Sharm El Sheikh: Egypt’s Premier Seaside Escape
A sun-kissed sanctuary on the southeastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, Sharm El Sheikh is a paradise that beautifully combines natural wonders with man-made marvels. Diving into the clear blue waters of the Red Sea, exploring ancient landscapes, or simply lounging in luxury – the possibilities are endless.
- Sharm El Sheikh History
- Getting to Sharm El Sheikh
- Navigating Sharm El Sheikh
- Climate and Best Time to Visit
- Luxurious Stays in Sharm El Sheikh
- Budget-Friendly Accommodations
- The Lure of the Red Sea
- Exploring Sharm El Sheikh: Top Things To Do
- Nightlife in Sharm El Sheikh
- Dress Code in Sharm El Sheikh
- Cuisine Delights
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unwrap the vibrant tapestry that is Sharm El Sheikh, taking you on a journey through its glittering seas, golden sands, rich history, and beyond.
Sharm El Sheikh History
Sharm El Sheikh has a fascinating history that adds depth to its stunning natural beauty. Once a sleepy fishing village, the city has blossomed into a premier tourist destination over the last few decades.
Yet, the land tells tales dating back millennia. At the crossroads of Asia and Africa, the Sinai Peninsula has witnessed the passage of merchant traders, pilgrims, conquerors, and explorers throughout history.
In more recent times, Sharm El Sheikh was a key strategic point during the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the subsequent conflicts between Egypt and Israel. It was only after the Camp David Accord in 1978 that this serene city started to bloom as an international tourist hub.
Today, Sharm El Sheikh strikes a harmonious balance between maintaining its rich cultural heritage and catering to the cosmopolitan tastes of worldly tourists. This blend of the ancient and the new gives Sharm El Sheikh its unique flavor, making it a captivating destination for those looking to immerse themselves in a culturally rich travel experience.
Getting to Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh is served by the Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, one of the busiest in Egypt.
Many international airlines operate regular flights to this airport from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Some airlines also offer charter flights from select locations, primarily during the peak tourist season.
Airport Transfers: For a hassle-free journey from the airport to your accommodation, it’s sensible to book an airport transfer through your hotel in Sharm El Sheikh. This ensures your pickup is taken care of without the inconvenience of negotiating taxi fares or navigating through the chaotic airport taxi service, where drivers are often known to charge inflated prices.
Bus Travel: If you’re already in Egypt, the Go Bus Company is a preferred choice for intercity journeys, offering services from Cairo, Alexandria, Dahab, and other cities to Sharm El Sheikh.
However, when considering bus travel, keep a few key points in mind. The bus schedules may not be very reliable, with delays, frequent breaks, and police stops common on these journeys.
Always have your passport, travel plan, and hotel reservation handy. Given the potential for delays, it’s wise to be at your pickup location at least an hour before the scheduled bus or flight time. Planning with these factors in mind will help ensure a smooth, stress-free start to your Sharm El Sheikh adventure.
Given its popularity as a tourist destination, moving around Sharm El Sheikh is quite easy and convenient.
Most parts of the city, especially the areas around Naama Bay, are pedestrian-friendly with clearly marked paths. For longer distances, taxis are readily available and can be flagged down on the street. Alternatively, you can ask your hotel to arrange a taxi for you.
Another option is to rent a car, scooter, or bicycle if you prefer the freedom of self-navigation. There are several rental agencies around the city, but remember, driving in Egypt may be different from what you’re used to, so make sure you’re comfortable with the local road rules.
Last but not least, many resorts and hotels in Sharm El Sheikh offer free shuttle services to popular attractions, beaches, and even to other parts of the city.
Climate and Best Time to Visit
Sharm El Sheikh boasts a warm desert climate, meaning it’s sunny almost all year round. Summer, from May to October, is hot with average high temperatures often exceeding 35°C (95°F). Winter, from November to April, is relatively milder and more comfortable with average temperatures ranging between 15°C to 23°C (59°F – 73°F).
Although Sharm El Sheikh can be visited any time of the year, the best time to visit is during the spring and fall. This is when the weather is just perfect – not too hot, not too cold, ideal for exploring the city or lounging on the beaches. Plus, the water temperature in the Red Sea is also pleasant, making it perfect for snorkeling, diving, and other water activities.
Luxurious Stays in Sharm El Sheikh
As a top-rated tourist destination, Sharm El Sheikh is home to an impressive array of luxury accommodations. These high-end hotels and resorts offer an unmatched blend of comfort, sophistication, and world-class services.
- One such gem is the Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh. Overlooking the mesmerizing Red Sea, this resort is known for its spacious suites, private villas, five-star dining experiences, and a full-service spa.
- The Rixos Premium Seagate is another prestigious name. Located near the gorgeous Nabq Bay, the resort offers unique aquatic experiences, including access to an exclusive coral reef and an on-site water park.
- You may also consider the Royal Savoy Hotel and Villas in Soho Square, renowned for its private beach, an extensive selection of restaurants, and chic rooms offering panoramic sea views.
Sharm El Sheikh also caters wonderfully to budget travelers without compromising on comfort or hospitality. There are numerous affordable hotels and hostels that offer a great bang for your buck.
- Falcon Hills Hotel offers great value with comfortable rooms, two swimming pools, and even a free shuttle service to the beach. The hotel’s friendly staff and relaxed environment make it a favorite among budget travelers.
- The Logaina Sharm Resort in Shark’s Bay is another pocket-friendly option. It features spacious, self-catering apartments – perfect for families or groups.
- For those who don’t mind sharing spaces, the Sharm El Sheikh Hostel is a great choice. This clean, secure, and friendly hostel provides easy access to local attractions and is a great place to meet fellow travelers.
The Lure of the Red Sea
At the heart of Sharm El Sheikh’s allure is the captivating Red Sea, a world-renowned aquatic paradise. The sea’s warm waters, vibrant coral reefs, and exotic marine life make it a top destination for divers and snorkelers alike.
Ras Mohammed National Park, located at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, offers some of the best diving and snorkeling spots in the world. With its crystal-clear waters and dazzling array of sea life, this protected area is an underwater Eden not to be missed.
For those less inclined to dive, glass-bottom boat tours are a popular way to witness the vibrant undersea world. These boats give you a clear view of the coral gardens and the colorful marine life, all without getting wet.
Exploring Sharm El Sheikh: Top Things To Do
The allure of Sharm El Sheikh extends far beyond its crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches. Here’s a list of exciting activities to do when you’re in this Egyptian paradise:
- Diving and Snorkeling: Sharm El Sheikh is globally recognized for its fantastic diving sites. Dive into the Red Sea to discover stunning coral reefs, vibrant marine life, and underwater shipwrecks. Top spots include Ras Mohammed National Park and the Straits of Tiran.
- Beach Relaxation: Unwind on the sandy shores of Naama Bay or Nabq Bay, bask in the sun, or enjoy a leisurely swim.
- Visit St. Catherine’s Monastery: For history and culture enthusiasts, this UNESCO World Heritage site at the foot of Mount Sinai is a must-visit.
- Experience Bedouin Culture: Embark on a desert safari to meet the local Bedouin tribes. Enjoy a traditional meal, ride a camel, and marvel at the star-studded sky.
- Shopping: Indulge in retail therapy at Soho Square or the Old Market, where you can buy traditional Egyptian souvenirs, spices, perfumes, and jewelry.
- Nightlife: Sharm El Sheikh is famous for its lively nightlife. From beach bars to sophisticated nightclubs, there’s something for everyone. Some popular spots include Little Buddha, Pacha, and the Hard Rock Cafe.
- Adventure Sports: Try out quad biking or a 4×4 safari in the Sinai Desert, or get your adrenaline pumping with water sports such as windsurfing and parasailing.
- Boat Trips: Enjoy a relaxing boat trip. Options range from traditional felucca sailboats to glass-bottom boats, yachts, and submarines.
- Explore the Colored Canyon: A geological spectacle in the Sinai Desert, the Colored Canyon, is perfect for those who love hiking and photography.
- Relaxation and Wellness: Many hotels and resorts offer spa facilities, where you can enjoy rejuvenating treatments or yoga sessions.
Nightlife in Sharm El Sheikh
When the sun sets in Sharm El Sheikh, the city truly comes alive. With its bustling nightlife, this city ensures that the fun doesn’t stop when the day ends.
- Naama Bay is the epicenter of Sharm El Sheikh’s nightlife, with an array of clubs, bars, and lounges. Dance the night away at Pacha Sharm El Sheikh, a world-renowned club that hosts international DJs and themed party nights.
- Looking for something more relaxed? Visit the Bus Stop Lounge, known for its chilled-out vibe, live music, and an impressive selection of cocktails.
- For a unique experience, Little Buddha offers a mix of chic decor, delicious sushi, and pulsating music.
- The Hard Rock Cafe in Nabq Bay is another popular destination, combining live music, delicious food, and a lively atmosphere.
Remember, many hotels and resorts also have on-site bars and clubs. It’s always worth checking what’s on offer close to home!
Dress Code in Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh, as a popular tourist destination, is generally more relaxed regarding dress codes compared to other parts of Egypt. However, it’s important to remember that Egypt is predominantly a Muslim country and maintaining a degree of modesty in your attire can be a sign of respect for the local culture.
At the beach or by the pool, standard swimwear such as swimsuits, bikinis, and trunks are perfectly acceptable. Similarly, in the resort areas, casual summer clothing like shorts, t-shirts, and sandals are commonly worn by tourists.
However, if you’re planning on visiting local towns, religious sites, or stepping out of the resort area, it’s advisable to cover your shoulders and knees. This is particularly important when visiting places of worship like mosques, where more conservative clothing is required.
For women, a scarf can be a versatile item to carry, as it can be used to cover the shoulders or head when needed. For men, shorts are generally accepted, but longer trousers may be more appropriate in some environments.
Egyptian cuisine is a mouth-watering fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, and Sharm El Sheikh offers plenty of opportunities to indulge.
- Seafood lovers should visit the Fares Seafood in Naama Bay, renowned for its fresh and tasty dishes.
- If you’re eager to try authentic Egyptian cuisine, make your way to El Masrien Grill, famous for its grilled meats and traditional dishes like kofta and shawarma.
- For a luxury dining experience, the On The Rock restaurant at the Royal Savoy offers stunning sea views and an exquisite menu that includes international and Egyptian delicacies.
- Vegetarian or vegan? Head to Tam Tam, a small restaurant praised for its wide range of vegetarian and vegan options.
Sharm El Sheikh also hosts many international restaurants, from Italian pizzerias and Indian curries to Japanese sushi, catering to all taste buds. After all, part of the joy of travel is exploring new flavors and dishes, so don’t shy away from trying something new.
Does Sharm El Sheikh require a visa?
Most travelers to Egypt need a visa. However, for some nationalities, a free entry permission stamp upon arrival may be granted if the stay in the Sinai Peninsula, including Sharm El Sheikh, is 14 days or less.
However, if you plan to travel outside of the Sinai Peninsula or your stay in Egypt will exceed 14 days, then you will require a visa regardless of your nationality.
Visas can be obtained in advance from an Egyptian consulate or embassy in your home country. Additionally, Egypt provides an e-Visa service, enabling travelers from eligible countries to apply for a tourist visa online before their trip. Some nationalities may also obtain a visa on arrival.
Sharm El Sheikh, with its mesmerizing blend of azure waters, golden beaches, vibrant culture, and bustling nightlife, is a gem in Egypt’s tourism crown.
With ample accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels, this seaside city caters to all types of travelers.
With careful planning and mindful respect for the local culture and customs, your visit to Sharm El Sheikh can indeed be the unforgettable escape you desire.