Hurghada

Hurghada is the urban gateway to the Red Sea Mountain Trail. The town’s name is a derivation of the Bedouin word El Ghardaqa – a drought resistant shrub found on the Red Sea coast – and was probably coined by English speaking oil workers in the region. Hurghada began its modern life as an oil field and a century ago was home to just a few houses, a post office and a small jetty. It remained little more than a minor settlement – to which the Bedouin of the mountains would travel only to buy essential supplies like rice and sugar – until its potential as a beach destination was realised in recent decades. Within the last 30 years Hurghada has seen huge investment and unbridled development to become an international tourism destination and the capital of Egypt’s enormous Red Sea Governorate. Tourists visit Hurghada the whole year round and Egyptians from Luxor, Qena and other towns of Upper Egypt all live and work here today. The town has a mix of people from across Egypt and as a more authentic Egyptian atmosphere than other Red Sea resort towns. Getting to Hurghada is easy and any hike on the Red Sea Mountain Trail can be organised from here. 

Quick orientation

Hurghada has several distinct areas. The oldest and most northerly hub of town – where bus stations and cheap accommodation is found – is known as Dahar. For most hikers, this will be Hurghada’s most important district. Dahar has two big streets: Sharia el Nasr – on which Hurghada’s main bus station is located – and Sharia el Bahr, which runs along the coast connecting to Hurghada’s port. These two streets meet near Hurghada’s beautiful El Meena mosque. Near the mosque is the fish market and Hurghada's Marina: a promenade of restaurants and bars. The district of Sigaala is south of here and Sharia Sheraton – one of Hurghada’s busiest streets – runs through the middle of it. Further south is El Mamsha: a tourist district of shopping malls and high-end hotels. The Khushmaan Quarter, near Dahar, is where many of the Bedouin tribesmen from the Maaza in Hurghada live together today. 

Getting there & away

Travelling by air

Hurghada airport handles international flights from Europe and beyond. Domestic flights depart between Hurghada and Cairo multiple times daily taking one hour. Three times weekly a direct flight also runs between Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh in South Sinai, taking roughly 25 mins. Most domestic flights are operated by Egypt Air. You can book online or in Egypt Air offices in Cairo or Hurghada. Egyptian visas can be purchased on arrival at Hurghada airport (USD25) or online before you depart for Egypt. 

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Overland options

Bus services connect Hurghada to towns all over Egypt. Go Bus is the best for travelling between Hurghada and Cairo. Different classes of bus run day and night, departing Cairo's Go Bus station in the downtown district (near the Ramses Hilton Hotel). Hurghada's Go Bus station is on Sharia El Nasr, between Dahar and Sigaala. Tickets cost LE150-LE350 and travelling times are roughly seven hours. Also operating between Cairo and Hurghada is High Jet. 11 buses go both ways daily, costing between LE145-LE190. In Cairo, High Jet buses depart from Sharia Ahmed Helmi near the main railway station at Midan Ramses. The High Jet bus station is at the southern end of Sharia Nasr in Hurghada. For travel between Hurghada and Upper Egypt, Go Bus has a daily service between Hurghada and Luxor (five hours, LE110). The Upper Egypt Bus Company also runs daily buses between Hurghada and Luxor (five hours, LE85) and Hurghada and Aswan (10 hours, LE130). The Upper Egypt Bus Station is found on Sharia El Nasr in Dahar. For towns on Egypt's Red Sea coast, the Go Bus Hurghada-Cairo service can be used for travel to Ras Gharib (2-3 hours) and Ein Sukhna (4-5 hours). The Upper Egypt Bus Company runs three daily buses between Hurghada and Marsa Alam (five hours, LE80).

Over the Red Sea

A small boat operated by La Pespes sails between Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh taking 2.5 hours. This is one of the nicest ways to travel between the Sinai and Hurghada and avoids driving a 12 hour, country-sized hairpin around the Gulf of Suez. In Hurghada, tickets can be purchased at a small office opposite the main port (LE550). The High Jet bus office sells tickets in Sharm el Sheikh. The ferry does not have fixed times and may be cancelled in bad weather. Its operation has also been known to temporarily halt for several months at a time before resuming again. 

Getting around

Taxis

Taxis can be found any time of day or night in Hurghada. They are orange and navy and are supposed to use meters, but many drivers abandoned these in 2018 believing their counters were not keeping up with rising fuel prices. Expect to pay fares of LE30-40 between Dahar and El Mamsha and LE20-30 over shorter distances such as Dahar to Sigaala or Sigaala to El Mamsha. From any of these districts to Hurghada's airport pay LE100-LE120. If you are arriving at the airport and moving on, taxis will charge considerably more, fully aware there is no public transport, and you have no other options except them. The Red Sea Mountain Trail can help arrange airport transfers too. Uber also arrived in Hurghada in 2018, giving another option for getting around. 

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White minibuses

White minibuses are the cheapest option for getting around town. They run along every major street and are hailed like taxis. Once inside pass the fare money over the heads in front of you to the driver. Fares will be around LE4-5 between Dahar and El Mamsha and LE2-3 between Dahar and Sigaala or Sigaala and El Mamsha. Try to give the driver exact change. Another option is to walk, nothing is more than a few kilometres away.