Tourists with imminent trips booked to Egypt may be wondering whether it is safe to travel to the country’s popular cities and resorts amid ongoing conflict in neighbouring Israel and Gaza.
Egypt has so far avoided being drawn into the conflict, despite Israeli airstrikes hitting the area near the border with Gaza and forcing it to close on 10 October.
In a separate event on 8 October, two Israeli tourists were killed by a local police officer after he reportedly “discharged his personal firearm at the tourist group” at a site in the coastal city of Alexandria.
Nevertheless, Egypt’s other borders remain open, and airlines and holiday companies are continuing to operate in the country.
But is it safe to go, and what are your rights if you have an upcoming trip booked? Here are the key questions and answers.
How far is Israel from Egypt?
Though Israel directly borders Egypt, most of the country’s major cities and tourists sites are a substantial distance away.
Sharm el Sheikh is the closest, though it is still over two-and-a-half hours’ drive away from the nearest border town and over five hours away by road from the area around the Gaza border. Cairo, Alexandria, Hurghada and Luxor are even further away.
Are flights to Egypt operating as normal?
Flights from the UK to Egypt are still operating as planned, though may be subject to delays from non-related events.
The usual flight path from the UK to Egypt goes down through Italy and across the Mediterranean, and does not enter Israeli airspace.
What if I have booked a package holiday to Egypt?
Package holidays are operating as usual. If you have an upcoming trip booked and want to postpone, get in touch with your tour operator or holiday provider; they may offer some flexibility. However, if not, there is currently no grounds for travellers to expect a refund if they cancel, nor to claim the money back through travel insurance, as the Foreign Office (FCDO) has not issued a blanket “avoid all non-essential travel” advisory for Egypt as it has done for Israel.
If FCDO advice changes to advising against all travel, you can cancel a package holiday without penalty for a full refund.
What is the Foreign Office travel advice for Egypt?
The FCDO has not changed its advice since the beginning of the conflict in Israel, but there are still warnings against all but essential travel to several parts of the country.
Anyone travelling to Egypt should carefully check the most up-to-date advice before travelling.
The FCDO does not warn against travel to any of the main tourist destinations in Egypt, including Cairo, Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor, Aswan and Alexandria.
The website references the recent attack in Alexandria, saying that “On 8 October 2023, an Egyptian police officer is reported to have shot and killed two Israeli tourists and an Egyptian tour guide in Alexandria. A third tourist was injured”.
It advises travellers to “remain vigilant and exercise caution at tourist and religious sites, as well as public gatherings”.
The FCDO advises against all travel to destinations anywhere within 20km of the Egypt-Libya border (except for the town of El Salloum, where it advises against all but essential travel) and the Governorate of North Sinai.
It advises against all but essential travel to:
It adds that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Egypt”, and there is a particular risk in North Sinai. It lists five recent attacks between 2022 and 2018 that have taken place in Cairo, the Minya province and near the Suez Canal.