The Red Sea, an eternal favorite in Egypt
The cat’s out of the bag: A handful of us here at Enterprise love Red Sea destinations. Among our favorites:
Ain Sokhna, a retreat close to home: If you live in New Cairo, Ain Sokhna is a shorter, and less stressful, drive away from most of West Cairo. Home to clean, sprawling beaches with tons of marine life, Ain Sokhna is the perfect getaway for a weekend out of the office. The vibe is less Cairo-by-the-sea than the North Coast, but all services and amenities are easily accessible. For the beach lovers, the sea has calm waves and an assortment of colorful fish that come close to shore. You can take an affordable boat trip into deeper waters and enjoy activities such as fishing, snorkeling, or just chilling. Even if you decide to hibernate at your chalet or hotel you’ll be guaranteed a scenic view of mountains, the water, or both.
Ras Sudr, which is not too far from Ain Sokhna: Whether or not you're into kitesurfing, it’s not hard to see why you’d enjoy a convenient weekend getaway and a chance to meet very interesting people in Ras Sudr. Case in point: It’s only a two-hour drive from Cairo, but still part of the Sinai experience, making it the perfect place for a short break from work.
Marsa Alam: Located 800 km south of Cairo on the Red Sea coast, Marsa Alam is one of the ideal spots in the country to visit for an active vacation in nature. Scuba diving has long been one of the more popular reasons to visit Marsa Alam because of its reputation for being home to some of the healthiest coastal marine ecosystems in the country — which is in fact still true. Its coral reefs are rich with life and sea turtle and dolphin sightings remain fairly common. If you’re looking for an even more exciting activity to take on, gorgeous kitesurfing spots pepper the entire coast from Hurghada all the way down South well past Marsa Alam and several centers nearby offer courses for beginners.
If getting geared up isn’t exactly your thing maybe going on a hike through Wadi El Gemal National park — with its intense mountain landscape, decorative coastal mangroves and wide variety of bird species — is more up your alley. Friendly and wildly knowledgeable guides are available to provide tours at the protectorate’s entrance and you can even set up a picnic inside under the shade of one of many acacia trees growing in the Wadi. You’ll likely have no cellphone service on the excursion and you’ll most definitely be thankful for it.
Nuweiba: This is by no means a destination for the luxurious traveler looking for a pampered experience at a fancy hotel, but it is definitely one of the most serene and truly relaxing places we know around Egypt. Book a room (or a hut, if the weather is nice) at a vetted camp and spend your days soaking up the sun by the sea, go on hikes, or even take a day trip to Dahab, which is around an hour away by car. Don’t miss: An incredible meal after a swim at Castle Zaman — just make sure to make a reservation in advance, and be sure to stay for a beautiful view of the sunset over the sea.
If you happen to be in the south, head west to Aswan. A short four-hour trip can get you to Kom Ombo, where you can take a few hours around the pharaonic temples to unwind and marvel at the mostly empty shrines before you continue your trip to the Nubian towns further south. We recommend staying at one of the Nubian houses on the west side of the Nile River and only hit the upscale hotels if you are looking for a fancy meal. In the Nubian village of Gharb Soheil, lodges are most affordable and the authentic Nubian heritage nights are something to remember. In the morning, you can enjoy an amazing view of the Nile while you eat a light breakfast, take a walk in the old souk, and find reasonably handmade gifts and souvenirs to take back home. In the evening, make sure you try Nubians' favorite traditional dish — eggs with molokhia. The two are surprisingly a match made in heaven.
A day at the Cecil: For a short getaway, it’s well worth it to book a weekend stay at Alexandria's Cecil Hotel, now operated under the Steigenberger brand. Located in the heart of downtown just minutes away from El Raml station, all central attractions are within walking distance — including famous eateries like the Greek Club, Chez Gaby and the Cigar Bar, which serve up consistent quality. Be it a walk through the Montazah gardens you have in mind, catching an exhibition at the Alexandria Library, or an indulgent seafood meal in Halaqet in Samak, it’s all just a short taxi ride away. The hotel still serves up its old school charm, as well as the pampering and attention to detail that comes with 5-star service. And with the shoreline’s crashing waves a stone’s throw away, the sea view just can’t be beat.