Sharm el-Sheikh is the Pearl of the Red Sea, the most fashionable resort on the coast, famous for its rich coral reefs and comfortable hotels for all tastes. Undoubtedly, the greatest wealth of Sharm El Sheikh is the sea, which attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world. In Arabic, Sharm El Sheikh sounds like the "Bay of Sheikh", and this name corresponds to reality. It is called the tourist center of the Egyptian Riviera and is a major point of attraction in the country for travelers of all kinds. It is easy to find entertainment for all tastes: beach holidays, shopping, excursions to interesting surroundings, and evening entertainment. A 30-kilometer strip of the city's coast is full of hotels, nightclubs, stores, and villas, drowning in the greenery of gardens and entertainment complexes.
But the main reason for a visit to Sharm el-Sheikh is the rich underwater world of the Gulf of Aqaba. Egypt's most famous resort is waiting for guests all year round. It is almost always sunny, and the weather disposes of, if not sea bathing, then sunbathing. And the bright, juicy colors in the middle of winter will be great color therapy.
Do not think that a vacation in Sharm el-Sheikh is only about the sea and beaches. Curious travelers will not be bored here. You can stroll through the old town and the real Oriental bazaar, full of colors and fragrances, visit the Bedouins or arrange an extreme jeep rally in the desert. The city is bounded by two nature reserves: the nature reserve of Nabq in the north and the national park of Ras Mohammed in the south. Thrill seekers will enjoy a camel ride, the St. Catherine Monastery, the legendary Mount Sinai, ancient Cairo, and the pyramids of Giza.
Relax on Sharm el-Sheikh's beaches
Sharm el-Sheikh is a kingdom of coral, so you should pay special attention to the beach at your chosen hotel. Often, the coral is located close to the shore, and guests are encouraged to swim from pontoons; in some places, rubber slippers are required to enter the water. In Naama Bay, beaches are "conditionally sandy"; originally there were colonies of coral, but in some areas, for the delight of tourists, they cut them down, and there you can safely go into the water barefoot. Such areas are marked by buoys. Otherwise, you can swim without slippers but not everywhere—there is a risk of being injured on the remains of the colony or coming into contact with prickly marine life.
In the area of Sharm el-Maya are full-fledged sand beaches—the only ones in the resort. Their "coverage" is fine golden sand. There is no coral. The entry is shallow, with a calm surface stretching far enough into the sea. The beaches of Sharm el Maya are divided into 26 separate sections, each run by a different hotel. They are equipped with everything you need, including a tower to watch out for possible shark sightings. Several beaches have pontoons to observe marine life.
The beaches of Sharks Bay are completely coral. Entry into the water here is possible only from the pontoons, which go into the sea behind the reef line—in some cases, the bridges are quite long. Clean water and an abundance of underwater life will appeal to snorkeling lovers, but families with children on the beaches of Sharks Bay will not be too comfortable. However, the beaches of some hotels are cleared by special swimming zones for kids, marked with buoys.
In Nabq, there are sandy beaches at the entrance to the water, and then a few tens of meters away begins a coral strip. Sharks Bay is great for young tourists, who can spend hours splashing in the sandy shallow water, but is rather a disadvantage for adults — they have to go in with slippers at a depth deep enough not to scrape their knees when swimming. Another disadvantage of Nabq is strong winds and strong tides. The beaches of Hadaba are sandy and coral. The coral colonies start close to the shore. Shallow water is available for swimming toddlers but not everywhere; on some beaches, the corals come close to the water's edge. Adults swim here or at high tide, right from the shore (in rubber slippers), or at low tide with pontoons.
In Ras Um el-Seid, the depth starts almost immediately from the shore. Going into the sea in special shoes, snorkeling, and swimming over the coral is possible from the pontoons. The beaches here are pretty narrow, so vacationers are placed on special terraces or decks from which the sea goes down a flight of stairs. Portions of the beaches at some hotels are cleared of coral for children's comfortable bathing.
Explore the underwater world
Sharm el Sheikh and diving are practically synonymous; the resort is best known as a great place to dive into the Red Sea's wonders. Swimming with a snorkel here can be everywhere; dive-almost everywhere: along the coast are 16 dive sites. In addition, for the fun of keen divers in Sharm el-Sheikh, there are whole areas for diving, the most famous of which are the marine reserve of Ras Mohammed and the island of Tiran. Here are just some of the underwater beauties of Sharm El Sheikh: common, fire, and soft corals; massive porites and favits, hammerhead sharks, barracudas, perches, antis, napoleon wrasses, trevally and surgeonfish, manta rays, moray eels, and crocodile fish.
For those who want to dive directly at the resort, the areas of Sharks Bay, Nabq, and Ras Umm el Seed are recommended. In Sharks Bay, each hotel has its dive center, where you will be offered a scuba dive directly from the shore, or take a boat ride out to particularly noteworthy reefs. The depth is about 20 meters and the visibility is also 20 meters. There are interesting night dives. In Nabq, you can dive from the pontoon (including a wreck in front of the Calimera Royal Albatros Moderna Hotel) or head to the nearby reserve of the same name, which is part of the famous Ras Mohammed. Divers at Ras Umm el Seed will enjoy excellent 20m visibility, depths of up to 20-25m, large corals, stingrays, barracudas, and small sharks.
Relatively inexpensive stores and restaurants are concentrated in the Old Market area of Old Town. At that point, you can buy a cheap souvenir, and visit the fruit market. The most expensive stores are around the tourist center in Naama Bay.
What to buy: hookah ("shisha"), plates with Arabic ornaments, stones figurines of ancient Egyptian gods and pharaohs, papyrus, oils and essences, and jewelry in the ancient Egyptian style. Cosmetic products that deserve attention are not only produced in Egypt but also imported from "friendly" Arab countries: essential and massage oils and a large selection of hair care products by "Dabur", natural oils from Pakistan by "Hemani", spices (better to buy in supermarkets or grocery stores by weight from large tubs), halva, sweets. You should also pay attention to the accessories for the hammam: cotton sheets, loofah sponges, and gommage mittens.
Taste local cuisine
Gastronomic interests in Sharm el Sheikh are based on two pillars: firstly, the dishes of Egyptian cuisine; and secondly, the abundance of the freshest fish and seafood from the Red Sea. For a light snack in the first category, you can try "kofta", a midday meal called "koshari" of rice, pasta, chickpeas, and lentils with tomato sauce, Egyptian-style rice with a variety of gravies, and falafel balls of beans and vegetables. For a more refined lunch, you can try the lentil soup "ats" and pigeon or duck stuffed with rice. The meal should end with dessert: hot "um-Ali" made of puff pastry, milk, and pistachios, or sweets like baklava, Bambusa (dipped in syrup), or sweet "vermicelli" called "kunafa". Fish and seafood are served in all possible ways: grilled, baked under coarse salt, stewed in sauce, cold and hot, separately and in an assortment. The menu includes calamari and cuttlefish, octopus, shrimp, dorado, sea bass, swordfish, and some exotic Red Sea fish such as the deep sea billfish.
Go hiking on Sinai mountain
Mount Sinai is located near Sharm el-Sheikh and is one of its most attractive tourist sites. Climbing to this mountain to meet the sunrise is a popular excursion, which many consider for themselves a pilgrimage because this place is considered holy. The height of the mountain is about 2200 meters. There is not one mountain: there are three peaks. The tourist road leads to the middle one. Sinai is part of the larger massif of the Sinai Mountains. These mountains are, for the most part, completely devoid of vegetation, and erosion over the centuries has given them a bizarre shape. They consist of a beautiful reddish-golden stone, so that the landscape that opens from Mount Sinai by day and especially at dawn, is one of the most beautiful and astonishing.
It is now customary to ascend Mount Sinai on foot during the night to meet the sunrise here. The ascent usually takes about 3–4 hours. The sunrise here comes at about five o'clock in the morning, and it takes about two more hours to descend. It is very cold and windy at night on the way up and at the top. Be sure to wear warm clothes that are easy to take off later, because once the sun rises, you will get hot. If you want, you can buy or rent a poncho or blanket on the way.
Visit national parks
Within Sharm el-Sheikh, the world-famous Ras Mohammed National Park is located, formed by the confluence of this territory with the Nabq National Park. At the same time, you can visit both national parks separately. From the Nabq National Park (it is located in the Sharma district of the same name), most tourists get on a boat from the sea. From the road, you can drive there only in an all-wheel-drive car. Here they examine not only underwater landscapes (snorkeling or diving) but also land-its famous mangroves.
Ras Mohammed (25 km from Sharm El Sheikh) occupies the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Here, in addition to fantastic marine life (barracudas, sea turtles, and sea snakes), you can also meet rare terrestrial inhabitants: fennec foxes, herons, and birds of prey. Until 14:00-15:00, the park is full of excursion groups. Inspection of the territory usually begins with the main beach, then a salt lake, mangroves, an observation deck, and a beach next to it.
Take a walk in the Naama-bay area
For those who prefer time-tested resorts, Naama Bay is a sure bet to avoid surprises while on vacation in Egypt. The oldest and therefore the most well-appointed part of Sharm el-Sheikh, with a myriad of hotels of all levels of stardom, shops, cafes with aromatic hookahs, and noisy bars and clubs, will easily win the hearts of every tourist. And, of course, no guest of the resort will pass by the local sandy beaches-swim here with pontoons, or go straight into the water from the shore-the bottom at the water's edge is cleared of coral. The main pride of Naama Bay is the homonymous promenade. If you walk along the promenade from the Marriott hotel and turn right after the Movenpick hotel, you will see a lively street sparkling with neon and lanterns. Here you are.
If you need to combine meals with a view of the beautiful sea scenery, Panorama Café is the right place to go. It's tasty, there's live music, and on weekends there's an oriental show. For a cheap meal, try the oriental café "Tam Tam Tam" near Ghazala, or the opposite side-the café "Makani". In the center of Naama Bay, the restaurant "Dannanier" is famous for its delicious cuisine. In Delta Charm, 200m from the main entrance, on the right-hand side, is Pizza Charm, a delightful pizza joint.
Spend time with your kids
The entertainment program for children outside the hotels is represented by the Dolphinarium and Aquapark, Fun Town amusement park, and One Thousand and One Nights amusement park. Dolphin Park is located in the Nabq area. Here you can not only watch a show with dolphins, but also take pictures and swim with them. The Aqua Blue Water Park is located in the bay of Ras Um el-Seid and offers adults and children a variety of moderately extreme and quite simple slides, a "lazy" river, a pool with artificial waves and fun animation. Fan Town is a small amusement park with trains, carousels, and horse and camel rides. The "One Thousand and One Nights” amusement park and shopping complex are in the Hadaba neighborhood. Until 16:00 it is free to visit-to look at the interior in the spirit of oriental fairy tales, stroll through the stores and relax in the cafes and hookah houses. In the evening begins a light and musical performance about the history and folklore of Egypt with oriental dancing, a show with snakes and fire, a horse show and performances by magicians. In Soho Square, you and your child will enjoy an evening show of musical fountains (every day, duration: 45 minutes). You can also take your child on an evening excursion to the Bedouins, where you will perform folk dances, eat traditional food, and offer a telescope to admire a myriad of mysteriously twinkling southern stars.
Get Out of the City
If you get tired of Sharm el Sheikh, you can always take an excursion outside the city. First of all, you should visit Cairo or Luxor. Luxor is the main city for fans of Egyptian history. It is a real teleporter to the past, because, located on the banks of the Nile, Luxor "inherited" almost all the iconic sights of the Ancient Kingdom. Obelisks, sphinx alleys, temples, tombs, and the most famous necropolis on earth — there are more than enough attractions in Luxor. In the center of the city are the Luxor temple and museum, with the most interesting archaeological finds. The attractions in the historic part of Luxor include a promenade through the alley of sphinxes, shopping in the oriental bazaar, and, of course, a boat trip on the Nile. All this: the eastern bank of the Nile, the so-called "city of the living". It is no less interesting to visit the west bank of Luxor, the "city of the dead".
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