If you're reading this, you're probably planning a trip to Egypt soon. And if you are, then rest assured that it's one of the best travel decisions you'll ever make. Egypt is a wonderful and historical location, and you'll have a great time exploring its ancient mosques and cathedrals.
But the dilemma of a hot climate and a conservative culture probably has you wondering what you can wear and weather or not it's acceptable to wear shorts and mini skirts.
They key is to be prepared, no matter what time of the year you're travelling to Egypt, especially during the summer months (May to August). If you're visiting in winter (November to March), the weather will be relatively cooler and more enjoyable, but you'll still have to carefully plan what you'll wear if you want to be on the safe side.
There are several misconceptions of what is and isn't acceptable in Egypt. You've probably heard that wearing a full veil (or abaya) is the only way to go about it, but the truth is, you'll see very few Egyptian women in full veils, although most of them do make sure that they're fully covered.
In mosques, women are required to cover their shoulders and are often given a long robe to wear over their dress. In tourist regions (Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada), it is completely acceptable to wear shorts and mini dresses, but you'll often see that tourists refrain from wearing these to respect the local traditions and culture.
So for any woman wondering what to wear in Egypt, here is a packing list for you. If you follow this, you'll have no trouble at all in Egypt and you'll feel comfortable and well-prepared throughout your stay.
Packing List for Egypt
Egypt is incredibly hot most of the year so it's a good idea to take a few t-shirts with you, especially for places like Luxor and Aswan, that are more conservative than Cairo and would not approve of tank tops. The t-shirts don't need to be long-sleeved, but just make sure they are light-weight and that your shoulders are covered.
If you decide to go for tank tops instead, make sure you carry something with you to cover up where needed, like a light scarf or thin sweater.
It's a good idea to pack a couple of loose pants that are airy, light and comfortable. These will help you beat the heat without revealing too much skin. Baggy elephant style loose pants are wildly popular in Egypt and in Southeast Asia in general, so you can always purchase those.
Sundresses (with leggings)
More often than not, sundresses and mini dresses make it to women's packing lists, and there's no reason why you shouldn't take them to Egypt. Just make sure you pack a pair of leggings to wear with them so you feel more comfortable. If your dress is sleeveless, it's a good idea to carry a light scarf or sweater with you to cover up where necessary. Because it's extremely hot, make sure your sundresses are lightweight.
It's always a good idea to pack a pair of jeans. All sorts of jeans are acceptable in Egypt, even skinny jeans. You can wear a long tunic top with jeans like many of the local young women do. Be sure to not wear jeans on the days when it's super hot and you're planning to walk around a lot - loose pants would be more suitable for such days!
You never know when you might need to go to a formal occasion like a dinner or a gathering. Again, if the blouse is sleeveless, make sure to carry a light scarf or sweater with you in case you feel the need to cover up.
Comfortable walking shoes
You'll probably be walking around a lot while exploring the cities and towns of Egypt. Make sure you take boots, sandals or sneakers with you - or all three if you have enough space.
Shoes are not allowed inside mosques and the ground can be scorching hot at times, so carrying socks with you would make it easier for you to explore the beautiful mosques of the country.
Beach shoes or flip-flops
When you're in Sharm El-Sheikh or Dahab, you'll probably be visiting the beach often. Although there's no harm in wearing sandals to the beach, it's always more comfortable to wear flip-flops that you can easily take off if you want to feel the sand between your toes.
While visiting the beaches, it's completely acceptable to wear swimsuits. If it makes you feel more comfortable, carry a tank top and shorts with you to cover up when you're out of the water.
The most common destinations for travelers to visit in Egypt are Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab. Acceptable clothing differs in all these cities. Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab are by the far the most liberal in terms of clothing because of the many beaches and water sports that attract most tourists. Luxor and Aswan, on the other hand, are the locations where you may need to be extra careful since they are more conservative. Cairo - the capital - and Alexandria are relatively more liberal than Luxor and Aswan, and you can get away with dressing a lot less modestly in these two cities.
So that was our Egypt packing list - but remember these are just recommendations. At the end of the day, it's important to be mindful of your own comfort level and to be respectful towards the local culture. Other than that, have fun and enjoy the many attractions that Egypt has to offer.
Have any questions or recommendations? Leave them in the comments below.
Looking for more inspiration? Read more.