Egypt has seen an increase in visitors over the last 12 months and is now back on travel wishlists. The pyramids, the River Nile, the tombs and temples, and the Red Sea’s amazing diving are just some of the reasons that people visit, however, many female travellers are a little hesitant to travel to Egypt.
The country has gained quite a reputation for harassment, especially of females. Many people will be happy to tell you their story of being harassed in the street, but there will be far more stories from women who have happily travelled around the country solo or with friends without any issues.
Egypt may not be the easiest place in the world to travel as a woman, however, there are more positives than negatives. Apart from the wealth of ancient ruins, historic monuments, vast desert and coral reefs, one of the highlights of a trip to Egypt are the people. Egyptians are some of the most hospitable and friendly people in the world. There will be many shopkeepers and temple site guardians who will invite you to sit and drink tea with them. Go with an open mind, but always be prepared and be sensible.
Verbal harassment is normal and will generally be from groups of young men hanging around the streets shouting as you walk by. Just walk on by and do not engage in conversation. It is more wearying than threatening. People touting for business, such as bazaar owners, camel and horse & carriage owners will also hassle you. However, they will hassle everyone including males as well as females as they want to make the sale.
If you are concerned about travelling alone, many women book a group tour as this will give you safety in numbers but will sometimes lack the personal, detailed trip that you would ideally plan and may restrict the places that you visit.
Dressing modestly may lessen the harassment and may help you to feel more comfortable when visiting the sights. If you want to experience the warm natural friendliness of Egyptians, dress respectfully by covering knees, cleavage and upper arms. If you are visiting a mosque, cover to your ankles and wrists and have a headscarf with you to wrap over your head. Beachwear is fine when in a hotel along the Red Sea but should not be worn in the streets of Egypt.
When travelling in a taxi as a female, make sure that you sit in the back seat. Uber and Careem are a good choice for female travellers rather than stopping a taxi in the street.
If using public transport, the Cairo metro has women-only carriages, which, are always less crowded. On all other public transport, try to sit next to a woman.
If going out at night European style bars and restaurants serving alcohol are fine for solo women to drink in. Egypt’s baladi (local) bars are best avoided if you’re by yourself as the drunken hassle can not be avoided as it’s rare to see women is these places. Staff will nearly always keep a protective eye on you, but this is not ideal. If you want to check out these bars, which can be great fun, we recommend that you go as part of a mixed group. The toilets is these places leave a lot to be desired so try to always go with someone else.
Whatever you do, be sensible, keep your wits about you and most of all enjoy the amazing sights of this beautiful country with its warm, friendly locals!