Sharm-el-Sheikh, a dazzling gem on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, is a destination that effortlessly marries the allure of ancient history with the luxuries of modern tourism. Nestled between the desert of the Sinai and the azure waters of the Red Sea, this city is not just a geographical marvel but a cultural crossroads, offering a unique blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences. Whether you’re drawn to explore the world beneath the waves in some of the best diving spots globally or to immerse yourself in the rich historical tapestry that spans millennia, Sharm-el-Sheikh promises an adventure that’s as rich in history as it is in beauty. Join us as we embark on a journey through this enchanting city, where the sun kisses the sea and history whispers in the wind.
Top Activities to do in Sharm El-Sheikh
Sharm-el-Sheikh, with its unique blend of historical intrigue and contemporary leisure, offers a myriad of activities to enthrall any visitor. Here are the top 10 things to do, each accompanied by a brief description:
- Snorkeling and Diving in the Red Sea: Renowned for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, the Red Sea is a haven for snorkelers and divers. Sites like Ras Mohammed National Park and the Straits of Tiran offer spectacular underwater scenery and marine life.
- Visiting Naama Bay: This bustling hub is the heart of Sharm-el-Sheikh. With its palm-lined promenade, array of shops, restaurants, and bars, Naama Bay is perfect for those seeking a lively atmosphere and night-time entertainment.
- Exploring Ras Mohammed National Park: A natural reserve that offers more than just superb diving spots. Its diverse landscape includes beaches, cliffs, and desert, hosting a variety of wildlife and offering hiking opportunities.
- Taking a Desert Safari: Experience the majesty of the Sinai desert on a safari. Options range from camel treks to quad biking, often culminating in a traditional Bedouin dinner under the stars.
- Visiting St. Catherine’s Monastery: A UNESCO World Heritage site, this ancient monastery is one of Christianity’s oldest, housing invaluable religious artifacts and a rich history.
- Climbing Mount Sinai: A trek up this biblically significant mountain offers a challenging yet rewarding experience, with stunning sunrise views for those who make the early morning climb.
- Enjoying the Beaches: Sharm-el-Sheikh’s beaches are perfect for relaxation. Whether it’s the tranquility of Shark’s Bay or the family-friendly atmosphere of Terrazzina Beach, there’s a spot for everyone.
- Taking a Glass-Bottom Boat Tour: Ideal for those who prefer to stay dry, these tours offer a glimpse of the Red Sea’s underwater wonders without getting wet.
- Exploring the Old Market: For a taste of local culture, the Old Market is a must-visit. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs, spices, and traditional crafts, and to experience the local way of life.
- Day Trips to Nearby Attractions: Sharm-el-Sheikh’s location makes it a great base for day trips to places like the Colored Canyon, Dahab, or even a longer excursion to Luxor.
Each of these activities offers a unique way to experience the magic of Sharm-el-Sheikh, whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, cultural immersion, or a bit of everything.
Sharm-el Sheikhs Climate
In Sharm-el-Sheikh, the climate varies significantly throughout the year:
- January: Coldest month, average highs 21.7°C, average lows 13.3°C.
- February to May: Gradual warming, comfortable temperatures.
- June to September: Driest and sunniest period, virtually no rain, peak sunshine hours (13 per day). June has the lowest humidity (32%).
- July and August: Hottest months, average highs of 37.5°C.
- October to December: Cooling temperatures. November is the wettest month, though rainfall is minimal at 3mm, and humidity peaks at 46% in November and December.
- The best months to visit Sharm-el-Sheikh depend on your preference for weather conditions:
- For Warm Weather Without Extreme Heat: April to June and late September to November are ideal. These months offer warm weather suitable for outdoor activities and beach visits without the intense heat of mid-summer.
- For Hot, Sunny Weather: If you prefer very hot and sunny conditions for activities like sunbathing or water sports, July and August are the hottest months.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
In Sharm-el-Sheikh, the high and low tourist seasons are typically defined by the weather and holiday periods:
- High Season: Generally occurs from December through May. This period offers comfortable temperatures and coincides with European winter holidays, attracting more visitors seeking warmth and sunshine.
- Low Season: Typically spans from June to August, when the temperatures are extremely hot, deterring some tourists. This is a good time for those who don’t mind the heat and prefer a less crowded experience.
It’s important to note that these are general trends, and specific times of high and low tourism can vary slightly from year to year.
General Information about Sharm-el-Sheikh
- Country: Egypt
- Region: Located on the Sinai Peninsula
- Area: Covers approximately 180 square kilometers
- Primary Language: Arabic
- Average Temperature: Around 23.1 °C
- Climate: Characterized by a desert climate
- Vegetation: Dominated by steppe and cactus varieties
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Telephone Area Code: +20 69
- Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP)
- Electricity Socket Type: Type C (European standard)
Transportation from Sharm El-Sheikh Airport to the city center offers several options:
- Shuttle and Taxi Service: The airport provides shuttle and taxi services, known for being safe, punctual, and reliable. These services include a few taxi kiosks and car rental stands, as well as Blue Bus Services, which can drop passengers off anywhere on the main road.
- Shared Ride Van: Booking a shared van is a cost-effective option, ideal for those looking for a one-time lift to their hotel or resort.
- Private Van: Offers door-to-door service, suitable for groups carrying up to a dozen passengers.
- Private Sedan: A more luxurious option, providing a relaxing and elegant mode of transport, suitable for exploring tourist sites or for airport transfers.
- Local Personal Drivers: Hiring a local personal driver can provide a more personalized experience, offering insights into the local culture and landmarks.
- Private SUV: Ideal for families or small groups, providing flexibility and convenience for exploring family-friendly attractions and other destinations.
- Taxi Cab: Available 24/7, taxis offer an easy way to navigate the busy streets and reach various destinations in the city.
- Stretched Limousine: For those seeking luxury, a stretched limousine service offers a high-class experience, perfect for special occasions or upscale tours.
- Chartered Bus: Suitable for larger groups or for those planning to visit remote locations like St-Catherine Monastery or the city of Dahab.
Cuisine in Sharm El-Sheikh
Sharm El-Sheikh’s food scene is a melting pot of various cuisines, reflecting its status as a global tourist destination:
- El Masrien Grill Restaurant (Old Market): Offers authentic Egyptian cuisine. Dishes here might include traditional staples like koshari, falafel, and various meat dishes, often cooked with a blend of Middle Eastern spices.
- El Masrien Restaurant: Specializes in Oriental Food & Grill. This could include a variety of grilled meats, rice dishes, and perhaps regional specialties like shawarma or kebabs.
- Seafood Restaurants:
- Fish Market (Sultan Gardens Resort): Likely serves a variety of fresh seafood, possibly including local fish, shrimp, and other marine delicacies.
- Fares Seafood: Another popular choice for seafood lovers, likely offering a similar range of fresh, locally-sourced fish and shellfish.
- Farsha Cafe (Umm El Sid Hill): Known for its hookah offerings, this cafe might also serve light snacks and teas, typical of a Middle Eastern hookah lounge.
- El Kababgy: This place would be ideal for barbecue and kebab enthusiasts, likely serving a range of skewered meats cooked over an open flame.
- La Fleur: French cuisine here may include dishes like coq au vin, bouillabaisse, or ratatouille, paired with fine French wines.
- Frantogo: As an Italian and Vegetarian restaurant, expect dishes like pasta, pizza, risotto, and a variety of vegetarian options.
- Rangoli: An Indian restaurant where one could enjoy dishes like butter chicken, biryani, naan bread, and a selection of vegetarian curries.
Shopping in Sharm El-Sheikh
- Soho Street and Naama Bay: These are popular shopping areas known for their vibrant atmosphere. You can find a variety of shops selling everything from clothing to souvenirs.
- Al Khan and La Strada (Nabq Bay): Large shopping malls offering a more modern shopping experience, with a variety of international and local brands.
- Old Bazaar: Reminiscent of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, this is a place to find unique Egyptian souvenirs. Items to look for include:
- Handmade jewelry, often incorporating local designs and materials.
- Statuettes representing Egyptian culture, like pharaohs and pyramids.
- Spices, offering a taste of the local cuisine.
- Traditional Egyptian clothing, which might include items like galabiyas.
Naama Bay is the hub of Sharm El-Sheikh’s nightlife, with various options:
- Sinai Grand Casino: Offers a mix of gambling and entertainment.
- Dolce Vita Sharm El Sheikh: A unique nightclub experience in the desert.
Practical Information for Visitors
- Language: While Arabic is the official language, English is widely used in tourist areas, especially in restaurants, hotels, and shops.
- Taxis: The white and blue taxis are reliable. It’s customary to negotiate the fare before starting your journey.
- Safety and Security: While there are concerns, the presence of tourist police and increased security measures have made the area safer for visitors. However, staying vigilant, especially against pickpockets, is advised.
Essential Contact Numbers
These numbers are crucial for any emergency or assistance:
- Tourist Police: 126
- Emergency Police: 122
- Ambulance: 123
- Fire Department: 180
- Sharm El Sheikh International Airport: +20 69 360 1140
This detailed overview should provide a comprehensive understanding of what to expect when visiting Sharm El-Sheikh, from its culinary delights and shopping experiences to practical tips for a safe and enjoyable stay.
These are important questions for anyone considering a holiday in Sharm El Sheikh. Let’s address each of them:
- Is it safe to go on holiday to Sharm El Sheikh?
- Generally, Sharm El Sheikh is considered safe for tourists, especially in resort areas and popular tourist spots. However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to stay informed about current travel advisories and exercise standard safety precautions.
- Is Sharm El Sheikh good for tourists?
- Yes, it’s a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, diving spots, vibrant nightlife, and a wide range of hotels and resorts. It caters well to tourists seeking both relaxation and adventure.
- Why is Sharm El Sheikh so cheap?
- Compared to many other tourist destinations, Sharm El Sheikh can be quite affordable. This may be due to several factors, including the lower cost of living in Egypt and efforts to attract tourists with competitive pricing, especially after periods of reduced tourism.
- Is Sharm el Sheik still a holiday destination?
- Absolutely. Sharm El Sheikh continues to be a sought-after holiday destination, known for its Red Sea beaches, coral reefs, and as a base for excursions into the Sinai desert.
- What should I be careful of in Sharm El Sheikh?
- Be cautious of common travel concerns like pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas. Also, it’s wise to negotiate taxi fares in advance and stay aware of local customs and regulations.
- Can you walk around in Sharm El Sheikh?
- Yes, you can walk around, especially in tourist-friendly areas like Naama Bay. However, for longer distances or trips outside of the main tourist areas, using a taxi or other transportation is recommended.
- Is it cheap in Sharm El Sheikh?
- Many visitors find Sharm El Sheikh to be budget-friendly, especially in terms of accommodation, dining, and activities, compared to other popular beach destinations.
- Can I wear shorts in Sharm El Sheikh?
- Yes, shorts are acceptable in Sharm El Sheikh, especially within resort areas and beaches. However, when visiting religious sites or more conservative areas, it’s respectful to dress more modestly.
- Is Sharm El Sheikh close to Pyramids?
- No, it’s not close. Sharm El Sheikh is located at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, while the Pyramids of Giza are near Cairo, which is several hundred kilometers away.
- Is it safe to go to Sharm El Sheikh from the UK?
- Travel from the UK to Sharm El Sheikh is generally considered safe, but it’s always recommended to check the latest travel advice from the UK government before planning your trip.
- How safe is Sharm El Sheikh 2023?
- As of my last update in April 2023, Sharm El Sheikh was deemed relatively safe for tourists, with heightened security measures in place. However, always check the most current travel advisories and local news for the latest information.
- Are mosquitoes a problem in Sharm El Sheikh?
- Mosquitoes can be present, especially during warmer months. It’s advisable to use mosquito repellent and take standard precautions, like sleeping under a mosquito net if necessary.
- What foods should you avoid in Egypt?
- Avoid drinking tap water; stick to bottled water. Be cautious with street food, especially if it’s not freshly cooked or if hygiene standards seem low. Also, be careful with raw fruits and vegetables that can’t be peeled.
- Are there snakes in Sharm El Sheikh?
- While the Sinai Peninsula, where Sharm El Sheikh is located, is home to various wildlife, including snakes, encounters in tourist areas are rare. Caution should be taken when venturing into desert areas.
- How much do you tip for all-inclusive in Egypt?
- Tipping, known as ‘baksheesh’, is customary. For all-inclusive, you might tip around 10-20 Egyptian pounds per day for hotel staff, more for exceptional service.
- Is it rude not to tip at all-inclusive?
- Tipping is not mandatory but is expected and appreciated in Egypt, even at all-inclusive resorts.
- Is it rude not to tip in Egypt?
- While not tipping isn’t necessarily seen as rude, it’s highly customary and appreciated for good service.
- Can you tip in English money in Egypt?
- It’s better to tip in Egyptian pounds. Staff may have difficulty exchanging foreign currency, and it may not be as valuable to them.
- Is 5 a good tip in Egypt?
- A tip of 5 Egyptian pounds is acceptable for small services. For larger services or dining at a nice restaurant, a larger tip may be more appropriate.
- How much money should I take to Egypt for a week?
- This varies based on your spending habits and travel style. A rough estimate might be between 3000 to 5000 Egyptian pounds, but this can vary widely.
- What is the best currency to tip in Egypt?
- The best currency for tipping is the local currency, Egyptian pounds (EGP).
- How do you say thank you in Egyptian?
- In Egyptian Arabic, “thank you” is said as “Shukran” (شكراً).
- Should I buy Egyptian pounds before I go?
- It’s a good idea to have some local currency on hand upon arrival, but you can also exchange money or withdraw from ATMs in Egypt.