The best things to do in Hurghada, Egypt – from exploring coral reefs to venturing into the desert

On Egypt‘s popular Red Sea Coast – famed for long stretches of beautiful shoreline and vibrant corals – the City of Hurghada has grown from a quiet fishing village into the capital of a region beloved by tourists. While often visitors will ensconce themselves into the comfort of the many Resorts, venturing outside reveals plenty of activities to pack a holiday with.
Visitors can immerse themselves in ‘old Hurghada’ in the souks and restaurants of the old town, or opt for something more modern with a stint of people watching around the swish marina. It’s from the latter that you can head out onto the water – there are a string of boat operators who will take you out for the day, including trips to the wonderful Giftun Islands – as well as book diving trips (there are a couple of impressive ship wrecks to explore).

Hurghada also makes a convenient base should you wish to get out and discover more of Egypt. Bedouin villages and rolling dunes await in the desert, or make a journey back in time to see some of the country’s most fascinating historical sites with a day trip to Luxor.

Here’s how to ensure your Hurghada holiday on the Red Sea is a memorable one.

Explore the old town

Hurghada’s old town, known as El Dahar, used to be the centre of the city during its past as a fishing village. Nowadays, it is the most ‘authentically Egyptian’ part of Hurghada, with souks, local restaurants and plenty of cheaper hotel options. This is away from the beaten tourist path, but it’s a bustling part of the city, the highlights of which are the El Mina Mosque and the Church of St. Shenouda.

Visit the marina

The city’s pedestrianised marina is one of the most pleasant places to go for a relaxed stroll, evening meal or some drinks (and it’s also the hub of Hurghada’s nightlife). Plenty of hotels, restaurants and bars line the promenade, many housed in pastel pink and ochre buildings, with Hurghada Marina Boulevard acting as the focal point for events.
Hit the beach
Hurghada is mostly known as a coastal resort destination, so it makes sense to spend plenty of time on its beaches. The city is home to miles of golden coastline and warm, turquoise waters, including those of El Dahar, Makadi Bay, Old Vic and Merritt Beach, as well as dozens of private hotel beaches. Down the coast, the resort of Soma Bay is a  haven for water sports enthusiasts.

Go diving or snorkelling

Water sports and snorkelling are accessible on many of Hurghada’s beaches, but you might want to go one step further and take an excursion to one of the city’s excellent diving and snorkelling sites. The Red Sea’s various wrecks and coral reefs – replete with tropical fish – make for great diving spots, particularly around El Gouna, Sahl Hasheesh and Makadi Bay.

Venture out into the desert



The desert around Hurghada is known as the Eastern Desert, and is home to miles of rolling dunes, rocky outcrops and even Bedouin villages. Visitors can go on dune buggy tours, jeep safaris and camel rides, finishing up with a visit to a traditional village – or why not stay the night and experience eating and camping under the stars?

Sail out to the Giftun Islands

If you’d like to combine excellent dive sites with even more beaches – this time with white sands – take a day trip to the Giftun Islands. They are surrounded by a coral reef conservation area, so are ideal for snorkelling, and you may even spot dolphins at Dolphin House Island. There’s plenty of pristine shoreline along the islands, as well as tourist infrastructure in places like Orange Bay.

Take a day trip to ancient Egypt

It would be a shame to come to Egypt and not visit some of the planet’s oldest and most fascinating historical sites. Luxor is around four hours away from Hurghada by car, and it’s certainly worth the journey. You’ll see sites such as the Valley of the Kings – where Tutankhamun is buried – the temples of Hatshepsut and Karnak, and the Colossi of Memnon. Your hotel will likely be able to arrange transport and guides.