Most seasoned travelers will suggest late November as the best time to visit Israel and Egypt, because it is not too wet and not too hot at this time of year. Another good time to go and when there are plenty of cheap travel deals around is early March, when the weather is quite similar to that of late November. You can get some excellent multi centre deals, to get the best out of your visit. However if the plan is to be by the sea for most of the time, and hotter temperatures are going to be something you want, many would recommend June, and possibly September.
The general consensus from those in the know is that the very best time of year for Egypt last minute travel deals is going to be January. It’s true to say that Israel will be on the chilly side then, but it is a great month for traveling and sightseeing, because it is so much quieter from a tourist point of view. Far fewer westerners want to go out to Egypt and Israel when it is so much cooler, but this works well for those of us wanting to travel, as everywhere is much less congested.
The summer season from June to September in both countries is also high season, just as it is in the other countries which attract sun worshipping holiday makers. In Egypt Sharm el Sheikh, Ghurdaka, and Marsa Allam are all really popular at this time of year, and Eilat and Aqaba in Israel. So the chances of getting the cheapest deals to these places then are practically zero, even if you book well in advance, or even if you dare to leave it right to last minute.
It is also worth taking into account religious periods, where costs of travel can also go up. Passover in Israel is in April and that will cancel out your chances of getting any cheap flights, and likewise Ramadan in Egypt is traditionally a time when people travel, so the costs go up accordingly. Ramadan lasts 29 to 30 days and dates change every year according to the lunar calendar. In 2012 it will be 20 July through mid-August for example, but 2013 it starts July 7, so is a couple of weeks earlier. Ramadan is followed by the festival of Eid ul-Fitr, which lasts a few days.
Ramadan is a very important month in Islamic countries and local people will appreciate the fact that visitors to their country understand the requirement at this time not to eat, drink or smoke until after the sun has gone down. While it is not expected of tourists, it is certainly a respectful custom to observe if possible, and this can certainly impact on your visit at this time of year. Life is a lot slower during the day and it can be difficult to access transport to get around.
For visiting Egypt, October to May is well worth considering as a good time to make the journey. The days are still warm in the Fall and you still get lovely long periods of sunshine, but the evenings start to cool a bit more, which many people prefer anyway as it is easier to get to sleep. Likewise in the Spring you get warmth in the sun but not so much that you have to stay in walking distance of air conditioning. The weather is still calm and you can plan trips without worrying too much about how easily you will get around, because the tourists tend to stick to the hotter months. Spring and Fall are beautiful times of year in both countries.
Of course how far you tolerate the heat is a personal thing, and many people go to Egypt and Israel in the summer solely because they want hot, hot, hot. It’s true to say that both Israel and Egypt have foreign visitors all year long and all are welcomed, whether they want to lie like lizards by the pool, or get their rucksack and trainers on and head for the most remote destinations.
If you live in a country which already has really hot summers, you are probably used to the heat and know how to handle it, so the extremes of the sun from June to September won’t bother you. On the other hand holiday makers from cooler climes can often burn straightaway, because they sometimes have not prepared themselves properly for just how blisteringly hot it can get in high season. Once burned to a crisp, the rest of the holiday can be a washout since you will have to remain clothed, or stay indoors. So the advice for those choosing to come during the hottest months is bring the highest factor sun cream you can find, plus sun block and of course the obligatory hat, unless you want to buy one when you are in Egypt or Israel, of course. It is quite telling local people in Egypt and Israel will warn against the sun for people who are not used to it, and they live here all year round!
The pace and content of your time in Egypt and Israel will be determined by the weather to some extent, so coming to either country in the Fall makes sense for those who want to see the sights; for example making the journey to the beautiful Aswan area, where they can experience nature and take some wonderful photos, or spending time in Israel’s historic city of Jaffa with its amazing market. It is refreshing not to have too many people in the way when you want to take a photo! Travel down to Luxor and the southern end of Egypt at this time of year and you will escape the incredible temperatures they have there at the height of the summer.
If you are a city lover and want to spend more time exploring Cairo, perhaps shopping for a few bargains on the way in the Khan el Kahlili Bazaar, try going in the Spring, as there is probably more chance of getting better deals on your purchases, plus cheaper flights to get out there in the first place.
You can cut costs substantially on your trip to Israel and Egypt by booking as far in advance as you can. There are some cheap travel deals on hotels and flights if you know well ahead when you can travel and there are plenty of booking sites on the internet who will search around for you, saving you a lot of time and money in the end. Leaving the organizing until a couple of months before you want to go will cost you dearly no matter what time of year you intend to visit, even if you plan to stay in the cheapest hotels. The only way round this would really be to leave your booking until the ultimate final couple of weeks; then it is true that Egypt last minute travel deals are much easier to source.
It is true that because Arab visitors tolerate the heat of the summer, being perhaps more used to it than many of their European or American counterparts, they tend to visit Cairo June to September and this can mean booking a city hotel during those months is a bit tricky, so err on the side of caution and get the best deals for Cairo hotels by planning and booking well ahead.
A lot of visitors to Egypt from other Arabic countries actually find Egypt is cooler than their own place of domicile in high summer, so Cairo between June and September is a welcome relief for them. Consequently don’t expect to turn up in the city and automatically assume you will be able to book into your one chosen hotel. Naturally there will be places available to sleep in the city, as there are a great number of hotels in and around Cairo, but these might not necessarily be somewhere you would automatically choose to stay. In fact you can get some quite good discounts for Cairo hotels in the summer because at this hottest time of the year, proprietors are very keen to get all their rooms filled.
Try to avoid March or April in Egypt if you are not a fan of strong wind, because this is the time of year when the Khamsin wind passes through. It is warm, but because it comes in from the desert it kindly deposits lots of debris which you don’t really want to get caught up in if you can help it. It only lasts a few days, but it could be a factor in deciding when your trip of a lifetime to Egypt and Israel takes place.
Travelling during Ramadan causes debate amongst travelers. Apart from the fact that it can be more expensive to get flights, some people prefer to avoid it because no alcohol is permitted. A lot of businesses, including cafes and restaurants close up either early each day, or altogether, so obviously local facilities are less available. Not everyone finds this too much of a handicap however and it could be argued that visiting during this quieter period actually enhances the Egypt experience because there are far fewer hassles to getting around during the day. It just depends on your budget for cheap travel deals. The festival lasts around a month and you find that after the quiet of the day, at night Cairo and other cities are really buzzing with people and atmosphere.
January and February are definitely the best value months in terms of Egypt last minute travel deals. Travelers who adore a cooler Israel and Egypt, who do not want to spend their entire trip lying in the sun, go there time after time during these months. You can spend plenty of time outdoors and really appreciating the sights, rather than worrying about whether you will get heatstroke if you are out there too many hours.
Israel and Egypt attract so many visitors because there are so wonderful sights to see and they love being treated like guests in the country, which is the overwhelming feeling you get when you arrive. There are few more hospitable countries in the world and Americans get treated really well, especially when participating in guided tours where you have a local person who knows the best places to take you. A guide, licensed or unlicensed, who lives in the country has plenty of relevant information about the history of what you are seeing and you can bargain for prices for their services – this is expected in both countries.
Whatever time of year you decide on and whether your budget is large or small, having a local tour guide will always enhance the experience. For example if you are in Israel and want to know more about Tel Aviv, or you are visiting places such as Gal Ilea, Nazareth, Jerusalem; in Egypt of course it has to be the Pyramids at Giza, Colossus of Ramses and the Sphinx. Guides can advise you on how to get the best out of your time in both Israel and Egypt whichever time of year you opt for, for example how to get the cheapest cab deals locally, or where is best to eat, or organizing travel to Alexandria, for instance.
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