The best times to visit Cairo

If you’re thinking of Egypt, you might be conjuring up images of the Pyramids, pharaohs and the Nile.

At the heart of the country is Cairo. The capital city attracts countless tourists every year, coming to see the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian Museum and the city’s other splendors. It’s a famously hot and busy place, and to experience everything it has to offer to the fullest, there are certain times of the year that are better for visiting than others.

Whatever it is you’re after, plan the perfect time for your trip to Cairo with this seasonal guide.

People walk down a busy market street in a city
October to December is peak tourist season in Cairo © Westend61 / Getty Images

October to December is best if you want to avoid the infamous heat

Average daytime temperatures are the coolest they will be all year in the months of October, November and December, and the evenings usher in refreshing breezes. However, it’s also prime tourist season in Cairo as visitors flock here to go sightseeing while the temperatures are cooler. As a result, there’s a surge in flight and hotel prices, particularly around the Christmas holidays.

While visiting at this time of year is tempting because of the weather, keep in mind that the main attractions will be busy, and you’ll need to book flights and hotels at least two months in advance to ensure decent prices and availability.

Sandstorms are a possibility in March

Early March is a less busy time to visit Cairo and the weather is pleasant, but it’s also the month where sandstorms are most likely to occur. This is when wind blows from the desert in the south, circulating hot air and dust – very unpleasant, particularly for anyone with asthma. Sightseeing can be disrupted and it’s difficult to get from place to place. In extreme cases, flights and river cruises are cancelled.

If you visit Cairo during sandstorm season, pack sunglasses to help keep sand and dirt out of your eyes, and always carry a face mask and a bottle of water.

Celebrate Sham An Nessim on Easter Monday

Sham An Nessim is an Egyptian national festival, dating back to at least 2700 BCE, held on Easter Monday to mark the beginning of spring. Ancient Egyptians believed that the festival marked the beginning of world creation, when “Ra” the Sun God sailed with his boat through the skies and landed on the top of the Great Pyramid.

To celebrate, people paint, decorate and write wishes on eggs before hanging them in baskets in the hope that the wishes will come true. Sham An Nessim celebrations mainly take place in people’s homes, but visitors may notice seasonal changes to menus at this time. The dishes most closely associated with Sham An Nessim are feseekh (salted fish eaten with spring onions) and ringa (smoked herring with lemon and onion).

Camels stand in front of the iconic pyramids in the desert
There are fewer people visiting Cairo and the Pyramids in the spring months of April and May © Jakrapong Sombatwattanangkool / 500px

April and May are great months for visiting Cairo

Spring is a magical time to be in Cairo. The winter crowds are less and the weather is gorgeous with average temperatures between 25°C and 32°C (77–90°F), hotter than it is from October to December but not as hot as it is in the summer. Flight and hotel prices are reasonable at this time.

The summer months of June to September are the hottest time to visit

The summer season in Egypt typically spans from June to September and it can be sweltering, with temperatures ranging from 30°C to 40°C (86–104°F), occasionally even reaching 50°C (122°F). It’s the hottest time of the year, with many tourists and locals going to the Red Sea, and not as many visitors in Cairo.

If you do choose to come to Cairo at this time, all is not lost. Certain sights, such as the historic Pyramids of Giza, are best visited early in the morning before the heat takes its toll. Almost all the museums, restaurants, hotels and shops have air-conditioning, helping make the heat manageable. Pack sunglasses, sunscreen and carry a bottle of water with you so you can remain hydrated at all times. 

Can I visit Egypt during Ramadan?

As a predominantly Islamic country, Ramadan is one of Egypt’s most significant events. Held over a month, fasting during Ramadan occurs from sunrise to sunset. During this period, restaurants, cafes, shops and markets reduce their opening hours, which may not make it the most ideal time to visit. Even schools close early.

Non-Muslims aren’t expected to observe the fast, but out of respect should avoid drinking and snacking in the street. The exact month changes every year because it depends on the sightings of the moon, so check when Ramadan is expected before making your travel plans.

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