Sharm el-Sheikh (شرم الشيخ, also transliterated as Sharm ash Shaykh and popularly known simply as "Sharm") is a well-known port and resort town at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, popular with package holiday makers and divers.
Sharm el-Sheikh is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Arab world. But there are also some very good reasons to visit it if you are not the common tourist, who likes to lay on the beach all day. It is one of the finest diving spots in the world and a trip into the desert is an unforgettable adventure.
The Sinai Peninsula is a remote desert mountain range. The rocky mountains are parted from the deep-blue sea by a flat desert strip. This combination of desert and sea is an incredible sight and makes you believe you are on a different planet.
About 40 years ago, Sharm el-Sheikh was nothing but a small fishing village with about 100 citizens. When Sinai was occupied by Israel Sharm el-Sheikh started to develop as a tourist destination (like the rest of the peninsula). Israelis evacuated Sinai following the signing of a peace agreement between the two countries. Since the 1980's the Egyptians have been continuing the development of Sharm where the Israelis left, but in a much slower pace. Sharm's 100 grew into a bustling 10,000 population. There is now a nice promenade, a Hard Rock Cafe, one of the most modern hospitals in Egypt and so on.
It also serves as the playground for rich youth from Cairo who come to dive and party in Sharm. They are usually very friendly and love to show off their money and fancy cars, which are a somewhat rarity in Sharm. The exteremely liberal attitude they have is somewhat shocking to most westerners as it includes public drug abuse and alcohol consumption as well as other things like street racing infront of the police. The police tend to avoid them due to their powerful families.
Na'ama Bay part of the city is the center of nightlife and dining: most of Sharm's clubs, cafes, restaurants and shops are here.
See Sinai for information on the Sinai visit pass, which allows visa-free travel for up to 14 days.
Sharm el-Sheikh Airport (IATA: SSH) (ICAO: HESH) is the largest in the Sinai and receives planeloads of charter tourists daily in the winter high season. The only airline for local flights is EgyptAir . Your travel agent may have trouble booking flights with them but they can also be booked via Expedia  or Travelocity .
For departures: timetable shows only nearest 1-2 hours, makes you watch over the row of check-in desks for your flight number.
Cafes after security check are: Sbarro (overcrowded), Cafe Europa' (on the back of the lounge, less crowded): sandwiches, coffee, Egyptian sweets; outlet of Caffè Ritazza international chain coming soon (also in Athens, Budapest, Madrid, Milan, London, Paris, New York, Stockholm, Zurich, Vienna).
Shops in the airport
After security check: Patisserie offers lucums, khalva and other Egyptian sweets.
International Fast Ferries  runs fast boats to Hurghada on the mainland Red Sea Coast, currently running four times weekly. The ride takes 1.5 hours and costs 250/450 LE one-way/return for foreigners. Warning: this ride is notoriously bumpy and prone to cancellations.
By car / By bus
Sharm el-Sheikh can be reached by driving down the eastern coast from Eilat (Israel) via Nuweiba and Dahab, or via the western coast from Cairo. There are daily buses for both routes. It is 6 hours' drive from Cairo. The drive is interesting with beautiful scenaries, throughout the route.
In Sharm the taxis are generally modern models, either Hyundai or Chevrolet. Be prepared to pay upwards from 100 LE to get from the airport to the town center.
There are also a fleet of blue and white tuk-tuk's, which are basically small buses which are used to ferry the locals around the region. These are a most economical method of transport compared to taxis, which are very expensive. To hail a tuk-tuk simply wait next to the side of the main street and raise your hand to flag one down as it approaches. A single fare to anywhere in Sharm will cost around 5 LE.
There is a bus station in Sharm which will take you to other cities at a cheap price. A taxi driver will be able to tell you where it is.
- Excursions to St Catherines Monastery, Mount Sinai, Petra, Cairo, Luxor and Jerusalem are available from Sharm, as well as desert safaris by jeep or quad bike and numerous watersports and diving activities.
- Sharm Old Town Hail a taxi or local bus to take you to to the Sharm Old Town, ask the driver for the old market. This is a much different experience for tourists staying in the Na'ama Bay area.
A visit to the desert is highly recommended. Various trips to the Bedouins, the beautiful Coloured Canyon and beyond to Mount Sinai. The more adventurous should try to find a private guide, who takes them for a few days into the mountain desert with a camel. You will walk through hidden valleys, rest at secret oasis and during the night you sleep under a breathtaking firmament.
An unusual sight and a bit exotic for a westerner are huge fans pumping fresh air to street cafes and terraces near hotels.
Diving is the main activity in Sharm el-Sheikh. When you dive into the warm water of the Red Sea and leave the remote desert behind, you will enter a world full of life and colours.
- The reefs of Tiran and Ras Mohammed are known as two of the best diving-spots in the world. They can be reached by boat from Sharm within two hours. Ras Mohammed is the name of the southern most point of the Sinai peninsula. There, the current of the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Gulf of Suez. Due to the increase of plankton in the water the amount of fish is incredible. Huge schools of Barracudas, Sharks and Murrays can be seen there every day.
- The disadvantage of its popularity is that you may find up to 20 boats at the same reef. If you take a daily-boat you may enjoy your dive in the company of fifty other divers.
- Smarter divers book a diving safari. This way you avoid the crowds at the popular spots and have the possibility to dive beautiful reefs way beyond the reach of any daytripping boats. The overall costs of a diving safari does not exceed daily diving and it saves you a lot of stress.
Reputable operators include:
- Emperor Divers. 
- Enigma Charters. 
- Oonas Dive Center. 
- RedSea Diving College. 
- Diving Ocean. 
- Ultimate Diving Holidays. 
- Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village. 
- Stables at Sofitel Hotel. Helpful personnel. Require helmets (provided); several pairs of riding boots available. After the ride, offer you to give showers to your horse. Bambi and Kelly are declared as the fastest horses. Too far from the desert: in 2-hours route, only 40 minutes is actual ride in desert, the remainder time is spent to get there and to return back. For 2 hours, better choose stables at the edge of desert.EUR45 for 2 hours.
There are dozens of operators who seem to use just the same route, length and sequence of stops: when you drive, you meet many groups who follow just the same route as yours. There are several really shaky pieces of the route, very much like a washboard.
Wear a long-sleeved shirt; shoes are safer than sandals. Expect all your wear (and skin) to be covered with grey dust.
2 hours of riding is just enough for a non-professional rider; expect several stops along the way. It's ideal to start your ride at 4pm or later--to catch a sunset and ride back when air is not that hot.
At departure point, choose a bike in the beginning of the motorcade: being one of the first allows to drive faster, and results in less dust.
- Tiba Safari / Tiba Trip. Sold by Orbit agency and many others. Groups are 10-15 bikes; two persons per bike is allowed (although bikes are originally designed for a single person). Tasting Berber tea is very risky for your stomach--proven several times. Group is accompanied by a car with camcorder--video is not worth buying, and the car generates much extra dust (you can't do much with it unless your whole group ask in advance to not make video at all).$20 single person per bike for 2 hrs; $25 for two people sharing the same bike for 2 hrs.
Para sailing is very enjoyable. But, for a less than 5 mts ride, they charge 260 pounds for 2 persons and 220 pounds for one person.
The best place to do this is in the Sinai desert on a tour with the Sinai's on their own bred camels. After this you can look up at the desert stars at midnight after having a homemade meal cooked by the Sinais themselves.
- Beirut Bay, Bowling St. - Naama Bay(infront of Blom Bank), ☎ +20 (69) 360 1033. 11:00 am - 2:00 am. With most of the dry components (herbs & alike) used in the food process brought from Lebanon; gives the food the REAL Lebanese taste. With almost all range of different Lebanese Mezza & favorite Lebanese BBQ.Fair prices ''expect to pay, LE 8 for mezza, LE 30-55 main course''..
- Fawanes Cafe. Lebanese cuisine. Good place for waterpipes; order a smaller one (Fawanes); apple one is ideal.
- Safsafa. Probably one of the best fish cafes in the town. A rare place where grilled calmaras are really good. The only don't is a mixed plate (lobster is dry there)--better order the same mix fish by fish.
- Tempo Cafe. Features some percentage of locals. Waiters are uniformed in disctinctive orange-and-green. Waterpipe is good, but when served for several people (with many hoses), the menu price may be multiplied by number of people--ask in advance; maybe it's just a scam.
- Indian Restaurants. There are 3 Indian restaurants are there. One is Maharaja, on the beach pathway. Other two are India House Restaurants, of Thai Chain hotels. One is the old market and another one, opposite little Buddha, on the road near Taxi stand. Can get Indian menus.
- IL Mercato, . A very nice place with more than 200 restaurants and coffee shops
Guava fresh juice is a must-try, excellent in any cafe.
Alcohol (including beer) is available in restaurants and street cafes. Travellers must be aware that taxes are now levied on alcoholic drinks that are purchased in cafes or bars that are not associated with the hotels. Please also be aware of drink prices in general as they can be relatively expensive, compared to other european destinations. Always ask to see a drinks menu before ordering a drink.
- Black House. Second famous venue after Pacha club. Presumably owned by Russians.
- Ministry of Sound Red Sea, Pacha/Sanafir hotel, ☎ +31624930603. 23-03.45.
- Pacha club, Sanafir hotel, Naama Bay, ☎ +20(69)360-0197-8, . One of the most famous dancing clubs.
- IL Mercato : a very nice place with more than 200 restaurants and coffee shops www.ilmercatosharm.com
Most hotels in Sharm, particularly in the Na'ama Bay area cater for package tourists. There are mostly 3-6 star all-inclusive hotels and there are very few (if any) budget options
Others are quite far from Naama Bay, so you either are tied to their all-included ration, or need to pay for taxi for every dinner in Naama (although taxi is inexpensive from most of hotels).
For hotels in Na'ama Bay itself, their territory is frequently crossed by a pedestrian street, so the beach may appear across the street from the hotel building--obviously affecting privacy even when using a hotel's pool.
- Savoy. Extremely spacious and modern rooms.
- Sierra. Very small territory for its number of visitors. Airport is very close, and planes fly over the hotel's territory.
- Sofitel. Large territory is isolated and private, but still within walking distance from Naama Bay--allowing pleasant promenades through a flower alley for a dinner in Naama. Moroccan-style interior and territory decoration; territory smothered in flowers. Very courteous staff--compared to many other resorts of this grade in Sharm. Built around late 80s-early 90s, as bathrooms equipment suggests; plastic chairs on most private terraces. Large swimming pool, tennis court (pay for electric light only?), gym, horse stables available. 3 private beaches, each with a private piece of a coral reef right near the beach.
- Restaurants: Horizon Bar overlooking the sea; terraces next to the pool both serve dishes from the main restaurant where the breakfast is served. Caesar salad is fine; lentil soup is not spicy and pretty good (if you like lentil soup). Pizzas are quite rubbery. Cucumber soup cold and strange. There's also an Indian restaurant, not reviewed by wikitravellers yet.
- Breakfast: 6:30AM-10:30AM; buffet is not refilled after 10AM. Good choice of traditional breakfast meals; custom-made omlettes and fried eggs; coffee is American only; cocoa is made of instant. Whole fruits are not served, but all components for fruit salad are.
- Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh, Gardens Bay, PO Box 58, South Sinai, ☎ +20 69 360 1234(email@example.com), . 5 star resort style hotel with 439 rooms and suites, a watersports centre and a spa.
- Maritim Royal Peninsula Hotel & Resort, .
- Grand Rotana Resort & Spa, . About ten minutes from the airport.
The only Five Stars Plus resorts are:
- Four Seasons.
- Ritz Carlton.
- Mount Sinai — a holy mountain known for the ancient Monastery of St. Catherine.
This page was last edited at 02:40, on 17 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Denis Yurkin, Wikitravel user(s) Morph, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.