Hurghada was once a fairly small and unimposing fishing village, next to the Red Sea, Egypt. It has a number of superb beaches. Today, the resort of Hurghada is almost unrecognizable from its past life and has become a major destination in Egypt for budget tourists especially from Europe and Russia.
It has more than 100 hotels, many of which line the shoreline, and numerous flights from and to smaller but cheap airports across Europe. Famous for its superb diving opportunities, Hurghada is especially appealing to those with little experience of scuba diving, who come to marvel at the underwater reefs and awesome marine life. Tourism is now a huge part of Hurghada and each year, many tourists choose to combine their holiday here with visits to other prominent locations along the Nile Valley, including the relatively nearby city of Luxor.
Overview : The city was founded in the early 20th century, and until a few years ago it was a small fishing village. But since the 1980s, it has been continually enlarged by Egyptian and foreign investors to become the leading coastal resort on the Red Sea. Holiday villages and hotels provide aquatic sport facilities for windsurfers, kitesurfers, yachtsmen, scuba divers and snorkelers. Hurghada is known for its watersports activities, nightlife and warm weather. Daily temperature hovers round 30 °C (86 °F) most of the year, during July and August temperatures reach over 40 °C (104 °F). Many Europeans have chosen Hurghada for their regular Holidays, specially during the Winter season and spend their Christmas and New Year holidays in the city.
Hurghada stretches for about 36 kilometres (22 mi) along the seashore, and it does not reach far into the surrounding desert. The resort is a destination for Egyptian tourists from Cairo, the Delta and Upper Egypt, as well as package holiday tourists from Europe. Today Hurghada counts 248,000 inhabitants and is divided into:
El Ahia and El Helal, the northern part , El Dahar (Downtown) is the old part , Sekalla is the city center , El Kawsar is the modern part , El Memsha (Village road) is pedestrian road stretching over 4 km. Along the El Mamsha you find many of Hurghada’s new hotels. Dahar is where the town’s traditional bazaar, the post office and the long-distance bus stations, Go Bus and Upper Egypt Bus are situated.
History : The village, which later evolved into what is now the city of Hurghada, was settled in 1905. It acquired its name from a plant which has grown naturally since ancient times. By then it was only a fishing village. Oil was discovered in the area in 1913, but actual production and export only began in 1921 under British oil magnates. During the reign of King Farouk a recreational center was built in the city, but after President Nasser’s nationalization of Egypt’s industries it was turned over to the armed forces. During the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, Shadwan island east of the city in the Red Sea, was fortified and held by Egyptian troops and used as a radar post. On 22 January 1970, it was the site of Operation Rhodes, a heliborne assault by Israeli troops which occupied the island for 36 hours.
Tourism : Although a town in its own right Hurgada’s current major industry is foreign and domestic tourism, owing to its dramatic landscape, year-round dry and temperate climate and long stretches of natural beaches. Its waters are clear and calm for most of the year and have become popular for various watersports, particularly recreational scuba diving and snorkelling. Dive sites around Abu Ramada Island, Fanadir, Giftun Kebir, and Giftun Soraya are popular. Tourists also visit shipwrecks such as the El Mina or the Rosalie Moller. The beach at Hurghada is not secluded, out to Sigala the beach is then followed by coastal holiday villages and then desert.
Access: Coordinates: 27.257778, 33.811667 : By plane : Hurghada has frequent direct international flights from Europe including Russia and Istanbul, the Gulf states, and the Far East, e.g. Bangkok. Most of these travellers are on package tours of Egypt – but not all, as the operators also sell flight-only tickets, a cheap and convenient way to get in. Domestic flights link Hurghada frequently to Cairo, and daily to Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, and Sharm el-Sheikh. These are a good way to travel as Hurghada is backed by an awful lot of desert, and road transport to other cities is lengthy, hot, dusty, bumpy and not entirely safe. The main domestic operator is Egyptair, but Nile Air and Al Masria compete on the Cairo route and keep fares low. The package operators (e.g. TUI) also fly domestic legs, but these are to move their own clients around Egypt and are not available to book point-to-point.
1 Hurghada International Airport (HRG IATA). Egyptair flights use Terminal 2, everyone else uses Terminal 1. It’s a decent airport until things go wrong – Egypt enjoys good flying weather, so the usual problem will be bad weather across Europe and long-delayed turnaround flights. The check-in hall will then become a surly scrummage of outbound passengers sitting on their luggage and the toilets overflowing. Hurghada International Airport on Wikipedia Hurghada International Airport
Package tourist arrivals will have their own bus awaiting, everyone else will need a taxi. The airport is about 8 km west of the resort strip and 10 km from downtown Sigala, but fares are high for this short distance. You could easily be paying LE200 – yes, €10 or US$! The regular far towards the airport is only LE50. However, taxi drivers say they pay a high fee to enter and wait within the airport: naturally they seek to recover this from both the inbound and the outbound traveller. Otherwise, just head to the highway, about 500 m out of the terminal, and catch a taxi there.
By bus : Cairo – The trip usually takes approximately 7 hr depending on the operator. Known operators include the Super Jet (ph. 16108) and Go Bus (ph. 19567). There are a number of stations which include one behind Cairo railway station Ahmed Helmy. There are many price options starting from LE50 and rising to LE150, every hour you can find bus to Hurghada (avoid MCV Co). In Medan El Giza in northwestern Cairo often extremely crowded, or Almaza Station in the Heliopolis district in northeastern Cairo. Bus schedules often change, but if you go to the bus station without booking you’ll find many options. (February 2012)
Alexandria – There are 2 buses from Alexandria to Hurghada. The first one, Upper Egypt Bus Co., leaves at 6:30PM from the new bus station, and costs LE90. It arrives at Hurghada about 4:30AM. It is not recommended because you’ll find all the city in deep sleep and seems like ghost city. The second bus, Super Jet Co., leaves the new bus station at 8:30PM and costs LE95. It arrives in the morning so you can find public transport and the taxis. (February 2012)
Luxor – About 4-5 hr by bus. Go Bus has two daily buses to/from Hurghada, LE90. Also, the Upper Egypt Bus Co. runs between Hurghada, Safagah, Luxor and Aswan. Aswan – There’s one transport company to the Red Sea, Upper Egypt Bus Co. The buses are new, the ticket costs LE50 (maybe you pay extra LE5 as a foreigner). There are 2 buses: 3:30PM and 5:30PM. The trip takes 8 hours or more, which means you’ll arrive in Hurghada after midnight. (February 2012)
2 Go Bus Station (about 1 km north of High Jet). Many destinations—check their website. (
3 High Jet Bus Station (to/from Cairo). It covers travel to/from Cairo (6-7 hr). Reserving tickets is barely necessary, considering the frequency of the buses. The buses are not that comfortable, and they have loud and annoying soap operas running in the bus during the whole journey. So, it is probably not a good idea to take a night bus. From Cairo: every 2 hr between 8AM-2:30AM. To Cairo: every 2 hr between 7AM-3AM. Mostly LE110 but sometimes LE150.
By taxi : Long-distance “servees” taxis run from Hurghada bus station in El Hegaz Street (which you can reach by bus 4 or 7, or by local taxi). These run to all major cities in Egypt, but consider them especially for the run to Luxor, where the time saved by flying is less compelling. With 2 or 3 of you, you could negotiate a private long-distance taxi; again, the journey to Luxor works well this way. And unlike a “servees”, the driver will pause at antiquities and photo opportunities on the way.
By boat : Ferry services between Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, on the Sinai peninsula, were suspended in 2010, and no resumption is in sight. A fast-cat ferry runs between Safaga, 50 km south of Hurghada, to Diba (or Duba) in Saudi Arabia. As this route carries a lot of pilgrims and trucking, it’s not been hit by the tourist downtown. You’ll need to have sorted your Saudi visa well in advance.