Home Africa Egypt Is Cairo Safe To Visit? 2022 Egypt Safety Guide

Is Cairo Safe To Visit? 2022 Egypt Safety Guide

Panorama of Cairo
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It’s one of the largest cities in the world, and the biggest in Africa, Cairo is a sprawling and densely populated capital and the cultural and political hub of Egypt. Strategically located close to some of the most famous Ancient Egyptian relics like the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, the city is also a monument in itself with some of the best-preserved Islamic Architecture in the world, but is Cairo safe?

Cairo is set on the River Nile and you’ll find sites like Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum at its heart. It’s no surprise that hoards of international tourists flock to Cairo every year. Still, with a population of 21.3 million, the traffic-choked streets can raise some questions about safety

Cairo is actually one of the most peaceful and developed cities in Egypt, but there are still some precautions you should take when visiting the “City of a Thousand Minarets”. From the transport to the tap water, our guide runs through everything you need to know. Let’s get into it.  

Is Cairo safe to visit?

Pyramids of Giza
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Cairo is an iconic metropolis that sprawls along the River Nile at the heart of northeast Egypt. Near to the most famous sites of the ancient kingdom, the capital itself also houses a trove of antiquities in its museums from the gilded relics of Tutankhamun to the royal mummies. Most of these can be found in the vast Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, but Cairo also has one of the most well-preserved Islamic centers in the world with medieval architecture and Coptic sites dating back to 800 AD. 

In the leafy Zamalek district of Gezira Island, you’ll also find the 187-meter Cairo Tower offerings the best panoramic views of the capital. Still, with such steadfast local customs and a huge population, the cramped and polluted city might not always feel the safest for foreigners. 

Cairo might be one of Egypt’s, and even Africa’s, most problem-free metropoles and it is mostly safe for visitors in 2022, but no city is without its flaws and where you can find tourists, you can find petty crime. 

That said, the fabulous attractions and friendly locals make Cairo a great place to visit and peaceful for the most part. Many of the city’s diverse experiences are tailored towards tourists and the economy relies upon its visitors. You shouldn’t have to worry about your safety when seeing any of the popular sites, especially if you’re visiting as part of a tour group, and security measures are as high as they can be in the center of the capital. Tourists are even protected by a special police force should anything go wrong, as the tourism industry is so important to the function of the city. 

However, due to turbulent international and civil relations, there is a possibility of a terrorist attack at any time in Cairo. Extremists target security forces and Coptic Christians and most attacks take place in urban areas and at religious sites despite heavy security presence. 

Authorities in the city are always doing their best to prevent such incidents, but visitors should remain vigilant in crowded places. Maintaining a high level of security awareness at large gatherings and in tourist crowds can also help reduce the chance of being victim to petty theft and pickpocketing which is common in any capital city. 

Egypt can also experience some extreme weather. The country has an arid, desert climate with two seasons. Cairo is always hot with cooler nights in summer, and winter is pleasant and mild. During the long and humid summers, temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit which can be unbearable for sightseeing. Dehydration and heat stroke are real risks and if you’re visiting from May to October so you’ll need to spend as much time indoors as possible, especially at peak sunshine hours between 11 am and 4 pm. 

Is Cairo safe for solo travelers?

Cairo tower
Photo by Givaga on Envato Elements

Egypt is a relatively safe nation as long as you maintain basic safety precautions and adhere to local customs. The country is ahead of other Middle Eastern nations in terms of women’s rights, but Cairo remains one of the worst megacities for female harassment, and solo travelers can receive unwanted attention. 

Egyptians are notoriously friendly and welcoming, but they take pride in their cultural practices and have unwavering views about the position of women in society. There is no compulsory dress code for women in Egypt, unlike some nearby nations, but tourists should wear what might be considered conservative for Westerners and keep knees, shoulders, and cleavages covered to avoid attention. 

That said, Cairo is safe for solo travelers, it is just ill-advised to walk alone at night in certain districts. Having a guide in the city will enhance your experience anyway, so consider finding a local to accompany you when moving around alone. The same goes for females and males. Some areas are heavily policed and can feel safe even after dark, but solo travelers are more likely to stand out in Cairo. 

Is transport safe in Cairo?

subway
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As such a densely populated capital, Cairo really struggles when it comes to traffic. The streets are choked and even walking around can be unpleasant with all the exhaust fumes, angry beeps, and dangerous roads to navigate. Getting around by taxi is slow, but its a much safer idea than hiring your own vehicle and trying to get around the city, but the best way to travel is by metro. 

Below the congested streets of the city, lies a clean, affordable and efficient subway system. It can be busy and tourists, especially solo females, can stand out, but the metro is mostly safe and a great way to get around. Avoid pickpockets by keeping your belongings close and out of sight and avoid letting anyone get too near to you. Women now also have the option to take the female-only carriages which can feel safer for tourists without all the ogling eyes.  

Cairo also has a big network of buses and micro-buses that avoid some of the traffic by using the dedicated bus lanes on the ring roads that encircles all the important parts of the city. The buses are also cheap but can be less safe at night, especially as they aren’t frequented by tourists and opportunistic thieves prey on vulnerable travelers.

Like any major city, you don’t want to walk around at night if it can be avoided and a taxi is always your best bet. Use a verified company to call a cab, rather than picking one of the streets, and also check for a registration number before getting in. Uber has also been available in Egypt since 2014 and is considered very safe in Cairo.   

Is it safe to drink tap water in Cairo?

river Nile Cairo
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In Egypt, drinking from the tap is usually best avoided. However, water treatment plants in and around Cairo heavily chlorinate the supply making it safe, for the most part, to drink. Chlorine can give water an unsavory taste, and if you’re not used to it, large amounts can cause stomach upset, but you don’t need to worry if you ingest it.

While it is not even safe to brush your teeth with tap water in other areas of Egypt, like Dahab, you can do this in Cairo with little problem, but you might want to stick to drinking from bottles or a filter tap most of the time. You can also cook with the water in Cairo, as long as its boiled, but you might want to look out for where restaurants and bars get their ice and avoid it if it doesn’t taste sanitary. You can usually depend upon fresh produce you find at markets to be clean, but it’s also fine to rinse it under a tap before consuming without the need for food disinfectant.

An interesting thing to know is, that Cairo, like most of Egypt, exclusively sources its water from the Nile River. While it can feel special to say you’ve drunk from the Nile, this river serves so many cities and regions in the country and it makes sense that the water needs heavy treatment before it can be ingested. 

Is it safe to live in Cairo?

is Cairo safe to live
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Cairo has seen rapid economic development in recent years and the growing population is now made up of at least five percent ex-pats, twelve thousand of which work in the city’s private sector. While not as strict as other Egyptian cities, much of the society in Cairo abides by Islamic customs, teachings, and laws that can be difficult to navigate as a foreigner. Still, you don’t have to belong to Islam to live comfortably in Cairo.

The relentless buzz, swarming traffic, and poor internet speeds can also be exhausting for newcomers, but the historical and social mix in the city makes for fascinating daily life. Teaching English as a foreign language is a popular profession for ex-pats, but the city is also good for entrepreneurs and those with experience in digital media. 

Cairo is undeniably the most popular place for foreigners to settle in Egypt, and the best neighborhoods for ex-pats include Maadi, Zamalek, Dokki, Downtown, and New Cairo. You’ll find malls, upscale restaurants, hotels, and green spaces in all these districts and they are considered safe places for ex-pats to roam. Employers will often help foreigners get on their feet and provide a housing allowance. Accommodation varies in the capital but ex-pats tend to congregate and it is easy to find shared housing with other newcomers to the city through social media. 

Getting to know a city and its customs can often make you feel much safer and there’s no better way to do that than by living in it. That said, Cairo is likely to be a culture shock to any foreigner, especially Westerners, and you shouldn’t take the decision to relocate lightly. 

7 Safety Tips for Cairo

  • Be extra vigilant crossing the street – The traffic is crazy in Cairo, always look twice before crossing the road and don’t jaywalk when it can be avoided. 
  • Carry your address with you – Whether it is your hotel or a vacation rental, it can be easy to get lost in busy Cairo so its a good idea to have an address you can show people or driver’s to help you get back. 
  • Dress conservatively – Whether you’re a man, woman, or neither, dressing conservatively is the best way to deflect attention and help you fit in. Covering as much skin as possible when navigating the city alone and visiting any religious sites is a good idea. Sunglasses can even be a simple way for females to avoid eye contact, and therefore unwanted attention, from men on the street. 
  • If you’re female, pack plenty of sanitary products – Pads are widely accessible in Egypt, but tampons aren’t as easy to find. Stock up on sanitary products before your trip. 
  • Take Ubers – Registered taxis are safe and cheap in Cairo, but drivers are known to try any scam in the book on unsuspecting tourists, whether that’s a faulty meter or a meter that works suspiciously well (ie. ticking up very fast). Uber is reliable because you can check your driver’s rating and agree to a price beforehand. 
  • Avoid getting scammed at attractions – Everything comes with a fee at Egypt’s touristy sites. Book through a tour group to afford excessive entry charges and take all your pictures yourself or ask a fellow tourist to snap one for you because it won’t be free if a loitering local offers.
  • Leave valuables at home – From cash to gadgets and even your passport (bring a photocopy around with you instead) it is best to travel light when exploring the city and leave anything valuable back at your hotel. 

What should I avoid in Egypt?

To stay safe in Egypt, there are some things you can avoid. These include disrespecting the local culture or religious practices, wasting time in traffic when you can travel by other means, dressing immodestly, bringing too many valuables out with you, booking unregistered tours or taxis, and traveling around without a guide.  

Is Cairo safe for female tourists?

Egypt is far ahead in terms of women’s rights in comparison to other Middle Eastern and North African countries, but Cairo still demonstrates high rates of violence towards women and is one of the worst major cities for sexual harassment. This means women should take extra precautions to be safe in the city, but it isn’t off-limits for solo female tourists. Dress conservatively and move around with a guide or male escort after dark and you’ll be fine. 

When is the best time to visit Cairo?

Anytime between October and April is a good time to visit Cairo. Egypt has just two seasons and winter in Cairo makes it much easier to sightsee with pleasantly warm temperatures but less humidity and cooler daily highs. Summer can be far too hot, especially for visiting the Pyramids in the desert when temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t drop until late afternoon.