Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera: Where To Stay
Updated: Jan 22
Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera is immensely popular with both tourists and locals alike for several reasons: a) its year-round warm weather, b) its white sand beaches, c) its awesome diving and d) the fact that it’s away from all the hustle and bustle of city life (especially if you live in Cairo, the difference is night and day).
Most tourists usually book an all-inclusive trip to Hurghada or Sharm el Sheikh through a tour agency, and while that obviously is a guaranteed great time, it’d be a shame to think that’s the extent of what the Red Sea Riviera has to offer.
What exactly is Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera?
First of all, let’s explain what exactly we’re talking about when we say ‘Red Sea Riviera’; Egypt’s riviera is divided between mainland Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, and includes the Red Sea’s two gulfs, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba.
All of the towns/cities/resorts/parks you can stay at on the Riviera have one major thing in common: their awesome beaches and weather. Everything else (type of accommodation, activities, amenities, etc.) differ from place to place.
The main places to stay on the Sinai Red Sea Riviera are: Ras Sudr, Ras Mohammed National Park, Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba, Ras Shetan and Taba.
The main places to stay on Egypt’s mainland Red Sea Riviera are: Ain El Sokhna, El Gouna, Hurghada, Sahl Hasheesh, Makadi Bay, Soma Bay, Safaga, Marsa Alam and the Deep South.
Ok, great. But again, where should you stay? We’re going to break down the main things you should know about each Red Sea destination, so you can choose what actually suits *you* and not just some tour agency.
Sinai Red Sea Riviera:
Ras Sudr (pronounced Ras Sedr) is the first Red Sea Riviera destination you’ll hit when you cross over from mainland Egypt to the Sinai Peninsula. It’s a small stretch of coast on the Gulf of Suez inlet of the Red Sea, and only recently began to rise in popularity due to its ideal kitesurfing conditions.
It’s still pretty underdeveloped, but you’ll find a handful of beach hotels to stay at. Most people spend their days at the various kite centers which also double up as restaurants/beach bars.
Go if you want: to kitesurf or to enjoy a Sinai beach without having to drive too far from Cairo
Best way to get there: it’s about a 3 hour drive from Cairo
Ras Mohammed is an Egyptian national park at the southernmost tip of Sinai, where the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba meets the Gulf of Suez and the mixing of water leads to brightly-colored, healthy coral reefs. Because of that, Ras Mohammed is known for its awesome diving (more details at: 7 Best Diving Destinations in Egypt’s Red Sea for Divers of All Levels), so lots of people go for day trips to dive or snorkel in the national park before it closes at sunset.
There’s also a designated area of the park (Marsa Bareika) which allows overnight camping on the beach (read more at: Camping in Egypt: 7 Beautiful and Remote Places To Camp).
Go if you want: to dive/snorkel or camp on a beach.
Best way to get there: fly to Sharm el Sheikh and drive (about 45 minutes), or drive from Cairo (about 6 hours).
Sharm El Sheikh
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.
Go if you want: a resort beach holiday, or a diving trip
Best way to get there: fly to Sharm el Sheikh Airport
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.
Go if you want: great diving in a casual beach town
Best way to get there: fly to Sharm el Sheikh and drive there, about an hour away
Nestled between mountains and the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba is a strip of coastline called Ras Shetan, between the towns of Nuweiba and Taba on the Sinai peninsula.
Both Nuweiba (a little beach town) and Ras Shetan are known for their get-away-from-it-all beach camps, usually run by local Bedouins. The camps are a mix of beach huts or bare-bone bungalows, and you’re more than welcome to set up your own tents right on the beach. At night, there’s usually a large campfire where the Bedouins and guests from all over the world talk, play instruments and sing.
Nuweiba and Ras Shetan are also a good place to stay if you want to explore the Colored Canyon and Wadi Wishwashi in the nearby Nuweiba mountains.
Go if you want: to camp on a beach and disconnect
Best way to get there: fly to Sharm El Sheikh and drive (2 hours), or drive from Cairo (6-8 hour drive).
The northernmost resort town on the Red Sea Riviera, Taba is known for its serene resorts and its border crossing with Eilat, Israel, where tourists can pass from one country to the other without having to fly.
Taba’s Red Sea coast is very similar to Nuweiba and Ras Shetan’s, but where the latter is known for its sparse beach camps, Taba is known for its 5 star amenities like golf courses and spas (so basically if you enjoy camping and roughing it, stick to Nuweiba and Ras Shetan, and if luxury is more up your alley, then Taba is for you).
Taba also offers diving, especially near Pharaoh’s Island, home to the Salah El Din citadel.
Go if you want: luxury on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba coast
Best way to get there: fly to Sharm El Sheikh and drive (2.5 hours), or drive from Cairo (6-8 hour drive).
Mainland Red Sea Riviera
And we’re back to the mainland, folks. These Riviera destinations form a neat line down the almost straight coast of Eastern Egypt.