Once just a lay-by for Arab fishers and now a burgeoning resort town, Hurghada is cuddled between the Sahara and the Red Sea. Plucked from limbo and pushed into limelight, it’s an aquatic wonderland for sail boarders, divers, sunbathers, and desert dwellers. With historical locales, traditional markets, renowned diving centers, and desert safaris, the town has emerged as an ideal destination for underwater adventures.
Until the 1920s it was just another fishing village on the Red Sea coast. It came into prominence towards the end of the century with endless opportunities for recreation.
Things to Do in Hurghada
Diving and Snorkeling – Marine life in the Red Sea, with lots of coral and colorful fish, is the biggest draw here for outdoorsmen. Scuba diving and snorkeling sites around Abu Ramada Island and Giftun Kebir are popular with travelers. Experienced divers can explore historical shipwrecks of El Mina and Rosalie Moller.
Outdoor Thrills – While Soma Bay offers the best possible conditions for kite surfing, para sailing, and water-skiing; the gentle slopes and moderate waves of Old Vic Beach and Elysees Dream Beach are ideal for swimming and sunbathing. You may be tempted to try quad-biking into the sandy terrains of the Sahara to learn exotic traditions of the Bedouin people and camel safaris across biblical plains to see distant ancient wonders.
Shopping – Dahar is the town’s largest bazaar, look for the shops that are spread inside the main town – Sekalla high street – and along the beaches. Senzo Mall, on the airport road, is about a 10 minute drive from town. Vendors tend to drive a hard bargain on products like carpets, jewelry, regional species, and leather goods.
Hurghada Grand Aquarium – This public aquarium is the region’s newest attraction. Get a close up glimpse of animals representing 1,200 species displayed in 24 different galleries. Opened in 2015, it houses notable sea creatures like stingrays, sharks, and sea turtles.
Day Trips – Sahl Hasheesh, Makadi Bay, Safaga, and El Gouna are the nearby newly-developed resorts with diving spots and private golf courses. Take boat tours to offshore islands like Sheduan Island, Gifton Island, and Abu Ramada Island.
Festivals – Coptic Christmas is celebrated during the first week in January. Hurghada International Festival, a 12-day event, is held annually in first week of February. It features three sports: triathlon, mare monti run, and a half marathon.
Sahl Hasheesh, Makadi Bay, Mons Porphyrites, Marine Biology Museum, and Giftun Island National Park.
Hurghada, a resort town, is located on the western coast of the Red Sea in Egypt.
Hurghada Location Map
How to Reach?
By Air – Hurghada International Airport (HRG), three miles southwest of downtown, is served by flights to and from Middle East and European countries.
By Road – Buses – operated by SuperJet bus company – take about seven hours from Cairo and about five hours from Luxor to reach Hurghada. Local transport has a mix of cabs and minivans.
For luxurious stays, choose from Hilton Hurghada Plaza, The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh, Sonesta Pharaoh Beach Resort, and Baron Palace Sahl Hasheesh. For mid-range accommodations, Sunny Days Palma De Mirette, Fort Arabesque, and Sunny Days El Palacio are good options. Furthermore, Hurghada Acorn provides self-catering accommodations to suit all budgets.
From traditional Egyptian Cuisine to contemporary Oriental cuisine, there are plenty of places to eat. While La Trattoria, La Casa, and Al Dente Restaurant are famous Italian eateries, Nubian Cafe & Restaurant and El Khan Restaurant serve variety of Egyptian recipes. To try exceptional seafood, try Moby Dick Restaurant, El Mina, Star Fish Restaurant, and El Halaka. Karkaday (Hibiscus Tea) is a traditionally brewed beverage that you must taste.
Best Time to Visit
With pleasant weather and warm waters, Hurghada is a year-round destination. November through March is the ideal time to indulge in water sports. In summers, Egyptians – from Cairo and Luxor – flock here to escape the heat.
Facts about Hurghada
- It is the third largest Egyptian city – after Suez and Ismailia – on the Red Sea coast.
- It is the capital of Red Sea Governorate.
- It stretches for about 22 miles (36 km) along the coastline.
Things to Remember
- Wear light clothing while visiting Egypt, and don’t forget to pack sunscreen, hat, and beachwear.
- Keep in mind, there is no shame in haggling over prices while shopping.
Image credit : Marc Ryckaert
Published On: Thursday, July 9th, 2015