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.
Dozens of private hotel beaches form a necklace along the scenic shoreline. They all have soft white sands, which shelve gently into the turquoise sea, so armband-clad children can paddle safely. And just off the coast are coral gardens, dolphin-friendly reefs and World War II wrecks where bright shoals of fish part and reform as you swim through them. Hurghada City has a long list of professional dive centres that can take you to the reefs. With so much competition, the standards are high.
Old meets new
Away from the beach, this vibrant town throws up surprises around every corner. El Daha, the old town, is veined with a warren of narrow streets. There’s a mosque here, a bazaar there, giving you a strong flavour of Egypt as it’s been for centuries. For more modern tastes, check out Sakalla. Lining both sides of Hurghada Marine Boulevard is a first-rate selection of shops, and at the nearby marina, upmarket restaurants face out onto the luxury yachts moored in the water.
Framing the town is the windswept Sahara desert, where camel trains traverse the rolling dunes and Bedouin tribes have lived the same nomadic existence for millennia. To experience it first-hand, sign up for a desert safari. But if you’re more into Robinson Crusoe than Lawrence of Arabia, Giftun Island is a castaway’s paradise with white sand beaches and snorkel-friendly waters, a 45-minute boat ride away.