An underwater paradise
Transparent water, coral reefs and white sand: the best that marine nature has to offer is all right here in Sharm el Sheikh. Among the most famous beaches of the coast, the lively Naama Bay, which lies a few steps from the bustling tourist area, and Ras Um Sid, one of the few free beaches in Sharm located near the port, are particularly noteworthy.
Along the coast, up to the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, we arrive at the Ras Muhamad National Park: this nature reserve is the perfect spot to get in touch with the fauna and flora that flock to the coral reef or, alternatively, to enjoy the sun on the beaches of Khashaba Bay and Main Beach, among the most beautiful in Egypt. It is also worth venturing a little farther to the island of Tiran to better appreciate one of the most unspoilt areas of the Red Sea and the four coral reefs that characterise the seabed, where the wreck of a merchant ship lies, a shelter for dolphins and sea turtles.
The charm of the old town
The old town of Sharm el Sheikh, light years away from the modernity of Naama Bay, offers an exclusive gateway to the heart of Egypt. Among the chaotic streets of the city, shops put their merchandise on display with everything available to purchase, from fine Egyptian fabrics to ceramics and spices.
The heart of the centre is the Old Market, the perfect place to experience the art of bargaining with the locals, in order to take home handcrafted souvenirs at affordable prices. Wandering around the crowded market you cannot help but notice the majestic facade of the Sahaba Mosque, which blends Ottoman and Islamic architecture and is particularly striking in the evening, when the lights turn it into a glittering golden spectacle. Further north, in the Hay el Noor district, there are two other very important religious buildings: the Al-Mustafa Mosque, topped by a gigantic dome and several minarets, and the Heavenly Cathedral, the largest Coptic Orthodox church in Sharm.
Between casinos and shisha bars
The nightlife of Sharm el Sheikh is among the most exciting in Egypt and is concentrated mainly in the area of Naama Bay, the modern district known for its picturesque promenade dotted with rows of palm trees, and for the many souvenir shops, shopping malls, cafes, restaurants and some of the most famous discos in the city, such as Pacha, Dolce Vita and Buddha Bar (since 90% of the population is Muslim, it is considered offensive to drink alcohol on the street, but drinking is allowed within tourist clubs and discos).
Those who are not in the mood to dance can try their luck in one of the many casinos, especially the Sinai Grand Casino, or relax among candles and pillows smoking hookahs in one of the beautiful shisha bars in Egyptian style like the Alexandro Cafe or the Farsha.
Excursions in the desert
Sharm el Sheikh is the perfect starting point to embark on incredible adventures in contact with nature. Whether aboard a jeep, a quad or the much more traditional camel, it is impossible not to go on an excursion into the desert and let yourself be conquered by the unique charm of the sand dunes that stretch temselves towards the horizon.
One of the most suggestive destinations is the one that leads to the top of Mount Sinai, the sacred place where Moses received the 10 commandments. At its feet lies the splendid Monastery of Santa Caterina, with the Library that holds over 3000 ancient manuscripts.
However, due to the heated political climate within the country, special care should be taken when travelling to places outside tourist resorts.
To get an idea of the flavours of Egyptian gastronomy, it is advisable to try, in addition to the classic kebab and falafel, the ta'meyya (fried chickpea dough patties seasoned with various spices), the traditional ful medames (black bean soup) and the sandaw-tsh (sandwiches stuffed with smoked meat, spicy liver or cheese).
The more adventurous can dare try a dish of mokhkh, or fried cow brains, accompanied by typical drinks such as coffee, black tea or karkadè, an infusion of hibiscus. Many of the local specialties can be enjoyed in the many street food kiosks, especially in the old market area, but it is strongly advised not to drink not-bottled water.
To enter Egypt, you need a passport with a residual validity of at least six months, or an identity card (paper or electronic) valid for expatriation with a residual validity of six months accompanied by two passport photos, necessary in order to obtain a visa that is issued by the border authorities on arrival in the country. Extended identity cards with a paper or stamped coupon will not be accepted.
An entry visa is always necessary but, whereas for business stays it must be requested before departure at your home country’s Consulate or Embassy in Egypt, for tourist stays it is also issued at airports.
The website to apply for the first departure visa online is: www.visa2egypt.gov.eg.
The climate of Sharm el Sheikh is of the subtropical desert type, influenced by the Red Sea and the nearby Sahara Desert, characterised by mild winters, hot summers and almost-complete absence of rain. Summer is undoubtedly the hottest season, with temperatures around 40-45°C, while - even in the middle of winter - it hardly drops below 18-20°C. The best time to visit Sharm is from April to November, during which you can fully enjoy the beach life, without having to bear excessive heat.
Overlooking the Red Sea in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm el Sheikh is one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Egypt, thanks to its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear sea and all the magic that only the desert can offer. Sharm el Sheikh is the ideal destination for diving and snorkelling lovers: it boasts the second largest coral reef in the world, whose unparalleled beauty never ceases to amaze and fascinate, as well as the opportunity to swim surrounded by thousands of colourful fish, turtles and dolphins.