Did you know that travelling to Egypt during Ramadan can be an exciting time to experience a unique aspect and flavour of all the culture. Perhaps nowhere in the world is it celebrated with such vitality and exuberance as in Egypt.

The holy month of Ramadan promises to bring you immense joy and generosity as locals enthral you in one of the true highlights of the Islamic year. Ramadan 2024 is from Sunday March 10th and ends on Tuesday April 9th.

One of the most common greetings during the month of Ramadan is ‘Ramadan Karim’ which translates to “have a generous Ramadan”. This is without a doubt one of the best ways to explain travel tips to Egypt during Ramadan – be prepared to experience exceptional warmth, hospitality and generosity.

What to expect during Ramadan in Egypt
If you have ever had the privilege of going to Egypt, you will know that the locals are particularly hospitable. Given that this period is about general constraint and immense generosity, you will immediately encounter these restraints when traveling to Egypt during Ramadan. They are also more than happy to welcome you into all of the celebrations and festivities, which only happen once a year, so it is a definite bucket-list contender.

Everyday life in Egypt during Ramadan
If you are lucky enough to travel to Egypt during this month-long festival, you will notice that the dynamics of everyday life change during Ramadan. Shops close their doors about two hours before sunset and for another two hours after sunset so that the locals can vacate and go and pray. During these hours you will notice how busy cities transform into a peaceful and quieter space. However, don’t worry as these spaces will then re-open and remain open until way past midnight. It is a time of evening living for Egyptians, with shops and coffee houses open late at night as people eat and drink into the early morning hours.

Local gatherings during Ramadan
Ramadan is a unique and rewarding experience that is deeply rooted in family and ideas around togetherness. Beautiful, right? Well, these sentiments make for the perfect opportunity for many gatherings of friends and families, locals and visitors. You can bet that almost every day there will be some kind of gathering happening.

Hotels and restaurants throughout the city hold special promotions and shows for “Iftar” (the fast-breaking meal at sunset) and “Sohour” (the pre-dawn meal taken before fasting must begin again at dawn). This means breaking bread, sharing precious moments and having the best time. What more could you want?!

Drinking alcohol in Egypt during Ramadan
Unlike some other Muslim countries, foreigners in Egypt are still allowed to drink alcohol during Ramadan and can also enjoy restaurants, bars and nightlife as normal. And since about 10 percent of Egypt’s population is Christian, many places still serve food and drink during daylight hours, as well. This makes traveling to Egypt during Ramadan even easier!

Festival of lights
At night, you will discover streets decked with festive decorations and coloured lights, particularly around traditional areas such as El-Hussein Mosque, next to the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar. Lanterns, or “Fawanis,” hang from every doorway, a tradition that began during the time of the Fatimids around a thousand years ago.

At that time, lanterns were used to light the way for processions to observe the crescent moon, which marks the beginning of Ramadan, and to announce the start of each day’s fast when the candles in the lanterns burned out at dawn. Nowadays, lanterns have become part of the everyday iconography of Ramadan in Egypt, in much the same way that the Christmas tree symbolizes Christmas in the West.

Streetside entertainment
The Egyptian tradition of elaborate Ramadan feasting and street entertainment at night is thought to have begun sometime in the Eighth Century, when a “Mesaharati” would walk around each neighbourhood. Their job was to wake up the residents in time for Sohour by banging a drum. Later, the role of the Mesaharati would expand to include reciting prayers, singing and storytelling.

Eid in Egypt
As Ramadan is coming to an end, with that, Eid Al Fitr is upon us. Eid Al Fitr (the feast of breaking one’s fast) is a three-day feast commemorating the end of the holy month of Ramadan. In Egypt, families wait for Eid to buy new clothes, go out, travel and spend time with friends. The joy of Eid lies in the spirit of togetherness and spending time with loved ones.

Eid Al-Fitr is a time to celebrate joyous new beginnings and share precious moments with family and friends. A wonderful time to be in Egypt.

*This article was written on and with the perspective of 5th March 2024.

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