Is it safe to travel to Egypt? Latest travel advice

Tourists on the beach in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh
Tourists on the beach in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh - Khaled Desouki/Getty

Following the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza, the escalation of tensions between Iran and Israel and the activity of Houthi rebels in the southern Red Sea, some people may be concerned about the safety of travelling to Egypt or other areas in North Africa and the Middle East right now.

Here’s everything you need to know about travel to Egypt, whether it is safe to visit, and your rights if you do decide to cancel your upcoming holiday.

What does the FCDO say about travel to Egypt?

The FCDO warns against travelling to large swathes of Egypt. Egypt’s border with Israel and Gaza sits on the eastern end of the Sinai Peninsula, and the FCDO warned against travel to the entire Egyptian border region of North Sinai before the events of October 7 2023.

Last year the FCDO updated its advice to read: “The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the northern part of the Governorate of South Sinai, beyond the St Catherine-Nuweiba road, except for the coastal areas along the west and east of the peninsula.”

The FCDO also warns against all but essential travel to the Ismailiyah Governorate east of the Suez Canal, much of the Western Desert, the Hala’ib Triangle and Bir Tawil Trapezoid, and to travel within 20km of the Libyan border.

Most recently, the FCDO updated its advice to say: “On 13 April 2024 Iran carried out military action against Israel. On 19 April, there have been reports of explosions in Iran, and unconfirmed reports of explosions in Syria and Iraq. Monitor this travel advice and other media as the situation is changing fast. Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.”

Crucially, for British holidaymakers, the FCDO lists Sharm El-Sheikh, Cairo and Hurghada as “green”, which means there is no advisory against travel to these areas and your travel insurance will be valid if you do visit.

You can see the full Egypt FCDO advice here.

Have Egypt’s resorts been affected by the conflicts with Houthi rebels?

The popular Red Sea resorts in Egypt are more than 1,000 miles away from the Houthi airfields that were subject to the airstrikes by the UK and US militaries in January 2024. By way of comparison, this is around the same distance as from England to Russia. Most of the Houthi attacks on shipping vessels have been in the southern part of the Red Sea, around the Bab al-Mandab Strait, although there have been a small number of incidents in the waters closer to Egypt and Jordan.

Is terrorism a risk in Egypt?

The Foreign Office says: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt” and lists six recent attacks between 2018 and 2022 which were carried out in Cairo, the Minya Province and near the Suez Canal. The FCDO also warns about political protests, which have occurred more frequently since the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza.

“In response to events in Israel and the OPTs, a number of demonstrations have taken place in Egypt and protests have been planned, including after Friday prayers. Demonstrations could take place at short notice, with a heavy security presence in place. You should avoid large gatherings, demonstrations and protests. See Safety and security,” the FCDO warns.

Are flights still operating?

Airlines and tour operators continue to run flights into and out of Egypt. The typical flight path from the UK does not pass through the Middle East, but rather crosses over Italy and across the Mediterranean Sea.

What if I want to cancel my holiday?

If you have booked a package holiday to Egypt and want to cancel your trip for any reason, contact your tour operator and they might offer flexibility with alternative dates.

But bear in mind that, because the Foreign Office has not issued any formal advice against travel to the popular holiday resorts in Egypt, there is no guarantee you will receive a refund, nor will you be able to claim money back with your travel insurance company.

If you have booked flights and accommodation independently, and wish to cancel your holiday, contact your travel providers as soon as possible to see if you can rearrange your plans. Note, however, that given the circumstances, it is unlikely you will receive a full refund.

This story was first published in October 2023 and has been revised and updated.

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