Is Egypt expensive? Great question and precisely the one we’re here to answer. So, set aside those dreams of sand-plumed pyramids for just a moment. Forget about the mystical tomb of Tutankhamun. Dispense of dreaming about the towering temples of Luxor and the winding Nile. First, we talk money…
The good news is that Egypt is generally considered to be an extremely affordable destination. It’s considered WAY cheaper than most European places, with rates for everything from hotels to food just a fraction they would be just a quick hop over the Med in, say, Cyprus or Greece. That said, not all of Egypt is created equal on the price front. You’re likely to find that out-and-out tourist resorts like Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurgada cost a lot more than cities like Cairo and more rustic destinations in the desert.
This guide will outline all you need to know about the cost of a trip to the ancient land of the pharaohs. It will break down what we think a vacation here will set you back, with information on the rates for hotels, the cost of eating out, the price of travel, and plenty more. Papyrus scroll and abacus at the ready? Good. Let’s begin…
The average cost of a vacation to Egypt
If we offered a good guess at what a week in Egypt might cost the average traveler, we’d say something around the $985 mark. That includes everything from accommodation to food and even activities, along with an extra $400 for the flights into the country in the first place.
A disclaimer: A rough estimation of what a week-long trip to Egypt will cost is very tricky to make. Why? There are just so many variables. Travelers who go to the luxury resorts of the Red Sea coast in Sharm and the like might spend over $200 per night on all-inclusive accommodation but then will spend loads less on food and activities. Those who travel around the country might spend more on transport but benefit from backpacker hostels that cost just $10 per night. You get the picture.
To give a better idea of what you can expect to spend on different things, let’s delve a little deeper…
Is Egypt expensive to travel to?
Before you even dip into the spending money and get exploring the sphinxes and the Valley of the Kings, you have to get into Egypt itself. The vast majority – like 99% – do that by flying, since there are now no longer any boat connections from Europe and buses or road links will take you through some less-than-stable parts of the Middle East.
So, what we’re really answering here is: What’s the cost of flights to Egypt? The truth is that all depends. There are two classes of airports here. The first are dedicated package-travel airports – the ones you find in towns like Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh. The second are the larger public airports that serve a mix of business and pleasure travelers, in Cairo, Alexandria, and the like.
Generally speaking, you’ll notice a spike in the cost of airfare into the package destinations during the peak season (December-February) and then a quick dip in rates for the low season (the European summer), although there will certainly be fewer services when the crowds disperse. Meanwhile, rates for flights to Cairo, for example, stay pretty steady throughout the year.
The good news is that the cost of flights to the popular resort towns has gone down in recent years. That’s both due to more airlines running the route and because of political upheaval in Egypt that lowered demand. But getting here still isn’t as cheap as getting to Europe. You’re looking at something in the region of $300-700 for connections in from London on a low-coster like easyJet to Sharm.
Long-haul travelers originating in the USA will need to jet into Cairo. That’s where the bulk of the major international traffic arrives. Average airfare on the route hovers around the $800-1,000 mark for a return link from JFK, but will be more from West Coast cities like LA or San Fran.
Is Egypt expensive for hotels?
That all depends on what hotel you’re after. Prices vary incredibly in this country. The highest rates are usually commanded by the resorts that spread along the Red Sea coast. They come with private beaches, big swimming pools, and sprawling suites. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s possible to book into casual homestays in rustic villages, or bargain inner-city pads in old Cairo and Alexandria, all of which tend to put less of a strain on the budget.
On top of that, there are big seasonal influences at play. Summertime rates can often be lower compared to the winter, mainly because this is a land of cold-season sun for snowbird Europeans. The price of hotels can skyrocket during key holidays like Christmas and Easter, though, so watch out for that.
Here’s a look at differently priced accommodation options from all across the spectrum in different places in Egypt…
- Grand Palace ($$$) – A luxury hotel with access to its very own beach on the glorious Red Sea coast of eastern Egypt, the Grand Palace is adults only and pretty darn slick. Doubles here start at about $250 per night in the peak season.
- Happy Days Pyramids View ($$) – A rooftop terrace offers views over the iconic Giza Pyramids and there’s a great breakfast included in the rate. Said rates are about $20 per night in the peak season.
- Nile Youth Hostel ($-$$) – You can get a night for less than $15 at this hostel near the Luxor history sites. It’s clean and friendly with a backpacker vibe.
Overall, we’d recommend budgeting something like $30-40 per night for decent midrange accommodation in Egypt. You’ll need more than that if you’re planning on staying in the luxury resorts of the Red Sea or Mediterranean coast.
The cost of food and eating out in Egypt
Food is one of the areas where you really can save while exploring the home of the wiggling Nile River.
Yep, grub here is pretty darn cheap if you know the right places to look for it. AKA – hit the bazaars, the local kitchens, and the street-food hawkers. They offer a medley of grilled kebabs, kushari platters, and fiteer baladi flatbreads that’s sure to tickle the tastebuds of the most adventurous foodies. And it’s not just tasty. It’s affordable. We’d estimate a budget of about $10 a day is all that’s needed to eat handsomely at these sorts of establishments.
The same can’t be said for Western food in Egypt. McDonald’s meals, for example, can be upwards of $5 a pop, while a Domino’s pizza is around $5 for a small. The place where you’ll really notice the cost of food going skyward is in the resorts of the Red Sea coast. There’s basically a dual economy there when it comes to dining and drinking, with inflated rates in the hotel restaurants and bars that are really just there for the tourists. If that’s where you’re planning on staying for mealtimes, expect a budget more in the range of $30-40 per day for food.
Overall, we’d say a budget of about $20 per person, per day is good for Egypt, especially if your hotel includes breakfast as part of the nightly rate.
The cost of things to do in Egypt
Next up: Activities. Some people will scoot down to this sun-scorched corner of northeast Africa to laze on the beach and do little else, that’s true. But we’d say that’s a shame. You’d miss out on umpteen UNESCO wonders and some of the most incredible historic sites this side of Rome. It’s certainly worth setting at least a slice of the budget aside for tours and activities. Let’s take a quick look at the sort of things we mean and what they’ll set you back…
- A guided walking tour of the Pyramids of Giza, including a stop in the Cairo bazaar and associated museums ($60 per person) – There’s no denying that the pyramids are Egypt’s most iconic sight. A guided tour is better than just wandering around as you’ll get a feel for the history behind it all. It’s a must for anyone visiting Cairo.
- A diving trip in the Red Sea out of Hurghada ($80 per person) – Going underwater in the Red Sea reveals a world of multicolored corals, swimming sharks, and strange sea creatures. It’s one of the premier activities in the resorts of Hurghada and Sharm.
- A luxury Nile cruise (starting at $250 per person) – Luxury Nile cruises are a fantastic way to experience the heart of Egypt, on a riverway that’s famous around the planet. They aren’t cheap but are amazing.
Overall, we’d recommend adding something like $200 to your overall weekly budget to pay for activities and tours in Egypt.
Is Egypt expensive? Our conclusion
Is Egypt expensive? Not really. Compared to the US and most of Europe, Egypt is a very affordable destination. We’d estimate that most travelers will spend in the region of $985 for a full week here, which even includes the cost of return flights to a city like London.
Remember that you will pay a lot more if you want to travel from the USA or East Asia, because flights can be over $1000 a pop for that. You’ll also spend lots more if you’re keen on staying in the most luxurious parts of the country, around the Red Sea coast and the resorts of the Mediterranean shoreline, for example.