Hurghada, Egypt, has a bit of a rep as a resort town. Sure, beautiful beaches lining the crystal-clear shores of the Red Sea and some of the most incredible reefs and marine life in the world do tend to attract the luxury traveller. But is it backpacker friendly? Definitely! There are budget accommodation options to choose from, plus plenty of cheap food spots and free things to do in Hurghada, so this part of Egypt shouldn’t be skipped – no matter your budget.
Hurghada lies on the eastern coast of the Red Sea, a five hour bus ride away from Cairo. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Hurghada when the weather is comfortably warm, but just remember that this is high season, which means inflated prices.
Ready to get the insider scoop on this lively beach town? Here are the best things to do in Hurghada. Don’t forget your bathing suit!
1. Snorkel in the Red Sea
You can’t go to Hurghada without diving or snorkelling. Its colourful reefs and marine life will make your jaw drop – just try not to swallow any water! You can also have your hostel help you arrange a snorkel excursion on the Red Sea. Tours depart in the morning, then take you on a leisurely cruise through the bright teal waters, providing you with snorkel equipment to explore the sea. When you’re done finding Nemo, shimmy back onto the boat, soak up some sun and have lunch.
2. Dive through the caves of Careless Reef
If you want specifics on where to dive in the Red Sea, there’s an excellent spot called Careless Reef. A boat will take you an hour off the coast of Hurghada, drop the anchor and give you time to discover this underwater world. The cave itself is more like a valley that you can dive through with excellent visibility. It’s accessible to professional and beginner divers alike. Careless Reef is known for being home to absolutely whopping moray eels – yikes! If you’re lucky, you might even spot a hammerhead shark. Wait, is that lucky? Just don’t be careless!
3. Explore shipwrecks at Abu Nuhas
The opening of the Suez Canal began a series of shipwrecks throughout the Red Sea. A dive site called Abu Nuhas is where you can explore these eerie underwater graveyards. It’s a two-hour journey from Hurghada, just north of Shadwan Island. It’s home to seven shipwrecks, four of which are safe for recreational diving. Among the wrecks is a British cargo ship called the SS Carnatic that went down in 1869. Rumour has it that along with carrying wine, it was also laden with gold. Share the treasure if you find it!
4. Jump in a submarine
Not a fan of snorkelling or diving? Sinbad Submarine takes passengers 25 metres below the surface of the water and allows you to see the marine life of the Red Sea without getting wet. Although, you’ll want to get a good seat by a window as the guides do a dive feeding, meaning you’ll definitely get to see a few fish and underwater creatures. How many people can say they’ve cruised on a submarine?! Definitely an adventure for the bucket list.
5. Visit the Abdulmoneim Riadh Mosque
Stepping out of water and back onto land, check out Abdulmoneim Riadh, AKA the Big Mosque in Hurghada. It quite literally lives up to its name, with towers seeming to reach the sky. Its architecture is stunning, with domes that shine gold in the sunlight and intricate designs throughout the mosque. As it’s a place of worship, don’t forget to dress appropriately when you visit. Cover up those shoulders and knees and take off your shoes.
Image by feario_com
6. Go to a Bedouin BBQ in the desert
Did someone say BBQ? After spending all day on the water, you’ll need a feast to fill your tummy. Arrange a tour to participate in a Bedouin BBQ in the Egyptian desert. The tour starts with an hour-long jeep ride through the desert, before taking you to a village of Bedouins, a group of nomadic Arab people who live in desert regions of Africa. You’ll be able to meet them and learn about their way of life. After walking around their ancestral territory, you’ll be served a traditional feast. Eating with locals is an amazing way to immerse yourself in the culture – I absolutely loved this experience.
7. Take a stroll along the Abu Tig Marina
Take a relaxing walk around the Abu Tig Marina, then sit down for lunch at one of the area’s many restaurants. Ready to tuck in to some authentic shawarma? You know, when thinly sliced cuts of meat (chicken, lamb, beef or goat) are rolled into a heated pita and stuffed with vegetables and hummus? *Drool*. Or what about koshari? It’s an Egyptian vegetarian dish made with rice, noodles, lentils, chickpeas and a spicy tomato sauce, topped with herbs, onion, shallots and garlic. YUM.
Image by Alina Zienowicz
8. Shisha at Granada
Have you tried shisha yet? It’s a water pipe with a mix of tobacco and flavouring that’s typically passed around over drinks and conversation. It’s an easy way to participate in a traditional Egyptian way of life. Grab a few of your hostel mates and head to a restaurant called Granada, located on Old Sheraton Road. It *supposedly* has the best shisha in Hurghada. But you tell us.
9. Stargazing tour in the desert
Jump on a Hurghada quad bike stargazing tour (yes, that’s a thing!) to have a little adventure under the stars. The desert is the best place to observe a clear, night sky. You get to play on the quad bikes for about three hours, then have a chance to peek through a telescope and ogle at all the shining stars and planets. Bring a scarf, sunglasses and a jacket for this sandy adventure. Remember, it gets cold in the desert at night!
Ready for your Hurghada adventure? Start planning your trip now – and don’t forget to check out all of our hostels in Hurghada!
About the Author
Marina Nazario is a food and travel writer from America, currently living in the land Down Under. She’s passionate about meeting people, immersing herself in different cultures, and eating her way around the world. You can follow her misadventures on Twitter and her blog Marina’s Milestones.