The Best Time to visit Egypt
The best time to visit Egypt is from October to May. Though it is the peak travel season, when most travelers come, the temperatures are a lot better for those not used to the heat. Within these 8 months there are 2 periods of what are known as “High Season” (the Christmas/New Year period and the Easter Period) when hotels and cruises will put their prices up, though you will find that special events like Gala Dinners are also laid on for their customers. This can mean that some hotels become really expensive and so making your reservations very early, even for the budget hotels, is strongly advised.
For the other 4 months, May to October, it is the Egyptian summer and the temperatures can often be very high, especially in Upper Egypt (Luxor and the southern parts of the country). However, this is a time in which you can see Egypt in virtual peace and quite; the advantage of being able to see the tourist sites without hassle from school children, or from the crowds of tourists, can easily be seen. Just imagine the piece and quiet at the various sites, allowing you to take photographs without strangers obscuring the view!
Some Cairo hotels will fill up with many Arab visitors in the summer, who are taking advantage of the slightly cooler conditions here compared to the hotter weather in their own countries, and early reservations are very rarely required; in fact many discounts are often on offer, to entice those who are willing to brave the heat.
The Egyptian springtime is also another good time to visit. The weather is fairly moderate at this time of year, but you are advised to try to avoid the “The Khamsin wind” season that runs between March and April. It does only last for a few days, which can easily be coped with. The Khamsin wind is a warm wind that blows in from the desert, carrying sand and dust; it really is quite an adventure, for those who wish to discover it.
Many travelers avoid traveling to Egypt during Ramadan, mainly because they feel that alcohol and food are not available, but this is not always true. Though Egypt is primarily a Muslim country, the people recognize that the majority of their visitors do not follow Islam and so, whilst alcohol is not freely available during the day, most of the restaurants and cafes are still open. To be honest, the only thing that is really different during the Holy month is that the sites close two hours earlier than normal, which is done to allow the people that work there enough time to get home in time for the sun to set; when they can break their fast. It can also be noticed that the local people are generally slow during the daytime, but this changes after sunset when they become very active after their fast is broken.
Ramadan is a superb month in Egypt; Ramadan is actually a month-long festival. All through the night coffee shops remain open and they are often overfilled with people who stay up until the early morning hours. This is one time of year when Cairo, as well as the rest of the Muslim world, never sleeps; the time when all of the people go out to have some fun.
The end of Ramadan is called “Eid Al Fitr”, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, and is a day which cannot be missed. It is a holiday, though tourist sites still remain open, and it is a very festive and joyous one. In the morning Muslims will wear their best clothes and perfumes to attend a special congregation at their local Mosque (masjid). After the completion of these special prayers, as well as a special sermon, they will rise, hug each other, and exclaim “Eid Mubarak” which means “holiday blessings”; it is a phrase will be heard many times during this day.
This is a day when families will travel miles to visit one another and have special meals together, and some of these meals have treats which are not savored at any other time of the year. The houses, and streets, are lit with a huge variety of lamps, lights, and other types of ornamentation, with the children being given sweets, money, or gifts as a reward. If you ever get invited to one of these special parties, it is an experience you will never forget.
The Weather in Egypt
The weather is the defining factor for most people planning their trip to Egypt. It’s hot and sunny for most of the year and there’s not much use for an umbrella, unless you use one to protect you from the sun. Winters (November to February) are generally mild although temperatures at night can get down to the 40’s Fahrenheit (10 C). Daily temperatures for Cairo during the “winter” are around 70 Fahrenheit (20 C). In the summer months the temperatures reach an average of 95 Fahrenheit (35 C) along with intense humidity to make things even more uncomfortable.
Note when visiting Egypt’s ancient sights that they are mostly located in desert areas, despite being along the banks of the Nile River. Climbing into a hot tomb on a 100F degree day is not pleasant. Many of Egypt’s top attractions are located in southern Egypt, where it is even hotter than in Cairo. If you are visiting Luxor or Aswan from May through October make sure you avoid the midday heat and get an early start to view the sights.
Best Time to Cruise the Nile
The best time to go on a Nile cruise is between October and April. Temperatures are not too hot during this time of year, since you’ll be hopping on and off to check out temples along the way, this is important. The heat in Aswan and in Luxor is intense and it’s not recommended that you travel during the peak summer months from June through August. The average temperatures hover over the 100 Fahrenheit mark (40 C). It’s even hotter when you’re inside some of the tombs around Luxor and there’s not a lot of shade around.
The Nile also has a series of locks that take effect in April and June, and may affect your chances of approaching Esna by boat. It takes a while for boats to get through locks, so you also don’t want to waste your valuable cruising time waiting in a line of ships for several hours.
Best Time to Enjoy the Red Sea
The best time to enjoy a beach holiday along Egypt’s Red Sea coast is April, May, June, August, September and October. You avoid the crowds, the water is warm, and the breeze will keep you cool. Egypt’s Red Sea resort towns like Hurghada, are very popular in the winter months, especially with Russian and Eastern European tourists escaping their cold winters. The summer months are also busy with school holidays coinciding with hot weather and warm water temperatures. Temperatures at the Red Sea are actually similar to those in Aswan (scroll down for average temperatures) but a little warmer in winter and a little cooler in summer. Maximum average temperatures in the summer months (May to October) are around 85-90 Fahrenheit (30 C). Winter months (November to February) see average temperatures of around 72-78 Fahrenheit (25 C).
Best Time to Visit Egypt’s Western Desert
The best time to visit Egypt’s Western desert is between August and December and between February and May, but nights will be very cold. If you’re planning a trip to the Siwa Oasis or anywhere west of Cairo in the desert, then the average temperatures for Aswan (scroll down) are a good indicator of what to expect. During March and April a hot wind, known locally as khamsin makes its way across the Western Desert making temperatures rise suddenly and causing mayhem with the sand that blows in with it. You may experience these sandstorms as far east as Cairo.