Located at the Red Sea and surrounded by the desert, Hurghada evolved from a fishing village to a major vacation hot spot in Egypt. It is known for it’s stunning underwater world and offers it’s visitors the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. Read about great places to indulge local foods, the best activities if you’re done relaxing and some advice from locals about their hometown.
What To Do
It doesn’t happen often that you have a desert right next to you. To be precise, it was the first time that I have visited one myself. We explored the desert on quads, which was a pretty bumpy and kind of scary ride at first. Nonetheless, it was a fun experience! After visiting a traditional village in the middle of the desert, it was time for my favorite part of this day trip: riding a camel. I admit, I was super excited like a little kid.
A must-do is definitely a snorkeling tour to one of the little islands and their coral reefs surrounding the coastline of Hurghada. Most tours include the islands Giftun or Utopia. You will also hear about Paradise Island and Mahmya. However, these two are part of Giftun and are just situated on another corner of the island. I’ve been to Giftun and Utopia and I can say that Utopia is much more worth seeing, if you need to choose between both of them. Utopia is a tiny island with white sand and turquoise water. You feel like you’re on a little Caribbean getaway in the middle of the Red Sea.
My personal highlight was the day that I was swimming with dolphins in their natural environment. It was quit surreal when the first dolphins passed next to you. A truly unforgettable moment! Although you can book a boat tour to their ‘home’, you will need a little bit of luck to actually see them as well.
Where To Eat
Trying local foods is one of my favorite activities when traveling. You can find most restaurants in Downtown or at the Marina. However, I would recommend to have dinner rather at the Marina due to it’s location right at the port, which gives it a beautiful atmosphere.
If you want to have a true Egyptian homemade dinner, then head to Nunbian situated at the Marina. You will find a big assortment of delicious oriental dishes (also vegetarian friendly!). Finish your dinner with a traditional sisha!
For an amazing view, have some drinks at the Caribbean Bar located at the Bella Vista Hotel. This place is literally right above the sea at the hotel’s beach and serves food as well. On some nights there will be live music, too!
Where To Go
Hurghada is mostly build of hotels and resorts, so that there is not much to explore. However, if you want to take a walk, I would suggest going to the Marina. At the port you will find restaurants, bars and cafés facing numerous yachts.
The El Mina Mosque is located not far from the Marina and can be visited outside the daily prayer time.
A place that I would rather avoid is the main street in downtown. It is very touristy with lots of shops and some restaurants.
Where To Stay
If you want to stay close to the center of Hurgada and relax in a luxurious surrounding, then you can’t go wrong with booking a room in the Marriott Beach Resort. From tanning at the private beach, having cocktails at the pool to getting a massage on the little island and trying Arabic dishes during breakfast, the staff will make sure that you feel welcome at any moment during your stay.
Tips From Locals
Having advice from locals is the most valuable piece of information you can get abroad. If you take time to talk to the Egyptians, they will be happy to help you and tell you more about their home country.
- Check your change! Dealing with foreign currency can be quite confusing. Some people try to take advantage of it. Instead of giving you back 50 Egyptian Pounds, you will receive 50 Piastres (which is worth much less).
- Be careful at night time! Of course this advice can be given almost everywhere, but one local said to avoid small alleys especially when it’s dark.
- Tipping: In most restaurants there will be an additional charge of service and tax, so that you will not necessarily need to give an tip.
- Taking a taxi: I’ve heard before that tourists are not only charged more, but that it can happen that your driver will threaten you. You will be one the safe side, if you ask your driver beforehand how much he will charge you or if your hotel will arrange a ride for you.
Have you been to Hurghada? What are your favorite spots?