Resorts in Hurghada City Image credit: Alex Groundwater

Hurghada: Most visited tourist destination in Egypt

Hurghada is a resort town in Egypt located next to the Red Sea in the eastern part of the country.

Due to the location next to the Red Sea Hurghada is a popular destination for water activities and boat rides. The most popular trip is probably the boat tour to the island of Giftun. Due to its beautiful reefs Giftun Island is popular for snorkeling and diving. Hurghada is one of the most famous dive destinations in the world.

As a tourist in Hurghada you will find wonderful beaches, culture, many good restaurants and coffee & shisha cafees – Spanning over 40 km of pristine coastline and year-round sunshine.

The city is surrounded by desert to the west and the coastline to the east. Hurghada stretches for many miles along the coast and is divided into several districts. The old part of Hurghada is located in the far north, the district of Sekalla in the middle and at the southern end is New Hurghada, which is a long spit of modern hotels and resorts as far as the eye can see.

The resort of Hurghada is a popular tourist destination and has grown to become the most visited tourist destination in Egypt. Most major airlines in Europe and the Middle East can fly you directly to Hurghada International Airport and tour operators like First Choice are well-established in Egypt and offers everything from all inclusive 5 stars resorts to apartments.

Hurghada in Sunset, Egypt
Hurghada in Sunset, Egypt. Image credit: Klaus Noergaard
Amazing seaside in Hurghada
Amazing seaside in Hurghada. Image credit: Amro Saleh

Things to do in Hurghada

Diving in the Red Sea

Together with Sharm El Sheik, Hurghada is the most popular diving destination in the Red Sea. Hurghada is an ideal gateway to dive in the Red Sea and is indeed also a popular place to learn scuba diving. Overall, the Red Sea is a world-class scuba diving destination with very interesting scuba diving opportunities offering beautiful reefs, millions of fish, fantastic visibility, sheltered reefs, towers, pinnacles, walls, coral gardens and wrecks. It is possible to dive all year round in the Red Sea. However, the air and the water temperature can vary greatly throughout the year.

Desert Safaris
Quad Bike, camel back and jeep desert rides on the vast Sahara Desert are very popular tourist activities in Hurghada. The “real” Sahara Desert is closer to Hurghada than you might think. Several travel agencies offer desert safari tours.

Giftun Island
Giftun Island is part of a marine reserve and consists of several beautiful islands and coral gardens featuring silvery, white sand and abundant ocean ecology. The islands are famous for their pristine protected beaches with azure blue waters. Visitors can swim, enjoy coral spotting sessions or sunbathe on the relaxing warm sands of the island. The island is located 45 minutes by boat from the mainland. Giftun Island is indeed like paradise. There are also cozy beach bars you can join while you enjoy the view of this paradise.

Old Hurghada “El Dahar” (downtown)
El Dahar is the heart of Hurghada and is home to many shops and bazaars selling souvenirs, papyrus, perfumes, spices, clothes, shoes and whatever you might expect (or not) to find in a Middle Eastern bazaar. The selection includes everything from traditional Egyptian stores over international chain stores. If you like haggling you can buy your things very cheaply here. El Dahar is characterized by a lot of life, trading and authentic atmosphere and is a popular site after a long day on the beach.

Karkadé and chi
Those new to Egypt will find Karkadé (a drink made from an infusion of hibiscus, served hot or cold and reputed to have many health benefits) and chi (local version of tea, usually served in a glass) offered everywhere. Both are delicious and will usually come replete with a smoke on a “sheesha” pipe, known in the West as a hookah or water pipe.

Boat trip to Mahmaya Island
Mahmaya Island is a small Stunning island in Egypt about 45 minutes by boat from Hurghada with shallow sea, white-sand beaches and a simple restaurant and bar. It’s pretty close to paradise.

Nightlife in Hurghada
By night, the city comes alive and numerous tourists fill the various clubs, discos, and restaurants. There are hundreds of discos in Hurghada like Papas Beach Club / Little Buddha where you can party drink and dance the night away.

Harbour in Hurghada, Egypt
Harbour in Hurghada, Egypt. Image credit: credit_00
Beautiful sandy beach on Giftun Island, Hurghada
Beautiful sandy beach on Giftun Island. Image credit: Sowr

Is it safe to travel to Hurghada?

Due to security risks, it is not possible to rent a car in Egypt and explore the countryside on your own. I will recommend to buy tours through travel agents like First Choice or a local company, or to hire your own driver and private guide if you want to see the countryside.
I suggest if possible to arrange activities and tours from home, and to research possible travel companies – it is more safe.

It is safe to go around outside the resort during evening, but you should primarily stick to the tourist areas or join an authorized tour group if you want to go outside the main touristy/crowded areas.

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It is possible through travel companies to reach destinations like El Gouna, Luxor and Cairo with transportation from Hurghada. Some travel agencies arrange over night transport to these cities and tourist attractions with police escort through the desert.

Thus, it is safe to travel to Hurghada, but if you want to go outside the tourist areas it requires some preparation and a little common sense when traveling around, as always!.

Two closed anemones at Giftun Islands in Egypt
Two closed anemones at Giftun Islands in Egypt. Image credit: Eric Burgers

General travel advice in Hurghada

Taxi Fares
Taxi drivers will always try to over charge you and rip you off. Never get in a cab before a fixed price is agreed upon and never pay with large bills – they will not give change back.

Too cheap to be true scuba diving
Diving in Hurghada is big business and anyone are ready to sell it to you. Anyone from the cleaner at your hotel to all the bazaars on the street and any taxi driver. They all do it by commission.
If you want to dive, listen to recommendations, sure, but I recommend that you yourself go to a diving school where you can meet the people you are going to dive with and where you can see the equipment you are going to use and check the quality of the gear and the company. Remember to ask the instructor or dive master to show you his/her certificate.
Safety is important, and a part of that is trusting your instructor(s).

Water or food poisoning
Avoid drinking/ingesting tap water. No ice in drinks, no vegetables or fruits if you can’t peel or cook them.
But if you get sick on your visit, go to any pharmacy and buy Entocid (pronounced: entoseed) tablets. A pack of 8 costs only 2 LE.

Bring disinfectant liquid for the journey.
We recommend that you bring it from home, so that you are sure to have it when you need it.

Don’t touch any of the corals or fish
Please be aware that you are not allowed to touch any of the corals and fish when you are diving or snorkeling.

Boat in the blue. Hurghada, Egypt
Boat in the blue. Hurghada, Egypt. Image credit: Klaus Noergaard

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