Hurghada (/hərˈɡædə, -ˈɡɑː-/; Egyptian Arabic: الغردقة El Ġardaʾa Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [el ɣæɾˈdæʔæ]) is a city in the Red Sea Governorate of Egypt. It is one of the country's main tourist centers and the second largest Egyptian city (after Suez) located on the Red Sea coast.
The city was founded in the early 20th century, and until a few years ago it was a small fishing village. But since the 1980s, it has been continually enlarged by Egyptian and foreign investors to become the leading coastal resort on the Red Sea. Holiday villages and hotels provide aquatic sport facilities for windsurfers, kitesurfers, yachtsmen, scuba divers and snorkelers. Hurghada is known for its watersports activities, nightlife and warm weather. Daily temperature hovers round 30 °C (86 °F) most of the year, during July and August temperatures reach over 40 °C (104 °F) . Many Europeans have chosen Hurghada for their regular Holidays, specially during the Winter season and spend their Christmas and New Year holidays in the city. Tourism from Russia dropped drastically after the Metrojet Flight 9268 plane crash in November 2015.
Hurghada stretches for about 36 kilometres (22 mi) along the seashore, and it does not reach far into the surrounding desert. The resort is a destination for Egyptian tourists from Cairo, the Delta and Upper Egypt, as well as package holiday tourists from Europe. Today Hurghada counts 248,000 inhabitants and is divided into:
- El Ahia and El Helal, the northern part;
- El Dahar (Downtown) is the old part;
- Sekalla is the city center;
- El Kawsar is the modern part;
- El Memsha (Village road) is pedestrian road stretching over 4km.
Along the El Mamsha you find many of Hurghada's new hotels. Dahar is where the town's traditional bazaar, the post office and the long-distance bus stations, Go Bus and Upper Egypt Bus are situated.
The city is served by the Hurghada International Airport with scheduled passenger traffic connecting to Cairo and directly with several cities in Europe. A new terminal was opened in 2015 to accommodate rising traffic.
The village, which later evolved into what is now the city of Hurghada, was settled in 1905. It acquired its name from a plant which has grown naturally since ancient times. By then it was only a fishing village. Oil was discovered in the area in 1913, but actual production and export only began in 1921 under British oil magnates. During the reign of King Farouk a recreational center was built in the city, but after President Nasser's nationalization of Egypt's industries it was turned over to the armed forces.
During the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, Shadwan island east of the city in the Red Sea, was fortified and held by Egyptian troops and used as a radar post. On 22 January 1970, it was the site of Operation Rhodes, a heliborne assault by Israeli troops which occupied the island for 36 hours.
During the October War of 1973, Hurghada harbor was target for four Israeli operations (he). Israeli forces also attempted[when?] to occupy Shadwan Island, but the Egyptian armed forces confronted them, and were able to defeat them and expel them from the island.
Although a town in its own right Hurgada’s current major industry is foreign and domestic tourism, owing to its dramatic landscape, year-round dry and temperate climate and long stretches of natural beaches. Its waters are clear and calm for most of the year and have become popular for various watersports, particularly recreational scuba diving and snorkelling.
Dive sites around Abu Ramada Island, Fanadir, Giftun Kebir, and Giftun Soraya are popular. Tourists also visit shipwrecks such as the El Mina or the Rosalie Moller. The beach at Hurghada is not secluded, out to Sigala the beach is then followed by coastal holiday villages and then desert.
Resorts near Hurghada
El Qoseir is one of the Egyptian gateways, and one of the oldest cities on the western coast of the Red Sea. In the past it was known by various names, such as Thagho in the pharonic period, Leucos Limen (white port in Greek) in the Hellenistic and Ptolemaic period, and Portus Albus in the Roman period. In the Islamic period it was given the name El Qoseir, which means "a small palace or fortress".
Located between Hurghada and Marsa Alam, El Quseir used to be an important port. Many people traveled from there to the land of Punt to buy ivory, leather and incense. During the Ottoman and the Islamic periods, Egyptians and Muslims from North Africa traveled from El Quseir as pilgrims to Mecca. It was also the only port importing coffee from Yemen. During the French occupation of Egypt, El Qoseir was the arrival point for Arabs and Muslims from Hegaz coming to fight beside the Mamalic against the French army. The most important sites in El Qoseir are the fort and the water reservoir. The water reservoir was El Qoseir's only source of drinking water 100 years ago.
El Qoseir El Adima is another important site as well. It was the old Roman port where hundreds of amphora and old pottery artifacts were found. Even the police station is located at a historical site. There are now many bazaars here, as well as cafes, coffee shops and restaurants offering sea food. There are several 300-year-old buildings here: the Ottoman fort and the old mosques El Farran, El Qenawi and El Senousi.
A Tourist Resort located 30 km south of Hurghada dedicated only to hotels, shops and clubs. There's no settlements with locals. Place features good sandy beach.
Sharm El Naga
A village, around 40 km (25 mi) south of Hurghada. Its beach contains a beautiful reef cliff.
Soma Bay A tourist resort situated 45 km (28 mi) south of Hurghada, with various hotels including Palm Royale Soma Bay, La Residence des Cascades,Robinson Club, Sheraton (Kempinski – opening August 2008) & Caribbean World Resort Soma Bay ( opened December 7).
A privately owned luxury hotel town, about 25 km north of Hurghada. Quiet and clean, the town consists of several islands separated by channels and connected by bridges. Besides 14 hotels and 3 marinas, there are also 2200 private villas and apartments, while many more are under construction. It is promoted by some as Egypt's Venice. It is built on 10 km of beachfront and has unique and diverse architecture.
El Gouna provides diving and watersports centers, horse stables, go-karting, shopping arcades, bazaars, a wide selection of restaurants and bars, night clubs, an internet cafe, four bank branches, many automated teller machines (ATMs), two pharmacies, the El Gouna international school,El Gouna national school, a nursery, a private hospital, three marinas, a library, an airport, one of several casinos on the Red Sea coast, a private radio station, a post office, a museum, real estate offices and an 18-hole golf course designed by Gene Bates with a unique aqua driving range.
A tourist beachfront camp on the protected Giftun island, 45 minutes by boat from Hurghada.