Seasonal Planning for Egypt Travel
Located in the Middle East, Egypt is subject to desert temperatures throughout the year. While this can mean intolerable heat in the south in the hot summer months from June to August, it also lends to cooler days and chilly nights in the late fall and winter months, from October to February.
However, while many tourists still opt to see Egypt in the summer months, you'll have to be more strategic about where you visit due to the high temperatures. For example, if you want to explore the Nile River, it's best to choose a cruise that will offer you a regular refuge from the heat and air conditioning. If the south is too uncomfortable to navigate, you can still spend time in Cairo, Alexandria, the Red Sea, and the Sinai Peninsula.
If you want to skip the crowds and high prices but don't mind a bit of warmth, you can plan a trip to Egypt during March (the beginning of shoulder season) or September (the end of shoulder season). The high season is a special time in Egypt, not only because of the fabulous weather. Locals and tourists from around the world can enjoy the holiday season, from Christmas through the New Year. Holidays, festivals, and special events are abundant in Egypt year-round. So, if you decide to splurge on a peak-season trip or plan for an off-season vacation, you'll probably catch an exciting celebration.
|Seasons||Pros||Cons||Best for||Where to Visit|
|Spring (Mar-May)||Shoulder season means lighter crowds and lower entry fees||Temperatures begin to rise||Cultural events, Ramadan, Easter||Cairo, Alexandria, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula|
|Summer (Jun-Aug)||Crowds are extremely thin, and costs are considerably low||Intolerable daytime temperatures||Egyptian festivals and cultural events||Cairo, Alexandria, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula|
|Fall (Sep-Nov)||Temperatures begin to cool down||
Crowds become thicker; entry costs increase; lodging prices are on the rise
|Harvest Festival, music and film festivals, Sun Festival||Anywhere. Siwa Desert, all beaches|
|Winter (Dec-Feb)||Temperatures are the best of the year; holiday celebrations; various acclaimed festivals||Tourist crowds at all-time high; several rainy days in December and February; warm clothes needed for evenings; lodging costs double; entry fees at peak pricing||Christmas, New Year, book fair, Sun Festival||Anywhere. Best weather of the year|
Spring in Egypt (March to May)
Springtime is considered shoulder season in Egypt, which means the crowds have thinned (the lines are lighter, and so are the entry costs), and the weather is not entirely unbearable. Yet, March is the sweet spot of the three months since it is the proper transitional month from winter into spring. However, temperatures are undoubtedly on the rise come April and May. The coolest parts of the country are the coastal Sinai Peninsula, along with Cairo and Alexandria in the north, where you'll find May's daytime high temperatures between 84°F-89°F (28°C-31°C), while the evenings cool off to 50°F-60°F (10°C-15°C).
Events in spring
Ramadan (varies annually), nationwide. Ramadan falls during the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar, which changes each year. Muslims take part in a fast each day and feast each evening. It's a fun experience for foodies, but other attractions are limited due to the holiday–many sites close early, and some restaurants are entirely closed during the day—and alcohol tends to be restricted through observation.
Downtown Cairo Contemporary Arts Festival, Cairo. Annual international arts festival in March, you'll find various cultural events ranging from fine to performing arts. There's a mix of Egyptian, Arabic, and international artists on display, and events take place in venues throughout the capital.
Coptic Easter Sunday, nationwide. Christian Egyptians celebrate Coptic Orthodox Easter in April, which features a large feast following a fast. There are religious ceremonies, as well as banquets and celebrations to commemorate the rising of Jesus Christ.
Sinai Liberation Day, nationwide. Each year on April 25, Egyptians commemorate the day in 1982 when the Sinai Peninsula was recovered from Israel, ending a long war with its neighbor. Ceremonies honor fallen troops, and popular hubs like Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab are vibrant with celebratory events.
Moulid of Abu Al Haggag, Luxor. A Sufi celebration in Luxor around the end of April. Locals dress in colorful clothes and host musical events, dances, horse races, theater performances, and more. It's plenty of fun to watch—but note that Luxor begins to warm up this time of year.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Summer in Egypt (June to August)
By June, the heat is in full swing in Egypt, so you need to be mindful of the hot weather. However, you can still have a fantastic summertime getaway. Prioritize the northern stops and the Red Sea beaches (Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, and Dahab are ideal) over central and southern destinations where temperatures are soaring above 105°F (40°C). If you're set on exploring the Nile River, you can book a cruise where you'll have regular access to coverage from the heat, air conditioning, and a slight breeze along the water.
Events in summer
Eid Al-Fitr, nationwide. To commemorate the close of Ramadan, Egyptian Muslims host a giant feast called Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the intermittent fasting period. The three-day June event brings an abundance of food and festivities.
Eid al-Adha (July-August): Egyptian Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha (or Eid Qurban), the "Festival of the Sacrifice." It marks the time when Ibrahim sacrificed his son for Allah's command, with a four-day festival accompanied by lots of chanting, prayers, and feasting on meat. It occurs in July, though it changes annually according to the lunar calendar.
Fall in Egypt (September to November)
As the fall months unfold, the temperatures will finally cool down. September may still bring warm days, but no longer swelteringly hot ones. Beginning later in the month and into November, daytime temperatures in the north will drop from 87°F-82°F (30°C-27°C), and 66°F-60°F (18°C-15°C) at night, while the south will still be warmer, as temperatures slowly decrease from 98°F-77°F (36°C-25°C), with evening lows reaching 48°F (8°C) by the end of autumn—don't forget to pack a jacket! There are 11-12 hours of daylight in the fall, which offers a decent amount of time for sightseeing during these three months.
While the Red Sea and the Sinai Peninsula remain warm and dry, the northern coast experiences occasional rain, so keep this in mind while planning and packing. If you'd like to cruise along the Nile River, it's a great time of year to visit the temples in Luxor and Aswan.
September is the last month of shoulder season crowds and prices. You can expect somewhat thinner groups (the Pyramids of Giza will start to draw sizable traffic again) and lower entry prices before the season ramps up. As November approaches, so does the high season, which means hotels and costs will begin to increase through the end of the calendar year.
Events in fall
Wafaa El-Nil, nationwide. Meaning "Fidelity of the Nile," this festive celebration for two weeks in September pays tribute to the sacred body of water the Egyptians regarded as a symbol of life. Many of the events center around the arts, from poetry readings to music to lectures.
Abu Simbel Sun Festival, Ramses II Temple. In October, the "Ascension of Ramses II" event marks the first of two each year when the sun aligns with Abu Simbel's famous temple (the other is typically February). When the light hits the sanctuary, it illuminates the statue of King Ramses II, making way for a holy ceremony that attracts crowds by the hundreds.
Siyaha, Gebel Dakrur. An October harvest festival celebrates the coming season of the Siwa Oasis in the Western Desert. Events coincide with the full moon and involve Sufi chanting, music, food, and other festivities. Men gather to form a prayer circle in the evenings, also known as a zikr.
Moulid of Sayyed Al-Badawi, Tanta. Late in October, a large pilgrimage draws almost one million Sufi Egyptians to Tanta along the Nile Delta. Prayers and celebrations honor the 13th-century Sufi figure who fought the Crusaders.
Arab Music Festival, Cairo Opera House. Early in November, the Cairo Opera House hosts a 10-day festival featuring classical Arabic music. In addition to notable international musicians, the event invites poets, artists, and all types of performers.
Cairo International Film Festival, Cairo. This acclaimed, competitive film festival takes place at the end of November (and sometimes into December), drawing a wide selection of Arab and international films. It's on par with Cannes and the Venice Film Festival.
Winter in Egypt (December to February)
December in Egypt marks the start of the coolest temperatures of the year as well as the peak tourist season. The weather is thoroughly enjoyable. Temperatures in Cairo range from 66°F-73°F (18°C-22°C) in the daytime to 48°F-53°F (8°C-11°C) at night (expect up to three days of rainfall), while southern destinations range from 73°F-79°F (22°C-26°C) during the day to 44°F-48°F (6°C-8°C) at nightfall. While the weather may be delightful, the crowds and costs soar; lodging prices may double. The upside: it's the best time of year to visit because you can do it all, from the south to the north, and from the beaches to the desert.
Thanks to the cooler weather and the New Year, January is considered the peak season. Plenty of tourists plan their holiday vacations among the Pyramids of Giza with relaxation time on the beaches. A cruise on the Nile River is fantastic, while a trip to Alexandria to see the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa and the Roman Amphitheater is bustling with visitors.
February is the last month of winter and welcomes the close of peak season. Bring warm clothes as you immerse yourself in the lively nightlife, and make sure to enjoy the sites from Cairo to the Nile-Delta region with a true respite from the heat, which will soon return.
Events in winter
International Cairo Biennale, Cairo. This low-key, government-sponsored arts show draws high-caliber artists to the capital. Although not annual, artists from all over the world participate in the December festival and show off their work when it occurs.
Kiahk/Coptic Christmas, nationwide. Most Christians in Egypt are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which celebrates Christmas on January 7. The month leading up is Kiahk, which coincides with a fasting period, "The Holy Nativity Fast." Devotees take up intermittent fasting during this time, followed by a major celebration.
Cairo International Book Fair, Cairo. Late in the month and into early February, the capital hosts this event at the Nasr City Fairgrounds in Heliopolis. It is the largest and oldest book fair in the Arab world—most of the works, lectures, and events are in Arabic.
Abu Simbel Sun Festival, Ramses II Temple. This is the second festival in the year when the sun hits the sanctuary in February and casts light onto the statue of King Ramses II. This solar alignment (the other occurs in October) lends to a sacred ceremony that draws hundreds of viewers.