Sharm El Sheikh hotels
The Sharm El Sheikh Rundown
Egypt’s beauty queen resort city offers a telltale type of package holiday bliss on offer in the likes of Israel’s Eilat and Jordan’s Aqaba. The Red Sea Riviera’s answer to the Costa del Sol is much more akin to coastal enclaves on the Mediterranean than any regional competition, however, and as if to prove it, lures incalculable sun-worshippers from all over the United Kingdom and Europe on a weekly basis. Nonetheless, despite the English pubs and strains of Russian banter on the beach, Sharm El Sheikh is very much the domain of Cairo’s affluent elite. Indeed, the Egyptian capital’s upper-crust still flock to the southern periphery of the Sinai Peninsula en masse to escape the oppresive summer smog and swelter of Heliopolis.
World class scuba hub and site of myriad international accords and conferences, this “City of Peace” has come a long way from previous spells as a fishermen outpost, Israeli settlement and commercial and naval port. To wit, after a substantial facelift, Sharm El Sheikh International Airport will be able to service a remarkable 15 million passengers a year in 2012.
A recent spate of shark attacks aside, the warm waters that ripple from the Red Sea provide Sharm El Sheikh visitors with idyllic conditions to discover superb marine biodiversity. As a result, avid divers can chart a course to explore the extraordinary underwater caves and coral reefs of Ras Muhammad National Park. Further inland, desert landscapes, wadis and the singular UNESCO World Heritage Saint Catherine Area beckon. For most, however, Sharm El Sheikh’s parade of shiny resorts and chic cafés, restaurants and nightclubs proffer ample diversion.
Sharm El Sheikh’s Top 10
10. Blue Hole, a Red Sea submarine sinkhole north of Dahab, is the most notorious dive site on the planet.
5. Naama Bay Promenade is the de facto pedestrian artery along the water.
9. Asalah is a small Bedouin village in Dahab.
4. Saint Catherine Area, with a 2,000 year old history, is the linchpin UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Sinai Peninsula.
8. Sharm Old Town is where local life in the resort city takes place.
3. Naama Bay is Sharm’s busy market area that teems with chaotic energy after sunset.
7. Nuweiba Castle is on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list.
2. Mount Sinai is a Biblical landmark in the Sinai Peninsula.
6. Taba is the northernmost resort town on the Red Sea Riviera and a busy border checkpoint with Israel.
1. Ras Muhammad National Park covers the most southerly part of the Sinai Peninsula and has a rich ensemble of coral reefs. A veritable oasis from the resort sprawl.
Sharm El Sheikh History
- Moses Mountain - The chapel on the top is where the Bible tells of Moses’ receiving the Ten Commandments.
- St. Catherine’s Monastery - See the famous ‘burning bush’ in this Roman building dating back to 527 AD.
- Seven Elders of Israel Amphitheatre - Halfway up Mount Sinai, this is an architectural delight.
- Old Town - Marvel at the historic buildings that make up this area.
- Coloured Canyon - This natural gorge has been developing for the past 1.5 million years.
Sharm El Sheikh Art & Culture
- Sinai Heritage Museum - See a history of local arts and crafts here at El Arish in Sharm El Sheikh.
- Sharm El Sheikh National Museum - See the ancient and coveted goddess of Hathor statues here.
- Old Market - Most of the recent art can be seen and bought in the markets from the local traders.
- Cairo - Regular day trips run from Sharm El Sheikh to Cairo, the heart of Egypt’s art and culture scene.
- Alf Leila Wa Leila - This dinner theatre provides traditional belly dancing.
Sharm El Sheikh Shopping
- Na’ama Bay Centre - For all the souvenirs for your trip, head here to the many shops.
- Soho Square - This modern entertainment complex has lots of fashion stores.
- The Souk - Traditional Arab market located oddly within the Hyatt hotel.
- The Egyptian Touch - A luxury clothing and gift store in front of Pacha nightclub.
- Old Market - Practice your bartering skills for local crafts.
Gay & Lesbian Sharm El Sheikh
- Homosexuality is deemed a criminal offence in Sharm El Sheikh, so be careful.
- Pirate Bar - The bar at the Hilton hotel is a lively venue frequented by gay tourists.
- Camel Roof - This venue allows you to try your hand at sheesha pipe smoking.
- Pacha - A nightclub fresh from Ibiza is the stomping ground for the visiting gay community.
- Phoenix Bar - Relaxing rooftop bar with movie nights.
- T2 - If sports are your thing, this bar shows all the major international games.
Sharm El Sheikh Outdoor
- El Fanar - A beach that is perfect for sunbathing and grabbing a snack.
- Ras Mohamed National Park - You can go on a bumpy jeep tour of the desert here.
- Terrazina Beach - A popular beach with tourists, and they give you mattresses to lie on.
- Cleo Park - This outdoor aqua park has lots of water rides that will keep you occupied for hours.
- Red Sea - See the underwater world and sea creatures from the safety of a glass-bottomed boat.
Sharm El Sheikh Sport
- Do some kite surfing at Kite Junkies. Find them at the Regency Plaza Resort.
- Spot fish by going for a dive with the Emperor Divers. Book at the Bay View Hotel in Na’ama Bay.
- Play a round at the 18-hole championship course at the Jolie Ville Golf Resort.
- Have a horse or camel ride at Sharm El Sheikh’s Omar Riding Club.
- Feel the wind in your hair by booking a windsurfer with Sun n’Fun at Na’ama Bay.
Sharm El Sheikh Local
Sharm El Sheikh is a small resort area with just over 35,000 permanent residents. While visitors can bask in the lap of luxury on the beach, trips to the rest of the South Sinai Governate and Sinai Peninsula round out the overall charm of Sharm.
Dahab is a former Bedouin village and small town 100 km up the coast from Sharm El Sheikh. Popular with windsurfers, Blue Hole divers, beach resort holiday-makers and as a gateway to Mount Sinai.
El-Tor, 93 km northwest of Sharm El Sheikh, is the South Sinai Governate capital and a platform to the UNESCO World Heritage Saint Catherine Area.
Nuweiba is 167 km from Sharm on the Gulf of Aqaba coast. The small town contains some modern hotels and proximate Bedouin-style accommodation areas.
Saint Catherine is a peerless UNESCO World Heritage Site of epic significance to Christian, Muslim and Jewish pilgrims. The Sinai area is flush with archaeological sites, ancient landmarks and rugged mountain scenery. Saint Catherine’s Monastery, at the base of Mount Sinai, contains the most venerable collection of early icons, objects and mosaics in all of Christendom.
Taba is a busy border hub ever-popular with domestic tourists and Israelis, with a worthwhile eponymous nature reserve on the edge of town.
Sharm El Sheikh Eat & Drink
The restaurant scene in Sharm El Sheikh falls in line with other coastal package holiday resorts. Despite high prices and a discernible lack of sophistication, the promise of variety is enough to seduce most diners.
Camel Bar & Roof has one of the best bar scenes in Sharm and is a perpetual hot spot with locals and tourists alike.
Sidi Wadie Moroccan Cuisine delivers sumptuous tagines in a regal room.
Samurai Sushi doles out passable sashimi and maki rolls with supperclub flair.
Union Jack Bar and Restaurant is the place to be for Brits in Sharm.
Fairuz is a good bet for buffet-style Lebanese.
Bus Stop is a pub that televises EPL football.
Tandoori is the best Indian restaurant in Sharm El Sheikh.
Pomodoro is a good pasta and pizza joint.
Little Buddha is a popular Asian fusion eatery with a sushi bar.
Fawanees Restaurant is a surf and turf emporium that wins consistent raves for overall food and service.
Sharm El Sheikh Events
Sharm El Sheikh has a few annual events and recreational pursuits of note.
Watersports are a Sharm staple and the area is a global hub for divers, snorkellers, windsurfers, kitesurfers and para-sailers. There are no shortage of equipment rental stalls, instructors and operators up and down the main drag.
There are several quality golf courses in the vicinity of Sharm El Sheikh.
International Camel Competition crowns the fastest camel in the Sinai desert every April.
International Shopping and Tourism Festival is a deliberate and brazen effort to boost the coffers of area hotels, restaurants and shops in July.
International Diving Competition lures some of the best underwater enthusiasts to dive sites in and around Sharm every October.
When To Go
With sunshine abundant and rainfall virtually nil in Sharm El Sheikh, the only real off months are January and February, when temperatures range from 55°F (13°C) to 73°F (23°C). The peak summer period from May to September inclusive features more than 10 hours of sun a day and temperatures between 73°F (23°C) and 102°F (39°C). Needless to say, skin protection is essential on the coast and in the arid Sinai Peninsula.
What To Miss
The current travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office with regard to political unrest in Egypt is less relevant for Sharm El Sheikh than for Cairo or Alexandria. Sharm visitors in snorkel or dive gear face more danger, on the whole, than the average tourist in the capital. With that, give amateur dive operators a wide berth in the resort city and secure the services of a reputable company with capable instructors. Ensure your travel insurance is in order before you go out on a dive excursion as well.
As a busy tourist resort, visitors must inevitably face a profusion of touts in Sharm El Sheikh. With prices in line with much of continental Europe, shops in the Old Town market and Naama Bay promenade offer few tangible rewards for bargain hunters per se. Moreover, to haggle anywhere in Egypt is a practical contact sport best left to gutsy, shameless experts and locals. Sharm is no exception in this regard. Merchants are notoriously sly and visible foreign shoppers are easy prey. Above all, this is a place to dive and loll under the sun - not to shop.
The usual array of taxi and currency exchange scams abound in Sharm El Sheik. Make sure your mental calculator is in order before you negotiate fares and let money change hands.
As the most popular package holiday resort in Egypt and, arguably, North Africa and the Middle East, Sharm El Sheikh is easily accessible from a wide range of destinations, such as London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Geneva, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Oslo, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Rome-Fiumicino. Sharm El Sheikh International Airport is a major hub in the country and handles a remarkable 7 million plus passengers a year. Only Cairo International Airport serves more passengers per annum. Impressive as this is, plans are in the works to double Sharm El Sheikh International’s capacity by 2012.
Visitors who arrive via Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, Taba International Airport via London-Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester or Brussels, or Taba by land via Eilat, Israel will receive a two week (14 days) permit to travel within the eastern Sinai Peninsula. Those who want to explore the country outside of Sharm and the Sinai can apply for a one month visa from the Egyptian Consulate in London.
Express bus service is a less popular mode of transport to Sharm El Sheikh but one available from the likes of Cairo (6 hours), Alexandria (9 hours) and Luxor (14 hours).
Within Sharm, few stray very far from the beach or hotel resort. Mini-bus and private car fleets depart throughout the day for tours of the Sinai.
Egypt's crown jewel resort city has a reputation that spans the globe. Famous for world class scuba, a desirable peninsula location on the Straits of Tiran and Gulf of Aqaba and fine luxury hotels, Sharm El Sheikh lures affluent visitors from all corners of the planet. With near perfect weather throughout the entire year, "The City of Peace" is a powerful magnet for Europeans in particular, many of whom want a break from the Costa del Sol, Algarve or Greece.
The warm waters that radiate from the Red Sea into Sharm El Sheikh provide phenomenal conditions to explore superb marine biodiversity. As a result, ecotourists can take advantage of the remarkable underwater vistas of Ras Muhammad National Park. On the Sinai Peninsula, the park contains incomparable coral reef gardens and aquatic life. For those who prefer to remain on solid ground, Sharm El Sheikh, apart from spectacular beaches, has a posh array of fashionable cafés, restaurants and nightclubs.
The semi-arid coastal climate of Sharm El Sheikh provides near-perfect weather all year round.
- Winter (December to February) 13-23°C
- Spring (March to May) 17-33°C
- Summer (June to September) 24-37°C
- Fall (October to November) 19-30°C
Sharm El Sheikh - General information
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