Egypt might bring up romantic imagery of the Pyramids of Giza – or make you think of historic excursions, a cruise down the River Nile and hot, hot heat, especially in the summer.
But given what’s been going on in the world lately, we’d forgive you for wondering: is Egypt a safe place to visit with my family?
Here’s everything you need to know about safe travelling to Egypt with little ones in tow…
Which areas in Egypt are safest for families?
Currently, there’s no advice warning against most of the popular holiday destinations, including Egypt’s capital city, Cairo.
Egypt’s 2nd largest city, Alexandria, is also OK, as are big tourist attractions: Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings.
One of the country’s most famous beach resorts – Hurghada – does not currently bear any travel warnings.
It would also appear that the Sharm el Sheikh area (within the perimeter barrier) is considered a ‘safe’ place to visit – though you can’t fly there directly from the UK anymore (more on that below).
That said, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does suggest that tourists might encounter some difficulties in the big tourist areas, like the Pyramids of Giza, and find themselves being aggressively hassled for money or business.
“Visitors using a pre-booked guide, or taking an organised tour to visit the Giza Pyramids are likely to face fewer difficulties,” says the FCO.
Which places in Egypt are unsafe for families?
While the major tourist spots are considered OK to visit, sadly there are plenty of areas in Egypt you ABSOLUTELY should avoid.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:
- the Governorate of North Sinai due to the significant increase in criminal activity and continued terrorist attacks on police and security forces that have resulted in deaths
“The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:
- the Governorate of South Sinai, with the exception of the area within the Sharm el Sheikh perimeter barrier, which includes the airport
- Sharm el Maya
- Naama Bay
- Sharks Bay
“We advise against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh; the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, excluding the coastal areas between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matruh (as shown on the map).”
Is there a terrorist threat in Egypt right now?
Yes, the FCO says a terrorist attack is “very likely” in Egypt – with a particular focus on institutions related to the West.
“There have been threats to western nationals, institutions and businesses posted on websites and social media,” says the FCO. “The main threat to foreigners is from extremists linked to Daesh-Sinai [ISIS].”
To put all that into perspective: it’s also “very likely” that a terror attack will occur in places like France, Germany and even here in the UK. Our own terror threat remains at “severe” .
There have also been threats against Coptic Christians, who are one of Egypt’s major religious groups, particularly around religious holidays like Ramadan, Christmas and ‘Coptic Christmas’.
We’d recommend reading up on the Foreign Office‘s specific guidance to terrorism in Egypt – and generally keeping your wits about you when you’re out and about in public.
Is it safe for UK families to travel through Egyptian airports?
Right now, it seems like travelling to airports in areas that do not carry travel warnings is considered OK. The 3 airports you can travel to are:
- Marsa Alam
Currently, there are no direct flights from the UK to Sharm el Sheikh at all.
It’s not recommended that anyone travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh – this is after an incident in October 2015, where a departing flight to St Petersburg in Russia crashed in North Sinai, killing 135 passengers and 13 crew members.
Generally, there is a risk of aviation terrorism – and you should make yourself aware of any specific restrictions to what you can take on places travelling to/through Egypt, put in place in March 2017.
You should also make sure you’ve got the proper documentation when you travel. You’ll need a Visa to visit most places in Egypt – which you can buy at the airport, but it might be savvier to get one in advance from the Egyptian Consulate.
What else should I know about travelling in Egypt?
The government notes that 319k British people visited Egypt in 2017, and says “most visits were trouble-free”.
We really recommend following your gut when it comes to picking a holiday destination – and we’d say only travel with your kids to places you feel 100% comfortable with.
We’d also suggest you go for an ATOL-protected holiday, and take with you the contact details for the British Embassy and the local authorities.
Finally, everything from the FCO we’ve quoted here is correct as of 30 April 2018. If there are any major changes, we’ll update this post as soon as we can ?
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Have you been to Egypt for a family holiday in the last couple years? We’d love to know where you went, and how you found it?
Images: Getty Images, FCO website