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Ain Sokhna in Egypt


Page update - Aug 31, 2023

The resort of Ain Sokhna (or Ain El-Sokhna) is one of Egypt's most interesting Red Sea holiday destinations. It has a good location just 140 kilometers (85 miles) from Cairo. The resort is almost unknown to the sort of tourists who like package tours, but it is of great value to the sort of tourists who like to travel independently.

Location of Ain Sokhna

The Red Sea ends in two bays in the north. The Gulf of Aqaba surrounds the Sinai Peninsula at the east. The Gulf of Suez surrounds the Sinai Peninsula at the west (see map near, click on map to enlarge).

Ain Sokhna is located on the shores of the Gulf of Suez, 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the entrance to the famous Suez Canal.

The main advantage of this location is its proximity to Cairo. There is a direct highway from Ain Sokhna to Cairo, with only 140 kilometers (85 miles) between them.

In addition, of all the Red Sea resorts, Ain Sokhna is the closest to Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria. The distance is 350 kilometers (220 miles). One day excursion by bus to Alexandria is possible only from this resort. All the other resorts in Egypt on the Red Sea are too far away.

Ain Sokhna resort's main advantage

If you come to the major Egyptian resorts of Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh and you dream to see the Great Pyramids of Egypt, then you will have a challenge.

From Sharm el-Sheikh to Cairo, it's 500 kilometers (310 miles) and 6-7 hours by bus. From Hurghada to Cairo, it's 460 kilometers (285 miles) and 5.5 to 6.5 hours by bus. Going on a day trip is not recommended, as you will spend almost the whole day on the bus or car. You will have a rush view of Cairo's sights before you have to go back. You should leave at 2 am (2-00 night) and arrive back alter midnight.

You can take a tour by plane, and many travel agencies offer this service. It is not cheap - about 200 US dollars. In addition, tourists need to arrive at the airport in advance, go through security control and so on. As a result, the plane saves time, but not much. Such an excursion starts at 4 am or 5 am (4-00 or 5-00 night). You will not have much time to see the interesting places of Cairo.

A two day excursion seems like a good idea. You will have more time in Cairo in this case. But, in this case you lose two days of paid All Inclusive, which is unpleasant. See the photo near for what you're missing.

For example, you bought a tour to Egypt for 7 nights at a price of 1,000 Euros for two people. It turns out that two days in Cairo cost you 280 Euros. That is the amount you paid for staying at the hotel with All Inclusive for two days. It is more than the price of the excursion itself! Agree, it's a pity.

Of course, you can count differently, because a significant part of the cost of the tour is the price of airflight. It is possible to take into account a smaller amount, but in any case, you lose the paid services in the hotel.

In the case of vacation in the resort of Ain Sokhna, the challenge of visiting Cairo is strongly simplified. It's only a 1.5-2 hour bus ride and you can leave for Cairo after breakfast and be back in time for dinner. The trip is not tiring at all. You don't even need to buy a tour, you can take a regular bus or minibus to Cairo for about 150 Egyptian pounds. See the actual exchange rates in our review "Money in Egypt".

Features of Ain Sokhna resort

For a long time, the resort of Ain Sokhna was only visited by Egyptians themselves and no foreigners were seen there. However, about some time ago, the local authorities and hotel owners started a campaign to attract tourists from Western Europe.

Ain Sokhna is not very popular for tour operators' package tours. The hotels in Ain Sokhna are popular with independent travelers. People fly to Cairo first, stay in a cheap hotel in the city, see the main sights and then go to the beach on the Red Sea. It is logical that Ain Sokhna is ideal for such trips - 2 hours by bus for 150 Egyptian pounds.

Most hotels in Ain Sokhna do not have an All Inclusive system beloved by many European tourists. At the time of this review updated, only one hotel can offer All Inclusive.

On the other hand, drinks, food, and services are cheaper there than in major Red Sea resorts. The proximity to Cairo has an impact. Neither Hurghada or Sharm El Sheikh grows wheat, rice or potatoes, as you may imagine. All food comes from the Nile Valley, and Ain Sokhna is closer to the agricultural centers of the country.

Many tourists prefer not to buy All Inclusive but to have lunch and dinner in a restaurant, as the prices are affordable. But there is one important side note.

The hotels in Ain Sokhna are located outside the town limits on the stretches of coast to the north and south. Some hotels are difficult to reach from the town. For example, the Regina El Sokhna Resort is 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the town.

In most cases, tourists have to eat lunch and dinner in the local restaurants of the hotels. However, the prices there are higher but affordable by most.

Buses run along the coast from the hotels to Zaafaran, Suez, and Ain Sokhna. There is plenty to see and do in the town, as it's not a tourist center, but an authentic Egyptian town. You can go to local restaurants, cafes, bazaars and see how Egyptians live.

Ain Sokhna is a major port with a population of 45,000. Ships pass along the coast, and if you see a distant dry cargo ship or tanker at your hotel window in the morning, don't be surprised. Active navigation will not spoil your vacation, as the trade routes run far from the shore. Seawater is hardly polluted by ships and the sea is clear.

Apart from the hotels, you will find many private homes along the coast. The region of Ain Sokhna is very popular for country houses among wealthy Egyptians - it is very prestigious for Egyptians to have a house near the sea. Some Egyptians live there permanently, of course, if they can afford it.

How to get to Ain Sokhna from Cairo and back

You can catch a bus to Ain Sokhna in Cairo in three places. The first is the Kolaly Bus Station in the city center which is next to the Ramses railway station. At the time this page was updated (August 2023) there were four runs a day.

But it is more convenient to get off at the bus station at Tahrir Square, there are 5 runs from there. The station is behind the road junction from the Cairo Museum. Not all tourists can find it quickly, so we recommend you take a taxi, as taxi drivers know the bus station for sure. Use the phrase 'go bus tahrir'. Buses then travel to the bus station in Nasr City and you can get on there as well.

You can check the prices and timetables, and buy tickets on the official website of Go Bus. The address is http://gobus.me/en/ . The website is in English.

The fare depends on the class of the bus. If you take the simplest minibus it'll cost 105 Egyptian pounds, and you'll get the higher price if you take the bus. The most expensive tickets cost 210 Egyptian pounds.

You can leave by minibus from Giza, Almaza, Tagamou Khames bus stations. See the timetable there - on the Go Bus website.

Read our detailed review "How to get from Cairo to Ain Sokhna and back".

The second way also is to take a bus to Suez and then a minibus to Ain Sokhna. It will be a little cheaper. But we do not recommend this route due to its greater complexity.

Hotels and rates

At the time of updating this review (August 2023) there are 90 full-fledged hotels in Ain Sokhna. 10 of them are classified as five stars, 42 as four stars, and 38 as three stars.

The prices are moderate, for about 50 US dollars you can stay in a 4-star hotel right on the beach. Of course, there are hotels with similar prices in Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, but not on the first beach line.

The most prestigious hotels there are considered to be the Moevenpick Resort, Stella Di Mare Golf, Spa and Country Club and Stella Di Mare Grand Hotel. The accommodation prices in these hotels start at 200 US dollars per night.

What to see and do

Surprisingly, excursions to Alexandria and Cairo at Ain Sokhna are not popular. If you think about it, this is logical, as most holidaymakers have either been to these cities before coming to the resort, or are still planning to go after, staying in the hotels in Cairo and Alexandria.

The name 'Ain Sokhna' translates as 'Hot Springs'. The town takes its name from the real hot springs at Gebel Ataqa mountain. Excursions to the hot springs are available. In winter it even snows, which is an unforgettable attraction for the Egyptians themselves.

A trip to Gebel Ataqa mountain is interesting, as it offers a stunning view of the bay and the valley. On the other hand, there is sulfur coming out of the ground, and the smell is quite shocking for many tourists.

The town of Ain Sokhna is very ancient. Writings have been found in caves in the mountains nearby that mention Pharaoh Djedkare Isesi, who ruled around 2400 BC. This is the 5th dynasty. Recall that the Great Pyramids of Egypt were built in the 4th dynasty. In other words, Ain Sokhna is almost the same age as the pyramids.

Unfortunately, there are no significant ruins of interest to an ordinary tourist. Everything found by archaeologists is important for science and valuable for historians, but is of little interest for the average person.

The first places of interest near Ain Sokhna are the most ancient Christian monasteries. The monastery of St Anthony is 125 kilometers (77 miles) from the town and the monastery of St Paul is 115 kilometers (71 miles) away. They are most often combined into one tour. This is a local exclusive.

Another notable place not far from the town of Ain Sokhna is the Suez Canal. To be honest, it is not particularly interesting, there are no grandiose locks like the Panama Canal, as there are no water level gradients.

It's just a long canal with 17,000 ships a year passing through. Of course, the Egyptians are proud of it, as it is the country's second-largest source of income, bringing in more than 5 US dollars billion every year.

Another technical achievement to watch is the oil pipeline, which starts exactly in Ain Sokhna. This pipeline is a solution to two problems. The first is that not all tankers can pass through the Suez Canal, some vessels are too big. The second is that the canal can be overcrowded with ships and queues are forming.

The pipeline has been built so that large tankers do not have to pass through the Suez Canal. Ships dock at the port of Ain Sokhna and offload the oil, which is transported by pipeline to the port of Sidi Kerir on the Mediterranean coast. There, the oil is poured into another tanker, which then sails to Europe.

It's one of the most elegant logistics solutions in the world. Of course, the pipeline is not the most interesting thing for tourists, but it is right in the town of Ain Sokhna and there is no need to go anywhere.

Active leisure and water sports are not so well developed in the resort of Ain Sokhna. There is only one diving center for the whole resort. Windsurfers and kiteboarders have no business there at all. Those who wish to do so can ride camels or quad bikes into the neighboring mountains and across the heathland.

Important and useful to know

- Although the resort of Ain Sokhna is small, there has been one reported case of a shark attacking a holidaymaker there. Read more in our detailed review "Sharks in Egypt";

- Paying outside the hotels in Ain Sokhna is usually done in Egyptian pounds. Money will have to be exchanged. Read our detailed review "Currency exchange in Egypt";

- Official taxi fares there are about the same as in Cairo. Read more in our detailed review "Taxis in Egypt".

Read about other interesting holiday destinations in Egypt and useful information about the country (see the list 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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