Egypt’s Red Sea Coast have become the country’s most popular tourism destinations. Sharm el-Sheikh, located on the Sinai Peninsula, Hurghada, located on Egypt’s mainland, and Marsa Alam, located on the southern tip of Egypt, all offer spectacular beaches, luxury resorts and several different water sports to fill the each day with something new. So what’s the difference between Sharm el-Sheikh vs Hurghada vs Marsa Alam?
For a quick side by side comparison – See Which is better: Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada or Marsa Alam – Here
|No Visa is needed, unless visiting other regions of Egypt||Further away from Cairo & Luxor|
|Has hotels away from the beach which offers lower price options||More expensive than other Red Sea Resort areas|
|Top hotels, restaurants and shopping center||Too commercialized and overly tourist-orientated|
|Good nightlife & casinos||Lack of local Egyptians, mostly tourists|
|Better snorkeling from hotel’s beaches||Beach shoes needed – beaches are coral and hurt the feet|
Quick notes on Sharm el-Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh is a bit removed from Egypt’s mainland, making it less convenient to travel to and from, but it is the most developed and visited of the three Red Sea Resort towns. Known for its majestic 5 star hotels, lively nightlife and internationally recognized restaurants, Sharm el-Sheikh is buzzing with excitement. Plenty of fun and sun for any type of traveler who enjoy the more modern, tourist-orientated comforts a resort town can bring.
Quick Pros: Best Restaurants and Night Life
Quick Cons: Tourist, Pricey and not close to Luxor, Cairo and Aswan
|Easily accessible by road to the rest of Egypt – 3hrs to Luxor, 5hrs to Cairo|
|Harghada is less tourist driven and more authentic Egyptian feel||Less developed outside of resort areas – surrounded by barren desert|
|Beautiful sandy beaches instead of coral beaches||Lackluster nightlife|
Quick notes on Hurghada
Hurghada, itself, doesn’t have much to get excited about – half-finished construction sites, a lackluster nightlife and dying coral reefs – who wants to go there? Luckily, north and south of Hurghada, what I call the Hurghada Riviera, has soo much more. From El Gouna in the north to Soma Bay in the south, Hurghada rivieria includes newly developed satellite resort areas that offer tranquil beaches merged with traditional Egyptian settings.
Unlike Sharm, Hurghada continues to be a working class town with a local Egyptian population. Traditional bazaars, shisha cafes and beautiful local agriculture is rooted in this seaside town. Nightlife maybe lacking, but beautiful beaches, luxury villas and some off shore/island diving makes up for this desert destination.
Hurghada is easily reachable from Cairo and Luxor by train, bus and/or car. This give Hurghada a great advantage over Sharm el-Sheikh and Marsa Alam. The close proximity makes Hurghada Riviera a top destinations for a rejuvenating break in-between sightseeing.
Quick Pros: Easily reachable from Cairo and Luxor
Quick Cons: Dying Coral Reefs makes for not so good snorkeling and diving
|Live and healthy, virgin reefs for snorkelers and divers||Secluded and remote|
|Likely to see and swim with marine life||More expensive than other Red Sea Resort areas|
|Milder winter temperatures||Limited transportation to Luxor and Cairo|
Marsa Alam, a sleepy fishing village located in south-eastern Egypt; on the shores of the Red Sea. Remote and secluded, in-the-know divers have long kept Marsa Alam a hidden diver’s paradise. Sleeping bags, beach camps and diving safaris is now being overtaken by all-inclusive resorts and increasing tourism.
Half-started construction sites fill the coastline with vast stretches of barren desert. You will not find upscale restaurants, shopping plazas or much entertainment in this region. The lack of transportation modes makes this region difficult to explore without guides as well as very difficult to get to and from Luxor or Cairo. You can find comfort and relaxation in the resorts that have managed to open there doors, but Marsa Alam’s virgin reefs will continue to be diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise.
After spending a week in Marsa Alam, I will probably not return there unless they vastly improve there transportation options to and from Luxor and. People were extremely friendly, resorts fair and diving fun, but… Marsa Alam is in the middle of no where with very little attractions and things to do outside of the hotels. The nice dives did not make up for the pain and time it took to transfer to and from Marsa Alam and Luxor or Aswan. If you’re looking to simply unwind in a resort, Hurghada offers more for less with easier transportation options.
Quick Pros: Healthy and colorful coral reefs for snorkeling and diving
Quick Cons: Pricey and Lack of transportation within Marsa Alam as well as to/from Luxor and Cairo