The Arab Republic of Egypt is a state in North Africa. It borders Israel, Sudan, and Libya. The north of the country is washed by the Mediterranean Sea, the east is washed by the waters of the Red Sea. The capital city is Cairo.
In the north, the climate is Mediterranean subtropical and the rest of the country has a tropical continental climate. You can visit Egypt throughout the year, but the majority of the tourists come here in summer.
The official language is Arabic, but the population speak the Egypt dialect of Arabic. The dominant religion is Sunni Islam, but 10% of the population are the Coptic Christians.
The touristic attractiveness of Egypt is based on two pillars: amazing sea resorts and a very rich historical heritage with numerous historical monuments.
Year round Egyptian resorts are known all over the world. The most popular are Ain Sukhna, Zaafarana, Mersa Matruh, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, Taba, and El Gouna.
The major excursions centres are Alexandria, Aswan, Beheira Governorate, Giza, Ismailia, Luxor, Port Said, Sohag Governorate, Zagazig, El Alamein, and El Kharga. The Bahariya Oasis and Dakhla Oasis in the Sahara Desert also present a great touristic interest.
The best places for diving are Dahab, Makadi, Marsa Alam, El Quesir, Nuweiba, Sahl Hasheesh, and Soma Bay.
The fans of windsurfing and kitesurfing should go to Dahab, Ras Sudr, and Safaga.
There are direct flights from Moscow to Cairo. During a touristic season, there are additional regional flights to Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh. The tourists from CIS and European countries can also easily get to Egypt by plane.
One can get to Egypt by car from the neighbouring countries. At the border with Israel, there is a border crossing close to Eilat and one can pass it by car or on feet. The tourists can get to Egypt from Libya passing the checkpoint close to Sallum by car or on foot. The bus routes between the neighbouring countries have been discontinued for an indeterminate period.
The only way to get to Egypt from Sudan is a ferry route in Asuan. The tourists can also have holidays in Jordan and Egypt at the same time using the ferry to travel between the countries.
The EU and CIS tourists need a visa to travel to Egypt. If a trip to Egypt is arranged by a travel agency for a group of tourists from EU, Ukraine, and Russia, a visa is issued on arrival. This rule is not valid for independent tourists.
A visitor visa limits your stay in the country for 30 days. To travel to the Sinai Peninsula, you can get the SINAI ONLY visa. This visa allows you to stay in the country for 15 days, but you are not allowed to enter the African part of the country. The visa is free of charge and issued on arrival at the Sinai customs to the group of tourists.
Other CIS citizens and independent tourists must obtain a visa beforehand. The normal time for processing the documents is 10 days.
The Egyptian legislation does not allow transferring more than 10.000 US dollars or the equivalent sum in any other currency. The import and export of Egyptian pounds is limited to 5.000 EGP.
The tourists can bring in Egypt the following goods duty-free:
- some alcohol and tobacco;
- 1 l of perfume;
- personal belongings and gadgets in reasonable amounts.
It is prohibited to import:
- cotton goods with the aim of selling them;
- live or frozen poultry;
- informational materials violating the Islamic rules or potentially harmful for the public and state order.
It is not allowed to export from Egypt:
- art objects and antiquities (without supporting documents);
- corals, ivory and products made of them;
- stuffed crocodiles and sea shells;
- silver and golden products in commercial quantity.
The Egyptian cuisine was developing under a great influence Arab and Middle East cooking traditions. The staple food in Egypt is beans, meat, rice, and spices.
Commonly, the Egyptians cook and eat mutton and this is the main ingredient for many traditional dishes. The tourists should try Kebab, Kofta (mutton patties), Kalaoui (fried kidneys), and Pasterma (air-dried beef with spices).
One of the most popular dishes in Egypt is Machwi (roasted pigeon stuffed with millet or rice) and Ferakh panee (chicken schnitzel).
The Egyptians cook a vegetable soup Mulukhiyah and created many variations of it. They also like a soup with red lentils.
You cannot leave Egypt without trying local seafood dishes such as Samak mashwi (grilled fish) and Samak makli (roasted fish). The Egyptians also fry, boil, stew and roast octopus, lobsters, prawns and everything the fishers will manage to catch.
Unlike its Middle East neighbours, the Egyptians prefer beans to rice. The most favourite dish among the locals is the so-called beanburger. This is a vegetarian patty from beans. A traditional breakfast in Egypt also includes a bean dish Ful medames. Some other traditional dishes are Baba ghanoush (mashed baked eggplants), Maḥshi (vegetables and rice with spices), and Moussaka (eggplant pie).
Your travel to Egypt will be incomplete if you do not try the local desserts such as Basbousa (sweet semolina cake with syrup and coconut milk), Baklava, and Konafa (sweet pastry).
The Egyptians drink a lot of tea and coffee. A purely local beverage is tart Hibiscus tea.
Although Egypt is a Muslim country, the tourists can freely drink alcoholic beverages on the resorts. Besides, the Egyptians also produce wine and we recommend trying them.
The official currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP) which is divided into 100 piastres. There are the bank notes from 25 piastres to 200 pounds and coins from 25 piastres to 1 pound.
The tourists can exchange the currency at banks, in exchange offices found in hotels and at the airports. The banks offer the best exchange rate. The US dollars are accepted almost everywhere, but the rate is not the best and typical, the Egyptians cannot give you the change.
Credit cards and travellers checks are willingly accepted in touristic centres, but outside these areas, you will not be able to pay with them.
Planning your travel to Egypt, be aware that political and criminal situation is very unfavourable there. Several times, the financial system in the country crashed and banks and ATMs don’t work for some days. Besides, Egypt is the country with the highest level of credit cards frauds. For this reason, we strongly recommend you to take cash. Do not leave the safe territory of the resorts with large sums of money.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Egypt
In Egypt, there are seven sited inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- The early Christian monuments Abu Mena. Abu Mena was a town, monastery complex and Christian pilgrimage centre in Late Antique Egypt.
- The ancient Thebes is a large archaeological complex in Luxor, which is situated where once the ancient capital of Egypt was.
- Islamic Cairo is medieval districts in the very centre of the capital city and the medieval castle.
- Memphis and Pyramids of Giza is a huge necropolis which includes the rock tombstones and pyramids. This is a must-see.
- Abu Simbel and the Nubian Monuments are the ancient temples.
- The Saint Catherine’s Monastery built in the 4th century at the foot of the Sinai Mount. It is considered to be one of the oldest Christian monasteries.
- Wadi Al-Hitan is a region in Al Fayyum Governorate where the remnants of whales were found proving the fact that the whales originated from terrestrial mammals. That is why, these findings are very important.
There are many other interesting places in Egypt, although they are not under UNESCO protection.
- The Ras Mohammed National Park near Sharm El-Sheikh is one of the most picturesque places on the Red Sea coast.
- The Sinai Mount is a legendary Biblical mount at which the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God.
- The Montaza Palace in Alexandria.
- The Citadel of Qaitbay.
- The Cairo Tower.
- The Egyptian Antiquities Museum.
In Egypt, the tourists buy:
- papyrus pictures;
- hibiscus tea Karkade;
- ancient Egypt style figurines;
- incense and spices.