Egypt mainly has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) - the climate is extremely hot and dry except for the Mediterranean influence on the north coast, and the hot and arid (Köppen BWk) area along the Red Sea coast. Egypt is a transcontinental country that spans the northeastern corner of Africa and the southwestern corner of Asia. The Isthmus of Suez is a land bridge that connects the African and Asian parts of the country. The Red Sea lies in the east, Sudan is in the south, Libya is in the west, and Israel and Gaza Strip are in the northeast. The Tropic of Cancer passes through Egypt, and the Saharan and Libyan deserts influence the climate heavily. The Mediterranean and Red Seas are primary climatic factors in the northern and northeastern coasts.
Egypt, the sunniest and driest country in the world, has a predominantly desert landscape except for the Nile Valley and delta region. Outside the Nile Valley, the topography is typically arid, with scattered oases. Winds blow sand and create dunes into prolific structures that grow over 30 meters high. The Nile Valley occupies only 5.5% of the country’s area but is the only fertile region, and hosts 99% of the population. Much of the country is part of the Saharan and Libyan deserts. The desert on the western side of the Nile sees higher temperatures and lower rainfall than that on the eastern side. The Sinai Peninsula joins the African part of Egypt with the Asian section. The Peninsula is flat in the northern two-thirds and mountainous in the south. Mount Catherine is the highest point in Egypt at 2629 meters.
Summers are scorching and dry in Egypt. The hot and dry Khamaseen wind blows in early summer from the southern deserts. The wind brings scorching dust and sand particles that keep daily high temperatures in the range of 40°C (104°F) to 50°C (122°F). The skies remain clear in much of Egypt during the summer. The relative humidity drops below 5% during periods of heatwaves. Prevailing northwesterly winds moderate temperatures along the northern coast. The average low temperatures are between 9.4°C (48.9°F) to 16.7°C (62.1°F) in the winter, and average high temperatures are in the range of 22.8°C (73°F) to 31.7°C (89.1°F) in the summer on the north coast. Winters are mild and sunny everywhere except for the cold in the mountains of the Sinai Peninsula at high altitudes. Night temperatures can drop below freezing in the desert. The Sinai Mountains and a few northern coastal cities see frost and snowfall in the winter.
Egypt receives little precipitation. The annual rainfall ranges from 20.3mm (0.8") to 203.2mm (8") along the Mediterranean Coast, and is negligible to the south of Cairo, in the central and southern parts. December and January are the wettest months of the year on the Mediterranean coast. The northern coast receives 3300 hours, while most of the country basks in over 4000 hours of annual sunshine. The average relative humidity is mostly below 50%, with heat waves a standard feature during the summer. The seawater temperatures in Sharm El Sheikh, on the Red Sea coast, vary in the range of 21.1°C (70°F) to 27.8°C (82°F). The ocean temperatures in Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast, are in the moderate range of 17.2°C (63°F) to 26.1°C (79°F).
Aswan holds the record for the highest temperature of 51.1°C (124°F) in Egypt. Mount Catherine holds the record for the lowest temperature of -15°C (5°F).
The best time to visit Egypt
The best time to visit Egypt is during the winter from November to February. The days are warm and sunny, with moderate rainfall along the northern coast. Winter is the best season to visit Cairo and the Great Pyramids of Giza in the north. Luxor and Aswan in the south have high temperatures during the day but experience the best conditions of the year in December and January. Beach holidays are best in April, October, and November along the Red Sea coast. Mediterranean ocean waters are at their best during mid-October to mid-November when temperatures are in the range of 23.9°C (75°F) to 25°C (77°F). Although the atmosphere is pleasant in the winter, the seawater is cold for swimming and sunbathing.
The worst time to visit Egypt
The worst time to visit Egypt is generally in the summer from June to August. The interior areas with no rain and southern regions are scorching even in May and September. The average daily high temperatures in Aswan and Luxor are between 38.9°C (102°F) to 41.1°C (106°F) but scale highs of 48.9°C (120°F) when the hot Khamaseen wind blows from the south. The Red Sea coast registers average highs above 37.8°C (100°F) during peak summer. Alexandria and Cairo in the north are hot during the day, with average high temperatures in the 29.4°C (84.9°F) to 35°C (95°F). The Mediterranean seawaters register average temperatures of 20°C (68°F) in May and 26.1°C (79°F) in September.
Egypt faces natural weather hazards, such as floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, and sandstorms. Scanty rainfall and water scarcity is the reason for droughts in the interior. Rockslides, such as the one in Cairo in 2009, cause severe damage to infrastructure and claim lives. Coastal flooding displaced thousands of people in 2010, with the destruction of over 4000 houses. Extremely high temperatures over 48.9°C (120°F) occur in the summer in the interior desert regions. The hot Khamaseen wind blows at speeds below 8km/h (5mph) from the southern deserts and carries hot sand and dust particles along with it. Sandstorm is a severe hazard in the summer that stalls all activities. Earthquakes are of moderate-intensity and mostly occur in the northern parts of Egypt and the west side of the Red Sea. A rare earthquake of magnitude 7.3 occurred in the Gulf of Aqaba in 1995.
Weather in January
January is the coldest month of the year in Egypt, with pleasant conditions along the northern coast. Alexandria registers average temperatures in the range of 8.9°C (48°F) to 17.8°C (64°F), with bright and sunny days. Rainfall is up to 55.9mm (2.2") in January, with occasional wet spells that clear up quickly. Seawaters at 17.8°C (64°F) are cold for swimming or sunbathing. Cairo, the capital in the north, is in the zone of 8.9°C (48°F) to 18.9°C (66°F), with hardly 38.1mm (1.5") of rainfall. The south-central desert region is one of the sunniest places in the world with 10 hours of daily sunshine at the peak of winter. Sharm el Sheikh, on the Red Sea coast, is in the mild range of 12.8°C (55°F) to 22.2°C (72°F), but the seawaters at 22.2°C (72°F) are still cold for swimming. A light jacket or sweater is useful in the evenings across the country. Expect at least 7 to 8 hours of sunshine amid 11 hours of daylight in Egypt in January.
Weather in February
February is mild and sunny in much of Egypt, with moderate rainfall along the Mediterranean coast. Alexandria sees nine wet days in the month that produce brief and light showers. Temperatures usually are in a pleasant zone of 8.9°C (48°F) to 18.9°C (66°F) with 8 hours of daily sunshine. Luxor in the south has sunny days and cold nights in the zone of 7.2°C (45°F) to 25°C (77°F). Tourists are often caught unaware in desert regions where night temperatures quickly fall below freezing. Mid-February has comfortable weather in Cairo, with humidity in the range of 55 to 60%, and average temperatures in the 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F) range. Rainfall is negligible in much of the country, as daylight increases to 11.5 hours by the end of the month. Seawater temperatures between 17.2°C (63°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) are cold for swimming on the northern and eastern coasts. February is the last month of the mild winter before the heat rises significantly in Egypt.
Weather in March
March is sunny and hot in Egypt, with mostly clear skies and negligible rainfall. The average temperatures along the northern coast are in the warm range of 11.1°C (52°F) to 23.9°C (75°F), but the southern regions see average highs of 29.4°C (84.9°F). Luxor and Aswan receive more than 9 hours of sunshine and register many days above 37.8°C (100°F). Marsa Matruh on the northern coast has relatively moderate temperatures between 11.1°C (52°F) to 20°C (68°F), but the seawaters below 17.8°C (64°F) are cold for swimming. The spring season is evident only on the northern coast, while the rest of the country remains hot. Cairo registers average wind speeds below 14.5km/h (9mph) in March, with 12-hour days and sunset past 6.15 p.m. Winds blow sand in the air to make outings unpleasant during the day. The desert regions have hot days that end in cold nights. Carry a light jacket and umbrella for a stay on the Mediterranean coast. Expect dry conditions in March in Egypt.
Weather in April
April is hot in much of Egypt except for the Mediterranean coast. The average temperatures are in the zone of 12.8°C (55°F) to 31.7°C (89.1°F) in the north, with scanty rainfall. Temperatures in the interior are between 17.8°C (64°F) to 35°C (95°F) on average and quickly scale 40.6°C (105.1°F) during the day. Hurghada, on the Red Sea coast, has moderate temperatures between 17.8°C (64°F) to 28.9°C (84°F), with seawaters at a mild 22.2°C (72°F). The highlands of the Sinai Peninsula are hot during the day but cool off quickly in the night. The average wind speeds remain below 14.5km/h (9mph) along the coast. The hot Khamaseen wind blows sand and dust particles that make travel and communication difficult. Alexandria has moderate temperatures in the range of 12.8°C (55°F) to 23.9°C (75°F), with bright daily sunshine of 10 hours. The seawaters along the Mediterranean coast are cold at 17.8°C (64°F). Lightweight and loose-fitting clothes are usually best for hot days. A scarf is a useful accessory to keep away from the sand and dust in April in Egypt.
Weather in May
May is sunny in Egypt, with 11 hours of bright sunshine during the 14-hour days. The temperatures rise swiftly to register in the hot range of 20°C (68°F) to 38.9°C (102°F) in the interior. The south-central region is stiflingly hot, and even Aswan and Luxor on the banks of the Nile, do not escape the heat. The humidity levels are between 50 to 65%, with the interior drier than the coast. The average wind speeds remain below 16.1km/h (10mph), with occasional sandstorms that are extremely uncomfortable. Sharm el Sheikh and Marsa Alam on the Red Sea coast register average temperatures in the warm 23.9°C (75°F) to hot 33.9°C (93°F) zone. The seawaters of the Red Sea are warmer at average temperatures of 23.9°C (75°F) compared to the Mediterranean at 20°C (68°F). Light summer clothing made of cotton or linen, sweatshirts, wide-brimmed hats, scarves, and sandals is suitable in the hot weather. Expect no respite from the scorching sun in May in Egypt.
Weather in June
June falls in the summer season of Egypt, with relentless sunshine and sweltering temperatures. Cairo registers average temperatures in the 20°C (68°F) to 33.9°C (93°F) range, with nearly a 100% chance of clear skies. Winds blow at less than 16.1km/h (10mph), predominantly from the northern direction. The sunrays are scorching during the day, which lasts for at least 14 hours. The land heats quickly within a couple of hours after sunrise, which occurs before 5 a.m. in much of Egypt. The Red Sea coast basks under 12 hours of bright sunshine that warm the seawaters up to 26.1°C (79°F). Hurghada registers average temperatures between 25°C (77°F) to 35°C (95°F), which makes outdoor activities challenging during mid-day. The best times for swimming and other water activities are early mornings and evenings. The Mediterranean coast offers mild sweaters at 22.8°C (73°F) and average temperatures in the zone of 20°C (68°F) to 28.9°C (84°F) in Alexandria. June weather is unbearably hot and avoidable for a visit to Egypt.
Weather in July
July is hot and sunny in Egypt, with the heat at its peak. The only places short of the 37.8°C (100°F) mark lie on the northern coast. Alexandria registers average temperatures in the 22.8°C (73°F) to 30°C (86°F), with warm seawaters at 25°C (77°F). Cairo is hot between 22.2°C (72°F) to 35°C (95°F), and often unbearable due to the urban heat island effect. The summers are scorching hot in interior areas, such as Luxor, which ranges between 23.9°C (75°F) to 41.1°C (106°F) in July. Heatwaves are standard and push the temperatures in the vicinity of 48.9°C (120°F). Low humidity levels between 50 to 55% and clear skies keep the nights comfortable, especially in the highlands of the Sinai Peninsula. The average wind speeds drop below 12.9km/h (8mph) to make the heat even more unbearable. The daylight reduces to 13.5 hours by the end of July, yet the sun blazes for 12 hours every day. Avoid Egypt in July except for the Mediterranean coast.
Weather in August
August is extremely hot and dry in Egypt, with relentless sunshine and clear skies. The blistering sunshine often keeps daily highs above 43.3°C (109.9°F) in the south. The interior regions, such as Aswan and Luxor, register average temperatures in the extremely hot range of 23.9°C (75°F) to 41.1°C (106°F). Temperatures along the Red Sea coast average between 27.8°C (82°F) to 37.8°C (100°F), with 11 hours of sunshine. Marsa Matruh, on the northwest Egyptian coast, has bearable temperatures in the zone of 21.1°C (70°F) to 30°C (86°F), with the seawater temperatures at 26.1°C (79°F), the highest of the year. Sandstorms are less frequent in August, but winds are weak, and the heat is unbearable. August 1 is often the hottest day of the year in Cairo, with temperatures typically in the 24.4°C (75.9°F) to 35.6°C (96.1°F) range amid clear skies. Expect dry heat, which can easily cause sunstroke when exposed for long durations. August has harsh conditions in Egypt that are unsuitable for people from temperate regions.
Weather in September
September is an extension of the hot summer in Egypt, with high temperatures and no rainfall. Temperatures are slightly lower than the peak summer but still very high. In the southern interior, Luxor records average temperatures between 22.2°C (72°F) to 38.9°C (102°F). The average temperatures in Cairo are in the range of 21.1°C (70°F) to 32.8°C (91°F), with 10 hours of brilliant sunshine. Coastal regions in the north and east register average daily highs up to 35°C (95°F) and nights up to 21.1°C (70°F). September is dry in Egypt, with humidity levels in the 55 to 65% range amid mostly clear skies. The daylight shortens below 12 hours by the end of the month. The Egyptian deserts are among the few regions that host the clearest skies in the world, a feast for stargazers. The average wind speeds remain below 14.5km/h (9mph) and offer light breezes only in the northern coastal areas. September sees a gradual drop in temperatures in Egypt.
Weather in October
October days are still hot in Egypt and dry in the absence of rain. Sharm el Sheikh in the eastern Sinai registers high temperatures in the 22.8°C (73°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) zone. The Red Sea coast long Marsa Alam has warm waters at 27.2°C (81°F) that are suitable for swimming and other water activities. Alexandria sees moderate temperatures in the range of 17.8°C (64°F) to 27.8°C (82°F), with partly cloudy skies and daylight less than 11 hours. The Mediterranean coast waters are mild and enjoyable at 25°C (77°F). Luxor and the southern deserts are in the hot zone of 17.8°C (64°F) to 35°C (95°F), with wind speeds below 12.9km/h (8mph) and low relative humidity. Tourists who wish to visit Giza for the Great Pyramids can take advantage of the shoulder season in October when crowds are fewer. The daily sunshine lasts for 9 to 10 hours, even though the days are short. October offers fair weather, especially in the second half of the month in Egypt.
Weather in November
November offers moderate temperatures amid clear skies in Egypt. Alexandria receives scanty rainfall of 30.5mm (1.2") in the month, as the average temperatures hover in the range of 13.9°C (57°F) to 23.9°C (75°F). Cairo and Giza see many tourists as the heat tapers down from the peak of the summer. The average temperatures in Cairo are in the moderate zone of 13.9°C (57°F) to 25°C (77°F), with 8 hours of daily sunshine. Humidity levels are in a comfortable zone, but average wind speeds are constant below 12.9km/h (8mph). The daylight lasts for 10.5 hours in Luxor, where the average temperatures fall in the range of 12.2°C (54°F) to 28.9°C (84°F). Nights are cold in the Sinai highlands and warrant a sweater or warm jacket for the evenings. Much of Egypt has clear skies and little rainfall. Expect night temperatures to fall in the desert regions and pack warm clothes. The conditions are comfortable with the drop in temperatures and the frequency of sandstorms by November-end in Egypt.
Weather in December
December has pleasant weather, in Egypt with the arrival of the winter season. Cairo temperatures are in the average zone of 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F), with only 6 hours of daily sunshine. December registers the shortest days of the year in Egypt, slightly above 10 hours. The average temperatures in Aswan and Luxor are in the range of 7.8°C (46°F) to 23.9°C (75°F), with significantly cold nights. Frost and snowfall occur at high altitudes on the Sinai mountains. Nights occasionally drop below freezing in the southern deserts to the shock of unsuspecting travelers. The Red Sea waters remain above 22.8°C (73°F), and Sharm el Sheikh is pleasant with average temperatures in the zone of 15°C (59°F) to 22.8°C (73°F). Wind speeds remain in the 14.5km/h (9mph) to 17.7km/h (11mph) during the month, with comfortable humidity levels between 55 to 70%. The Mediterranean coast sees up to 55.9mm (2.2") of moderate rainfall in December. Carry an umbrella in addition to a light jacket or sweater for the evenings. Overall, the weather is pleasant in Egypt in December.