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Shoes in Egypt

Hi, I did a search and have read on this forum that it is recommended to wear closed-toe shoes when visiting Egypt. My husband and I have a December trip planned. We'll be visiting Cairo and the major tourist sites along with a Nile cruise. Some people have posted that they wore tennis shoes/sneakers/trainers. I wear Allbirds on a daily basis and love them because they are ventilated (the mesh upper has small holes). My feet get so hot in footwear that is not ventilated. My question is, would they work for Egypt? I'm thinking the sand may get into the holes. When people recommend sneakers, they are recommending ones without any holes for ventilation, correct? If so, any recommendations for sneakers that won't make my feet so hot and will be appropriate for Egypt? Or, would the Allbirds work if I wore socks with them? I have wide feet, so that also complicates things. Thank you for sharing your experience!

Posted by
4976 posts

If this helps at all, for our Morocco trip in January 2019, I brought 2 pairs of hikers. One pair are low-cut trail running/hiking shoes, for which I wear socks, sometimes just ankle-height. We did a lot of walking, in cities and on our desert trip.

For days in more rural areas, and especially in sandy areas and camel trekking in dunes, I wore my full hiking boots, with heavy-duty wool socks. My feet perspire heavily, and those wicking socks helped keep my feet comfortable, and prevent blisters. Both the low hiking shoes and high hiking boots are what I wear for hiking on the Colorado mountains, depending on how far, how rough the trail will be, and how cold/how much snow. Although we didn’t have snow there in Northern Africa in January, and weren’t scrambling over boulders, it was never swelteringly hot, and I appreciated the support of my boots, and they kept sand out and my toes safe.

On the trip to Crete that fall, I brought my hiking boots again for touring ruins and hiking, but also had a pair of Teva sandals, and nicer Mephisto shoes to wear in cities and museums.

Posted by
4976 posts

I wore the hikers to the airport, and on the planes. They do take up more luggage space if packed. They’re a bit cumbersome to remove at airport security, true, but I always set off the metal detector (knee replacements) and have to be wanded, so it’s not like I’m expecting to breeze thru security.

Adventure trips need adventure clothing.

Posted by
161 posts

I’ve never been to Egypt. When I went to India and Vietnam/Cambodia I took an old nearly worn out pair of running shoes. They were great for walking on rough sandy terrain. On the last day of the trip they went in the wastebasket because I didn’t want to pack dirty sandy shoes in my suitcase.

Posted by
1163 posts

My husband and I wore sneakers/trainers when out touring the temples and ancient sites. I wore Kurus which have a wider toe box to accommodate my bunions. We didn’t need hiking boots but I do suggest wearing shoes with good soles and support. Allbirds do not give you any support or traction for going into places such as the tombs at the Valley of the Kings for example. I wore sandals when on the cruise ship and to restaurants. I hope this helps. Have a great time. Egypt is amazing!

Posted by
122 posts

Thank you all for your input! It looks like I will need to do some shopping. I appreciate your recommendations!

Posted by
3789 posts

I wore my orthotic sandals in the cities and trekking shoes in the Valley of the Kings. (I was there in May so temps were between 75 and 122F) As I was used to both of them, I had a solid step and watched the pavement in front of me for uneveness. Sand can get into anything (so wear socks). Wool wicking socks may be your best friend but Rick Steves recommends spraying your feet with anti perspirent to deal with the damp. But whatever you plan to take, make sure you are used to them before hand to build some walking muscle memory. This can help reduce trips and falls.

Posted by
4873 posts

I have been to Egypt twice and it is amazing. I don't recommend going in the Summer.

I wore athletic shoes and did fine. Most walking shoes have ventilation.

Be sure to take a wide brimmed hat if you have one and clothing that doesn't leave much skin exposed. Best for protecting from the sun and also adhere to local dress standards.

Be sure to hydrate constantly and only drink bottled water that YOU open. Never eat street food. Don't dine in a restaurant unless it is at least a four star hotel equivalent. Montezuma has friends in Egypt.

Posted by
182 posts

I wore ventilated tennis shoes most days in Egypt. At the end of every day I was shaking sand out of my shoes and socks. It was fine sand, so didn’t bother me as far as walking, just made for some really dirty feet.

Posted by
309 posts

When I was in Egypt in March 2020, I wore a pair of Asics running shoes, like this - https://www.amazon.com/ASICS-Womens-Gel-Venture-Running-Silver/dp/B07TFJD3NL/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=asics&qid=1626998071&sr=8-2&th=1&psc=1 with lightweight merino wool socks. The Asics have pretty decent ventilation, and they come in wide sizes.

I also took a pair of Allbirds tree runners as secondary/change-up shoes.

I would be a little concerned about Allbirds as my primary walking shoes because the sole is so soft. A lot of the surfaces are pretty rough. The Allbirds might be fine in cities, but at the ancient sites something sturdier would be a better bet.

Temperature shouldn't be an issue in December. It was warm, but not hot, in March.

Also, it's really dusty in Egypt. I would go for gray or sandy-colored footwear during the daytime.

Posted by
4873 posts

I have been to Egypt twice, once in July and once in December.

July was very hot, December, just hot, like 90 degrees F.

Posted by
3525 posts

I agree with those who are recommending more substantial footwear for your trip -- for both of you.

Regardless of the temperature, terrain, location or weather, I've found that lace up, breathable, waterproof ankle hiking boots are the best for me. They've kept me from tripping, breaking a toe, turning an ankle and/or falling more than once.

My current favorites are these KEEN Women's Terradora 2 Waterproof Mid Height Hiking Boots. They were comfortable right out of the box, and for walking and wearing all day. You can buy them through Amazon and lots of other vendors. They come in a variety of colors, as you can see if you use the link. I wear a size 10. Each boot in that size weighs 14 oz.

I also have a pair of this older version called KEEN Women's Terradora Mid Wp-w Hiking Boot. Same size, same weight. They are comfy, but not quite as good for my feet as the newer version.

Not knowing how wide your feet are, and having feet that are on the wide side of medium, KEENs might be worth a try, especially since the lace up feature means they are highly adjustable. BTW, these are the only KEEN shoes that have ever worked for me.

The socks I wear with them are moderate compression ones from Sockwell. They come in many styles and a variety of fun colors. The typical fiber content is 34% Merino Wool, 34% Bamboo Rayon, 28% Stretch Nylon, 4% Spandex. They keep my feet dry, cool or warm as needed, and I've never had a blister.

People seem to think compression socks are really ugly and are only for old people with medical issues. They were originally invented to enhance circulation and improve athletic performance. This is my current favorite style and color. Or maybe it's this one. Or this one. Sometimes Amazon has a better selection than Sockwell.

I can be on my feet all day on all kinds of walking and standing surfaces with this footwear and sock combo. My feet never sweat. As for sand, I walk my dog on unpaved roads with lots of loose sand. It never gets inside my boots.

Posted by
122 posts

Thank you, again, to those who took the time to post and for the recommendations! I appreciate everyone's input!

Posted by
110 posts

I think a lot of people in this thread haven't actually worn Allbirds very much. I've been wearing them almost exclusively for about 3 years now - as has my partner.

If you are wearing merino then they don't let dust in -they are breathable . If you are talking about the cellulose summer weight ones e.g. https://www.allbirds.co.nz/products/womens-tree-skippers - then also breathable and they don't have holes - look hard - there is a lining - no dust is getting in those.

The big advantage of both styles is that they are breathable, don't need socks and you can throw them in the washing machine after the trip.

Remember you'll need to remove your shoes often when entering mosques, homes etc. The very last thing you watnt to wear are heavy walking boots.

My partner wears his as light hiking boots in New Zealand and hey are fine. Yes Egypt has broken footpaths but they are still footpaths - not bush tracks!

Personally Id be wearing sandals - because it will be warm - Keen and Tevas both have sandals with encolosed toes which can protect a bit.

But I think you already have close to the most perfect "sneaker" for Egypt and travel generally

Posted by
6607 posts

I wore good supportive sneakers every day as did my spouse on our trip to Egypt and Jordan.
I wore dressier shoes in the evening when we went to dinner.
We went early January 2020 and it was cold! I wore a down coat, gloves, scarf , jeans, etc

Posted by
656 posts

I never have been to Egypt. I walked on sand dunes in northern Michigan, in May. I wore Colombia hiking boots, made of synthetic, water resistant material. I did not get any sand in my hiking boots. My feet swelled and the hiking boots started fitting too tightly. The swelling eventually subsided after I returned home. Everybody else I passed by on my trip wore lightweight shoes or open toed shoes., or went barefoot. I probably would have been just as well off or better wearing lightweight running shoes or street shoes the upper part made of thin, mesh-like woven material. I have a pair of running shoes made by Altra, a pair of lightweight close-toed sketchers with the upper-part partly made of mesh, and I had a pair of light weight shoes made by creative-recreation that were roughly similar to the sketchers. Any lightweight casual or running shoe with an upper part that is at least partly mesh, that you can comfortably weal all day near home, with thin socks, will work in Egypt too.

Posted by
122 posts

Thank you, Mike, Suki, and Llssie! I appreciate everyone's opinions! I am leaning toward bringing a hiker with good soles, Allbirds for the city, and Teva sandals just for on the cruise ship. I haven't ever taken 3 pairs of shoes on a trip before, but I think I may appreciate and use all three on this trip. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to reply!

Posted by
30 posts

Just returned from Egypt in June: highly recommend against shoes which are open-toed or open anything. I'm not familiar with allbirds, but I saw a reference to holes/mesh. You'll contend with sand/dirt at the sites you'll see along the Nile, and on the streets of Cairo/Aswan. You'll want shoes with decent traction if you plan to be inside tombs at the Valley of the Kings, or if making the climb to the King's Chamber in Khufu's Pyramid (Giza). Many of the old temples & tombs have very uneven steps, so steady shoes w/ a good fit are a must. Obviously, you are the best judge of your own comfort level, but on days of 80-100°F, my leather shoes were fine. (I found the dry heat not to be a problem. But that's me.) Definitely add Abu Simbel to your itinerary if you can. It's wonderous. Have a great trip!

Posted by
122 posts

pborokhovich, thank you for sharing your personal experience. Everyone's input helps. Yes, we are flying to Abu Simbel! Wouldn't miss it!!

Posted by
30 posts

Regarding Abu Simbel: you may want to check flights into Abu Simbel leading up to your trip. I booked my Egypt trip in Dec 2020 for May 2021 travel. At the time of booking, the travel company did not inform us that Egyptian Air had discontinued flights since February 2020 from Aswan to Abu Simbel, and had not reinstated that route by the time of our trip in May 2021. So this was a 3-4 hrs overland drive. Still worth it. But some trip companions backed out of the A.S. sidetrip b/c of that change.