Giant pyramids, iconic cities and mile-upon-mile of beaches – holidays to Egypt are in a league of their own.
An elite holiday destination
In the race for the title of the world’s top holiday destination, Egypt runs with the elite – more than 12 million tourists flock here every year. But the country has had an advantage. It’s been in training for the best part of 25 centuries. The ancient Greeks and Romans started holidaying here as far back as the 4th century BC.
Sun, sea and sand
Today, tourists fall into two camps. On one side of the coin you’ve got the visitors who come for the sun, sea and sand. The resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada dip their toes in the clear waters of the Red Sea. Expect white beaches that stretch out like party streamers, some of the world’s best scuba diving sites, and every watersport you can think of.
On the other side of the penny, you’ve got the history enthusiasts, who turn up here to retrace the footsteps of the pharaohs and ancient gods. In Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, you can see Tutankhamun’s death mask and the mummified remains of ancient kings. Then, just outside the city, you can stand in the shadow of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. In Luxor, meanwhile, you can explore the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Karnak, which is the largest ancient religious site in the world.
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Marsa Alam is the most southern of Egypt’s resorts, occupying a virgin stretch of Red Sea coastline near the Tropic of Cancer. Its shimmering beaches and pinch-me-I’m-dreaming reefs are virtually untouched. But with an ever-growing number of luxury hotels popping up along its 50-kilometre coastline, it’s rising in the popularity stakes.
Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh, on the Sinai Peninsula, is Egypt’s most popular holiday resort. Sharm, as it’s known, pulls in around 9,000 Brit visitors a week, who love it for the miles of white sand and clear water. Some of the world’s best diving sites are dotted just off the coast, and away from the shore there’s designer shopping and lively nightlife in spades. No wonder its star is still rising.
Hurghada City is the second biggest town on the Red Sea and, thanks to its world-renowned coral reefs, one of Egypt’s busiest holiday destinations. Hundreds of hotels and restaurants are crammed into its serpentine 20-kilometre coastline. To the north is the historic old town, to the south is the brand-new, palm-lined Village Road, and in the middle is Sakalla, the frenetic and fast-paced town centre.