Top Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Sharm El Sheikh
| by Assia A. |
| Last Updated March 28, 2023 |
Sharm el-Sheikh is the main tourist attraction in the Sinai Peninsula’s region and is one of the world’s top diving destinations.
The Red Sea is famous for its rich underwater life, and the Ras Mohammed Marine Park just south of town put “Sharm” firmly on Sinai’s tourism map. It is one of the best places to go scuba diving.
Sharm El Sheikh is also one of Egypt’s top destinations for those seeking a calm, peaceful retreat from busy city life. Non-divers will find plenty of land-based activities to do in the region, many of the Sinai Peninsula’s historic and natural attractions are nearby, making day trips a possibility.
The city is a good place to spend your family holidays, not only because of its long sandy beaches but also its amazing water activities and the excellent facilities offered. Whether you prefer to see whales, fish, or even dolphins from the shore, or want to take a break from exploring the temples and tombs in the rest of the country. Sharm el-Sheikh offers a wide variety of tourist attractions.
Plan your vacation with our list of the top tourist attractions in Sharm el-Sheikh and things to do while you are there.
Ras Mohammed National Park
Ras Mohammed National Park is one of the factors why we put Sharm el-Sheikh on the map for Egypt tourism.
This peninsula, 38 kilometers south of Sharm, is blessed with world-class dive sites and beautiful beaches. Sign up for an underwater tour and enjoy incredible snorkeling near the shore; the second most northern mangrove forest in the world; and a salty lake encompassed by lush wetlands.
Land-based, day trips that explore the peninsula’s desert environment and coastline provide a different experience from diving trips that focus on offshore reefs. Day trips usually have stops for swimming and snorkeling along the way.
The best beaches are Old Quay Beach, which has a top-notch coral reef easily reached from the shore, and Aqaba Beach.
If you’re in the area of Ras Mohammed, you’ll want to head to the Shark Observatory clifftop. You’ll get an incredible view of both the Egyptian and Saudi coasts on either side of the Red Sea.
Dive The Thistlegorm Wreck
To many expert divers, Sharm el-Sheikh means one thing: diving the Thistlegorm.
One of the top wreck dives in the world, this ship is packed full of cargo to resupply British troops during World War II. The ship was sunk by German bombers. Now fish can be found frolicking happily in its rooms and cargo holds, which are now filled with jeeps, motorbikes, and a variety of weaponry that never made it to the frontline.
The shipwreck is in the Gulf of Gubal, off the western coast of the Sinai Peninsula, which means that the diving trips are offered as overnight liveaboard tours.
Some of the most popular dive tours take in at least two dives to the Thistlegorm wreck site, plus additional dives at Dunraven sites on the way. And many include nighttime diving opportunities too.
Enjoy the Sun at Naama Bay
Fringed by a beach and swaying palm trees, Naama Bay is the main attraction of Sharm el-Sheikh’s vacation spot.
If you’re looking for a break from the sand, there are plenty of options to explore just outside the entrance to Naama Bay. You’ll find lots of restaurants, cafés, and souvenirs shops.
The whole of the beachfront is a pedestrian-only promenade sponsored by a cluster of luxury and mid-range resorts.
Naama Bay is a fantastic resort for those who want to take a break and unwind in the warm Egyptian sun. Facilities are superb with sunshades and loungers to suit all types of beachgoers, as well as several restaurants serving up the best in Mediterranean dishes to keep your energy levels up.
The entire sweep of the beach here is divided into separate areas owned by each of the resorts, when staying at a hotel, always check which beach is included.
Dive the Jolanda Reef Site
When you come to the Ras Mohammed Marine Park, Jolanda Reef is one of the major dive sites in the area.
Accessed by boat from Sham el-Sheikh these trips usually include Shark Reef, in addition to a kaleidoscope of fish life and corals to be seen.
Jolanda Reef is where the wreckage of the Jolanda ship that ran aground on its reef in 1980 can still be seen. The boat had been carrying a cargo of bathroom porcelain at the time, making this dive site an interesting place if you’re into shipwrecks.
There are many reasons to go diving in the waters around Shark Reef. Besides exploring the wreck site, you can also spend time admiring the beautiful coral wall colors of Shark Reef, and the stunning coral garden plateau of Jolanda Reef. Both are prime locations to find unique species of fish.
Divers regularly see Scorpionfish, crocodile fish, turtles, moray eels, and barracuda here.
Snorkel off Ras Um Sid Beach
One of the beaches in Sharm el-Sheikh that snorkeling enthusiasts will enjoy is Ras Um Sid Beach, right at the southern end of town.
Here, people relax on the beach or at the café on the cliff, between snorkeling trips into the water where an excellent coral reef is just offshore and so easily accessed by non-divers.
Ras Um Sid Reef is located a bit further out and is perfect for first-time divers. It’s also often used as a “try-dive” site for local dive operators.
If you’re not interested in snorkeling, don’t worry! There is plenty of fish to see near the shore!
Day Trip to Saint Catherine’s Monastery
St. Catherine’s Monastery has long been known as one of Egypt’s top visitor destinations due to its historical importance. It is situated near Mt. Sinai, the place where Moses supposedly received the Ten Commandments!
This Greek Orthodox hermitage was built before the reign of Christ and is home to the famous “burning bush”, an unusual sight for any visitor. as well as a small museum that contains one of the finest collections of religious icons and ancient manuscripts in the world.
The monastery is located 209 kilometers northwest of Sharm el-Sheikh. Guided tours are available, which include an overnight stay or an early morning departure.
Climb Mount Sinai
The Sinai is one of the most stunning places on earth – a rocky, mountainous heart beautifully stunning.
For a taste of this big, barren landscape, go inland from Sharm el-Sheikh for 209 kilometers to hike up Mount Sinai. The orange-hued peaks will stretch out before you.
This is the place where Moses received the 10 Commandments, revered by all three of the major monotheistic faiths. For many people, the summit hike has been a pilgrimage for many years. They usually combine it with a visit to St. Catherine’s Monastery, which is close to where the hike starts.
There are two trails to the top of the hill. The Camel ride is a well-worn switchback path, while the Steps of Repentance is a more difficult, but much more scenic, set off the stone-cut staircase that was carved by one of the monastery’s monks.
Most tours travel overnight from Sharm el-Sheikh before hiking up the Camel Trail so they can hike in the cool hours of the morning, and reach the summit of the mountain in time to see the sunrise.
Shark Bay Beach
One of Sharm el-Sheikh’s newer areas, Shark Bay is situated 11 kilometers north of Naama Bay.
The atmosphere around Shark Bay is notably more upscale than its surroundings, with some of Sharm’s top resorts and hotels found near the beautiful stretch of beach.
Along with Naama Bay is an example of how hotels take care of the beach area where they are located – you will find restaurants & cafes on the shore. You can also snorkel off the shore, which makes it a great place to experience marine life up close.
Whether you’re relaxing on the beach or exploring the many shops and restaurants nestled in Sharm El Sheikh’s Soho Square, Shark Bay resort’s visitors always choose to spend their entire vacation in the area, thanks to the many activities and facilities offered.
Dive Jackson Reef
The Straits of Tiran, at the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, houses some of Sharm el-Sheikh’s prime dive sites. Nestled within these Straits is Jackson Reef which should be added to your list of places to visit while staying at Sharm.
This site is the furthest north in the Tiran Strait, and it’s famous for being a top spot to see hammerhead sharks and manta rays.
The reef is home to a wide variety of coral species – both soft and hard. Advanced divers can gently explore the wreck of the freighter Lara, which ran aground in 1981.
Take a Day Trip to Dahab
Dahab is a town located 90 kilometers north of Sharm el-Sheikh. The destination is great for those looking for a backpacker beach resort holiday experience.
The coastline is lined with open-air cafés and restaurants, while on the main street, there’s a little shopping area where you can find souvenir shops and artisan workshops.
The diving and snorkeling here are incredible, and it’s easy to see why most people choose to base themselves in Dahab for a dive-centric vacation.
One of the great things about Dahab is its relaxed atmosphere if you’re looking for a day away from Sharm el-Sheikh.
Snorkeling & Diving the Blue Hole
The Sinai’s most notable dive site is the Blue Hole, just north of Dahab and only 100 kilometers north of Sharm el-Sheikh.
A lot of people know about this sinkhole because of the unfortunate deaths related to it. People who have died here were mostly divers who were going way past their limits for recreational diving. It’s safe to dive here as long as you stay within reasonable boundaries. The beautiful fish life and incredible vistas of the water below make it an amazing dive.
The Blue Hole is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in the area, it has all kinds of sea life that you can see near the surface and has lots of sharks if you want to go deeper.
Wreck Dive the Dunraven Site
The SS Dunraven had been traveling back from India to the UK when it sunk just off the tip of the Sinai Peninsula in 1876.
This broken 80-meter steamship became home to a rich variety of fish. The inside of its hull is lined with barnacles and creates an almost perfect home for this little underwater community.
You can regularly spot big groups of colorful reef fish with cardinalfish, goatfish, scorpionfish, and pipefish all wandering the same area.
The Dunraven is only two hours from Sharm el-Sheikh (by boat) to get to a dive site. Locals often combine a trip here with a day trip to one of the other nearby dive sites in Ras Mohammed Marine Park or as an overnight live-aboard journey from Sharm el-Sheikh.
Snorkel or Dive the Gardens Sites
One of the top snorkeling and diving spots in Sharm El-Sheikh is Gardens Reef which you can access from Naama Bay. The reef starts at the shore and extends offshore.
This reef system contains three snorkeling and diving sites: Near Garden, Middle Garden, and Far Garden. Both types of access (shore and boat) will take you to different locations within this system.
If you’re looking for a place to just snorkel, Near Garden is the best spot. It’s easy to access and features wonderful coral pinnacles with plenty of fish around (butterflyfish, flitting clownfish)
The Far & Middle Gardens are known to be great beginner-friendly dive sites for divers. They allow you to experience the wonderful diving that this region has to offer.
Dive Thomas Reef
Thomas Reef is the tiniest reef in the Straits of Tiran. It’s known for its soft coral bedding, which makes it a popular destination for tourists who are diving as part of a day trip to one or more of the other Straits-of-Tiran reefs.
Non-experienced divers should be cautious when jumping in because of the strong currents. Technical divers also frequent the site as it’s home to the deep “three arches” area.
If you’re interested in sea life, Reef trips can tell you about the fish that live here and the different kinds that you might see while drift-diving. You may also get to see rainbow-colored soft and branching corals, which are some of the most striking and vibrant in this area.
Explore the Colored Canyon
The dazzling Colored Canyon in the Sinai Peninsula is one of the top tourist attractions in Sharm El-Sheikh for people looking to enjoy out-of-the-water scenery.
The canyon is situated about 177 kilometers north of Sharm el-Sheikh and offers visitors a glimpse of the natural beauty of the desert. The wind and water have carved out the rock for centuries.
The canyon walls provide a great opportunity for visitors to take a close-up look at the striations of the rock while scrambling along the canyon surface. The stripes of red and pink that cover the face of the rock are simply stunning.
If you’re into the natural scene, this is one of Sharm el-Sheikh’s popular days out. Exploring the spectacular shapes and colors of the boulders and pinnacles offers some awesome photography opportunities.
If you want to visit, it is recommended that you wear walking shoes with good tread and make sure to bring along lots of water.
Shop at Sharm Old Market
The Sharm Old Market is the town’s Bazaar where you will find an abundance of traditional goods like Arabic lamps and finely engraved woodwork and traditional shisha pipes.
One of the best times to visit the “Souq” is at sunset when the heat of the day has died down. You’ll be able to shop and browse without feeling too hot or bothered.
If you’re looking to explore the city’s lively nightlife, this neighborhood is perfect. There are also plenty of either cheap or cheerful restaurants and cafes.
It is one of the best places in Sharm El-Sheikh where there are plenty of restaurants that offer traditional Egyptian cuisine. You can even find shisha, Arabic coffee, and other traditional cafés.
At the edge of the market area, is the new Al-Sahaba Mosque with architectural influences from Fatimid, Mamluk, and Ottoman styles.
Tours & Excursions in Sharm Elsheikh
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