Updated: Feb 29, 2020
One of the most popular holiday destinations in Egypt, Hurghada was once a fishing village now transformed into a holiday hot spot catering for thousands of visitors every year. With beautiful long sandy beaches and crystal clear waters which are home to some of the best coral reefs on a short/medium haul flight, you are sure to find a holiday to suit your needs. Flights from the UK to Hurghada take approx five and half hours, with the return flight slightly longer at approx 6 hours. Transfers to different hotels vary but we have given guidelines below.
The main holiday hot spots are
Hurghada Town/Sahl Hasheesh
Hotels in the Hurghada town area are a short transfer of about 20 minutes from the airport. You can book hotels in the Sakala area if you want to be near to the town itself, or look for the hotels in the Sahl Hasheesh region if you want to be on the outskirts of the town. Access to local shops is easy, ideal for getting your holiday bargains (make sure you haggle), Sheraton Street, the main shopping area is close and the marina is also nearby. The Senzo Mall shopping centre is also in the Sahl Hasheesh area, here you'll find fixed price shopping and a large supermarket called Spinneys.
Makadi Bay is a little further south and approx. 30 minutes transfer from the airport, a quieter area with less hotels and shops but perfect for a relaxing holiday. Makadi Bay is often promoted for it's house reefs that can be found off the hotel beachfronts and it's golf course. If you're looking for a quiet holiday without the town hustle and bustle, Makadi Bay is an ideal choice, other than hotel entertainment, nightlife takes a back seat in this area. You can book a taxi to Hurghada Town if you fancy a day/evening out.
El Gouna is a modern resort home to private housing, shops, bars, restaurants, marina, golf course and beach all in a unique upmarket resort. The area was purpose built and everything is man made to give an impression of luxury. Surrounded by waterways, El Gouna gives you the chance to relax in a beautiful marina area with its own private beaches. Slightly further away from Hurghada Town, El Gouna is approx. 35 minutes transfer.
Marsa Alam is a relatively new Red Sea holiday destination, renowned for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs it is a favourite for scuba divers. If you want a diving holiday that gives you a good opportunity to see dugongs (sea cows), turtles and a multitude of coral reefs, Marsa alam ticks the box. You are also close to Wadi el-Gemal National Park, which is south of the town, providing access to the desert, seagrass beds, reefs and islands. Transfers to Marsa Alam are approx. 3 hours.
10 things to do in Hurghada
1. Snorkelling or Scuba Diving
Egypt, one of the best places in the world for diving is home to the most beautiful coral reefs with crystal clear waters where you are certain to see a large variety of fish swimming around. The coral reefs can only be described as vivid and like underwater gardens bringing a plethora of exotic marine life right in front of your eyes. With over 1000 species of fish and 150 species of coral, the Red Sea is an excellent choice for snorkelers and divers. Many of the hotels on the beach front will advertise a house reef, if snorkelling is on your bucket list then look for this when booking although you can still book trips through the excursion providers who arrange many trips for snorkelling and diving. Seek advice through TripAdvisor when booking and you are sure to find comments about hotels and resorts that have a coral reef nearby. Most snorkel trips are included in the boat trips to Swim with Dolphins or visits to Giftun Island. The swim with Dolphin trip which takes you out to the Dolphin House has fantastic areas of Coral Reefs where you can enjoy snorkelling off a boat in mid sea, this is an amazing experience. Boat staff stay with you to guide you and will provide life jackets for you to use and take a rubber ring for extra safety if anyone gets too tired to swim. For snorkelling off the Island, Paradise and Mahmya have reefs closer to the shore and are more suitable for those who don't like swimming in the open. Included in the trip is a stop off to a nearby Coral reef where you are taken by boat further off the Island and can swim with a guide around the reef. Again life jackets are provided if you want them.Visit the desert and take a trip out to the mountains, usually a morning or afternoon excursion with pick up from your hotel by one of the excursion providers. Jeeps will take you to the Bedouin village a bumpy ride across the desert, part of the excitement is managing to keep your self seated as the jeeps tear across the desert. Visit the Bedouin Village, where you are taken to a hut and the guide explains about the Bedouin culture, enjoy a camel ride and then walk back to the Bedouin tent, where you can purchase herbal remedies, ointments, creams and gifts. In another hut you will be shown how Egyptian bread is made and can even have a taste. Following a bumpy jeep ride back to base you will experience the quads and jeeps depending on the package you have bought. The jeeps, were faster than the quads and a lot more comfortable to drive and you also get an opportunity to stop and take photos.
2. Take a jeep safari - 4 x 4/Quad Biking/Jeeps
The Quad bikes take you over some rather bumpy tracks as well as up and down hills, hold on tight and wear appropriate clothing. Prior to going out on the quads you are assessed for you driving abilities, you will not be allowed to go out on the quads if you cannot demonstrate you are able to control them. Also its worth noting that they only allowed one person per quad so no sharing I'm afraid! I'm not sure if this is the same for all excursion providers so if you want to share it's best to ask before booking. If you have a scarf, take this with you, many of the sites sell these but you can pick them up cheaply in local stores. Its also advisable to wear googles which can be hired when you arrive.
3. Try a night with a difference - Bedouin Night
If you are booking the afternoon Quad/Jeep experience then you have an option of upgrading your booking to the Bedouin night. Following the jeep ride you are taken back to Bedouin area for a buffet dinner and show. Prices includes cold drinks with plenty of food available for you to enjoy. The Bedouin show consists of belly dancers, folk dancers, a Tanurra dance and a brave man laying on a bed of nails and broken glass. (shows may vary) You'll also find stalls selling sand ornaments stall with a demonstration, these personalised gifts are made for you and you can have name added. Prices vary.
For our personal experience of this trip and photos please click here:
4. Visit the Marina - Sakala
Just off Sheraton Street, you will find the new marina, built in 2008 as a place for tourists to visit, the marina provides many bars, eateries and music away from the hustle and bustle of Sakala. Stroll along the walkway and look at the yachts in the marina, whilst passing and possibly stopping at the many unique cafes and stylish bars that can be found in this area. Most have outside seating areas where you can eat al fresco, enjoying the vibrant nightlife and entertainment. You'll regularly find small market stalls on the main paved area, enjoy a shisha at a bar or dance the night away at Papas Beach Club.
5. Spend a day at the luxury resort of El Gouna
El Gouna is a modern resort home to private housing, hotels, shops, bars, marina, golf course and beach, all in one unique glamourous resort. Everything at this resort is man made and imported to make the resort as luxurious as possible. Many of the hotels have sea views overlooking the stunning Red Sea and the whole site is picturesque, leaving you feeling like you have entered your own little paradise. Surrounded by waterways and 5* hotels El Gouna offers a chance to experience a beautiful marina in a relaxing atmosphere. Approx 40 minutes away from Hurghada this is a trip the whole family will enjoy. Book a taxi, take your beachwear and spend a day on the beachfront and an evening taking in the beautiful surroundings.
6. Book a Boat Trip - Mahmya/Paradise/Orange Bay/Giftun
Giftun Island is separated into different tourist areas; Mahmya, the most expensive, Paradise and then Orange Island. This boat takes under an hour and is suitable for families. A smaller boat (felucca) will transfer you from your boat onto the island, this is due to the rocks/coral reefs and the boat being too deep to get any further inland. Crystal clear waters, shallow enough for young children to safely play and swim under your supervision and coral reefs for you to explore. A guide will be with you at all times answering any questions and pointing out where the refreshments and toilets were situated on the island. There is an equipment store on Mahmya where you will be provided with snorkels and goggles (no charge) to use whilst on the island. Life jackets are also available. For Paradise and Orange Bay you can borrow equipment from the boat or take your own. With lounging areas which are shaded by parasols, with mats to lie on, you can pull these out into the sunshine to sunbathe on the tranquil island. There is an optional boat ride out to sea for a spot of snorkelling off a coral reef, where you will be given 45 minutes in the water for snorkelling and then called back to the boat to go for lunch. The buffet lunch consists of hot and cold foods, pasta, meats, etc., soft drinks and hibiscus tea are provided and there is a bar where you can buy extra drinks as well. Following lunch you have time to sunbathe, walk around the beach area, have a cool drink whilst you relax. Most trips to the islands return late afternoon allowing you to view the sun setting from the boat on your return to shore; another beautiful sight as the sun sets over the mountains.
7. Swim with Dolphins - at the Dolphin House
Swimming with Dolphins is one of the most popular trips in Hurghada, there aren't many countries with short haul flights that can provide you with this experience. Hurghada provides an opportunity to be taken directly to an area of the Red Sea (the Dolphin House) where you are highly likely to see dolphins and get the opportunity to be very close to them. Be warned though, if you try to touch them, they will swim away and you will ruin the experience for others. The trip offers plenty of opportunity for you to be in the sea right next to the dolphins so take your underwater cameras to capture a truly amazing experience. If the weather is bad and the sea is too choppy for the trip to take place, it will be postponed. This is rare, so don't worry. If you don't want to get in the water, you can sunbathe on the boat or if you are nervous of being in the water, a team member is with you for every stop and will support you during the swim Just let them know if you are feeling nervous. You will be asked at the start of the trip if you are a good swimmer, for those of you who aren't or those with children, just let the team know and they will ensure that your needs are accommodated.
8. Try your hand at water sports - various locations
With most hotels being beach front you will find water sports in close proximity, from extreme sports like kite boarding to windsurfing, banana boats to paddle boarding, you'll have plenty of choices of outdoor activities. Just head for the beach and look for your nearest booking centre for prices. Lessons are usually offered at most booking centres. You will also find that some of the boat trips i.e. the Dolphin House trip will include either banana boat or sofa rides as part of the trip.
9. Visit Sheraton Street
The main shopping street in Hurghada, Sheraton Street offers plenty of choice to buy your gifts and shopping. Don't be put off by the prices, haggling is a necessity to get yourself a bargain. A busy environment which is best visited in the evening where you can fully appreciate all the bright lights and lively music as you stroll along the street. There are plenty of bars to stop off and have a drink and restaurants and clubs along the way. Tie in a visit to the Marina at the same time and after you've worked up an appetite shopping you can enjoy a lovely meal overlooking the marina.
10. Visit Cairo or Luxor
Cairo, home to the Pyramids, Sphinx and Egyptian Museum can be completed in a day however you will be picked up early hours of the morning and will spend long periods in a bus travelling North to Giza (approx. 5 hours each way). Most Excursion providers will provide you with an itinerary of the trip but you should find the following stops included:Giza - home to Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the Egyptian Antiques Museum (there is a charge to enter the pyramid).
Cairo City - a truly different City experience
Luxor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, includes the Karnak and Luxor Temple and the monuments at the Valley of the Kings. Again the trip can be completed in a day with an early morning pickup and about 4 hours in the bus to reach Luxor. You will return to your hotel in the evening.
Nile Boat Trip, check prices as lunch may cost extra.
For both trips we recommend taking snacks and plenty of bottles water.
We have provided reviews of the hotels we have stayed at and you can read these here: Hotels and Resorts Of course everybody wants different things from their holidays and we recommend you decide on the area you want to visit and the choose what facilities you want from your hotel. Many of the hotels are on the beachfront with access to private beach areas but do check this as some resorts are located further inland and offer a bus service to the beach. Whilst some have small water parks, spa centres and A la Carte restaurants that are part of the package, you need to check the individual hotel facilities carefully to make sure these are included in the price. You can buy day tickets for water parks if you want a day out, our favourite water park has to be Jungle Aqua Park which provides a fantastic choice of waterslides.
Dress code, Monies, Visa, Tipping, Duty Free, etc., Visa's Prior to landing at Hurghada Airport you will be given a Visa form to complete. You will need to detail your flight number (trip number), country you are arriving from, family name (surname, date of birth and country of birth. Hotel name and passport number. Complete this on the plane to save time. When you leave the plane and walk into the terminal, at the top of the stairs you will reach an area with desks, look immediately to your right and you will see a bank. The current exchange rate means Visa's are approx £20 each, you can pay in English notes. You cannot pay by card. Ignore all the reps trying to divert you to the main desks, you will be charged more here. We got stung by this and ended up paying £25 each, lesson learnt! Once you have paid for your visa, you can now walk through to passport control. The Visa is compulsory in Hurghada but for Sharm El Sheikh you only have to buy a Visa if you are going outside of the region, so it may be needed for some trips. The child Visa is the same price.
Attire: Hurghada is a Muslim country and respect for religion is high. Many of the Mosques will allow admission to the public and they are pretty amazing, however there are rules if you wish to enter. Women should wear a full length dress, cover your shoulders and a scarf or veil to cover your head. Think maxi dresses, long skirts, long sleeved tops and loose fitting clothes. This also applies in the Churches. Cover ups can sometimes be hired for a small charge. For all it is essential to remove your shoes when entering. Most areas of Hurghada are tourist orientated however if you venture into a small village area then be respectful for the residents.
At the hotel: Naturally as a tourist resort the Egyptians understand that we visit for the sun and sea and that sunbathing is a big part of this however for women going topless or both sexes behaving inappropriately will not be accepted. Be respectful and you will have no issues. During the daytime, when entering the Hotel reception, shops, restaurants etc., always wear a cover up over your swimwear. You don't need to be covered head to toe, but keep a cover up in your bag just in case you need to enter one of these areas. For men, wearing a t'shirt and not entering bare chested is a simple rule to follow. In the evenings, most hotels ask for guests to wear long trousers in the restaurants, many will allow knee length shorts as long as they are not swimwear. On the beach, throw you litter in the bin, you should be aware by now of all the press about plastics entering the ocean and food chain, well you can make a difference just by throwing all you rubbish in the bins provided. Don't walk on the coral. The coral reefs take thousands of years to grow, they are protected and are a truly beautiful sight, encouraging the many species of fish that you are searching for. Damage by tourists is high and being careless when snorkelling or diving is the main cause of the damage. When walking into the sea, the water is clear, you can easily spot Coral and side step it. Please be careful and try not to break the coral. Wearing sand shoes on the beach and in the sea will ensure you feet are protected, there is sea urchin (Diadem setosum) native to this area which has black long spines, this is venomous and the spikes can pierce clothing. Whilst stings can be painful, the venom is minimal and does not pose a serious threat. Generally you'll spot them easily and can stay away from them. Please avoid and seek medical advice if you are spiked by one as mentioned above, they can be painful. It's best to warn children about these sea urchins if they are going to be swimming in the sea. Language: Learning a few words in Arabic will go a long way. We've added a section with some basics to help get you started. The staff at many of the hotels are more than happy to teach you what you want to know but a simple please and thank you, as in most countries will be favourable. SMILE: You're on holiday, be pleasant and polite, don't moan about anything and everything, don't go looking for faults, don't go getting drunk and causing a scene, don't compare Hurghada to other places and tell the staff that your holiday in Barbados was so much better. Don't assume everyone you meet speaks perfect English, you're in a foreign country and whilst many Egyptians have mastered the English, German, Russian languages, don't take it as foregone conclusion they are going to understand everything you say. Money: Many people ask about currency, there are several options available to you. The first and my personal choice is to exchange money when you get to your hotel. Most hotels have an ATM machine near to reception and the exchange rate if better when you get to Hurghada than it is in the UK. When you use your bank card, remember to put in the amount you want in Egyptian money not English. For example if the exchange rate is 25LE to the GBP and you want to exchange £100 GBP into LE then type in 2500. You rarely see coins used now and if you are given any they are not worth much so stick to notes wherever you can. You can also purchase in US Dollars or Euros. Note: Egyptian money is old and quite often dirty. Wash your hands after handling monies or use an alcohol gel to make sure your hands are clean. If you are planning on taking any excursions, it is easier to pay in English money. Booking a few trips together as a package will save you money. Tipping: So you want good service? Of course you do and most hotel staff will go out of their way to help you but remember that wages are low and staff rely on guests tipping in order to boost their salaries. We always tip our room cleaner, he will then ensure that your fridge is topped up with the drinks that you like, he'll also provide any extras you ask for within reason ;) In the restaurant, we tend to find an area where we can sit away from the main hustle and bustle near to the serveries. Most hotels operate in a way that the waiters remain in the same dining area therefore if you see the same waiter after day 1 you can pretty much guarantee he will be there for the rest of your stay. Again the waiters will try their best to ensure you have everything you need but the restaurants are very busy areas and they are trying to please everyone. A small tip equating to a pound or two a day will ensure that you have the waiters attention and by raising your hand you will find repeat drinks are brought to you quickly. Its a similar situation in the bars, if its high season and very busy, make sure you tip, quite often you wont have to go to the bar at all and repeat drinks will be brought to your table. Tip in notes wherever possible. Loose coins are hard for staff to change, so they prefer Egyptian LE or foreign notes if you have not exchanged your money. Duty free You can buy duty free on the plane and at Hurghada airport. You can also buy from certain stores, there is one duty free shop at the Senzo Mall which we have visited. The prices were all marked up as USD but the staff will convert that into the currency you wish to pay in. If purchasing at the duty free shops you need to buy within 24 hours of landing and you will need to take your passport with you. The Spinneys store at the Senzo Mall is very competitive so its worth comparing prices. Allowances are as follows: Alcohol allowance
How much you can bring depends on the type of drink. You can bring in: beer - 16 litres wine (not sparkling) - 4 litres. You can also bring in either: spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol - 1 litre fortified wine (eg port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol - 2 litres. You can split this last allowance, eg you could bring 1 litre of fortified wine and half a litre of spirits (both half of your allowance). You may have to pay Excise Duty on alcohol you declare. Tobacco allowance
You can bring in one from the following: 200 cigarettes 100 cigarillos 50 cigars 250g tobacco
You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance). If you don't declare anything over these allowances, you are at risk of having the items confiscated!
Shopping Shopping in Egypt is like Marmite, you'll either love the whole bartering process or you'll hate it. In the local stores, you need to barter and can get yourself a good deal if you're prepared to spend some time haggling. If you don't like doing this then visit a fixed price shop where the prices are already marked up. The Senzo Mall has plenty of fixed price shops all in a modern environment. In Market areas there is no choice but to haggle, they will inflate the prices just to try their luck and sometimes they get away with it. If someone is asking too much for the item you want, even after haggling, just walk away, guaranteed you'll see the same product elsewhere. Sheraton Street is the main shopping area, with plenty of choice of small shops, bars and eateries. Taxi's Another area where you'll possible get ripped off if you're not holiday savvy. Firstly the hotels charge more if you book a taxi through them. Secondly when booking a taxi on the street, agree a price before you get in the car. There have been incidents where people have jumped in a taxi without agreeing on a price and been charged more than double. Find a taxi through one of the excursion providers and they will book it for you and you can pay them direct instead of the taxi driver. Thirdly, do your homework, decide on where you want to go and ask around how much it should cost. You can then haggle with the taxi driver to ensure you are not overpaying.
Mosquito's If you're prone to being bitten by the pesky little insects then sadly Hurghada has a multitude of them. There are many remedies and precautions recommended and really it's a case of what works best for you. Jungle Spray, widely available in the UK is a strong deterrent due to DEET which is an effective repellent, however it does not work for everyone. In Egyptian stores you can buy a product called OFF, which also comes recommended by many. More recently people have been recommending citronella sprays, Vitamin B tablets, and certain skincare products. Depending on your level of susceptibility to bites may help on your choice of product. Tip: Buy a RAID type room spray and spray your room when you go out for the evening to kill off any mosquitos that may have gotten in your room. Again these can be purchased quite cheaply in local stores. Some people manage well with plug ins or repellent bracelets/bands, which you can buy in the UK or onboard the plane. Wifi Most hotels offer wifi, but don't be fooled, it is usually in the reception areas and trying to log into it is frustrating to say the least. You have two choices here, the cheapest method if your phone is unlocked is to buy a sim from the shopping mall or buy an unlocked wifi unit before you go. Or you can hire a wifi unit from one of the excursion reps which you hand back at the end of your stay.
Adaptors You will need a travel adaptor if you are taking phones or other electrical items. The sockets are two pin, round shape adaptors. There are two different types of power outlets used in Egypt, types F and C with the primary power outlets being type F: Plug Type C - The plug socket, technically known as a type C socket or Europlug, is recognised by two round adjacent holes next to each other. Plug Type F - You can recognise the power outlet by two 4.8mm circular holes 19 mm adjacent to each other and metal grounding clips above and below.
We've tried to include as much information as we can on this page, it will be updated if we are asked any other questions and please feel free to email us if you have anything you would like to ask.
Nicola & Joe