Some tourists travel the world and wear whatever they like (tank tops, sun dresses, short shorts, low necks, see- through blouses) – without any consideration for the local culture or customs. While locals may not directly comment or tell you they are offended – they are. Be respectful while visiting other’s homeland and make the trip enjoyable for you and for them. Here is a quick dress code guide to help you decide what to wear in Egypt and what to not wear while traveling to Egypt.
Read My Egypt Trip Reports – Here
Overview – What to Wear in Egypt
Egypt is predominantly a Muslim country and therefore conservative in attire and dress for both men and women. While it is not expected for tourist to cover up from head-to-toe, it is respectful to be mindful of their customs and dress appropriately. Attire on beachfront resorts, cruise ships and other big tourist secluded areas are different and a more relaxed than attire for public areas such as sites, souqs and walking in city centers. In public areas Men should wear long or cropped trousers with a loose shirt or t-shirt. Women should dress modestly, covering shoulders, knees and chest – the less skin shown the better.
Recommended Attire for Travel in Egypt
- Lightweight 100% cotton clothing that you can layer
- Long pants and long skirts
- Tops should cover your shoulders, chest and 100% do not show any cleavage.
- Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Comfortable shoes for walking.
- Bikinis, short shorts and other pool wear are acceptable within the resorts, by the pool and beaches
- But are not acceptable in public areas.
- Between November and March the mornings, evenings and nights can be chilly and cold.
- Warm jackets, sweaters and layering is suggested.
Cotton is breathable and will not stick to your skin. Polyester or nylon will stick and become uncomfortable during summer months – even if its only 10% polyester and 90% cotton, it will stick. Try for 100% cotton. Pants should be long and loose for comfort. Pants and skirts should cover the knees for both men and women and absolutely no spaghetti straps, tank tops or other strappy shirts should be worn in public. Upper arms should be covered as well.
Related: Minimalist Travel Packing List
What to Wear in Egypt as a Women – Lady’s Dress Code
While modern, western-style clothing is becoming more common in Egypt, it is still not respectful to wear tight or low cut clothing. Ladies should cover up as much as possible with T-shirts, long or cropped trousers and loose fitting items.
Absolutely do not show cleavage. This includes the upper part of the chest under the neck – shirts should cover high up to the two bony bumps under the neck.
Nothing strappy or revealing should be worn, and take care to cover the both the upper arms and knees. Long skirts, long trousers or cropped trousers are acceptable. No mini-skirts or short shorts. Clothes should not be clingy or show curves for women, i.e. tight fitting body-hugging t-shirts are not recommended.
What to Wear in Egypt as a Man – Men’s Dress Code
Outside of the resort areas, it is not common to see men in short shorts or a tank tops/sleeveless tops. Even in large cities such as Cairo, locals are not comfortable seeing a man in shorts, so it is advisable to wear trousers or jeans and a shirt that covers the shoulders and upper arms (T-shirts are ok).
One thing that I would recommend for men is to get a red checkered scarf. Everyone wears them there. By everyone I mean most of the tourists. You should grab one before you head to Egypt otherwise all the street vendors will beg you to buy theirs.
What To Wear While At A Red Sea Resort
The dress code in Egypt while on the Red Sea resorts are much more relaxed than when exploring the cityscape. Locals and hotel staff are used to tourist and have no problem with different types of clothing. Short shorts, bikinis, tank tops, spaghetti straps and even cleavage is seen throughout the resorts, pools and beaches.
But do not wear these items when walking off the resorts, in downtown shopping areas – even when in resort towns. So while these clothing items are acceptable on the resort, when you venture out, to say Hurghada’s downtown area, please change into more conservative attire.
What To Wear In Egypt During Winter Months
Surprisingly, Egypt gets cold and chilly during the winter months. Central air or heating is not common in Egypt, so whether you’re inside or outside, it will be cold during winter. Prepare by having layers to account for the different range of temperatures between Northern Egypt and Southern Egypt and from inside or outside. Wear warm pajamas to bed, as the rooms will not be heated at night.
Entering A Mosque As A Tourist
Remove your shoes when entering a mosque. Make sure your shoulders and upper arms are covered, either by your shirt, scarf or wrap. Some mosques, such as Al-Azhar, will require and provide covers for women to cover up. You can leave your shoes at the entrance with the mosque guard, who will keep an eye on them. It is typical for locals as well as tourist to tip the guard 1 or 2 Egyptian pounds when leaving, but not required.
Locals – What Kind of Clothes Do They Wear In Egypt?
The dress code in Egypt is not as strict as it is in many Muslim countries. In large cities like Cairo, people dress more modern as you would see in the United States or Europe. In smaller towns, such as Aswan, you’ll find that most people wear long tunic style clothing that falls past their knees and elbows. Medium sized cities such as Luxor, you will find a mix of both Modern style clothing and long tunic style clothing.
Turbans for Men
Men wear turbans to protect their heads from the hot sun. While you will not see many men wear turbans in large cities such as Cairo, turbans are very popular throughout the rest of Egypt. Most wear white turbans to reflect the sun light but they come in all sorts of bright colors.
Hijab and Niqab for Women
In the Muslim culture, it is seen that a “good respectable women” wear the Hijab (veil/headscarf) and the Niqab (covered head to toe, except for eyes). Many Egyptian women honor this custom and cover their hair by wearing either the Hijab or the Niqab or both.