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Siwa Oasis in Egypt: A Guide to North Africa’s Hidden Paradise

  • Post last modified:May 7, 2024
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Have you ever heard of Siwa Oasis in Egypt? Well, if you haven't then you'll definitely want to, and if you have - well, this guide is going to be your best friend.

During our week in Egypt we had plenty of locals telling us we were crazy for trying to squeeze Siwa into our itinerary. "It's super far, and in the middle of nowhere." or "there are so many other places you should visit in Egypt".

Well, we're happy we didn't listen to them, because the Siwa Oasis in Egypt was hands-down one of our favorite places in the country! It's so much more than some salt pools - it's a pure paradise for those who love raw nature and authentic experiences.

In this guide we're going to share everything you need to to know for visiting Siwa Oasis in Egypt, so that you can plan an epic trip there like we did.

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Where is Siwa Oasis in Egypt?

Siwa Oasis is located all the way in the north west of Egypt, just 30 miles from the border of Libya. It's 350 miles west of Cairo, in the middle of Western desert.

How Do I Get to Siwa Oasis?

Now you know where Siwa Oasis is in Egypt, but how do you get there? Well, we're here to break down the different options.

Can You Fly From Cairo to Siwa?

The airport in Siwa is not currently in operation, so you cannot fly to Siwa, and can only travel there by land.

Can You Drive to Siwa Oasis?

You can definitely drive to Siwa Oasis! You can rent a car in Cairo, and the drive is about 8-10 hours. We originally were thinking to do this option, but due to lack of time and long distances, we opted to look for other options.

The drive to Siwa is almost all desert, so if you do decide to drive, we suggest taking the coastal route and stopping at one of the beach towns along the way.

How Do I Go From Cairo to Siwa Oasis?

There are two other options that you can take for getting to Siwa Oasis from Cairo, which are to take an organized tour to Siwa, or take a bus from Cairo to Siwa.

The bus is the most affordable option, which is an overnight bus. It leaves from Turgoman Station every night at 9:30 pm, and tickets are 340 Egyptian Pounds per person.

Buses from Siwa Oasis to Cairo

Buses back from Siwa are also overnight, and you can get either a minibus or a larger bus.

Tickets for the minibus can be purchased from the Siwa Minibus Station (6G4C+G4V, Siwa, Marsa Matrouh Governorate 5011353, Egypt), or from the "Siwa Bus Station & Tickets" (Shali Square, Siwa, Marsa Matrouh Governorate 5011325, Egypt).

Tickets for the larger buses (which we took) can be purchased at the main station (6G49+2HQ, Siwa, Marsa Matrouh Governorate 5011346, Egypt).

Tours from Cairo to Siwa Oasis in Egypt

The easiest option for visiting Siwa Oasis in Egypt is to take an organized tour. This is the pricer option, but a bit more comfortable.

Here are a couuple of multi-day tours that you can sign up for from Cairo to Siwa:

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Entry Requirements for Siwa Oasis in Egypt

In order to visit Siwa Oasis you'll have to travel there internally from another place in Egypt.

There are no specific requirements to travel to Siwa, but we do suggest having your passport with you while traveling there.

If you'd like to know more about the entry requirements for traveling to Egypt, you can check them out in our complete Egypt travel guide.

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Local Adjustments for Visiting Siwa Oasis in Egypt

Now that you know how to get to Siwa Oasis in Egypt, let's go over some of the "know before you go" details.

What Language is Spoken in Siwa Oasis?

While Egypt as a country speaks Arabic, there is also a native language in Siwa! It's completely different, and is only spoken, not written.

Luckily the locals work hard to learn English, and you can mostly get by by speaking in English.

What Currency is Used in Siwa Oasis?

While Siwa does have its own language, they do use the same currency as the rest of Egypt, which is the Egyptian pound.

Currently (May 2024) 1 USD is equivalent to 48 Egyptian Pounds.

There are hardly any places that accept credit cards, so we definitely suggest taking cash out before arriving. If you run out of cash though, there are a couple of ATMs in the center of the town of Siwa Oasis.

What Kind of Adapter Do I Need for Egypt?

Egypt uses plug types C & F which have two round pins, just like the ones in Europe. The country runs on a 220V Supply Voltage and 50Hz.

If you are from the US, you will need a travel adapter to plug in your electronics in.

Is There Fresh Water in Siwa Oasis to Drink?

The water in Siwa Oasis is not suitable to drink, so you'll have to stick to bottled water. We suggest buying a large jug of water to keep in your hotel room, and then you can refill a reusable water bottle to keep your water cool.

Tipping in Siwa, Egypt

The general tipping standard in Egypt is 10%, and up to 15% if you recieved really good service. Service in Siwa is typically not included, so make sure to leave some cash for your server.

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Things to Do in Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Now that you know almost everything you need to know about visiting Siwa Oasis in Egypt, here are the best things to do in Siwa.

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Siwa Oasis in Egypt pin
Siwa Oasis in Egypt pin

Experience the Salt Pools

The salt pools are the number one highlight of Siwa Oasis in Egypt, and the main reason that people travel such long distances to visit here.

Siwa is known for its salt mining, and when they mine for salt they dig deep holes, forming small salt pools. They are the clearest turquoise color, and you can float effortlessly in them!

The entire area is full of pools of different sizes, and they are constantly changing. You could easily spend hours visiting this area!

salt pools in Siwa
salt pools in Siwa
salt pools in Siwa
salt pools in Siwa
salt pools in Siwa

The salt pools are the number one attraction in Siwa.

Important notes about the salt pools of Siwa:

  • Do not let the water get near your eyes, or touch your eyes after being in the water.
  • Be careful not to drop anything in the pools! It's not possible to dive into the water and your belongings will be gone.
  • Take extra care of any electronics! The water is so salty that even a couple of drops can destroy your phone or camera (RIP to our Sony A7Riii).
  • Have plenty of fresh water to rinse off after.
  • Wear shoes to avoid the sharp areas around the pool.
salt pools in Siwa

Relax in the Hot Springs

After visiting the cold, salty pools, there is no better feeling than getting into one of the many hot springs in the area! Here are a few we recommend:

Aman Ykdencamp Hot Spring

This beautiful place has a pool of super hot water, is surrounded by greenery, and has a cool lounge to hang out at. Open until 1 am, this is a popular place to come in the evenings to hang out and have a drink.

hot springs of Siwa Oasis in Egyt
hot springs of Siwa Oasis in Egyt

Bir Wahed Sulphuric Hot Spring

This spring is located right in the desert, and is perfect to be paired with the nearby cold spring.

Almaza Hot Spring

This natural hot spring has a small charge for entering, and you can bring your own drinks, as well as spend a night at the camp.

Hayaat Siwa Hot Spring

This is not just a hot spring, but a resort with sand dunes, pools, a garden, a shared kitchen, and luxury tents.

Cool Off at Clepoatra Spring

With hot and sunny days in Siwa, you'll not only want to relax in hot springs, but take a moment to cool off in the cold springs! The most popular one is Cleopatra spring, which has turquoise waters, and is surrounded by a few restaurants and shops.

Cleopatra Spring, Siwa Oasis in Egypt

Roam the Shali Fortress

The Shali fortress dates back to the 13th century, and was abandoned by locals after a large storm.

Now it looks like a giant sand castle, and is open to roam freely. We particularly loved visiting for sunset, and definitely recommend spending at least an hour to wander the maze-like structure.

Shali fortress, things to do in Siwa Oasis in Egypt
Shali fortress, things to do in Siwa Oasis in Egypt
Shali fortress, things to do in Siwa Oasis in Egypt

Watch the Sunset at Fatnas Island

Another stunning place to catch the sunset is Fatnas island, where you can find a cute little bar overlooking Siwa Lake. They have plenty of tables, chairs, and even a couple of seating areas sitting right on the water.

Fatnas Island, things to do in Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Drive the Long Road Next to Siwa Lake

Right across from Fatnas island you'll find a long road stretching several kilometers over Siwa Lake. Goma took us here and we had a beautiful reflection of the lake during golden hour before heading to Fatnas Island.

long road in Siwa Lake
long road in Siwa Lake

Visit Siwa Oasis 

Siwa Oasis as a whole has quite a few bodies of water worth visiting, and there are a couple of oasis's that are named "Siwa Oasis".

The one to the east of Siwa town is the one you'll see that is right next to the salt ponds. But Goma also recommended us to visit the one on the west of Siwa Lake. 

We ended up running out of time and didn't make it there, but it certainly is on the list for our next visit!

Explore Gabel Al-Mawta Mountain

Known as the Mountain of the Dead, this hill right outside the town of Siwa Oasis is home to dozens of tombs. You can even walk inside some of them and see ancient carvings with the colors of the paint remaining.

Not only is this an interesting place to walk around, but it has fantastic views around it.

mountain of the dead, Siwa Oasis in Egypt
mountain of the dead, Siwa Oasis in Egypt
Fede at mountain of the dead, Siwa Oasis in Egypt
mountain of the dead, Siwa Oasis in Egypt

The Mountain of the dead is full of tombs and great views.

Enjoy the Views From Dakrur Mountain

Another incredible place to enjoy great views of Siwa Oasis in Egypt is Dakrur Mountain. The three-peaked mountain is also full of scattered caves, and offers views of Siwa and the natural landscapes around it.

Explore the Sand Dunes

As Siwa Oasis in Egypt is surrounded by desert, there are plenty of great sand dunes to explore! Simply ask your guide to take you, and you can roam the endless mounds of sand, or perhaps watch the sunrise or sunset from one of them.

sand dunes in Siwa, Egypt
sand dunes in Siwa, Egypt


Check Out Temple of the Oracle (Amon Temple)

After Shali Fortress, this is definitely one of the coolest historical attractions in Siwa to visit.

Amon temple is open from 10 am to 5 pm Saturday to Thursday, and is closed on Fridays. Tickets are 240 Egyptian Pounds, and it takes 10-20 minutes to walk around the entire temple.

Temple of the oracle, things to do in Siwa, Egypt

Stop by the Temple of Umm Abayd

Located right down the road from Amon Temple is another small temple. Umm Abayd is mostly in ruins, but still has one wall remaining which you can still see ancient carvings in. It is right off the side of the road, and is free to enter.

temple in Siwa
temple in Siwa

Shop at the Issa Salt Factory

As Siwa Oasis in Egypt is known for its salt, it has become one of the main sources for products and souvenirs in the city.

Issa Salt Factory is where you can find a ton of handmade products from Siwa, not just of salt products, but a few other products too! Some of our favorite souvenirs we took home with us were the beautiful salt lamps, the spices, and the olive-wood kitchen products.

olive wood in Siwa