of the country has strong links to the past and these elements are proudly showcased in its grandiose cultural institutions, such as the colossal Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
If you dream of immersing yourself in the worlds oldest civilisation, walking in the footsteps of the the greats, such as Tutankhamun and Ramesses II, and exploring a country rich in natural beauty, from the Red Sea to the Sahara Desert, a holiday to Egypt is an unforgettable experience, and the perfect choice for lovers of history, nature and culture.
Valid passport with at least six months validity.
A visa is required. Issued on arrival in the country. Price approx: $25.
UTC + 02:00.
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220 V. Adapter not required but recommended.
Other useful information
Egypt has a desert climate with mild winters and very hot summers.
There are no mandatory vaccinations for travellers from the UK.
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