You’re a girl. You’re travelling to Egypt. How should you dress? A few of my suggestions on what to wear in Egypt follow.
Packing for my trip to Egypt required a bit of forethought and organization for a few reasons.
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, women are expected to dress more conservatively in Egypt than in the Western world. No skimpy singlets, captivating cleavage, or sky-high booty shorts to show off one’s bodaciousness allowed, at least if you want to demonstrate a modicum of cultural sensitivity and awareness.
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Secondly, our trip was scheduled for the end of March. Though not summer, it is still quite hot at this time of year. Not having the luxury of sporting a strapless sundress, I worried a bit about how I would remain conservative while keeping cool.
Thirdly, I knew we would be moving around a fair bit so I didn’t want my bags to be heavy.
With this in mind, I packed the clothes below. I’ve packed similarly for my trips to Dubai and Jordan, so luckily it didn’t take me too long. My carry-on and backpack combined weighed in at a svelte 16 lbs (including my laptop, DSLR camera, two lenses, and makeup bag which aren’t pictured):
As it turns out, I only wore about half of the clothes I brought (I didn’t even TOUCH my tennis shoes or flip flops, argh!). Below are the items I found most useful for a female tourist travelling to Egypt. (Incidentally, I purchased nearly all of these items at H&M, though this shouldn’t be a surprise as I professed my love for the brand on the blog long ago.)
A long skirt and hat
I lived in the skirt above most days of the trip. Easy to slip on and off, comfortable and flowy, bringing a skirt on a trip like this gives you options — pair the skirt above with a black top and you’re got the equivalent of the LBD (the long black dress). As for the hat, I only have one thing to say: the sun in Egypt is intense. I typically never wear sunscreen (bad of me, I know), so popping on this hat protected my noggin from getting fried.
Solid coloured t-shirts & a long-sleeved cardigan
When I travel, I stick to the basics. I tend to pack a lot of solid colours because they go with absolutely everything. In this case, these solid tees and tanks I brought were a great idea because I could wear them on their own or layer them. Yes, in some instances I even wore the tanks by themselves — I found at a few of the tourist sites we went to it was acceptable to leave your shoulders uncovered. As for the cardigan, it’s the perfect, lightweight cover-up for when you enter a mosque, or at night when the temperature drops in the desert.
Cotton button down shirt w/long sleeves & scarf
As a rule, cotton shirts like this are loose, easy, and highly breathable — you’re covered but can still remain cool. I turned up the collar so my neck wouldn’t get decimated by the sun, and rolled up the sleeves when I felt myself getting hot. With Egypt being a predominantly Islamic country, the scarf was a necessity for covering my hair. While I don’t think it’s a must for tourists to wear a head covering at all times, I found it helped me blend in with the locals, especially in Cairo, which felt more conservative than Luxor or Aswan.
Zip- off utility pants and capris
Jeans would have been too hot for this time of year so I found the next best thing. Both the zip-offs and capris were highly functional: practical for exploring dusty tombs and climbing ancient ruins. They covered the knee so I could stay modest, and the material they’re made from dries quickly so I was able to wash them between wears.
Comfy, lightweight shoes
We didn’t do any hiking, but I knew I would at least need a comfortable walking shoe that could go with both pants and a skirt. I brought flip flops but didn’t wear them because the terrain was too rugged for exposed feet, similarly I didn’t wear the sneakers I brought because they were too heavy and made my feet sweat. These shoes were the happy medium: lightweight and practical. I dug these shoes out from the recesses of my closet and they were fantastic. The fact that they are tan-coloured was an added benefit since Egypt is so dusty!
Ladies, have you ever travelled in Egypt or the Middle East? What did you wear? What do you think of my suggestions?
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Mostly same stuff, I wore capris, lightweight shirts, hat, sunglasses and a pair of comfy flat shoes 🙂
Timely post for me as I’m flying to Kuwait then to Beirut today. Beirut is probably the exception to the Middle East rule as nearly anything goes there, but for the middle east I find a long scarf is the best thing I can pack. Next week I have to pack for 10 days in Europe in a carry on…for me THAT’s going to be a challenge. Going to run out and get a pair of sneakers like the ones you pictured above.
I’m not surprised that Beirut isn’t as strict, I found the same thing in Tel Aviv (though in other parts of Israel I had to dress more modestly). I wonder what the rest of Lebanon is like in that regard. Any idea?
When I was in Egypt in January, I mostly wore jeans, tunics, and a light jacket in the evenings. IMO, Egyptian men are pretty aggressive so I was very aware of my appearance, gestures, and body language.
Maxi skirts are the way forward – so useful and quite up-to-date fashion wise too!
I am agree with you Naomi. Maxi Skirts are very comfortable and fashionable to wear. Maxi skirts can be considered one of the most useable piece for hot climates.
Totally agree with what you said here – I bring similar things when I travel in the Middle East. The long skirt is an essential of every trip I take, as is a light scarf. Excellent tips, Oneika! You managed to be culturally appropriate while still looking beautiful as always. xo
You are the queen of dressing culturally appropriately while looking stylish, Brenna! I’m always salivating over your travel outfits! Wish I could pull what you wear off! My style is boring!
You are too kind! And NO your style is not boring, not at all. You always look amazing!
I feel one should dress somewhat conservative when they travel. Just because you wear short shorts at home dies not make them okay for travel, unless you are the beach. My opinion. I too have been to Egypt, Jordan and the West Bank. Never covered my hair but had a scarf for the mosques. Always wore capris and shirts. Sleeveless at the sites and never had a problem.
Definitely good to know. I’ll be bookmarking this page. One day, I will visit Egypt and I definitely want to look stylish when I do :-).
Thanks for sharing.
Wow–16lbs for everything, including the laptop & two lenses?! Holy cheese on a cracker, that’s awesome!
How many pounds is the laptop? My mama taught me how to pack light years ago (for summer camp, of all things!), but the laptop I carry is a good 6lbs on its own.
I have an 11-inch Macbook Air, it’s 2 lbs and I love it!
I think the suggestions are spot on!
Very practical tips and, as always, I LOVED all your photos! I’m still planning to get to Egypt one day, and I’ll definitely be referring back to your post(s) when I do 🙂
Hope you are well, lovely!
Great tips! A long skirt is so great for walking around in hot weather when you want to look classy and put together without melting.
So, you can still style and profile in Egypt cause you looked cute!!!
I love wearing linen in hot countries like Egypt. They crease quite easily, but I find the the coolest actually.
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Love this post!
I’ve been researching what to wear as i’m leaving for Egypt tomorrow and while I found a bunch of info, nothing helps as well as clear photos.
Glad to see I’ve packed all that you’ve recommend, except for the button-down blouse as I don’t have one of those. I also packed t-shirts instead of tank tops so that my shoulders are covered and plan on wrapping a scarf around me when needed.
Have a great time!
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Great tips! I went to Qatar for work. I wore suits (jacket and pants) most of the time. The jacket came off at the office. I would always have a long sleeve button down shirt or at least a 3/4 sleeve shirt. It’s a basic rule to cover your shoulders but also nice if you cover your elbows. Even men do that. I always felt comfortable dressed like that. No low cut tops. I wasn’t sure if it was ok to wear sandals so I was with flats all the time. I also took a long summer navy dress but wore a tee and cardigan on top. That was very useful during the 14 hour flights. I didn’t take a scarf but it is a good suggestion. I didn’t get to do many touristy things. Maybe next time. Btw, I was surprised to see so many women wearing mini skirts and short dresses…
Smart and stylish – as expected, Oneika.
I would add: wear 100% cotton bra. That´s my only advice. Thanks for this great article. I never wear skirts, but next time that I head to Egypt, I will try it.
Hola Oneika! Greetings from Mexico ? this is really helpful. Im planning a visit to Egypt but my problem is that, I practically lives on sleveless haha I think I’ll die of heat if I have to cover my shoulders and arms? I know that for certain places like Mosques I have to but, isn’t like that for all the places, is it? And I think same goes for Israel, Turkey and Jordan, right?
Great post as I am planning to go to Egypt in a few months. Would it be acceptable there to wear workout leggings and a long shirt? The leggings will certainly cover the knees, but I wasn’t sure if the tightness would be an issue or it would be fine as long as i wore a long loose fitting shirt that covered the bum?Some say the issue is more towards exposing skin/cleavage vs. tightness of the clothes if properly covered.
I’m going to Egypt in July as part of a contiki tour! I’m so glad I found this page I’ll,keep this in mind when packing for the trip
How did you find wearing t-shirts? showing elbow and most of the arm? And ankles? This has been super helpful but im quite concered with how much flesh i can show when i travel to egypt. Coming from the UK i dont do well in the heat, so being able to wear a t-shirt would be great!
on my last trip I wore a linen dress and it made so much easier and some strong sandles stupid.
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