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Hurghada, Egypt - sun, sea and desert safaris

Hurghada, Egypt - our very first trip abroad together. Peter and I met in 2003, and in February 2005 we travelled to Hurghada. We had been working hard renovating apartments and found cheap tickets to an all-inclusive hotel on the beach. So, what did we think of Egypt then?


To Hurghada in Egypt

Hurghada är en egyptisk turistort vid Röda havet, drygt 40 mil sydost om huvudstaden Kairo. Att vår första gemensamma utlandsresa gick just hit berodde mest på att vi sökte efter en veckas solsemester och hittade billiga biljetter. Att boka en vecka med All Inclusive var väldigt prisvärt, jämfört med många andra resmål.

Hurghada is a very popular tourist resort, which is of course partly due to the long, beautiful beaches and the almost constant sunshine. Another thing that attracts tourists to Hurghada is snorkelling and diving.

Life beneath the surface of the Red Sea is said to offer an amazing underwater world with crystal clear water and fish in every colour of the rainbow. We didn't dive or snorkel during our trip, but we did sunbathe on the beach!

Sunbathe on the hotel's beach. There are plenty of luxury yachts outside.

Inside the walls

In Hurghada there are a number of larger All Inclusive hotels along the beach. We did not stay at the largest or most luxurious of these, but our hotel was quite excellent with a well-kept garden, a nice beach and both a buffet restaurant and a small fish restaurant. Nothing to complain about, but still we felt a little uncomfortable with the "inside and outside the wall" feeling.

Grand Hotel i Hurghada
Grand Hotel in the evening - a luxurious hotel in Hurghada just next to our

Inside the wall, the flowerbeds were perfectly manicured, the atmosphere was holiday-like, you could have drinks and sunbathe in a bikini. As soon as you stepped outside the wall, it was like stepping into another world. It was dusty and noisy and you had to be experienced to know how to get past the energetic salesmen...

Well-kept garden inside the walls of the hotel in Hurghada where we stayed.

Outside the walls

Just outside the walls of our hotel was a long street full of small shops and stubborn vendors selling everything from souvenirs to perfume. One day we also went into the part of Hurghada that forms the central old town centre, El Dahar, or Downtown as it is also known.

Coming here was quite an experience! Here you'll find a bustling crowd and bustling markets, and the sounds of people and minarets mix with the smells of spices and food stalls. At the Hurghada Souk, which means market in Arabic, you can also browse clothes, jewellery, handicrafts and spices.

The souk offers everything from food to clothing and souvenirs.

There are also two newer neighbourhoods in the city, Sekalla and the main New Hurghada neighbourhood, where you can find duty-free shops, restaurants and bars. In Sekalla you will also find the new marina and a longer harbour promenade. When we came back to "our street" outside the hotel after a day in town, we were tired and happened to be lured into a perfume shop ...

Help, I've ended up with a very annoying salesperson and I don't know how to get out of here.

The shopkeeper offered us tea and asked us to write in a guest book that he took out. He pointed to some lines in Swedish and asked us to read. "Help, I've ended up with a very annoying salesman and I don't know how to get out of here," it said. But we didn't say that... Instead, we felt that we were tired of salesmen and that we wanted to see more of Egypt. We made our way back to the hotel and booked a week full of excursions!

Getter Egypten
Some goats have gone for a walk in a street in Egypt.

Desert safari by jeep

Booking excursions was the absolute best thing we could have done! We started with a jeep safari into the desert, or into the "desert", as our Danish-Egyptian guide said. The sand swirled in all directions as the jeeps accelerated out into the wilderness, and it felt a bit like being in an action film. Really cool actually!

After a relatively long trip into the desert, the jeeps slowed down, and now it became quieter. We got to ride a camel and meet Bedouins, and were offered food at a long table in the middle of the desert. Even though the visit to the Bedouin village seemed to be customised for tourists, we were satisfied with our experience in the desert.

Kamel Egypten
Nice style? Well, maybe it's good that the image is a bit blurry ...
Peter Egypten
Peter in the Egyptian "desert" 2005
Öken Egypten
A large desert camp where we stayed during our desert tour.

Excursion to Karnak and Luxor

A few days later, we made an excursion to the temple city of Karnak, once part of the ancient capital of Thebes. During the same trip, we visited the Luxor Temple, took a boat trip on the Nile River, saw the stalls of Memnon in Kom el-Hetan, visited the Valley of the Kings where Tutankhamun's tomb was found and saw the temple of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut.

We made the trip by bus, and it took two days so we had to stay overnight in a hotel in Luxor. It is really incredibly fascinating to visit the remains of a civilisation that existed so many thousands of years ago. Although we were not super happy with everything during the trip to Hurghada, this excursion made us feel satisfied with the whole trip. This was an amazing historical experience and you can read more in our post from the trip.

Fascinating to visit the temples of Karnak and Luxor!

Travelling to Hurghada

You can travel charter to Hurghada with many different companies, such as Ving, Apollo, TUI, Detur, Solresor and Airtours. You can fly both from Stockholm and from Gothenburg, and perhaps from additional locations. The flight time is just over five hours for direct flights, and will of course be longer if you book a trip with a stopover.

Climate and weather

Egypt has a desert climate, which means it is hot and dry during the day, but becomes cool in the evenings and nights. The sun shines most of the time and there are very few rainy days. In winter, during December to March, daytime temperatures are around 22-26 degrees centigrade.

At night the temperature can drop as low as 10 degrees, so if you plan to be out in the evening, don't forget to pack some warm clothes. In spring it can be around 28-30 degrees and in summer it is usually around 35 degrees. The water temperature is around 20 degrees in winter and 27-28 degrees in summer.

Helena Egypten
When the sun sets in the desert, it actually gets quite chilly ...

Prices and currency

Price levels are generally very low, but be aware that prices can start high and haggling is part of the process. Some imported products, such as imported beer and wine, can be relatively expensive. Taxis are cheap, but be aware that the price should be settled before travelling.

When it comes to shopping, you should also bear in mind that shops are closed on Friday mornings, the Muslim holiday, and that opening hours may also change during Ramadan. 

The currency is Egyptian pounds, but you may want to bring euros as well, as euros can sometimes be used in the hotels. Credit cards are usually accepted in hotels and in larger restaurants and shops.

Things to consider when travelling to Egypt

Many people travelling to Egypt get annoyed by the pushy and energetic salespeople, just like we did. We've also met women who have travelled alone to Egypt, and found it particularly difficult to get around as a single woman. You just have to realise that there are cultural differences here.

We certainly don't want to discourage you from travelling to Egypt. Egypt has a lot to offer in terms of historical remains, exotic deserts, beautiful beaches and fascinating marine life under the sea. Our tip is just to be prepared for the fact that it won't be like home, and that you should be prepared to say no. many times to many vendors.

A fruit at the market perhaps? There are plenty of them!

Have you been to Hurghada or elsewhere in Egypt, and what is your experience? Have you perhaps visited other tourist destinations such as Sahl Hasheesh, El Gouna or Sharm El Sheik?

All our top tips on Egypt. Click on the image!

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