Nestled on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Suez, is Sharm El Sheikh, the “City of Peace.” So-called for the many international peace conferences and diplomatic summits that have taken place here, this resort town, with its clear water, glorious beaches and year-round sunshine, will not fail to offer you the peaceful escape that eludes you in everyday life.
Since antiquity, the Sinai has been held sacred by three world religions. Although Islam is the official religion of Egypt, here in the Sinai, Islam, Christianity and Judaism coexist peacefully. The bell tower of the Monastery of St. Catherine abides alongside the tower of a Fatimid mosque in Sharm thus extending the notion that this is indeed a “City of Peace.”
Today, Sharm El Sheikh is primarily a resort destination. Visitors are drawn to it for its scenic reefs, splendid beaches, traditional marketplaces, local dining and nightlife. The Naama Bay resorts offer beach front promenades, cafes and clubs where you may party by day and long into the night.
Sharm has several unique districts representing distinctive cultures. The Soho area, also known as “Little Britain,” resembles a characteristic British town, complete with British-style phone booths. The high-end shops and dining establishments in Soho Square buzz with activity. And not to be missed, the Old Town demonstrates traditional Egyptian ambience with local marketplaces and delicious Middle Eastern cuisine.
People and Traditions
The people of Sharm El Sheikh are friendly and hospitable. They strive for peace in their relationships, discouraging violence and promoting tolerance among different peoples.
The market vendors are known for their art of negotiation. Should you be enticed by the spices or essential oils, keepsakes or trinkets, be sure to engage the merchant in bargaining to get your best price. It is expected in this culture.
The weather is sunny most of the time in Sharm El Sheikh. November is not too hot—an ideal time to visit—with average daytime temperatures about 23°C. The warmer months are June through September, reaching highs near 33°C in July. If visiting in the coldest month of January, it is advisable to bring along some warmer clothing, as temperatures can dip to 15°C.
Leisure activities abound in Sharm El Sheikh. Opportunities for diving, snorkelling and water sports are plentiful. Some outings are unique to this area and are sure to be memory-makers: riding a camel, taking a quad runner safari in the Sinai Desert, or escaping the bustle of the city for a Bedouin night in the desert—a deluxe tour with a professional guide who introduces you to a night of star gazing complete with views of the planets through a telescope, and a Bedouin feast to remember.
Sharm El Sheikh is a day-trip away from some of the most fascinating landmarks from ancient history. Take an excursion to the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx or to the Valley of the Kings and the Temple at Luxor. Or plan a felucca boat cruise on the Nile or a ferry boat trip to Petra.
Sharm El Sheikh is renowned for its magnificent coral reefs and vibrantly coloured sea life. For underwater enthusiasts there are diving excursions to shipwrecks surrounding Tiran Island and trips to nearby lagoons, which offer some of the finest snorkelling in the world. Dip into the clear waters and allow yourself to be overcome by the beauty of the reef sharks, surgeon fish and goat fish as they swim among the equally splendid reef fauna, hard and soft coral and colonies of black coral. Ras Mohammed Marine Park offers scuba tours that visit many species of fish, coral, sea urchins, sea turtles and starfish. Numerous wrecks are fascinating to witness as large portions of them remain visible above the water. When the English-built and Scottish-owned Thistlegorm made its fourth and last voyage in 1941, it was laden with motorcycles, trucks and tanks for delivery to British soldiers in Northern Africa. Divers can view those contents underwater in an intriguing scuba tour of the wreck.
For those who prefer to explore on dry land, Nabq National Park is an exquisite site located on the coast between Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab. Investigate the mangrove forest that flourishes in sandy tropical habitats. Nabq is also home to many birds, desert foxes, hyenas and gazelles.
Also inland in the Sinai Desert is the Coloured Canyon, a day-trip destination with some of the most beautiful geographic rock formations in the world. The natural swirling designs on the canyon walls seem to be brushstrokes applied by a prolific artist.