9 Best Egyptian Beach Holiday Destinations
Something we hear all the time when a non-Egyptian sees our beaches for the first time is: “You have beaches like THIS in Egypt???” Yes my friend, indeed we do. Most people when they think of Egypt think of a long swath of desert with a few pyramids dotted here and there, plus or minus a camel or two. And while yes, we have that, we also have thousands of miles worth of fantastic coast.
We go into detail about specific beaches in our article 9 World-Class Beaches in Egypt, but in this article here we’re going to talk about the best beach destinations in Egypt as a whole – meaning, the best places to go to kick back and relax for a chill beach holiday. And trust us, there’s something for everybody!
Ideal if you want: lots of resort and hotel options (including all-inclusive and family-friendly options), water activities and diving
Hurghada, having spent the first hundred years of its life as a sleepy little fishing village, is now one of the most popular destinations in the world (don’t believe us? Ask TripAdvisor -- Hurghada is one of their 'Top 10 Most Popular Destinations' for 2022).
Hurghada is an eclectic mix of 5 star resorts and super budget hotels, Red Sea islands and desert excursions, touristy promenades and dingier local areas… there’s something to see and do no matter your age or interests.
Best way to get there: fly to Hurghada Airport or by car from Cairo (4.5 hours)
Here’s our full, detailed local’s guide for Hurghada.
Ideal if you want: to just relax on the beach and not leave the hotel
Egypt’s North Coast, called Sahel el Shamali in Arabic (Sahel for short), stretches out for about 1,000 km on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast and has arguably some of the most pristine white sand beaches in the region. Now obviously 1,000 km of coast is a lot, but it’s currently comprised mainly of private residential beach compounds with a few sporadic hotels, so it’s mainly the summer playground of moneyed locals.
Recently though more tourism development has taken root, so those who don’t own beach homes can still enjoy Egypt’s (hands down) best summer beaches. It’s a hassle to get around the North Coast area though, so it’s recommended if you’re just looking to stay for a weekend at your hotel’s beach. Unlike Hurghada or Sharm el Sheikh, there are very limited activity options outside of your hotel.
Best way to get there: by car from Cairo (could be anything from a 3-5 hour drive, depending on where on the North Coast your hotel is)
Ideal if you want: an all-inclusive resort on pristine beaches
On most online booking sites, Sahl Hasheesh and Soma Bay (below) are grouped together as ‘Hurghada’. And while they are indeed considered in the Hurghada ‘area’, they’re their own separate towns and very different from Hurghada proper.
Sahl Hasheesh is a resort town built on a bay in the Red Sea south of Hurghada back in the 1990s, and is known for its beautiful stretch of coastline and long boardwalk. It’s home to some of the most highly ranked beach resorts in the country, such as Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh and Baron Palace. Sahl Hasheesh doesn’t offer much in terms of restaurants or nightlife outside of the resorts - just an ‘Old Town’ with one or two spots.
Best way to get there: fly into Hurghada Airport then drive into Sahl Hasheesh (30 minutes)
Ideal if you want: 5 star resorts with a plethora of water sports, diving and snorkeling
A peninsula jutting into the Red Sea, Soma Bay is similar to Sahl Hasheesh but smaller. Because it’s surrounded by the sea on three sides, Soma Bay is famous for its water sports, especially kitesurfing and windsurfing due to the ideal wind conditions.
Soma Bay (the official development on the peninsula) is home to only 5 beach resorts, so it’s a good place to go if you want insanely beautiful beaches but still want to avoid the crowds found in other popular Red Sea Riviera destinations (Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh, etc). It has its own dive center as well as jetty to snorkel right on the reef.
Best way to get there: fly into Hurghada and drive to Soma Bay (an hour south).
Ideal if you want: great snorkeling and diving in a casual beach town
This little bohemian town is smaller, quieter and less commercial than its Red Sea Riviera neighbor Sharm el Sheikh, but the diving is just as good. Home to world-renowned dive sites like the Blue Hole, Dahab pulls in its own fair share of tourists, but those who want to experience a more laid-back vacation.
The main area of town is its seaside promenade, full of local and quirkily-named restaurants and shops. There are also hostels and budget hotels galore. You can also hike to and camp in nearby Ras Abu Galoum and Blue Lagoon. Similar to Sharm, Dahab is also a popular base for treks into the Sinai Mountains and St. Catherine’s Monastery.
Best way to get there: fly to Sharm el Sheikh and drive there, about an hour away
Ideal if you want: a quiet beach holiday that involves diving
Marsa Alam might not be as well known or frequently visited as Hurghada but if you’re looking for a beach holiday that involves diving, this is a great place for it. This coastal town is more off the beaten track for both Egyptians and foreigners alike, so it’s an excellent place if you want to relax and focus on diving and other sea activities. Accommodation is across the board, from 5 star hotels to sparse beach camps. There’s very little in terms of restaurants and nightlife, so if you’re someone who likes to be on the beach early and call it a night early too, this might be for you.
Read more: 10 Best Things to Do in Marsa Alam
Marsa Alam’s famous dive sites like Elphinstone and Daedalus are must-sees for more advanced divers -- you can see anything from hammerhead sharks to manta rays and even whale sharks in these open sea sites. They’re accessible by boat day trips from Marsa Alam.
Closer to the shore, if you’re lucky, you can also see Egypt’s rare dugongs, a cousin of the manatee, who live in the warm shallow waters of Marsa Alam.
Best way to get there: fly into Marsa Alam Airport
Sharm el Sheikh
Ideal if you want: a resort beach holiday or a diving trip
Sharm el Sheikh has been an international beach destination darling for decades, with dozens of direct flights between Europe and the Sharm Airport daily. Besides its all-inclusive resorts, it's also world-famous for scuba diving. According to Dive Magazine, “Sharm El Sheikh has been, for many years, the favourite Egyptian destination for scuba divers, and has probably contributed more to the European dive business than any other resort in the world.”
Read more: 12 Best Things to Do in Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm used to also be a popular nightlife and dining destination, but its heyday was pre-2015. Now its appeal is in its all-inclusive resorts, plus it’s a good base for trips to the Sinai Mountains, St. Catherine’s Monastery and Ras Mohammed National Park.
Best way to get there: fly to Sharm el Sheikh Airport