The Top 7 Things to do in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Explore the underwater paradise and breath-taking desert landscapes

Its highly agreeable climate and affordable dive scene make Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt, a perennially popular tourist destination. The Egyptian resort town lies on the coast, near the vast Sinai desert and fringed by the Red Sea – known for its crystal-clear waters and incredible coral reefs.

  1. Learn to Scuba Dive
  2. Explore a Wreck
  3. Snorkel in the Shallows
  4. Relax at the Beach
  5. Walk the Nabq Protectorate Nature Reserve
  6. Explore Ras Mohammed National Park
  7. Be stunned by the Beauty of the Sinai Desert

There’s something here for everyone, from under-water adventures to pure beach days, incredible hikes and epic desert excursions. Here are our top things to do in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for solo travellers, families and, of course, scuba enthusiasts.

1. Learn to Scuba Dive

Probably the most popular thing to do in Sharm el Sheikh is dive in the Red Sea. There are excursions and sites for every ability, from total beginners to experienced and qualified divers. One of the most easily accessible sites in Sharm el Sheikh is the Garden Reefs, comprising Near Garden, Middle Garden and Far Garden. They’re the perfect introduction into the kaleidoscope world of the Red Sea. You should also check out local sites Ras Nasrani and Temple. Two of the most popular dive sites in the Ras Mohammed Marine Park area are Jolanda or Yolanda Reef and Shark Reef, home to rainbow walls of coral, scorpionfish, crocodile fish, turtles, moray eels and barracuda. The Jackson Reef in the Straits of Tiran is known for being one of the top spots for more-qualified divers, with sightings of hammerhead sharks and manta rays. Less than 100 kilometres from Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab is a divers’ paradise. One of the big attractions is the Blue Hole – a natural sinkhole in the Gulf of Aqaba going down about 120 metres with a vertical reef wall. Although the dive into the hole itself is immensely technical, even beginners can enjoy the accessible coral reef walls at the top and the nearby canyon.

Best for: Adventurous travellers, keen divers

Top tip: There are dozens of PADI dive shops, book ahead on their website

2. Explore a Wreck

While coral reefs are a pure delight, some divers like to try something a little different and more mysterious – wreck diving. Sharm el Sheikh has access to several bucket-list-worthy wrecks. The Thistlegorm wreck is a legend in its own right, and the very reason some divers make their pilgrimage to Egypt. Inside the 1940s former freight carrier, you can see everything from boots and rifles to armoured trucks and motorbikes. For intermediate to advanced divers, this frequently-dived site shouldn’t be missed. Other wrecks nearby include the Jolanda reef, where you can see an old Cypriot freighter ship that sunk with its cargo of porcelain, and the 80-metre-long SS Dunraven steamship, which has been shorn in two and is frequented by large shoals of colourful reef fish.

Best for: Experienced divers, thrill seekers

Wreck diving course cost: ~£118 from PADI dive shops

3. Snorkel in the Shallows

For those who don’t love the idea of a full dive, or perhaps are travelling with children, snorkelling is an accessible way to peek into the underwater paradise of the Red Sea with next-to-no equipment and no training. Even just donning a pair of goggles at most local beaches will open your eyes to the colour and life below the surface. A great first spot to try is right at the southern end of town, off El Fanar street, at Ras Um El-Sid or El Fanar beach. Here, an excellent coral reef with a variety of colourful fish lies just offshore, easy to access for non-divers with a snorkel. Shark’s Bay and Naama Bay also both offer easy, from-the-shore snorkelling opportunities. Near Garden, at the Garden Reef sites, is home to amazing coral pinnacles dancing with clownfish and butterfly fish.

Best for: Families and couples

Best-rated beaches with kids: El Fanar, Ras Um El-Sid, Shark’s Bay

4. Relax at the Beach

Despite all the talk of being in the water, a relaxing day on the shore is another one of the best things to do in Sharm el Sheikh. The beaches here are phenomenal, the sunshine is unrivalled, and beach-front hotels especially, offer all the amenities you could wish for, along with a pristine shoreline and sea. Naama Bay is the heart of the coastal resort, with its crystal-clear and shallow water, sandy shore and non-motorised water-sports. Golden sands and a shallow sea are sheltered by tall, honey-coloured cliffs at Ras Um Sid beach. You can also end your exceptionally relaxing beach day on the rambling terraces of cliff-top Farsha Café, soaking up the panoramic views of the sunset and moon-rise over the Gulf of Aqaba. While you’re at the beach here, you’ll find myriad different water-sports to keep you occupied, if you can drag yourself from your sun lounger.

Best for: Those looking to relax

Top tip: Terrazzina beach is highly rated for family days, water sports and food

5. Walk the Nabq Protectorate Nature Reserve

Just 20 kilometres north of Naama Bay is the Nabq Protectorate nature reserve, a coastal desert landscape with one of the world's most northerly mangrove forests. On a tour here – either on foot, by bike or car – you’ll see swathes of lonely beach backed by windswept, leaning palms, a dense mangrove forest and a backdrop of vast, rocky mountains. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot birds of prey, gazelle, rock hyraxes and Nubian ibexes. With a wildlife safari you’ll be able to appreciate, and hopefully spot, the wealth of birdlife that call the mangroves home.

Best for: Wildlife and walking enthusiasts

Best time to visit: March–May, October

6. Explore Ras Mohammed National Park

Stretching seemingly endlessly, the iconic mountainous backdrop of Ras Mohammed National Park is a familiar one – it’s one of the scenes that put Egypt on the tourist map. This peninsula is encircled with fabulous beaches and richly biodiverse diving sites, as well as aquamarine inland lakes and verdant mangroves. On dry land, enjoy the picturesque desert sculptures and the incredible views from the atmospheric cliffs. The Shark Observatory is one of the best views over the Gulf. While you likely won’t spot a shark from up on the cliff, it gives you a view over Shark Reef and beyond.

Best for: Walking combined with off-the-beaten-track beaches

Entrance fee: ~ €7 per person

7. Be stunned by the Beauty of the Sinai Desert

A desert is such a unique environment, that if you find yourself near one – as you are in Sharm El Sheikh – you simply have to explore it. You can book safaris into the Sinai Desert on quad bikes or a traditional camel ride. Or you can cruise the dunes in the immensely fun dune buggies. You could also take a 4x4 tour or book for an evening and night-time excursion. On one of these after-dark trips, you’ll witness the stars in clarity you’ve likely never seen before. Other fabulous tours in the desert include sunrise hikes to Jabal Mousa or Jebel Musa – widely known as Mount Sinai. It’s compulsory to take a guide but the route isn’t too challenging and could take between 1.5 and 3 hours; the reward at the top is an indescribable mountain-scape that looks thoroughly otherworldly, especially in the early morning light. If you can, book a tour that also takes in the coloured canyon, a Star-Wars-like landscape that’s one of the best things to do from Sharm El Sheikh. In this Martian-esque canyon, you can scramble and walk amongst wind-smoothed channels which almost glow pink and red. It’s equal parts photogenic and fascinating.

Best for: Adventurous groups, solo travellers, keen walkers

Tours: Range from £50 to ~ £170 depending on package

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