Egypt, a country uniting northeast Africa with the Middle East, spans back to the time of the pharaohs. Millennia-old monuments can be found along the fertile Nile River Valley, such as Giza's gigantic Pyramids and Great Sphinx not forgetting Luxor's hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs. In it's capital city, Cairo, Ottoman landmarks, including the Muhammad Ali Mosque and the Egyptian Museum, a trove of antiquities can be discovered.
Egypt has one of the longest and most significant histories of any country. Its heritage can be traced back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Ancient Egypt has witnessed some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion, and central government and is considered the cradle of civilisation. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings all showcase this legacy and continue to be the focus of both scientific and popular interest.
Egypt's historic and rich cultural heritage is central to its national identity, which has endured and often assimilated various foreign influences, including Persian, Greek, Arab, Ottoman Turkish, Roman, and Nubian.
Egypt was also an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the 7th century and today is a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.
Egypt is among the most fascinating countries of the ancient civilisation. For the traveller, it offers a rich cultural experience and boasts of some of the most iconic landmarks in the world.
UK: British passport holders travelling to Egypt normally need a visa. You can get a visa before you travel from the official Visa2Egypt portal or from your nearest Egyptian consulate. Tourist visas granted using the e-visa system are valid for a maximum of 3 months. It is advisable to get a visa before you travel.
USA: U.S. citizens must have a visa to visit and can obtain a renewable single-entry 30-day tourist visa on arrival at Egyptian airports for a 25 USD fee. A multiple entry visa is also obtainable for 60 USD. The Government of Egypt has created a website for the issuance of “e-visas” at visa2egypt.gov.eg/eVisa/Home.
Egypt, being a predominantly Muslim country, is naturally conservative. On the whole, people are careful in what they wear. The dress code in Egypt for women is considered conservative by western standards and it is respectful to obey this code.
For men, it's not so much an issue as normal trousers and shirts (or t-shirts) are fine. In Cairo, however, or any city, it would not be acceptable to wear cropped shorts or sleeveless tops. Generally, men in any non-coastal resort should wear trousers (at tourist sites, long loose shorts are acceptable) or jeans and a t-shirt. Often, local people do not feel comfortable seeing a man in shorts.
Women, on the other hand, should adopt the conservative dress code. Basic clothes might include loose linen or cotton trousers (which are also ideal for higher temperatures) or a below-the-knee skirt and sleeved blouse. Tight clothes and low necks should be avoided.
When entering a mosque as a tourist, it is better to observe the conservative dress code, and in some of the major mosques (Al-Azhar for example) women will be required to cover up. Cover-up items are likely to be provided by the mosque if you don’t have something suitable.
Islam is practiced by the majority of Egyptians and it governs their personal, political, economic, and legal lives.
Among certain obligations for Muslims is to pray five times per day: at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. The timings are listed daily in the local newspaper. Friday is the Muslim holy day and everything is closed. Many establishments also are closed on Thursday, making the weekend days Thursday and Friday.
During the holy month of Ramadan, all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk and are only permitted to work six hours per day. Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or gum chewing. Non Egyptians are not required to fast, however, they must not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public. Each night at sunset, families and friends gather together to celebrate the breaking of the fast (iftar). In general, things happen more slowly during Ramadan. Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule, and shops may be open and closed at irregular times.
Tipping in Egypt is a very important part of the Egyptian culture, so be prepared to tip 10% for good service even if there is a service charge on your receipt, as this does not go to the waiting staff. Andante Travels will take care of gratuities to restaurant staff, local guides and drivers.