Previously a sleepy, unassuming fishing village located on the western shores of the Red Sea, today Hurghada is unrecognisable from its humble beginnings. Nowadays you’ll find a bustling, boisterous city sprawling for 24 miles along the coast, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Egypt. Think bars, nightclubs, hotels of every size and shape, restaurants, cafes… everything a large, modern tourist hub needs. A kernel of the old village can be seen in the small town centre, with its bazaars, mosques and markets, where a vestige of Egyptian local life remains.
Hurghada is a great place to look for a budget holiday, as accommodation here tends to be more cheap and cheerful than high end luxury. For a more upmarket, 5-star experience, try the resort of Soma Bay 27 miles south.
The resort is something of a mecca for watersports, with windsurfing, kitesurfing, deep-sea fishing, sailing all popular pursuits. That’s not to forget the scuba diving, which is rated as some of the best in the world. Combine this with quad biking in the Sahara, Bedouin feasts under the stars, boat trips to the secluded Big and Little Gifton islands, camel safaris and a frenetic nightlife scene, and you’ve got quite a holiday!
The best time to visit Hurghada is arguably between October-April, when temperatures are a comfortable 20-30C and there’s plenty of sunshine. Over this period, Christmas and New Year, April and November are the busiest and most expensive. The summer months of May-September are far hotter, and not really ideal for excursions into the desert or strenuous activities such as cycling. Summer has the benefit of cheaper holiday prices however.
Scuba divers will find the summer months the best time to visit, with warmer and clearer sea waters and more fish around.
There are a number of events held in Hurghada throughout the year. February sees the Hurghada International Fishing Festival, with anglers from all over the world competing in fishing events. This month also sees the Hurghada International Festival – a 12 day festival of sporting competitions, from triathlons to marathons. March sees the Egypt Yoga Festival.
While Hurghada has a typically Egyptian hot, dry climate, it’s actually much cooler in the summer than resorts such as Luxor or Aswan, making it a popular destination for Egyptians looking to escape the heat of their home cities in July and August. There are two distinct seasons here – winter and summer – both of which see lots of sunshine and warm days. Winter is between October-April and sees average temperatures of between 21-30C, with 9-10 hours of sunshine a day. Summer is between May-September, with temperatures ranging between 33-34C and highs well above 40C.
Hurghada holidays between October-April will be cheaper when booked as early as possible. The best priced rooms in the most popular hotels tend to sell out fast, so it’s advisable to get in there quickly. Having said this, there is much more budget accommodation in Hurghada than resorts such as Soma Bay, so generally speaking rates here will be lower.
The summer months see some great deals and offers available, particularly if you book at the last minute around April- May. Avoid the UK school holidays periods of Easter and half term. All-inclusive holidays to Hurghada can also be a good idea to keep your eye on holiday spending, with all meals and drinks paid upfront as part of the price.
Visitors to Hurghada will benefit from having an international airport right on their doorstep, making transfer times into town minimal. The Hurghada International Airport (HRG) is a clean, modern and compact hub which is well served by a number of UK airports, including all the main London ones, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, as well as smaller hubs such as Exeter and Leeds Bradford.
Flight time to the airport from the UK takes between 5-6 hours, depending on your departure airport, and the time difference is GMT+2 (+3 between April and September).
The airport has two terminals, one of which has only recently been completed. Both are well served by cafes, restaurants and duty free shops, as well as car hire businesses and telephones. Disabled facilities are limited here; however wheelchairs can be arranged from the airline counters. You should inform your airline if you require any special assistance before you fly.
The majority of Hurghada hotels will offer a transfer from the airport as part of your holiday package, however getting to the town from the airport under your own steam is no hassle. Taxis wait outside the Arrivals hall. They operate on a fixed price basis, with a taxi into Hurghada town centre coasting around 25LE. You should be sure to agree on a price before you get in the car, and agree on a currency to pay in. Be aware that airport taxis drivers have been known to rip off unsuspecting arriving tourists, so be prepared to haggle. The journey into town only takes around 25 minutes.
A cheaper option is to catch a public bus from outside the airport. Buses take around the same time as a taxi and will take you to downtown Hurghada (El Dahar). The fare will be around 5LE – make sure you have the correct change or thereabouts, as the driver is unlikely to be able to give change for large notes.
Alternatively, you can arrange car hire from the airport through reputable companies such as Europcar. You can hire a vehicle from around £225 for a week, depending on the make and model of car.
The beaches in Hurghada are essentially privately owned hotel stretches of golden sand. Guests are intended to use the stretch of beach directly outside their hotel. You will not find large public bays such as Naama Bay and Shark’s Bay in Sharm el Sheikh here, however many hotels will allow you to use their beach for a small fee of around 25LE per day. Once on the sands, you’ll find sun loungers, parasols, and a variety of water sports put on by the hotel. Popular beach include the Old Vic and Dream Beach. Please be aware, topless sunbathing is illegal in Egypt.
For winter or summer sun, Hurghada is perfect for lazy sunbathing or active water sports - the long sandy beach stretching along the coast is the main attraction of any getaway here, and offers all the basics needed for Red Sea beach holidays.
With its crystal-clear waters and abundant coral reefs, conditions are ideal for scuba-diving in Hurghada, with the resort known as one of the most popular destinations in the Red Sea to dive. Explore the fascinating underwater world, with access to a huge amounts of sites, thanks to the wealth of dive centres and schools offering tuition for all levels. So it doesn’t matter if you’ve never dived before or an expert you’ll have a fantastic time exploring the area and varied marine life.
For non-divers, there's always snorkelling, as well as windsurfing, water skiing and parasailing, with active guests making the most of the clear seas, fresh winds and glorious sunshine here.
Families can experience the beauty of the Red Sea in a relaxing glass-bottomed boat ride. These are frequently available, and great for families especially, being a fantastic way to explore the rich underwater world from the comfort of your seat.
There are numerous uninhabited off-shore islands along the coast, such as Giftun Island, providing a tranquil base for a day out on the beach. Take a break from the main resort, with an island excursion spent snorkelling, fishing and enjoying a beach barbeque.
Hurghada is also renowned for its nightlife scene; in particular, the famous beach parties that attract huge crowds. Home to many different beach bars and clubs, which host plenty of visiting DJ's from all over the world, there's a great choice for party-goers looking to dance the night away, and a vibrant atmosphere throughout the resort.
A trip to the local souk is a must when visiting this resort, with the chance to browse the town for souvenirs and gifts and try out your bargaining skills. There's everything available in Hurghada, from traditional goods, such as spices, jewellery and rugs, to clothes and diving equipment.