Updated: Dec 25, 2022
The year is coming to a close, and while some like to whoop it up in parties and holiday festivities, others want to usher in the new year with relative quiet and peace of mind -- something that's not easy to come by in Cairo!
But luckily Egypt is full of gorgeous, quiet spots away from Cairo's cheerful chaos, and we've listed some of our favorite places to disconnect and start the new year on a tranquil note.
Happy New Year!
1. Ras Abu Galum & The Blue Lagoon
Ras Abu Galum is an Egyptian national protectorate on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Sinai Peninsula, about 15 km from Dahab. There’s a small Bedouin settlement on the beach at the edge of the national park, and you can either camp on the beach under the stars or stay in one of the primitive beach huts.
There’s no electricity and limited running water, but the Bedouins provide fresh and local fare and water for extremely reasonable prices.
The Blue Lagoon is an even more remote and beautiful beach camp spot, about another 8 km north of Ras Abu Galum.
In both Ras Abu Galum and Blue Lagoon, daily activities range from diving, snorkeling, swimming, kitesurfing, hiking, sunbathing, reading or just relaxing by the beach. At night you can watch for shooting stars by the fire and revel in the fact that there’s no one else for miles around.
How to get there: From the Blue Hole in Dahab, you can reach Ras Abu Galum by hiking by foot (it’s relatively flat terrain, but rocky), and really soak in your remote surroundings, with the sea on your right and the mountains on your left.
If the hike is too much or you have too much diving gear, you can take a boat or ride a camel.
Blue Lagoon is another hike/boat ride from Ras Abu Galum.
Go to Ras Abu Galum and The Blue Lagoon if:
The thought of sleeping and waking up on the beach already makes you feel less stressed
You enjoy camping or primitive accommodations
You like to dive or snorkel
You love being away from it all
Local tip: Blue Lagoon is one of our 9 world-class beaches in Egypt, check out the rest.
Fayoum is actually an ancient city (read more about it at 7 Modern Egyptian Cities More Than 5,000 Years Old) and is an interesting mix of desert, water, greenery, urban and rural life and modern and ancient life.
Besides Tunis Village and the hotels/ecolodges there, Fayoum also has a lot of great camping spots, like on sand dunes right on the shore of Magic Lake (named for its changing water color according to time of day), or near Lake Qarun (Fayoum’s oasis, the biggest in Egypt) or close to the Wadi el Rayan waterfalls.
When it comes to types of camping, you can either arrange with a tour company who will pick you up, drive you to Fayoum, set up camp for you and spearhead activities and tours in the area, or you can drive to Fayoum yourself and stay at one of the permanent campgrounds and they can provide a tour guide for any activities in the area you’re interested in.
How to get there: it’s about a 2 hour drive from Cairo. You can drive yourself or have a tour agency arrange a ride for you.
Go to Fayoum if:
You want to travel somewhere relatively close to Cairo
You want to camp
You want to visit sites like Wadi el Hitan (Whale Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), or Wadi el Rayan, home to Egypt's largest waterfalls (which to be fair aren't very big but still really cool to see)
3. The Western Desert Oases
‘The Oases’ is actually an umbrella 5-in-1 suggestion; each oasis is quite a ways from the next, so we’ll go through them quickly and you can figure out which oasis fits you the best.
What they all do have in common though is the feeling of being at the edge of the Earth; the surrounding desert is just so all-encompassing that you’ll feel like you’re literally in the middle of nowhere (and you kind of will be).
The natural springs at the oases vary between hot springs and cold springs, and are known for their natural therapy.
At each of these oases, you can camp, stay at local lodgings or in some cases, stay in more upscale ecolodges.
Siwa Oasis: the most famous of the big 5, Siwa is about 300 km Southwest of Marsa Matrouh, and 50 km from the Libyan border. In Siwa you can find the temple of the Oracle, from Alexander The Great’s time; the Mountain of the Dead and Cleopatra’s Bath, a famous natural spring. Read more: 10 Most Unforgettable Things to Do in Siwa Oasis
Farafra Oasis: found approximately midway between Dakhla Oasis and Baharia Oasis, Farafra is known best for its proximity to the White Desert and its massive chalk rock formations.
Baharia Oasis: close to the Black Desert, the Baharia Oasis is also home to the Valley of the Golden Mummies, a Greco-Roman necropolis. Also found in Baharia were dinosaur fossils; the Carcharodontosaurus and Bahariasaurus (hilarious name) date to around 95 million years ago.
Dakhla Oasis: Around 350 km from the Nile, Dakhla is between Farafra and Kharga Oases. Dakhla is considered by some to be the most beautiful of the oases, due to an abundance of greenery and the cliffs surrounding it. Dakhla is also home to Al Qasr, a fortified Islamic town erected in the 12th century, believed to be built by the Ayyubid kings.
Kharga Oasis: the most southern, and most modernized, of the big 5 Western Desert oases. It’s home to the Temple of Hibis (constructed around 2500 years ago) and El Bagawat, an ancient Christian cemetery that functioned from the 3rd to the 7th century AD. It’s one of the oldest and best preserved Christian cemeteries from the ancient world.
Go to one of the Western Oases if:
You love being in or around the desert
You want to stargaze or see the Milky Way
You don’t mind the desert cold at night
You want to swim in natural springs
4. Ras Shetan
This stretch of rugged coast between Taba and Nuweiba in the Sinai Peninsula is known for its simple, no-frills beach camps right on the water. The camps, mainly run by Bedouins, vary from simple rooms to beach huts to camping tents right on the shore.
Most of the camps offer a variety of different dishes for meals, and you pay your tab before you leave -- Ras Shetan is not a place where you have to worry about things like carrying around money or phones.
In these quiet, sunny camps time seems to slow down -- there’s not much to do besides sunbathe, relax, swim (the water is pretty cold in the winter but some people can handle it) and recharge from reality. Electricity is only available for a few hours, and there are communal bathrooms.
At night, most of the camp residents gather around a bonfire and sing and exchange stories with each other and their Bedouin hosts.
How to get there: driving or bus. Or you can fly into Sharm El Sheikh airport and finesse a ride from there.
Go to Ras Shetan if:
You like a bohemian, communal vibe without actually having to deal with people if you don’t want to
You want to be near the beach
You want to have long stretches of time to relax and have nothing to do
You don’t mind long car rides
5. Abu Dabbab Bay, Marsa Alam
One of the most stunning stretches of beach in Marsa Alam. You get the choice of staying at the diving lodge (wooden bungalows with private bathrooms), camping in a tent, staying in a 5 star hotel like the Hilton Nubian, or staying in nearby camps and desert hotels and buying a day pass to access the beach, pool, diving center, snorkel rental gear, umbrellas, sun loungers, showers and beach bars and restaurants. So it's safe to say there's something for everyone.
Read more: 10 Best Things to Do in Marsa Alam
Around New Year’s, the temperatures during the day are in the mid-20s celsius, so it’s pleasant beach weather without being too hot. Some might find it too cold for swimming, but you'll be fine diving or snorkeling in a wetsuit.
Abu Dabbab Bay is a diver and snorkeler’s paradise -- it’s where you’re most likely to see giant sea turtles, and is home to two dugongs! Dugongs are also known as sea cows, close cousins of manatees, and Abu Dabbab’s two semi-permanent resident dugongs are called Dennis and Dougal.
How to get there: you can either fly into Marsa Alam airport or drive/take a bus (it’s an 8-10 hour drive from Cairo though!)
Go to Abu Dabbab Bay if:
You want sunny beach destination without having to worry about it being full with people
You want to learn to dive or already know how
You want to hopefully spot a sea turtle or dugong (you don’t have to dive for this!)
You want comfortable accommodations
6. Luxor & Aswan
If you haven't been to Luxor and/or Aswan yet, what are you waiting for?
Winter is the best time to visit Egypt's southern cities because that's when you can explore in the comfort of a nice warm breeze instead of a scorching sun.
As for where to stay, there’s a lot of different accommodation options in Luxor and Aswan, ranging from Airbnbs to historic hotels to Nubian ecolodges.
Although Luxor and Aswan are two completely different cities with very different sights to see, what they both have in common is a sense of stillness and peace -- the pace there is much more laid-back and you just feel like there’s more room to breathe. You can find a list of the best things to see and do in Aswan here.
How to get there: you can either fly into Luxor or Aswan and take a cruise from either city (if you feel comfortable with the idea of a cruise), or you can take the overnight train from Cairo.
Go to Luxor & Aswan if:
You enjoy learning about Ancient Egypt and actively exploring the temples and monuments
You want to go on a Nile cruise
You have an interest in Nubian and Upper Egyptian traditions and culture
You want to be somewhere warm
You might also like: Where to Go in Egypt: 10 Best Egyptian Destinations & Cities