Shaped by nature and made possible by the forces of modern history
Modern Sharm El Sheikh has, over the decades, evolved from a fishing village into a naval port and ultimately into a bustling resort town renowned for its year-round sunshine, clear blue seas, family-friendly beaches, 5-star hotels and, of course, world class diving.
Egypt doesn’t get much more tourist-centric than Sharm el Sheikh, meaning you won’t struggle to locate places to pick up a souvenir of your stay. The most obvious concentration of gift shops is in the area known as The Old Market, where streets of dedicated stores sell everything from spices and toy camels to leatherwork and hookah pipes. You may have to haggle. Elsewhere, the Il Mercato Shopping Promenade describes itself as the ‘Champs Elysées of the Sinai’ and houses Adidas and Timberland stores, among various others, while many of the top-end resorts offer their own retail boutiques.
Food & Drink
You’ll find a wide spectrum of different restaurants, from fast-food joints and traditional Egyptian eateries to the full gamut of Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai. Good options at Soho Square include Saffron, which offers quality Middle Eastern cuisine, L’Entrecote Steak House, which specialises in French brasserie-style dishes, and Mai Thai, which serves tasty Thai food. In Naama Bay, Vino (Shamandura Mall) is a decent choice for steaks, while The Tavern Bar (Mall 14) caters well for Brits abroad. At the Four Seasons, Il Frantoio is an Italian restaurant with a strong reputation. And to round the evening off? Pacha Sharm (Sanafir Hotel, Naama Bay) provides banging beats until late.
Celebrated by Sharm el Sheikh’s community of Coptic Christians, this early January event is marked by small but colourful parades, live musical concerts and other happenings. It’s estimated that some 10% of Egypt’s population are Coptic Christians.
Sharm el Sheikh Triathlon
Tapping into the global enthusiasm for multi-discipline racing, Sharm el Sheikh now holds an annual sprint triathlon. Open to all, it involves a swim in the sea before returning to land for the bike and running stages. There are different categories of race, including a youth event.
International Camel Competition
Camels have been integral to the culture of the Sinai Peninsula since time immemorial. This annual event, which centres on organised racing, draws large numbers of the beasts from around the region. At full speed, they work up quite a pace.
International Shopping & Tourism Festival
Aimed at drawing more visitors to the resort, the shopping and tourism festival sees discounts at various retail outlets – and some hotels. Dates vary, but if you’re in town at the right time it can be possible to seek out a bargain.
Although it doesn’t generally impact on non-Muslim tourists, Ramadan is an important religious rite for a large number of Sharm el Sheikh’s residents, making Eid al-Fitr – the three-day celebration that marks its ending – a memorable occasion to witness.
If there’s one thing Sharm el Sheikh does well it’s providing beachside accommodation for tourists, so there’s plenty of choice. The top dog is still generally considered to be the Four Seasons Resort Sharm el Sheikh (1 Four Seasons Boulevard), drawing celebrities and dignitaries with its polished levels of service and luxurious facilities. Close by is the impressive Royal Savoy Sharm el Sheikh (Soho Square), which has a private beach and a location on the restaurant hub of Soho Square, while the three-star Kahramana Hotel Sharm el Sheikh (Naama Bay) is a solid option in the more mainstream surrounds of Naama Bay.