Red Sea Coast holidays

Experience Red Sea Coast

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

The Red Sea Coast is one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders and home to more than 1,000 marine species and 150 species of hard and soft coral. 20 per cent of the fish species found here are unique to the region, and it’s widely considered to be one of the world's most impressive diving sites. Sharm el Sheikh is deemed to have some of the best dive locations in the Red Sea, including a dozen fascinating wrecks. Hurghada and Marsa Alam are close to the Abu Nuhas wrecks.

Taba Heights is a beautiful, little-known small Red Sea resort that is just a short flight from Sharm el Sheikh and set between the sea and the mountains. It's home to one of the world's best golf courses, a diving and snorkelling centre, and a few hotels. It also makes a break from the crowded beaches at Sharm el Sheikh during high season.

Luxor is around a four-hour drive from the resort of Hurghada. This makes it possible to visit the Valley of the Kings on holidays to the Red Sea Coast. Here, you’ll also find the Valley of the Queens, the Tombs of the Nobles, Ramesseum Temple and pharaonic statuary in the Luxor Museum. If you plan on staying overnight, don't miss the the chance to cruise along the River Nile on a traditional boat.

Ras Mohammed National Park is a 45-minute drive from Sharm el Sheikh, but is on Saudi Arabian territory, so visitors will need to get a visa to visit. One-third of its surface is land, the rest is the Red Sea, with some of the best diving, snorkelling and underwater caving in the region. Set on two islands with several enchanting bays, a mangrove forest, and sand dunes, the park is a hub for migrating birds.

A camel safari in the desert makes a great break away from the beach and is fun for all the family. Some tours include dinner at a camp and traditional entertainment, followed by an unbelievable stargazing experience - a must-see on holidays to Red Sea Coast.

Top Landmarks

The Blue Hole is a famous underwater landmark and is regarded as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. Although, diving here with standard equipment is only safe up to a certain depth, and special equipment is needed for the supreme dive under the arch. The site is best accessed from nearby Dahab.

The Coloured Canyon close to Nuweiba holds breath-taking rock formations and unusually distinct walls; the eerie silence here adds to its mysterious beauty.

Aside from the natural landscape, historic buildings dominate the Red Sea's landmarks. The ancient quarries at Wadi Hammamat were famous for their unique green sandstones and gold-bearing quartzes, much used in Ancient Egypt for decorative carvings and inlays. It's set on the old Silk Road and popular for its Ancient Egyptian graffiti and wall painting of reed boats.

El Quseir Fort in Marsa Alam was built by the Ottoman rulers to stave off attacks from Portuguese traders seeking to take over the lucrative 16th century sea trade routes. Highlights are the cannons and a pearl fishing boat.

Qalaat Al-Gindi is a 12th-century fort built by order of Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt, to protect Muslims on the Hajj pilgrimage from Africa and the Mediterranean. This remote Sinai attraction is best seen with a guide and is one of the highlights on holidays to Red Sea Coast.

Entertainment

Entertainment here varies from resort to resort, with Sharm El Sheikh the hottest spot for clubs, pubs and bars. From early evening to the small hours, the nightclubs, bars, casinos and eateries are crammed with party-people. Naama Bay and its promenade are the happening areas, with Space and Pacha the most popular clubs. Sharks Bay is more upscale but no less fun.

Nightlife in easy-going Hurghada gets into gear by around 23:00pm and finishes as the sun rises. Bars, duty-free shops, discos, some restaurants and most hotels are allowed to sell or serve alcohol, but selling it anywhere else in the resort is forbidden. For night owls, the best clubs here are the Ministry of Sound Beach, the Havana Club and the Bonanza Club.

The centre of nightlife in Dahab is the Tota Dance Bar, a nautically-themed venue holding discos on Friday and Saturday nights. For a touch more sophistication, the Shipwreck Bar has a popular happy hour. The coastal town of Nuweiba is a more rustic affair, offering quaint eateries and sumptuous Egyptian coffee, all of which is quilted by a flawless night sky.

Marsa Alam has a more upscale feel, with nightlife centred around the marina. Here you will find trendy see-and-be-seen bars and clubs where sitting around, sipping a cocktail and chatting with friends are the main attractions. Set in a genuine Bedouin tent, Planet Bedouin is a popular chill-out spot. Scattered with cosy cushions and sparkling candles, guests will find shisha pipes and belly dancing here, too.

Dining Out

While in the larger Red Sea beach towns there's plenty of international and British food on offer, the options are fewer in the smaller resort areas. Egyptian cuisine dates back to Ancient Egypt when workers on the pyramids were paid in beer, bread and onions. Fortunately, there's a lot more than these ingredients in the country's modern recipes, which are well worth sampling on Red Sea Coast holidays.

Pitta bread is featured heavily on the Red Sea Coast and is often used to scoop up dips and sauces. If you've holidayed in Greece, you may be familiar with the delicious dessert, baklava. Egypt also has its own version of the dish, while typically Mediterranean flavours like stuffed aubergines and peppers can also be enjoyed here. An Egyptian signature dish is mahshi hamam, rice-stuffed pigeon, and the national dish is koshari, made from lentils, macaroni and rice. Goose, chicken and beef are staples here, too, and fish dishes are found everywhere.

Desserts owe much to flaky filo pastry, honey, semolina and almonds. Aish El Saraya are delicious filo pancakes stuffed with apricots, while kunafa is a noodle dessert, packed with a choice of nuts, fruit, ricotta cheese, cream or custard. Tea is black, sweet and served in a glass, and Egyptian coffee is grainy and strong. Tasty aromatic herb teas are popular for their supposed health-giving properties.

Beach

The Sinai Peninsula has fabulous beaches, edged by crystal-clear seas which are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and diving. Sharm el Sheikh deserves its reputation as Egypt's top beach resort; its sands are truly majestic. Take a trip a trip to the hippy mecca of Dahab and you will find a stunning promenade that backs onto beaches and famous dive sites. Nuweiba's Tarabin Beach is long, wide and relatively uncrowded.   

Romance

A stargazing trek into the Sinai desert is as romantic as it gets. It's best not to venture into the desert alone, and Tarabin's Bedouin community specialises in desert treks. Bedouin know all there is to know about the endless sands and give their knowledge to those fascinated by their ancient way of life.

Family

Quiet, family-friendly hotels are found away from the major resorts' raucous nightlife, with gently sloping beaches great for young swimmers. Banana boats, pedalos and snorkelling give endless fun for kids, and donkey, horse or camel rides along the sands are ever-popular. For fussy young eaters, fast food is easily found and, for watery delights, Sharm el Sheikh has two water parks, both with fantastic slides, pools, lazy rivers and rides.

Adventure

The Sinai Peninsula is a great place for adventure sports, from high adrenaline activities to less challenging thrills. Rock and mountain climbing can be enjoyed on testing peaks, while guided trekking in remote desert regions is unforgettable. Sandboarding on the dunes is great fun and off-road desert and mountain-biking are sure to make some memorable photo opportunities on Red Sea Coast holidays. Hiking in the Sinai High Mountain Region with a guide is as good as it gets, but riding a swift Bedouin horse is also highly rated.

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

The official language across the Red Sea region, including in the resorts, is Arabic. In the cities and major tourist areas, English and the better known European languages, such as German and French, are also widely spoken.

Currency

The Egyptian pound (E) is the official currency of the region. Pounds sterling, euro, US and Canadian dollars, as well as travellers' cheques are easily exchanged here, and ATMs are common. Avoid changing money at hotel front desks as they frequently offer poor exchange rates.

Visas

Nationals from the UK , EU and USA travelling to Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba resorts only, for a maximum of 15 days, do not require a visa prior to travelling. A free entry permission stamp will be granted upon arrival.

Climate

During the summer months (April through October), the Red Sea coastline is baking hot, with daytime temperatures between 30°C and 35°C. Temperatures are particularly hot from July to August. Humidity is low, and winds help to cool the atmosphere.

Winter along the Red Sea coast runs from December to March and its mild, pleasant weather is good for those who are not used to searing summer heat. Even in the coldest month, January, temperatures hover around 23 to 25°C, perfect for long days lounging on the beach.

Main Airports

Cairo International Airport is the premier transport hub in Egypt, although those heading for the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh can fly direct. Travellers arriving in Cairo can connect with domestic flights to onward destinations such as Sharm el Sheikh, with many full-service international carriers serving routes. Similarly, the airport at Sharm el Sheikh hosts major international airlines as well as low-cost carriers offering routes from many European cities.

Flight Options

Local carriers offer direct flights from London to Sharm El Sheikh, the most convenient arrival point for the Red Sea resorts to its north, including Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab. Hurghada International Airport, on the opposite coastline, is the best arrival point for El Gouna, Soma Bay, Abu Soma and El Quseir. Some budget airlines fly from London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester to Sharm El Sheikh. There are also holiday charters to Sharm el Sheikh, Taba and Hurghada from a selection of UK cities as well as from London Gatwick, London Stansted and London Luton airports. Average flight time from London to Red Sea destinations is around 7 hours.

Travel Advice

Low-season bargain flights can be had with low-cost or charter airlines. The best bargains, some of which are all-inclusive, are offered by charter companies. Onward transportation from most Egyptian airports is easiest by taxi or shuttle bus, although luxury limo hire gets package holidays to Red Sea Coast off to a memorable start.

Other Transport Options

It's possible to travel from the UK to Egypt at ground level via a combination of trains and the occasional ferry. The first leg of the journey involves London to Istanbul via sleeper train; however, this trip takes three days and costs more than a direct flight. From Istanbul, trains run to Damascus in Syria and on to Jordan. Amman to Cairo is best travelled by bus and ferry. Once in Cairo, there's a choice of domestic flights or air-conditioned express buses for the final leg of the journey. The easiest route for package holidays to Red Sea Coast is to fly direct.

Getting Around

Red Sea holiday resorts are spread out along both coastlines and backed by desert. Not all resorts have airports and travel by road takes a long time, although long distance buses are mostly comfortable and inexpensive. In the resorts, local buses are relatively easy to use but taxis are the most convenient form of transport. A ferry runs between Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, and takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. Self-drive, although not for nervous drivers, offers value for money as petrol is cheap.

Car

There are two options for travelling by car: self-drive with a hire car or hire a driver. Self-drive is a popular solution for sightseeing on demand, with cheap petrol and a network of highways on offer. Large fleets of rental cars are made available by well-known brands and are offered at airports and in towns.

Bus

Buses are the main form of travel in the Red Sea coastal region and are cheap and comfortable, although the distances between the Red Sea coastal resorts mean that journeys are long and time-consuming. When travelling to nearby coastal villages, however, buses are a good way to go. East Delta Bus Company offers a regular route from Sharm el Sheikh to Dahab (60 miles).

Air

If the holiday schedule includes visiting more than one Red Sea beach resort, air travel is the fastest way to go. Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, and Marsa Alam all have airports, and flying is relatively inexpensive.

MAP

RED SEA COAST`S WEATHER TODAY

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AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. The salinity of the Red Sea is one of the highest in the world. It's measured between 3.6%-3.8% and water temperatures range from 20°C in the winter to 29°C in the summer months.
  2. Water clarity in the Red Sea is exceptional due to the limited rainfall or rivers feeding into the water.
  3. Some people say the Red Sea got its name from an explosive growth of algae, which turned the water red, while others claim the Sea gets its name from the reflection of the rising and falling sun.

FACTS

  1. The salinity of the Red Sea is one of the highest in the world. It's measured between 3.6%-3.8% and water temperatures range from 20°C in the winter to 29°C in the summer months.
  2. Water clarity in the Red Sea is exceptional due to the limited rainfall or rivers feeding into the water.
  3. Some people say the Red Sea got its name from an explosive growth of algae, which turned the water red, while others claim the Sea gets its name from the reflection of the rising and falling sun.

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