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On my first visit to Egypt, I went to Hurghada from Luxor. The drive to Hurghada was starkly picturesque. After leaving the urban reaches of Luxor, my car sped past little Egyptian villages, donkey carts, clapboard public vehicles and Bajaj autorickshaws. Sugarcane fields passed in flashes of green with the fellaheen or the farm men in flowy gallibayas toiling on them tirelessly. The villages ended as quickly as they started and soon I found my car speeding through the nearly empty Luxor to Hurghada highway.

The landscape on the way to Hurghada from Luxor

The landscape on the way to Hurghada from Luxor

Luxor to Hurghada by road

Once termed as one of the most dangerous roads in the world, the highway to Hurghada used to be infamous for road accidents, bandits and terrorist attacks and many lives have been lost on that stretch. At that time in 2010, most drivers avoided it at night and the fearful reputation gave the road its haunting emptiness. It cut through a dramatically beautiful landscape and all around us, rugged limestone hills shot into the cloudless sky in jagged angles. Apart from a few other vehicles occasionally zipping past on both sides, the road was completely devoid of many signs of life and not even a single gas station could be seen. This emptiness continued until the blue strip of the Red Sea came into view and suddenly Egypt’s Eastern Desert seemed to come alive. Small cafes started dotting the scene and I briefly stopped at one to stretch my legs. Lasting for around 4 hours, it was a short interesting drive and waving little Bedouin children with fuzzy pet donkeys ran along with the tourist vehicles in the final phase.

Hurghada is fun for those looking for 5 star Red Sea coast luxuries

Hurghada is fun for those looking for 5 star Red Sea coast luxuries

The ugly, concrete jungle of Hurghada

After that, the beauty of the drive diminished fast and ugly semi-urban stretches started taking over the scene. Flat, unimpressive shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, drive-ins and fortified real estates aimed at the rich Cairo residents and expats jostled for space and the famous beaches of Hurghada resembled insipid brown strips of sand. The air smelled salty and Hurghada had an over-commercialized coastal city vibe. Boutique clothing stores, ice cream parlours and seafood barbecue shacks lined the streets and neatly trimmed palms spruced up the artificial resort town. Billboards featured seductive blue-eyed beauties selling everything from alcohol to insurance and posters announcing flashy parties crowded upon plastered walls. Energetic young men busily handed out pamphlets to passing tourists and Hurghada looked exactly what it was: the perfect destination for the wide-eyed packaged holiday travelers.

Yachts are available at Hurghada

Yachts are available at Hurghada

A full blown beach resort town

A full-blown resort town, it was difficult to believe that Hurghada was originally created to cater to Red Sea tourists and divers and due to its strategic closeness to Europe, the sleepy fishing village changed overnight. No traces of Hurghada’s humble origin remained and although not postcard pretty, the town’s luxurious resorts, bustling nightlife and marine life thriving in the surrounding water made up for its lack of natural beauty. Some of the world’s finest hotel chains claimed their stake along its beach and nearly all of Hurghada’s beaches were private properties, access to which was chargeable. On that trip, I stayed at the Dana Beach Resort and it was a comfortable, touristy, luxurious resort hotel. Complete with blooming oleander hedges, multiple swimming pools, manicured grounds and open-air barbeques, it was a good base for an introduction to the Red Sea coast of Egypt.

The manicured grounds of Dana Beach Resort in Hurghada

The manicured grounds of Dana Beach Resort in Hurghada

A paradise for tour package tourists

The calm beach was just steps away and a narrow sand bar created a natural shallow lagoon in front of it. The resort came with an assortment of bards, restaurants, and live entertainment and the cocooned luxury made me stick to a relaxed routine. It was also at the end of my first Egypt trip and I was more than happy to just relax by the beach. Thus, apart from a Grifton Island excursion, I did not venture out much and only one time did I go on a yacht party. The party included sailing around the Grifton and Mahmaya Islands, open water snorkeling and paragliding for those who were interested. Although at that time, I had enjoyed Hurghada immensely, at the back of my mind, I knew that I would not return there. There was nothing spectacular or breathtaking about it and the whole packaged vibe made it seem very artificial. Snorkeling at Hurghada too seemed a tad over-commercialized and the molten blue water of the Red Sea had more human fins than marine life. Only the sunsets remain vividly clear in my memory and they were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

Sun and sea of Hurghada

Sun and sea of Hurghada

Hurghada Travel Guide

Hurghada is the beach resort city on the Red Sea coast of Egypt. It is 600 kilometers away from Cairo. An erstwhile fishing village, the discovery of oil in the region in 1913 exploded it into a megacity and the gorgeous beaches have been a hit since the 1970s. Today, Hurghada is famous as a packaged tour hotspot.

City center from Hurghada airport

Hurghada has an international airport and it is located 12 kilometers away from the city center. Transfers to the city center are possible with vans, taxis, and cars. The vans are available next to the airport passenger terminal. These do not have fixed stops and pick-ups and drops are made on-demand. The drive takes around 25 minutes. Taxis are also available at the airport. They ply on a fixed fare basis. Rental cars are also available at Hurghada airport.

A little girl at the Bedouin village

Public transportation in Hurghada

Vans and taxis are easily available to get around in the city. These vans or small buses ply on many routes around the city. Stops are made on-demand and the fare is paid in cash. Taxis are easily available. Bargain and agree upon the fare before embarking.

Best Time to Visit 

Hurghada is a year-round destination. The hottest month is August and the coldest month is January. Late spring or late autumn is the best time for visiting this resort town.

Attractions in and around Hurghada

  • Hurghada Sand Museum is located 12 kilometers away from the airport, next to Senzo Mall. It has many sand sculptures and is an open-air museum.
  • Located inland from Hurghada, the Bedouin Village is reachable either by jeeps, ATVs, or camel safaris. Organized groups tours
  • Hurghada has never-ending Red Sea beaches that offer a host of water sports and snorkeling opportunities.
  • Sindbad Submarine offers 3 hours of underwater viewing. This mini-submarine can travel 22 meters underwater and one can observe coral reefs, colored fishes and other marine life.

    hurghada day trip

    A view of the stunning Giftun Islands

Accommodation in Hurghada

Hurghada offers many world-class resorts, hotels, hostels, and service apartments. Rental villas for the short and long terms are also easily available. Note – Most of Hurghada beaches are chargeable (from 40 to 75 EGP per use), so it makes sense to have an accommodation with its own private beach.

Nightlife in Hurghada

Hurghada has a vibrant nightlife. There are also many great bars and venues in the city.

Hurghada Travel Tips

  • Bargain with the local vendors and taxis.
  • Always carry a bottle of drinking water. It gets HOT in Hurghada.
  • Don’t miss a day trip to the Giftun Islands. You will see the most beautiful clear water there and can relax on the beach. These islands form part of a marine reserve and are surrounded by a number of spectacular reefs teeming with marine life.

Follow the rest of the Egypt series here

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