Page update - Aug 28, 2023
Is alcohol safe in Egypt? What kind of alcohol is offered to tourists in All Inclusive hotels? What kind of drinks can you buy in stores? How and where to buy imported alcohol beverages? How to smuggle more than the limit without risk? Where you can drink and where you can't? Read the answers on this page.
The prices and other information on this page were updated in August 2023. However, over the past six months rules regarding liquor in Egypt have not changed, but the prices have gone up.
It is quite safe. Alcohol in stores and hotels in Egypt is almost always factory and legal. There were no cases of severe or mass alcohol poisoning in Egypt, this is not Turkey.
All Inclusive hotels offer local alcohol: locally brewed Stella and Heineken beers, Omar Khayam wine or similar, locally bottled whiskey and vodka from the Al Ahram factories.
The drinks may not be very tasty but they are safe. Read more about all these drinks in our review "Local alcohol in Egypt".
If you want to drink something better, then stock up on imported alcohol.
Imported alcohol is not sold freely in Egypt. There are several options for getting it.
You can bring into Egypt up to 1 liter of alcoholic beverages per person (18 years and older). For details on all customs regulations read our review "What you can and can't bring into Egypt".
Many tourists bring more and even talk about it on tourist forums. This is not surprising, because the customs officers do not thoroughly check all passengers. But if you get caught on a spot check, then blame yourself. You do it at your own risk.
You can bring in more without risk, as we'll talk more about later on this page.
There is an interesting feature in Egypt. There are Duty Free stores in the airports, after the customs control area. There are Duty Free stores even in cities.
For example, in Sharm El Sheikh, there are Duty Free stores at Soho Square Mall, Naama Bay Mall, La Strada Mall. In Hurghada, there is the store in Senzo Mall, three more such stores on Sheraton Road in the Mamsha area. In El Gouna, there is Duty Free EgyptAir.
You can buy imported alcohol in these stores. But only within 48 hours from arrival, only once, not more than 3 liters per person, only with your passport. In the passport is stamped on the fact of purchase.
In practice, these restrictions are not always respected. Sometimes they either sell later than 48 hours, or not always put the stamp, or you can buy a second time. It's a lottery - how law-abiding will the employees of a particular store be.
The prices are pretty high in Duty Free stores. A bottle of inexpensive whiskey is 20-25 dollars, while this same whiskey costs 13-16 dollars in most countries.
Duty Free stores have prices in dollars, and it is better to pay in US dollars, UK pounds, or Euros. Egyptian pounds are not profitable to pay there, as they convert into dollars at an awful rate. In regular stores (with local alcohol), the situation is the opposite.
In Egypt, the bars of expensive hotels have a license to sell imported alcohol. Such licenses are also given to expensive restaurants.
The prices in this case are very high. For the same bottle of whiskey you will pay from 1000 to 2000 Egyptian pounds (30-60 dollars), depending on the greed of the bar (restaurant). See our review "Money in Egypt" for the current exchange rates of the Egyptian pound.
There are many bars for locals in major cities that serve Egyptian-made liquor. There are about a hundred such bars in Cairo. But they have no imported liquor (at least officially).
Then you can drink imported alcohol without restrictions. True, there is a risk that this imported alcohol is not of quite legal origin.
If it is smuggled, then it's okay - what difference does it make to you how legally it was imported into the country. But if it's counterfeit, it's already a risk of poisoning.
An Ultra All Inclusive (UAI) tour must be chosen carefully because not always UAI means imported alcohol. There are cases when hotels mean a completely different thing. For example, bar waiter service or meals after midnight. In any case, you should check with the hotel or tourists' feedback to find out what exactly the hotel means by UAI.
The minimum age for buying alcohol in Egypt is 21 years old. But we have never seen or heard of anyone asking for a passport in stores (local, not Duty Free) at least once. But it's better to have your passport with you, in case they ask.
The special law 1/1973 prohibits the sale of alcohol during the holy month of Ramadan and Islamic holidays. For the public holidays calendar, see our review "Holidays in Egypt". For the Ramadan schedule, see the review "Ramadan in Egypt".
However, the law 63/1976 exempts touristic areas defined by law 77/1975 from all alcohol-related restrictions.
During Ramadan and Islamic holidays, alcohol is sold and poured in tourist areas. It is legal.
The same law 1/1973 forbids drinking and being drunk in any public place. However, the laws 63/1976 and 77/1975 allow this in tourist areas.
You may drink alcoholic beverages on the hotel grounds. It is not allowed outside of the hotel. You can drink on the private beach of the hotel, but not on the public beach. By the way, similar rules (and under the same laws) apply to gambling.
Although Egypt is an Islamic country, the attitude towards alcoholic beverages among Egyptians is quite loyal. This is not the United Arab Emirates, where you can drink only in the hotel room or bar. This is not Tunisia, where you can buy alcohol only in special stores "Generals" or in expensive restaurants.
Approximately 10% of Egypt's population are Coptic Christians, who are not prohibited from drinking alcohol by their religion. Read more in our review "The population of Egypt". Egyptian Muslims are not very religious, and many drink beer, although they do not advertise the fact.
Perhaps, the loyalty to alcohol has something to do with the country's history. After all, Egypt disputes the title of the inventor of beer. In ancient Egypt, beer was an everyday drink for the common people, but it was not similar to a modern beer. Ancient beer was thicker in consistency and more bitter in taste.
Look at the word "alcohol" itself. You can clearly see the Arabic article "al" in front. The process of distillation was invented by the Arabs and they were the first to produce strong alcohol. That is to say, they are the inventors of the moonshine machine circuit, and the word "alcohol" is of Arabic origin, translated as "datura".
Local alcoholic beverages are sold freely in Egypt. However, not every store can sell them, because they need a license, which is now quite difficult to obtain. But there are stores with liquor, and quite a lot of them. We talked about this in detail in the review "Local alcohol in Egypt".
- There is a good way to carry double the amount of liquor with minimal risk. Take two suitcases with one liter of liquor in each. The way is good, but not 100%;
- There is a guaranteed way to carry more. Talk to your neighbors on the plane. If someone is not carrying alcohol, give him or her one liter on loan. After customs, you will take it back. This method works in all countries;
- Or ask one of your neighbors to buy liquor for you at Duty Free on his/her passport. Get a chance to buy another 3 liters. This method is also legal and guaranteed;
- The big retail chains in Egypt (Carrefour, MAKRO, Spinneys, Metro Markets, BIM, Lulu) have licenses to sell alcohol. But in practice they do not sell alcohol in all stores, as it is not always profitable or appropriate. Whether there will be alcohol (at least beer) in the supermarket is a lottery.
- Many deceptions and scams of tourists are related to alcohol. We recommend our review "Scams of tourists in Egypt";
- Recall that under Egyptian laws drinking and being drunk in public places (outside hotels) is punishable. Read our review "What tourists can't do in Egypt".
Read our other interesting pages about Egypt and Egyptians (see the list of the pages below).
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