El Gouna, Egypt: A Local’s Guide
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
While it’s true that Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera is home to some amazing coastal cities, towns and beaches, we have to confess: El Gouna is our personal favorite. Sharm El Sheikh and El Gouna’s neighbor Hurghada might be way more famous and popular with tourists (and for good reason), but El Gouna has a special place in our hearts (we are totally aware that other people will fight us to the death over which Red Sea Riviera destination is best, but at the end of the day, they’re all amazing so no point arguing over apples and oranges).
You might like: 9 World-Class Beaches in Egypt
Some quick facts about El Gouna
It’s a resort town spanning over 10 km of pristine Red Sea coast, with lagoons throughout
It’s 25 km from the city of Hurghada (for our full Hurghada guide, head here).
It’s a 4 hour flight from most European cities and around a 4 hour drive from Cairo
The architecture throughout is inspired by traditional Egyptian homes in the countryside and Upper Egypt
It was the first destination in the Middle East and Africa to receive the Global Green Award, which is given by the UN to cities making substantial efforts, progress and improvements in the field of environmental sustainability
Best Time To Go
El Gouna is technically a year-round destination, but it really depends on your personal preferences. Spring and fall are El Gouna’s ‘high season’ -- it’s when the weather is at its most ideal (beach weather without soaring temperatures), so that’s when you’ll find Gouna at its busiest.
Considering it’s a coastal resort town, summer is a great time to go too obviously, but only if you can handle daily temperatures in the mid-to-high thirties (Celsius) or the nineties (Fahrenheit) and super-strong sun.
The great thing about El Gouna is that it never gets crowded -- with the exception of public holidays and certain annual events like the Gouna Film Festival or the Sandbox music festival.
How To Get There
If you’re coming from abroad (or even planning to fly domestically), then just fly into Hurghada International Airport, which is about a half an hour car ride from Gouna. Once you land, it’s easy to either grab a taxi from outside the arrivals hall or call a car service to pick you up (like Budget or ABC Taxi, more info about both below). If you’re staying at a hotel, you can also easily arrange pre-arrival for your hotel to send a car to pick you up.
If you’re coming from Cairo, then you have one of three options: a) drive, b) take a bus, or c) fly. Driving from Cairo is now a super-smooth trip thanks to the new Galala Road which allows you to bypass the scary two-way twisty mountain roads of Ain el Sokhna. It takes about 3.5 hours from the Cairo toll station to the Hurghada toll station (which is right before El Gouna), and about 4 hours from central Cairo.
If you’re coming by bus, then GoBus offers over 15 buses daily between Cairo and El Gouna (they drop you off at their bus stop in Downtown El Gouna). They offer different types of buses according to what kind of ticket you buy (for example, the Elite Plus bus has individual LCD screens for each seat). You can find more info on: https://go-bus.com/en
As for flying, the trip from Cairo to Hurghada takes about 45 minutes.
Where To Stay
The two main areas in El Gouna are Abu Tig Marina and Downtown -- that’s where most of the restaurants, nightlife, shops and beach bars/pool clubs are. You’ll find a handful of hotels in both areas, but the bigger resorts have their own real estate and beachfront in El Gouna. The rest of the town is mainly residential, divided into different neighborhoods on lagoons.
Ok, cool. But still, where should you stay? This totally depends on personal preference. Here are your options:
A big resort hotel like Movenpick, Steigenberger, Sheraton or Ancient Sands (pros: they have lots of activities for both adults and kids, and have pools, beachfront and restaurants, meaning you don’t have to leave your resort unless you want to).
A hotel on Abu Tig Marina (pros: being in walking distance of the marina’s restaurants and nightlife. The hotels range from 3 star to 5 star, and the ones that don’t have a pool or beachfront are given access to Moods and Marina Beach on the marina).
A hotel in Downtown (pros: you’re close to the restaurants and cafes of Downtown, and yet are simultaneously on a lagoon).
An apartment/villa rental, either through a broker or Airbnb (pros: it’s your own place and some have private pools).
Each option has its advantages, but it depends on your personal circumstances. And we can say with confidence, that there’s no *bad* place to stay in Gouna.
To book a hotel, you can go to: www.hotels.elgouna.com
For a rental, we recommend Airbnb.
Getting Around/Transportation in El Gouna
The thing we love about Gouna is that there’s enough space to never feel crowded, but at the same time it’s contained so that things are never too far from anything else.
If you don’t have a car in Gouna, that won’t pose a problem whaoltsoever. You can either get around by tuktuk, a car service or shuttle bus (or bike if you’re the athletic type, good for you!).
Tuktuks take up to 3 people, and you can either order one by phone (you can ask your hotel reception to do this for you), or order one from your Uber or Careem app (yes, there’s Uber tuktuks!). They arrive at wherever you are in about 10 minutes or less. There are also tuktuk stands in Downtown and at the Marina where you can hop in the first available one.
If you’re more than three people or just prefer cars to tuktuks, then you can call Budget, Gouna’s limousine service. You can either request a car ASAP or book one for a later time.
Budget limo service: +20122 734 0166
Shuttle Bus (within El Gouna)
If you’re staying at one of El Gouna’s bigger hotels or in the West Golf neighborhood, there’s 5 different shuttle bus lines that ferry guests between the hotels and Downtown. Ask your hotel reception for timing and bus stop details.
Transportation to/from Hurghada
If you’re heading to/from Hurghada airport or anywhere else in Hurghada, there’s easy ways back and forth.
ABC Taxi is a personal favorite of ours. They’re metered taxis based in Hurghada but you can order them from El Gouna. You can request one right away or book one for later, and they’re cheaper than Budget car service for going between El Gouna and Hurghada. Their average time of arrival if you’re at Hurghada airport is 8 minutes and average time of arrival if you’re in El Gouna is 21 minutes.
ABC Taxi: +20100 222 8294 (when you call them, they cancel your call and call you immediately back so that they handle the charges)
You can also take the GoBus from Downtown Gouna to their stop in Hurghada (doesn’t go to the airport).
Things To Do
There’s tons of fun activities in both El Gouna and nearby Hurghada, and as is the recurrent theme here, it really depends on your preferences.
Beaches/pools where you can spend the day:
Makani Beach Club
Zeytouna Beach Island
DuPort Pool Club
Sliders the cable park
Island boat trip, eg. Giftun Islands (Mahmya/Orange Bay) or Tawila Island (more details at: 7 Tropical Islands You Won't Believe Are In Egypt)
Glass bottom boat
For more details, read 25 Fun Things To Do In Hurghada and El Gouna.
Where To Eat
El Gouna has a ton of great restaurants serving all different kinds of cuisines. One of our personal favorite things about this coastal town is that all the restaurants are small local affairs owned by Gouna residents of all nationalities -- you won’t find Mcdonald’s or Pizza Hut here (they do have a Nathan’s though for some reason).
You’ll find the majority of the restaurants in either Downtown or the Marina, with the exceptions being hotel restaurants.
Best places for breakfast:
Best places for lunch/dinner:
Chuchichäschtli - Swiss House
Restaurants with an open sea view:
Morgan’s Beach Bistro
For more details, read: 7 Best Restaurants in Hurghada and El Gouna
Ok, so you swam, tanned, ate… now time to party a little. The most popular night spots in Gouna are:
Bartender (open-air cocktail bar on the Marina with fun music)
Pier 88 on weekends after 10 pm
Aurora (the main club in Gouna)
Duport on Thursdays
Rush Sports Bar
In Downtown they also have shisha cafes that serve alcohol open until 3 am.
It’s just as straightforward as arriving. If you came by GoBus, then you board your return bus at the same stop in Downtown where they dropped you off.
If you came by plane and need to go to Hurghada Airport, either Budget limousine or ABC Taxis can take you.
Looking for more local guides? Check out: