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Sharm El Sheikh - Pros & Cons


Page update - Aug 30, 2023

What are pros and cons of Sharm El Sheikh resort city? Where is it located? What are the best resort areas there? What are the beaches and hotels? What are the features? Read the answers on this page, see a detailed map of Sharm El Sheikh.

This page will only talk about the resort city of Sharm El Sheikh. If tourists fly to other resorts in Sinai - Dahab, Nuweiba, Taba, they mistakenly attribute these resorts to Sharm El Sheikh. But these are separate resorts.

The latest news from Sharm El Sheikh

In 2022, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism installed new statues at airports in the country's tourist cities, including at the Sharm El Sheikh airport. This action of the Egyptian officials raised a lot of questions!

Now, statues of the ancient goddess Serket greets arriving tourists. And this is just the strangest thing. The goddess Serket was the patroness of curing from snake and scorpion poisons! In ancient times, she was often depicted as a scorpion with a woman's head. But fortunately, new statues in airports depict her as a woman.

Why Serket? What do poisons have to do with tourists? Is it a subtle hint of something? There are many questions, but Egyptian officials have not given any answers. So, we just admire the beautiful statue.

Where is located and a description in brief

The resort of Sharm El Sheikh occupies 35 kilometers (20 miles) of coastline on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Where it is located, see our map of resorts on the page "Map of resorts and airports in Egypt".

All these 35 kilometers (20 miles) are already occupied by hotels, resort properties, and the port. The free space on the first line in Sharm El Sheikh is almost gone. In some places, a second line of hotels have already lined up, and in some places there is the third line.

Sharm El Sheikh resort city is bounded by Ras Mohammed National Park in the south-west and Nabq National Park in the north-east. There is no more room for expansion of the city. Now Sharm El Sheikh is the second largest resort city in Egypt after Hurghada.

The city of Sharm El Sheikh is located in the south, in the area of Sharm el-Maya (El-Maya Bay). However, the residential areas of Naama Bay, Ras Nasrani, Nabq, Ras Um Sid (Al-Fanar) are also considered to be a part of the city. We can say that Sharm El Sheikh is a city consisting of inhabited islands.

Probably in 20-30 years the space between these areas (islands) will be built up with residential real estate, and then Sharm El Sheikh will become a single city with a length of 35 kilometers (20 miles). But this has not yet happened. The permanent population of the city is 73,000 people (according to the last census in 2015). But if you count together with hotel staff and temporary workers there, it is about 250,000.

Sharm El Sheikh is a classic Egyptian resort. Tourism and the construction of resort real estate are the only two developed sectors of the economy. You can pay almost everywhere in US dollars, UK pounds, and Euros, and there is no need to exchange to Egyptian pounds.

The resort of Sharm El Sheikh is conditionally divided into 8 major resort areas. See the map below, click on the map to enlarge to full screen. These zones are:

- Nabq Bay is a beach area about 8 kilometers (5 miles) long near the border with Nabq National Park.

- Ras Nasrani is a beach area about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) long around Cape Nasrani (aka Cape Christ).

- Sharks Bay is two bays side by side, the beach is about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) long. Despite the name, no shark attacks were there, you can not be afraid.

- Coral Bay (aka Tiger Bay) is a resort area and beach about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) long. It is considered an expensive area (by local standards).

- Gardens Bay is a small resort area with a beach about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) long. There are expensive hotels: Hyatt Regency, Intercontinental, Sharm Plaza, Reef Oasis.

- Naama Bay is a cozy bay with a beach 2.5 kilometers long (1.5 miles). This place is considered the best in Sharm El Sheikh.

- El Fanar (aka Um Sid, aka Hadaba) is the most densely populated area of Sharm El Sheikh. The coast is occupied by hotels, mostly inexpensive. The beach is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) long.

- Sharm el-Maya is an area around the Maya Bay, almost the historic center of the city. The total length of the beach is about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles).

We will talk in detail about these resort areas a little later.

Pros of Sharm El Sheikh

The main advantage is the own international airport.

It takes no more than 25 minutes (25 kilometers or 15.5 miles) to get to any hotel from the airport.

The airport building with the roof-tent is well recognizable. See photos nearby, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

The second advantage is the excellent choice of hotels.

More than 100 large hotels in all price ranges. We will talk more about hotels later on this page.

The third advantage is a good set of local attractions.

There are two big water parks in Sharm El Sheikh. You can go on some interesting excursions. There is a large market in the Old City. This is quite enough for 7 or 10 days of vacation. We will talk about the sights in detail at the end of this page.

Cons of Sharm El Sheikh

The main disadvantage is the city is very far from the main attractions of Egypt.

It is a long and expensive drive from Sharm El Sheikh to Cairo. And although recently (in late 2019) the new road was opened, it's still a long drive - 6-7 hours. To see the Great Pyramids and the Cairo Museum is possible, but difficult. Read more in our review "From Sharm El-Sheikh to Cairo and back". Getting to Luxor in a reasonable amount of time is unreal at all.

The second disadvantage is the poor infrastructure.

Sharm El Sheikh is suitable only for an All-Inclusive holiday. Restaurants and cafes outside hotels are few and far between. There is only one relatively large supermarket - a Carrefour at the intersection of Al Tawar and El Salam streets, next to Sunterra Resort hotel.

The third disadvantage is that you have to choose your hotel thoughtfully and wisely.

And the main reason is the beaches. You should definitely look at the photos, so as not to accidentally get into a hotel with a beach on the rocks. For example, as in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge. We will talk more about the beaches later on this page.

Also, look carefully at the location of the hotel. The hotel may well be a mile from the beach. It is a common occurrence in Sharm El Sheikh.

Which resort area is better?

There is no big difference!

All zones have a balanced set of hotels - there are expensive four and five star hotels on the first line, and inexpensive three and four star hotels behind them. All zones have All Inclusive hotels.

The first difference is in the distance to attractions, stores, and markets. But Egypt is the country with the cheapest taxis in the world! So this factor is obviously irrelevant.

Note: Taxis will be cheap if you ride a white-blue cab on the meter. To ride without problems and not to overpay, read our review "Taxis in Egypt".

The second difference is the beaches. And the beaches are worth talking about in detail.

What beaches in Sharm El Sheikh

Warning! There are corals on the bottom at most beaches in Sharm El Sheikh. Special water shoes are mandatory. Only the beaches of Naama Bay and Sharm el Maya have clean sand, and shoes are not required there.

There are two types of the coast type. The first is the shore with a gentle sand entrance to the water. There is usually sand on the bottom in the water, sometimes with pebble and (or) clay. The second type is a stony beach.

The main rule of choosing a hotel in Sharm El Sheikh! Be sure to see the photo, where the beach is clearly visible. In all resort areas are found both types of beaches.

Some hotels are located on a rocky coast. They just make a pier for guests to swim from. Naturally, this option is not suitable for children at all. If you want only sand, then choose Naama Bay or El Maya Bay.

How does such a stone beach look like, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge. It is not for nothing that we pay attention to this point for the second time on this page. It is important!

Usually, there is shallow water at the beginning, not deeper than 1 meter (3 feet), and then a sharp decline of the bottom, in some places almost vertical. Carefully watch the children not to go too far!

The two best areas of Sharm El Sheikh

Usually, when writing a review of a resort city or region on our website, we take a detailed look at all resort areas, describing beaches, hotels, and distances. But in the case of Sharm El Sheikh, we will not do this, as it makes no sense.

We will talk very briefly about the two best areas.

Naama Bay

Naama Bay area is considered elite, with the largest concentration of expensive fives. Four of the five casinos in Sharm El Sheikh are located there. Unfortunately, there are few stores and restaurants in the area, as almost all the hotels are All Inclusive there.

The best beaches in Sharm El Sheikh are located in Naama Bay. It has the least amount of rocks and coral on the bottom. There are even completely sandy beaches. It is for this reason that we will call Naama Bay the best.

We have a separate review about Naama Bay on our website. Read our review "Naama Bay".

Sharm el Maya

Sharm el Maya is considered very convenient for vacationing because it has the Old City (although it's not that old) and a large market. There are a lot of stores and restaurants.

The beaches at Sharm el Maya are mostly sandy - a minimum of stones and corals at the bottom. We give Sharm El Maya an honorary second place.

Hotels in Sharm El Sheikh

In Sharm El Sheikh, there are now more than 100 large hotels, and 65 of them are classified as 5-star. There are about fifty guest houses, several hundred villas and apartments for renting to holidaymakers.

The choice is vast - to suit all tastes and wallets. The best hotels in Sharm El Sheikh are: Royal Monte Carlo, Rixos Premium Seagate, Four Seasons Resort (on the photo near, click to enlarge), Rixos Sharm El Sheikh, Steigenberger Alcazar, Iberotel Palace.

Hotels in Sharm El Sheikh usually have low buildings with no more than 5 floors. Most are a set of villas or bungalows plus one central building.

Sharm El Sheikh International Airport (code: SSH)

Its own international airport is a definite advantage of Sharm El Sheikh. The airport is quite large with two runways and two terminals. Egypt's third busiest airport after Cairo and Hurghada, the airport has already received more than 5 million tourists in 2019. Even after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the airport quickly recovered its tourist traffic. In 2021, passenger traffic was 4.6 million.

Sharm El Sheikh airport is located north of the city, 500 meters (1,650 feet) from the sea, right next to the hotel line.

It does not take more than 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) to get to any hotel from the airport - no more than 25 minutes.

Are there sharks in Sharm El Sheikh?

Unfortunately, there are, and sharks attack tourists there. The last attack took place on October 25, 2020, in the outskirts of Sharm El Sheikh, in the national park of Ras Mohammed. Two Ukrainian tourists were injured. The child lost his arm, his mother received serious bites. Fortunately, all are alive.

Prior to that on November 30, December 1 and 5, 2010, there were five attacks at once. Three Russians and one Ukrainian were injured, and a German woman died from her wounds. Read all the details in our review "Sharks in Egypt".

Weather and beach season

Sharm El Sheikh is a year-round resort, like all Red Sea resorts. However, not all tourists agree with this statement. Some think that in summer it is too hot. Some think that the winter is too cold. Everyone has a different opinion.

We will not support any opinion, but give the figures of weather statistics in Sharm El Sheikh.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Water temp.,°C 23.2 22.5 22.7 23.2 24.5 26.2
Water temp.,°F 73.7 72.5 72.8 73.7 76.1 79.1
Air day temp. (avg),°C 22 23 25 29 32 35
Air day temp. (avg),°F 71.6 73.4 77 84.2 89.6 95
Air night temp. (avg),°C 11 11 14 18 22 25
Air night temp. (avg),°F 51.8 51.8 57.2 64.4 71.6 77
Sun hours per day 8.5 9 9 9.5 10.5 11.5
Downfall, mm (in) 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Water temp.,°C 28.1 28.5 28 27.5 25.5 24.3
Water temp.,°F 82.5 83.3 82.4 81.5 77.9 75.7
Air day temp. (avg),°C 36 36 34 31 27 23
Air day temp. (avg),°F 96.8 96.8 93.2 87.8 80.6 73.4
Air night temp. (avg),°C 26 26 24 21 16 12
Air night temp. (avg),°F 78.8 78.8 75.2 69.8 60.8 53.6
Sun hours per day 11.5 10.5 10 9 8.5 8
Downfall, mm (in) 0 0 0 0 0 0

Where to buy alcohol?

If you have not come for All Inclusive, then you can buy alcohol. Recall that the local alcohol in Egypt is sold freely, but only by those stores that have the appropriate license.

In Sharm El Sheikh, there are 7 alcoholic stores, 2 of which belong to Drinkies chain. It is easy to find the store, you can get in a cab and tell the cab driver "Drinkies Store", he will understand.

Imported alcohol can be bought only at the airport DutyFree or one of the three DutyFree in the city. It's better to do it when you arrive so you don't have to ride again. You can buy only one time, not more than 3 liters, no later than 48 hours after arrival.

Read all the details about alcohol in our review "Alcohol in Egypt" and "Egyptian Alcoholic Beverages".

Transport in Sharm El Sheikh

The system of public transport is in its infancy. There are only shuttles (mini-buses) used by locals. Almost all of these mini-buses ride between the Old City and other areas. The fare ranges from 5 to 15 Egyptian pounds, depending on the route and distance. See the current exchange rates of the Egyptian pound in our review "What is the money in Egypt".

If you want to save money, use the mini-buses. Ask at the reception of your hotel if mini-buses stop nearby and where they go. But it's better to take a cab. How to use cabs and not to overpay, read our review "Taxis in Egypt".




Where to go, what to do other than relax on the beach




Colored Canyon

It is a canyon with a length of about 800 meters (2,500 feet), the height of the walls - 25-30 meters (80-100 feet). The walls of the canyon are made of limestone with inclusions of different minerals that give each a different color. Hence the name "Colored Canyon". As it looks, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.

Colored Canyon is located 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north from Sharm El Sheikh. It takes more than 3 hours to get there. You can not come independently now, because it is forbidden for security reasons. You can come with a tour, the price - about 50 US dollars.

Is the visit of the Color Canyon worth a three-hour bus ride there and then back, and actually a lost day of All Inclusive? The question is complicated, and the answer is individual.




Moses Mountain

It is believed that it was on top of this mountain that the prophet Moses received the tablets of commandments from God. Now the mountain has become a tourist attraction. The price of the tour is 40-50 US dollars.

The mountain is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Sharm El Sheikh. You have to drive about 3 hours, then go up about 7 kilometers (4.5 miles), a height difference of 700 meters (2,300 feet). At the top, tourists meet the sunrise or sunset, depending on the type of guided tour. The excursion is very tedious, but there is no age limit.

It is believed that those who have met the sunrise on Moses Mount are forgiven all the sins. But this is just a belief that is not confirmed by any church.




Saint Catherine's Monastery

The monastery is located near the Moses Mountain. The monastery was built on the site of the location of The Unburnt Bush, which was a bush that burned, and from this bush God ordered Moses to go to Egypt to free the people of Israel from slavery.

The local Basilica of Transfiguration houses the relics of St. Catherine. In the local museum, you can see ancient scrolls and icons. The architecture is interesting, because the monastery was built in the 6th century during the Byzantine Empire and has survived unchanged all the eras of Muslim rule in Egypt.

There are no separate tours arranged for the monastery. Usually it is visited together with Moses Mount. The price of such an excursion is 40-50 US dollars per person.




Ras Muhammad National Park

A unique nature reserve at the junction of the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. 480 square kilometers (185 square miles) of unspoiled nature of South Sinai.

Unfortunately, Ras Muhammad has recently become infamous in a sad way. It was there that a shark attacked two Ukrainian tourists on October 25, 2020.

In Ras Muhammad, tourists see the "Gate of Allah", "Lake of Desires", and mangroves. But especially popular with tourists are fiddler crabs, which have one claw large, the other small.

Excursions to Ras Mohammed can be by land or by boat. Each has its own pros and cons. The price ranges from USD 35 to USD 70 per person, depending on the composition of the tour program.




Aqua Blue and Cleo Park water parks

There are two competing water parks in Sharm El Sheikh. We are now considering only large public water parks, not the slides at the hotels.

The prices to enter the water parks are about the same - 25 US dollars.

The Aqua Blue water park is in the hotel of the same name, but everyone is allowed in. Aqua Blue is twice as big as its competitor both in terms of the number of slides and the area. But the location is unfortunate - in the very south of the city and the resort.

The Cleo Park is smaller, but the styling is top notch. In addition, it is located in the center of the resort - in the area of Naama Bay.

Which one should you choose? We advise you not to choose, but to go to both. After all, cab fares and admission prices are inexpensive.

Read our detailed reviews "Aqua Blu" and "Cleo Park".




Old Market and Old Town

Located in the area of Sharm El Maya, 200 meters (650 feet) from the bay. You can easily get there by mini-bus, as almost all of them drive to the Old Town.

In fact, the Old City is not old at all. Almost all the buildings there are new, built to serve tourists. Recall that Sharm El Sheikh was a fishing village 50 years ago.

There are a lot of stores in the market, and the prices there are lower if you compare with the stores at hotels. What interesting things to buy, read our review "What to bring from Egypt". Al Sahaba Mosque in the center of the market is very beautiful, illuminated at night.

There are also many good restaurants where you can try the whole range of Egyptian cuisine. There are fish restaurants and bars where they serve alcohol. Read our detailed review of "Sharm El-Sheikh Old Town".




Other interesting places

The Papyrus Museum in Sharm is more of a papyrus store than a museum. There they definitely sell real papyrus and you can see an interesting display. There you have to bargain. Located in the Old Market.

La Strada Shopping Center is a large and civilized market. There are dozens of stores, restaurants, and cafes. Nearby are Burger King and Hard Rock Cafe. Located in the heart of Nabq Bay area, opposite the Aurora Oriental Resort hotel.

Dolphina is a dolphinarium where you can watch shows and swim with dolphins. The price for the ticket for the show - 20 US dollars, the price of communication with dolphins - from 100 US dollars. Located in the center of Nabq Bay, next to the golf course Golf Heights.

SOHO Square is another large, by local standards, shopping center. Stores, cafes, restaurants. There is a bowling alley, movie theater, skating rink, and small dancing fountains. Located in the Sharks Bay area, close to the airport.

Hollywood Sharm El Sheikh is another large, by local standards, shopping center. It also has dancing fountains and several attractions. It is located in the Gardens Bay area.

Sharm Museum is a museum of antiquities that was renovated in 2020. The museum received 5,120 new exhibits from other museums in the country. Located in the Gardens Bay area, next to the aforementioned Hollywood Sharm.

King Tut Museum is a museum of copies. That is, copies of (not always high quality) 130 major ancient exhibits of museums of the country are collected there. However, there are also real exhibits - photos from the excavation of Tutankhamun's tomb and real letters of Howard Carter. The museum is located in Naama Bay, on the ground floor of Genena city.

The Heavenly Cathedral is the main Coptic church in Sharm El Sheikh. Built in 2006, was on the list of the most beautiful churches in the world. It is located north of the Old City.

At the beginning of this page was the map of the resort. All these places are indicated on the map.

Important and useful to know

- If you are planning to stay in an apartment or apart-hotel and want to cook for yourself, prepare for high food prices. In Sharm El Sheikh, groceries are 20-30% more expensive than in the rest of Egypt;

- Egyptian money (pounds) in Sharm El Sheikh is probably not needed. However, we recommend to read our detailed review "Where and how to exchange money in Egypt".

Have a great holiday in Sharm El Sheikh, and read our pages about Egypt (see the list of the pages below).

TIPS FOR TOURISTS

What Don't Do in Egypt

Cheats of Tourists in Egypt

What to Take to Egypt

Sharks in Egypt

To Egypt With Kids

How NOT to Get Poisoned in Egypt

National Holidays in Egypt

Weather in Egypt by Month

MONEY AND EXPENSES

What Money in Egypt

Money Exchange in Egypt

How Much Money to Take to Egypt

TRANSPORT

Taxi in Egypt

Cairo Metro

From Hurghada to Cairo

From Sharm to Cairo

From Hurghada to Luxor

From Cairo to Ain Sokhna

Intercity Buses - Guide

GIFTS, SOUVENIRS, CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from Egypt

What You Can & Not Bring in Egypt

What You Can & Not Take out of Egypt

ABOUT EGYPT

What Language is Spoken in Egypt

Who Are the Modern Egyptians

Friday & Weekends in Egypt

Ramadan in Egypt

TELECOM

Internet in Egypt Cheaply

RESORT REGIONS

Sharm El Sheikh

Naama Bay

Hurghada

Ain Sokhna

Mediterranean Rivera

BAD HABITS

Alcohol in Egypt - Prices & Rules

Local Egyptian Alcohol

Cigarettes & Smoking in Egypt

Vape and iQos in Egypt

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