Aside from Cairo and maybe Luxor, Sharm el Sheikh is one of the most famous destinations in Egypt, and has been for decades – and it has nothing to do with the Pyramids or Ancient Egypt, but is all about that idyllic beach life.
Sharm el Sheikh on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula (or just Sharm as we locals call it) is mainly known for its year-round warm Red Sea beaches and spectacular diving and snorkeling. While in years past it was known to be a nightlife hub, it’s now more of a resort destination – we’re talking dozens upon dozens of all-inclusive, fully-serviced beach resorts and hotels where you can kick back and enjoy that Egyptian sun and sea, even when it’s freezing back in your hometown.
But don’t think Sharm being a resort destination means you’re just going to be sitting by some pool the whole time, no sir! Sharm el Sheikh is packed full of things to do, and here are some of the best things to do in Sharm:
1. Experience some of the best scuba diving in the world.
And that’s not us being biased. PADI, the world-renowned scuba diving experts, released their annual 10 best dive sites in the world and Sharm el Sheikh and its adjacent Ras Mohamed National Park constantly rank high on the list. Sharm’s Red Sea diving offers everything from wreck dives to shark dives to an insane abundance of vibrant marine life.
2. Snorkel year-round in Sharm’s warm waters.
If diving is too time intensive or maybe the concept makes you wary, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on seeing Sharm’s gorgeous aquatic offerings. Boats can easily take you to the best snorkeling spots, where you end up seeing almost as much as divers do (you might even be able to see and swim with a dolphin or turtle if lucky). There are also a ton of easily-accessible shore reefs, and lots of resorts have jetties from the beach that you can walk along until you reach the deeper waters where an abundance of fish are.
Even when the water in the winter is a tad too cold for bathing suits, just rent a wetsuit from your resort’s activities hub and you’ll be good to go.
3. Boat trip to White Island.
Around 10 km from Sharm el Sheikh, in the protected Ras Mohamed marine park we mentioned above, is a white sandbar island called (for obvious reasons) White Island. This plateau is where the waters from the Gulf of Suez meet the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, and sitting on the island you can see Africa to your left and Asia to your right. It's a great spot for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing and you can easily reach it by boat from Sharm or Ras Mohamed.
4. Relax at serviced beaches.
Sometimes a beach holiday is just that - a holiday, meant for not moving from your sun lounger with the exception of getting up to cool off every now and then in the sea or pool. Sharm is chock-full of resorts that have fully serviced beaches, meaning everything from umbrellas, towels, food, drinks and entertainment is brought right to you while you recline on the beach.
Read more: 9 Best Egyptian Beach Holiday Destinations
5. Enjoy your resort’s activities and amenities.
Besides just relaxing by the beach or pool, the great thing about Sharm El Sheikh’s resorts and hotels is that they usually have a plethora of different activities and facilities for you to try; everything from water parks to spas to various sports to daytime excursions. There’s also a lot of great activities for kids and animation teams to keep the vibe lively.
6. Day trip or camping in Ras Mohamed National Park.
Like we mentioned above, Ras Mohamed National Park is adjacent to Sharm el Sheikh and is a natural protectorate with spectacular diving and snorkeling. You can either spend the day there or stay at a camp on the beach in the park’s designated camping area.
7. Al Sahaba Mosque
If you’re interested in seeing a different side of Sharm el Sheikh besides the beach and resort life, then check out Al Sahaba Mosque at the Old Market. This mosque looks like something straight out of One Thousand and One Nights, both inside and out. It’s open to visitors but women have to be relatively covered to enter (no beachwear or skimpy outfits). If you’re not interested in going inside, it’s also beautiful at night when it’s lit up from the exterior.
Read more: 10 Most Beautiful Mosques in Egypt
8. Heavenly Cathedral
If Al Sahaba is Sharm’s most beautiful mosque, then the Heavenly Cathedral is Sharm’s most stunning church. While it’s not as impressive from the outside as the Sahaba Mosque, its interior is a different story. Its frescoes, murals and artwork led it to be considered one of the most beautiful churches in the world upon its completion in 2010.
9. Go on a desert safari
If you’re itching for some desert adventure, then a desert safari is the best way to do it. You have the option for going dirt biking in the desert, driving a quad/ATV or even camel riding if you want to go old school. Your hotel can arrange it for you, but if you find their prices too steep, there are a ton of travel companies in Sharm that offer all sorts of different desert safaris.
10. Day trip to St. Catherine’s Monastery
About 2.5 hours from Sharm el Sheikh is St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, or as called in Egyptian Arabic, “Gebel Moussa” (Moses’ Mountain). It’s here that the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), believe that Moses encountered the Burning Bush and received the 10 Commandments.
St. Catherine’s Monastery was founded in the 6th century and is the oldest Christian monastery in the world still used for its original function. It’s open to visitors 5 days a week.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, St. Catherine’s is also the starting point of a 4 km hike you can do up to the summit of Mt. Moses (guides needed).
11. Evening activities & nightlife at Soho Square
Bored of your resort at night? Then head over to Soho Square, where you’ll find a plethora of restaurants, bars, cafes and activities like bowling, ice skating (yep, in Sharm of all places lol), a kids arcade and a dancing fountain.
Local tip: The promenade in Naama Bay (about 15 minutes from Soho Square) used to be a really popular nightlife spot in Sharm el Sheikh (and to be fair, is still home to myriad restaurants, shisha cafes and bars), but has become more shady as of late, with shop hawkers and restaurant touts hassling people to sit at their venue or buy from their store. It's worth checking out at least once if you're interested, but overall Naama Bay isn't as pleasant as Soho Square (where everyone leaves you alone lol).
12. Have a drink at Farsha
You know how some places are simply screaming for an Instagram moment? Well Farsha Mountain Lodge (also known as Farsha Cafe) is one of those places. This restaurant/bar/cafe sits on a cliff overlooking the Faraana Reef Beach in the Ras Um Sid area of Sharm, and the aesthetics plus the view are simply spectacular and not like anything else you’d see elsewhere in the world.