This Red Sea beach resort at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula attracts legions of British holidaymakers. It offers guaranteed sunshine, a wide range of hotels and is one of the world’s premier scuba diving spots, with breathtaking coral reefs and abundant marine life.
You don’t have to be a diver, though, to enjoy Sharm el-Sheikh, as the resort has everything you could want from a holiday: reliably fantastic weather, international hotel chains, bars, discos, casinos, golf courses, restaurants and boutiques. Look out for some fantastic deals too – even five-star hotels can sometimes be snapped up at bargain prices.
Getting there/getting around Sharm el-Sheikh
If you’re staying in the main tourist area of Na’ama Bay, then everything you need is only a short walk away. If you want to travel further afield, then a taxi is your best option.
Always agree a price beforehand and ask at your hotel for a rough estimate of how much your journey should cost. If you’ve organised a diving trip, then the dive centre will normally pick you up and drop you off again.
Beaches in Sharm el-Sheikh
The majority of the big hotels have their own strip of private beach, while the public beach at Ras Um Sid is fairly narrow.
If you want better-quality beaches, there are several small but stunning sandy stretches in the nearby Ras Muhammad National Park, including Quay Beach, Yolanda Beach and the imaginatively named Main Beach.
Sightseeing in Sharm el-Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh isn’t big on cultural attractions and the main reason for a visit to the resort is to experience some of the world’s best scuba diving, again in the Ras Muhammad National Park. The park’s nutrient-rich waters attract tons of marine life and you can dive on sites such as Jackfish Alley, Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef.
If you’re not into your diving, you could hike up to the 2,285 metre-high summit of Mount Sinai, where God was said to have delivered his Ten Commandments to Moses. It’s a spectacular place to watch the sun rise.
Family attractions in Sharm el-Sheikh
Enjoy a four-wheel drive, quad-bike or camel ride in the desert for a day or half-day tour. Ramping up over the massive sand dunes is as good as any theme-park rollercoaster and you can also watch the sun rise or set behind the nearby mountains.
Day trips from Sharm el-Sheikh
A great way to escape the resort for the day is to charter your very own yacht. Visit Hurghada, explore the Gulf of Suez or head up the coast along the Tiran Strait. You’re the boss, so you can decide exactly how long or short you want your trip to be. Alternatively, many hotels offer day trips to Cairo by plane.
Eating in Sharm el-Sheikh
Many of the hotels have lots of western-style food. The resort is dotted with pizzerias, fast-food outlets, international restaurants offering Chinese, Indian and Mexican food, plus recognisable names such as McDonald’s, Hard Rock Cafe and Pizza Hut.
If you do fancy trying some of the local cuisine, get yourself a meze platter, a selection of small dishes. These might include falafel (fried chickpea balls), sambusac (pastry stuffed with meat), pitta break dipped in houmus and koftas (spiced meat kebabs). The seafood is normally excellent, and for dessert try the deliciously sweet and sticky pastries known as baklava.
Nightlife in Sharm el-Sheikh
Most of the action can be found at the neon-lit Na’ama Bay. If clubbing’s your thing, try The Bus Stop and the world-renowned Pascha, which is open every night of the year.
One place where you won’t struggle for your own spot at the bar is at Little Buddha. This sushi bar and nightclub has the longest bar in the Middle East.
Shopping in Sharm el-Sheikh
There’s a big commercial centre in Na’ama Bay with lots of new shops that cater for tourists, but for real bargains head for Sharm el-Sheikh’s Old Market (which isn’t actually that old).
Gold and silver jewellery, hieroglyphic drawings, woodwork, copperware, ceramics, baskets, clothing, papyrus illustrations, perfumes, traditional musical instruments, leather goods and perfumes are all good buys, as long as you’re prepared to haggle.