Traveling to Egypt during Ramadan can be an exciting time to experience a unique aspect and taste of the culture. Nowhere in the world is it celebrated with such vitality and exuberance as in Egypt.
This holy month promises you immense joy and generosity as the locals delight you in one of the true highlights of the Islamic year.
Travel to Egypt during Ramadan
Did you know that one of the most common greetings during the month of Ramadan is “Ramadan Karim” which translates to “a generous Ramadan”? This is without a doubt one of the best ways to explain travel tips for Egypt during Ramadan – be ready to experience exceptional warmth, hospitality and generosity.
Okay, so let’s dig deeper into visiting Egypt during the Islamic calendar.
The Islamic (lunar) month of Ramadan is shifted back by about 10 days every year compared to the Gregorian calendar. This year (2022) Ramadan falls on Saturday April 2nd (+/- one day) and lasts 30 days until Monday May 2nd. All Muslims fast during Ramadan from sunrise to sunset – no eating, drinking or smoking. Working days are being shortened so that everyone can get home in time to break the fast with family and friends.
What to expect during Ramadan in Egypt
If you have had the privilege of traveling to Egypt before, you will know that the locals are particularly hospitable. As this period is about general restrictions and immense generosity, you will encounter these restrictions immediately if you travel to Egypt during Ramadan. They’re also more than happy to welcome you to all the celebrations and celebrations that only happen once a year, so it’s a definite bucket list contender.
Everyday life in Ramadan
If you are lucky enough to travel to Egypt during this month-long festival, you will find that the dynamic of daily life changes during Ramadan. Shops close their doors about two hours before sunset and another two hours after sunset so the locals can vacate and leave and pray. During these hours you will notice how busy cities transform into a peaceful and quieter space.
Don’t worry though, as these areas will then reopen and stay open well past midnight. It is a time of evening life for Egyptians, with shops and coffeehouses staying open late as people eat and drink into the wee hours.
Local gatherings during Ramadan
Ramadan is a unique and rewarding experience that is deeply rooted in family and ideas around togetherness. Beautiful or? Well, these sentiments provide the perfect opportunity for many gatherings of friends and families, locals and visitors alike. You can bet there’s some kind of gathering going on almost every day.
Hotels and restaurants across the city hold special promotions and shows for “iftar” (breaking the fast at sunset) and “sohour” (the pre-dawn meal eaten before the fast must begin again at dawn). That means breaking bread, sharing precious moments and having the best time. What more do you want?!
Alcohol consumption 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 usual. And since about 10 percent of Egypt’s population is Christian, many places also serve food and drinks during the day. This makes traveling to Egypt during Ramadan even easier!
Ramadan celebrations in Egypt
Festival of Lights
at night you will Discover streets adorned with festive decorations and colored lights, especially near traditional areas like the El Hussein Mosque next to the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. Lanterns or “fawanis” hang on every door, a tradition that began about a thousand years ago in the Fatimid era.
Back then, lanterns were used to light the way for processions, to watch the crescent moon that marks the beginning of Ramadan, and to announce the start of the daily fast when the candles in the lanterns died out at dawn. Nowadays, Lanterns have become part of the everyday iconography of Ramadan in Egyptsimilar to how the Christmas tree in the West symbolizes Christmas.
The Egyptian tradition of lavish Ramadan celebrations and nightly street entertainment is believed to have started sometime in the eighth century, when a “Mesaharati” walked through every neighborhood. Their job was to wake up the residents in time for sohour by drumming. Later, the Mesaharati’s role expanded to include reciting prayers, singing, and storytelling.
Today, The special tents set up in the cities for Ramadan offer colorful shows and entertainment for much of the night. Some of these tents are very high quality, lavish affairs, with plush upholstered furniture and large stages for the performers. They are an excellent way to experience traditional Arabic food and music. For the more adventurous, it’s also a good chance to try a bubbly water pipe or “sheesha” filled with aromatically sweet tobacco.
What delicacies should you try when traveling to Egypt during Ramadan?
Food is definitely an integral part of Ramadan as well as Egyptian culture, so of course there are a number of decadent delicacies and specialties for you to enjoy. Whether you’re sitting at an iftar table or even at a big Ramadan feast, here are a few things to defiantly try.
Kunafa is a delicious Middle Eastern dessert that is not only a very traditional option but also a popular choice during the month of Ramadan. They are essentially shredded pieces of dough soaked in syrup. Then layers are formed and filled with either nuts or ricotta cream. However, there are several recipes, even some with Nutella, seasonal fruits, etc.
You will experience this light and healthy Turkish snack in many places when you visit Egypt. This recipe calls for a wide variety of dried fruits, which are then soaked in warm water to bring out the flavors and rehydrate the fruit. They are then sprinkled with nutty and rich nut selections.
The decadent sweet treats continue with Atayef, also affectionately known as Qatayef. This Middle Eastern sweet is often referred to as a Ramadan specialty. It consists of small pancakes filled with various fillings. The most popular are cream, nuts and dates. They can either be eaten raw or fried drizzled with syrup.
A trip to Egypt during Ramadan is an experience you will never forget. The country is opening up to so many cultural experiences for both locals and visitors that it would be a shame to miss out on a full month of celebrations. Essentially, all you need is your ticket, this blog, and an adventurous spirit, and you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime.