Hurghada Halal Travel Guide
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Hurghada (Arabic: الغردقة el-ğarda’a) is a resort city on the Red Sea Coast of Egypt.
Introduction to Hurghada
Hurghada was once a fairly small and unimposing fishing village, next to the Red Sea. It has a number of superb beaches. Today, the resort of Hurghada is almost unrecognizable from its past life and has become a major tourism destination in Egypt for budget tourists especially from Europe and Russia. It has more than 100 hotels, many of which line the shoreline, and numerous flights from and to smaller but cheap airports across Europe.
Famous for its superb diving opportunities, Hurghada is especially appealing to those with little experience of scuba diving, who come to marvel at the underwater reefs and awesome marine life. Tourism is now a huge part of Hurghada and each year, many visitors choose to combine their holiday here with visits to other prominent locations along the Nile Valley, including the relatively nearby city of Luxor.
The climate is very dry and rainfall is very rare. The weather is very hot in summer days and quite hot in summer nights. In winter the weather is generally warm by day but cool by night. Hurghada can be downright cold when the Shamal wind blows down from the northeast.
Hurghada mean sea temperatureJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
|22 °C (72 °F)||21 °C (70 °F)||21 °C (70 °F)||22 °C (72 °F)||24 °C (75 °F)||26 °C (79 °F)||27 °C (81 °F)||28 °C (82 °F)||27 °C (81 °F)||26 °C (79 °F)||25 °C (77 °F)||23 °C (73 °F)|
Miles and miles and miles of concrete, much of it abandoned developments, mar the shoreline. The oldest, most Egyptian part of the city is Ad-Dahar to the north, with relatively limited tourist facilities. This is separated by a low dusty ridge from Sigala 4 km south. Sigala is the main downtown strip, with western and traditional restaurants, hotels and general facilities, and has the most buzz about it. Several boat and dive operators run from the marina here. The main drag of Sheraton Road continues south along the coast for 4 km to the disused Sheraton Hotel, a circular 1970s concrete hulk. The road now enters the Village Resort strip, with another rash of hotels.
The coral reefs around Hurghada are several miles offshore, unlike the Sinai resorts and Jordan where they hug the coast, so divers and snorkelers will need to take a boat trip to enjoy them. Arid islands dot the sea. The largest is Big Giftun, which has a beach club and (better still) a telecoms relay mast – so mobile reception is good out on the water, to the benefit of skippers and trippers.
Modern developers have kind of given up on Hurghada, and have built glossy new resorts further away, notably El Gouna 20 km north, and Safaga 50 km south. These all use Hurghada airport as their entry point.
Hurghada has frequent direct international flights from Europe including Russia and Istanbul, the Gulf states, and the Far East, e.g. Bangkok. Most of these travellers are on package tours of Egypt – but not all, as the operators also sell flight-only tickets, a cheap and convenient way to get in. Domestic flights link Hurghada frequently to Cairo, and daily to Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, and Sharm el-Sheikh. These are a good way to travel as Hurghada is backed by an awful lot of desert, and road transport to other cities is lengthy, hot, dusty, bumpy and not entirely safe. The main domestic operator is Egyptair, but Nile Air and Al Masria compete on the Cairo route and keep fares low. The package operators (e.g. TUI) also fly domestic legs, but these are to move their own clients around Egypt and are not available to book point-to-point.
- Hurghada International Airport. Egyptair flights use Terminal 2, everyone else uses Terminal 1. It’s a decent airport until things go wrong – Egypt enjoys good flying weather, so the usual problem will be bad weather across Europe and long-delayed turnaround flights. The check-in hall will then become a surly scrummage of outbound passengers sitting on their luggage and the toilets overflowing.
Package tourist arrivals will have their own bus awaiting, everyone else will need a taxi. The airport is about 8 km west of the resort strip and 10 km from downtown Sigala, but fares are high for this short distance. You could easily be paying LE200. Careem to Soma Bay is LE220 (Oct 2018). The regular fare towards the airport is much cheaper. Drivers pay LE35 to enter and wait within the airport: naturally they seek to recover this from both the inbound and the outbound traveller. Otherwise, just head to the highway, about 500 m out of the terminal, and catch a taxi there. There is also an LE50 toll on the highway south to Safaga (Oct 2018) that is included in dates.
Cairo – The trip usually takes approximately 7 hr depending on the operator. Known operators include the Super Jet (ph. 16108) and Go Bus (ph. 19567). There are a number of stations which include one behind Cairo railway station Ahmed Helmy. There are many price options starting from LE50 and rising to LE150, every hour you can find bus to Hurghada (avoid MCV Co). In Medan El Giza in northwestern Cairo often extremely crowded, or Almaza Station in the Heliopolis district in northeastern Cairo. Bus schedules often change, but if you go to the bus station without booking you’ll find many options. (February 2012).
The GoBus website allows you to purchase return tickets on all routes direct to your mobile phone as an e-ticket which is very convenient – you just need to set up an account to do this and foreign tourists are welcome on all services provided you are not travelling on restricted roads. Between Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada is perfectly fine.
Alexandria – There are 2 buses from Alexandria to Hurghada. The first one, Upper Egypt Bus Co., leaves at 6:30PM from the new bus station, and costs LE90. It arrives at Hurghada about 4:30AM. It is not recommended because you’ll find all the city in deep sleep and seems like ghost city. The second bus, Super Jet Co., leaves the new bus station at 8:30PM and costs LE95. It arrives in the morning so you can find public transport and the taxis. (February 2012)
Qena and Luxor – About 4-5 hr by bus. Go Bus has two daily buses at 8:15AM and 3:30PM to and from Luxor from LE90. If you’re looking at the GoBus site on a mobile device, you may not be able to find listings for Luxor—try a laptop or desktop view.
Upper Egypt Bus Co. runs between Hurghada, Safagah, Luxor and Aswan.
Aswan – There’s one transport company to the Red Sea, Upper Egypt Bus Co. The buses are new, the ticket costs LE50 (maybe you pay extra LE5 as a foreigner). There are 2 buses: 3:30PM and 5:30PM. The trip takes 8 hours or more, which means you’ll arrive in Hurghada after midnight. (February 2012)
Long-distance “servees” taxis run from Hurghada bus station in El Hegaz Street (which you can reach by bus 4 or 7, or by local taxi). These run to all major cities in Egypt, but consider them especially for the run to Luxor, where the time saved by flying is less compelling.
With 2 or 3 of you, you could negotiate a private long-distance taxi; again, the journey to Luxor works well this way. And unlike a “servees”, the driver will pause at antiquities and photo opportunities on the way.
Ferry services between Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, on the Sinai peninsula, were suspended in 2010, and no resumption is in sight.
A fast-cat ferry runs between Safaga, 50 km south of Hurghada, to Diba (or Duba) in Saudi Arabia. As this route carries a lot of pilgrims and trucking, it’s not been hit by the tourist downtown. You’ll need to have sorted your Saudi visa well in advance.
By micro bus
A swarm of white minibuses (Toyota Hiace) called micro bus serve the area, with a flat fare of LE2. They run fixed routes, mostly along the coastal strip, picking up and dropping off anywhere along the way. Ask around for your destination before getting in – if it’s not this bus, it’s probably the next one already pulling up. They’re cramped and crowded, and young women may have to ward off pests.
Slightly larger minibuses or small regular buses run frequently along the coastal highway to El Gouna and Safaga.
Taxi drivers in Hurghada have astonishing talent for spotting tourists from far, far away; look at the approaching car and it will stop for you – at a price.
Before stepping in, find out if driver speaks any English, and show the wanted destination on the map. There are only few streets with names, so the destination is specified with nearby places, a hotel for example. Discuss and agree the total price (not per person) with the driver: the price should be LE5-10 inside the same part of the town and LE20 when downtown to Senzo mall, for example. Do not travel with the meter on, driverd can control it. After the driver agrees on a price, jump in. Get out in front of the hotel.
To avoid confrontation with the drivers ensure you have the correct amount of money you agreed at first, hand over the money on at destination, get out and walk away.
If you pay with a LE5 or LE50 notes drivers may try to switch it for a 50-piastre note, and then they request the original note that you have already paid. Piastres notes are smaller than pounds. Sometimes the driver agrees on LE15 fare, and when you arrive tells you he said LE50 and his accent worsens.
Uber and Careem both have presences in Hurghada. They are reasonably priced and convenient, sparing you the incessant haggling required for taxi rides.
However, some locations (e.g. the bus station) within Hurghada have been “blocked” on Uber. You will see a message that Uber “does not operate in this location”. Simply walk about 2-3 blocks/5 minutes away from the building (avoiding the taxi touts along the way) , and you will be able to use Uber again.
Hurghada does not have many spectacular sights except for the Red Sea. However, daily one or two day trips are available into both Luxor and Cairo. The Nile at Luxor is popular, as are the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza, Cairo.
Hurghada offers many activities not to be found anywhere else on Earth. If you were to choose to stay in your hotel complex for the duration of your break, you would miss out on much more than you bargained for.
- The main reason to visit Hurghada is the Red Sea, which is excellent for diving or snorkeling. Due to the recent drop in tourists coming to Egypt, it can be enjoyed at a bargain rate like almost nowhere else around the world, except for maybe Koh Tao in Thailand. See incredible coral reefs and hundreds of varieties of tropical fish just 10 m from the beach or with boat trips. Either your hotel will have dive escorts on site, or it can arrange a scuba diving expedition with guides. The divers are locals and generally excellent in handling beginners. You don’t need to know how to swim to scuba dive. In late March, the water may be a bit cold, so a wet suit might be necessary. Most budget hotels have dives tours (2 regular dives) for €20 on offer, but if you are staying at one of the more posh accommodations, you will end up paying up to US$65. So better to step out of your comfort zone (aka hotel) and ask around for prices.
- Ashraf Divers (Ashraf Asheaf), . Reliable, relaxed and friendly dive master. His dives include everything; travel, boat, equipment, food, drinks. Though, do not rely on him for booking your accommodation—read Egypt#Cope. WhatsApp: see phone number. WeChat: ashraf diver. See also: Ashraf Abat. As inexpensive as other good deals— $25 for 2 dives (as of Sep 2018), depending on number of people and season.
- Dive Red Sea, . They have one of the nicer boats in the harbour. US$31 for 2 dives on their website, but you might get a discount if you walk in.
- Cruise across the Red Sea to the uninhabited island of Giftun surrounded by magical coral gardens. Enjoy a lazy day on the white sand or swim among the coral reefs. This great day trip is hard to skip when you are in Hurghada.
- Quad-biking hundreds of miles into the Sahara desert for tea with a Bedoin tribe, then camel-riding across Biblical plains to see remote and ancient wonders. For a desert adventure, you can also ride motorbikes or beach buggies into the desert.
- You can also ride a glass bottom boat on which you can see the amazing coral reefs and underwater scenery.
- Furthermore, swimming in the warm sea, windsurfing, para sailing, jetski, good shopping, excellent and varied cuisine from around the world, etc.
- Beach. It might also be windy in late March (or not). You may want to check if your beach resort hotel provides windscreens on the beach.
- In the evening, you can go for a walk in the promenade area for some traditional cafes, shopping, or dining. There is a bowling and family entertainment center close by as well as a few malls and restaurants. Night life usually begins quite late, and you can find some clubs in close proximity to the promenade.
- The whole Red Sea coast has superb conditions for kitesurfing. Hurghada is no exception. Here you can find a lot of kite-spots with kite-schools and kite-stations. Here some of them:
- PlayKite. Located in the next bay from Nubia hotel. This kite spot has a lot of space for beginning and advanced riders
- Kite4Fun. Located near AMC Azur, Hawaii Le Jardin hotels. This place has shallow lagoon with flat water.
- Masters Surf School. Located in Panorama Bungalows Aqua Park Hurghada hotel. Small area of shallow water, so it is a good spot for intermediate riders
- Aeros School. Located near Play Kite station. There is also a shallow lagoon where any level rider can ride.
You can buy many souvenirs from the shops that are spread inside the main town (Sekalla high street) and along the beach areas, also the old town (el Dahar) has a wide selection of bazaars with cheaper prices than Sigala. There is a new shopping mall now open about a 10-minute taxi ride from the town, on Senzo Mall towards the airport road. It has a large Spinneys Hypermarket and many other shops, fast food outlets and a 5-screen cinema as well as a moderate sized childrens play area.
Remember to haggle, haggle and haggle everywhere except in restaurants and pharmacies. You should be able to get 75% off from the price that seller asks at first. This might vary with different products, so remember to check few shops for correct prices. There are souvenir shops that have fixed prices, mostly in New Hurghada area although these maye be higher than if you haggle in the souks. The well known “Cleopatra” shops, in Hurghada city Mamsha and Sheraton road, have a wide range of souvenirs such as shirts, woodwork and silver.
For brand-names and higher quality products, go to ‘New Marina’ and Sheraton road for Adidas, Timberland, Dockers and Levi’s. Clothes for sale in the traditional bazaar (souq in Arabic) are often fake, although the banners show the well-known brand names.
About the perfume shops the milligram for LE1 that means the best perfume for LE25 because all the perfume are on oil base and rarely that you can find natural or original perfume. Be careful when they drag you inside, they will invite you to drink something often tea. If they feel you are rich they will buy cola, while they are chatting with you and let you smell some strong perfumes, it is advisable to refuse because if you drink you then have to buy.
Hurghada offers a variety of cuisine, including fast food, western restaurants, oriental food, and many others. KFC and McDonald’s, and local fast food GAD, are present.
- At “Sherry St.” branches from Sheraton St. you can get chicken meal in “Brost eldik” for LE14, popular among backpackers and young people.
- Oriental Dish (in the northern part of the city). Arabic, grill, shawarma, falafel. Has delicious and inexpensive falafel sandwiches. Falafel sandwich LE2.50.
- China Town in the central Sigala strip may be a welcome change.
- Al Mustafa Fish Restaurant. Delicious meals, variety of fish, low prices, welcoming host. LE30-80.
- Om Ammar, . Small restaurant next to the street, sitting on couches, staff speaks hardly English, many local dishes available including BBQ, very local experience and prices. LE20-60.
Those new to Egypt will find karkaday (a drink made from an infusion of hibiscus, served hot or cold and reputed to have many health benefits) and chi (local version of tea, usually served in a glass) offered everywhere. Both are delicious and will usually come replete with a smoke on a sheesha pipe, known in the West as a hookah. Sheeshas are used for smoking molasses tobacco in various flavours, with the smoke passing through water before inhalation through a long tube attached to the bowl. Although they may resemble a device used to smoke illicit substances in the west (a bong), sheesha is legal.
Where to stay in Hurghada
A little internet searching will throw up some private self-catering accommodation that is usually owned by Europeans as a holiday home, which gives much more independence than staying in a resort hotel and is potentially much cheaper. Budget hotels catering to Egyptians with rooms at LE50 can be found near the Upper Egypt bus station.
- Golden Rose Hotel, Qesm Hurghada, . Good value. Includes access to a beach (200 m) – not great but free chairs and towels. There is a dog that continuously barks and fights with other dogs or various by-passers, even during the night. Single from LE177.
- Snafer Hotel (in the northern part of the city), . Almost even better value than Golden Rose but without free beach access. But there is Sea Sand Resort around the corner, which charges LE50 for a whole day of beach access. However, it is in the northern part of the city, where not much is happening due to the low occupation of the local resorts. Single from LE100.
- Sonesta Pharaoh Beach Resort, Safaga Road, Hurghada Egypt, .
- Sunrise Holidays Resort, Coronation Road, Hurghada Egypt. Adults only
- Sunrise Crystal Bay Resort, Hurghada Egypt.
- Sea Star Beau Rivage, Hurghada Egypt.
- Giftun Azur Beach Resort, Hurghada Egypt.
- Marriott Beach Resort (just south of disused Sheraton), . On Resort strip. Small beach but good water-sports facilities, Aquarius Diving is based here.
- Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh (Sahl Hasheesh is 15 km S of downtown Hurghada), . Opulent Moorish-style hotel
- Hurghada Clinic – Medical clinic with doctors who can speak English and Polish. International travel insurance policies are accepted.
- El Gouna Hospital – Professional medical service across the red Sea. Various departments with staff who can speak English, French Russian and German. International insurance policies are often accepted. Tel. 0122 744 5700
Embassies & Consulates in Hurghada
- Italy, Mastaba Red Sea – Hurgada, .
Stay safe and avoid Scams in Hurghada
In 2018, there have been complaints of guests falling ill at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel due to possible food safety issues, including undercooked food and lapses in cleanliness. Two British travellers died; the BBC reports travel agency Thomas Cook has been removing its clients from that hotel and in some cases arranging to fly them home.
- Luxor – The obvious and popular next destination. It can be done on a day-trip, though that’s a bit mad, and most of a 20-hour day. Ask around for reputable operators: a cheap tour will be overcrowded, first too cold then too hot in a poorly-sprung minibus, and you will see less of Karnak and the Valley of the Kings and a whole heap more of the driver’s uncle’s souvenir shop.
- Aswan – Reached via Luxor but less hassle then it. Once a week there’s a ferry across Lake Nasser to Wadi Halfa in Sudan, the only surface route between the two countries.