Instead of flying directly into Egypt, we actually chose to fly into Milan first. It is much cheaper to fly into Europe than Egypt (from the USA), and once getting there you can take a budget airline to get you the rest of the way. We were using points and flying directly into Cairo would have cost us twice the amount. From Milan we took a plane to Cairo directly via Air Italia and ended up saving a ton of money. Egypt Air is another low cost carrier (we flew Egypt Air when we left from Cairo-Tel Aviv and it was a really good experience).
Check out SkyScanner to find the most affordable flights and travel dates if you’re flexible.
Wondering what to do after you get there? Check out this post on our 3-day itinerary in Cairo and Giza.
Getting A Visa
A visa is required to travel to Egypt for American citizens. It’s very easy to get and can be done without even stepping foot in a consulate. Here is the official link to apply online. You simply have to fill out the application, pay the $25, and wait until the application has been approved to print out the visa. I was never actually notified that mine was approved so if they haven’t sent anything in a week or so I would log back in and check on the status.
You also have the option to simply when you arrive to the Cairo airport and go through customs. Note- if you go through this route you have to pay in cash (USD) so make sure you have some on you. My understanding is that this option is only available at the airport in Cairo, so if you are entering Egypt by another method you may want to visit the State Department website for up to date information.
So you should definitely bring money to Egypt (lol). But for the real advice- I recommend bringing more US Dollars than you normally would traveling abroad because most places in Egypt accept (and even prefer the American currency) due to the fact that the Egyptian pound is pretty weak right now. Another reason to bring cash- we found that the ATMs were pretty unreliable. Another good thing to keep in mind is either looking up or downloading an offline currency converter app. We were unsure of the exchange rate when we arrived and ended up only taking out the equivalent of $10 (we didn’t get very far). Also, as in any trip abroad, you should make sure to call your bank and let them know that you will be traveling abroad so that your card doesn’t get shut off.
The CDC recommends a number of vaccines (updated list here) including routine vaccines, Hep A, and Typhoid. If you are traveling to more remote locations there is a longer list, but since we were only going to Cairo we just got Typhoid shots. Passport Health is a clinic that specializes in travel vaccines so it’s a good place to go to (your normal doctor may not have specialized vaccines on hand).
Another big question I had before visiting Egypt was whether or not it is safe to drink the water. You should stay away from drinking any tap water (including brushing your teeth, ice in your drinks, and fruit that hasn’t been peeled). If you accidentally brush your teeth with it or get some in your mouth in the shower you should be fine, but avoid it where possible.
We stayed at two different places during our stay in Cairo/Giza- Best Views Pyramid Hotel and the Kempinski Nile Hotel. I’d recommend both, but the Best Views Pyramid Hotel is much more of a budget location (with a million dollar view) and the Kempinski is a luxury hotel. Below are views from our room at the Best Views Pyramid Hotel and the Kempinski.