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Exploring Egypt: Five fun spots for the perfect Eid break

Wondering where to go during the Eid holiday? Ahram Online has five great suggestions

Lina El Wardani , Wednesday 7 Sep 2016
Mahmya island, Hurghada
Sunset at Mahmya island, Hurghada, Red Sea, Egypt. (Photo: Lina El Wardani)
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Summer is almost over, and the coming Eid break might be the last chance to hit the beaches or enjoy a dip in the pool before the weather gets cold. With that in mind, we've got five great options where you can enjoy the last of summer during the break. 

Ras Sudr, Red Sea
Moon Beach hotel offers a friendly beach for kids and dogs. (Photo: Lina El Wardani)

1. Ras Sudr

Ras Sudr is a small town located on the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea coast, and it's a relatively short ride compared with the other Sinai resorts. If you're travelling by car, Ras Sudr is the first stop after the Shahid Ahmed Hamdi on the way to Sinai.

The town is a part of the governorate of South Sinai, and consists of four areas: Wadi Sidr, Abu Sidr, Ras Matarma, and Soerp.

The place is heaven for watersports lovers; from kitesurfing, to canoeing, to windsurfing, Ras Sudr has it all. Given that, it's best to choose where to stay based on which sport you're interested in.

If you're into kitesurfing, or you want to learn, stay at the Creative Green Hotel, the Paradise Hotel, the Hacienda Beach Hotel, or the Kiteloop Hotel, which has its own kitesurfing facility.

Rooms range from EGP 500 to EGP 1000 a night depending on room type, size, and meal options.

There are also beginner courses provided by many water sports centres like the Kite Surfing village, the Kite Buzz, 360 Kite Surfing Centre, and Fly Kite Surfing Centre.

Creative Green Hotel: Suez Road 79. Phone: 02 22684514

Kite surfing village: 02 393 558 8777

The Kite Buzz: Address: Paradise Resort, Ras Sudr, Ras Sudr, South Sinai Governorate
Phone: 0112 554 5616

If you are into windsurfing. however, the place to be is Ras Matarma.

Our two favourite places to stay here are Moon Beach Hotel, which has its own very friendly windsurfing centre with a range of courses catering to both kids and adults.

Moon Beach Hotel: http://www.moonbeachresort.com/ Phone: 002 01005146219

Rooms at the hotel range from EGP 650 to EGP 850 a night on a half board basis, and the hotel is kid and dog friendly. There are swings and slides for the little ones right on the beach, and there are also speedboats, pedalos and canoes.

Pedalo fun
Moon beach surfing center offers a full range of water sports for adults and youngsters. For families pedlos are so much fun. (Photo: Lina El Wardani)

If you're not much of a sports fanatic, you can enjoy a drink at the beach instead, swim in the warm sun, or take advantage of Sinai's incredibly clear night skies and do some stargazing. If you're lucky, shooting stars can also be spotted at night.

There is also Matarma Bay Hotel, a luxurious lodge by the beach in Ras Matarma. Rooms range from EGP 600 to EGP 900 on a bed and breakfast basis. Accommodation is quite basic, and rooms come without fridges or dressers. But the beds are huge and extremely comfortable, and all the rooms are air-conditioned, which can be very welcome in the heat of Sinai.

The restaurant is also very nice and is open all day long, cooking creative and fresh meals. The complimentary breakfast is delicious: Egyptian bread, foul, cheese and tomatoes, and omelettes all fresh and served in the communal Bedouin style dinning area right by the sea.

Matarma Bay Hotel: Ras Sedr - El Tor Rd, Qesm Abu Znimah, South Sinai Governorate
Phone: 002 0102 507 5888

El Gouna
The beach of Mahmya island offers pristine waters, great snorkeling, and white soft sands. (Photo by Lina El Wardani)

2. El-Gouna

If you have time to drive a bit further along the Gulf of Suez, you can find the Red Sea paradise of El-Gouna around 500 kilometres south of Cairo. El-Gouna is just 20 kilometres north of Hurghada; the resort was developed in the 1990s by Egyptian business tycoon Samih Sawiris and Orascom Hotels and Development.

El-Gouna specialises in watersports, including scuba-diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, waterskiing, parasailing and snorkelling.

There are two main beaches: Zeytuna Beach, located on its own island, and Mangroovy Beach. A network of canals dotted with pretty stone bridges allows many houses to have their own strip of beach, even hundreds of metres inland. In fact, the scenic island is so picturesque it has been dubbed “the Egyptian Riviera.”

There are three centralised areas in El-Gouna, housing shops, bars and restaurants: Downtown, Tamr Henna Square and the Abu Tig Marina.

You can choose your accommodation from one of El-Gouna's 18 hotels with 2,895 rooms rated from three to five stars. Price ranges from EGP 500 to EGP 1500 depending on accommodation type, hotel class, location and holiday season.

If you're after some luxury this Eid, the five-star Movenpick and Sheraton Miramor both have their own private beaches and swimming pools, while the Steigenberger Hotel doesn't have a private beach but offers several swimming pools and lagoons.

For something a bit more wallet-friendly, take a look at the smaller three-star hotes in the heard of the resort's downtown area. You can get around in tuk-tuks manned by friendly drivers, or even by speedboat.

You can also choose to stay in the most attractive area, the marina, which hosts El-Gouna's fancy yachts. It also has access to the open beach; you can buy a ticket for EGP 100 and enjoy an umbrella, a sunbed and swim as much as you want. There's a restaurant, bar and café on the beach and at night the marina sometimes hosts live music.

El Gouna also has public beaches like Element where you can sip bedouin tea and coffee and enjoy the nature, in this unspoiled natural beach. 

Other attractions and activities around town include a small aquarium which the little ones will love, a go-kart track, a paintball arena, tennis courts, stables and a football stadium.

You can also enjoy a boat trip to one of the most beautiful islands in Egypt, Mahmya Island. There are two daily trips from the port in Hurghada, one leaving at 8:30 am and the other at 10am. Boats come back at sunset. If you're lucky, you can spot schools of dolphins playing in the water on your way to the beautiful island.

Red sea dolphins
If you are lucky, you can spot the amazing playful Red Sea dolphins on your to Mahmya island. (Photo by Lina El Wardani)

The island trip costs EGP 250, and children under 6 travel for free. That price includes boat ride both ways, snorkelling equipment, life jackets, sunbeds and umbrellas.

Once on the island you can enjoy the crystal clear water, which is shallow enough for both adults and youngsters to swim and snorkel safely. There are also restaurants, cafes and bars and even a fish tank spa on the beach, for an unforgettable day.

For Mahmya booking day trips call 002 01001119792. 

Overall El-Gouna is a real treat for friends, families and couples.

The resort can be reached by bus, car, or by flying to Hurghada.

Hotels and vacation rentals could be booked through the friendly website of http://www.elgouna.com

Sidi Abdel Rahman
Al-Alamein hotel in Marassi resort, Sidi Abdel Rahman in Sahel (Photo: Zeinab El-Gundy)

3. Sahel

Egypt's lovely Mediterranean coast is the place to be if you like white, sandy beaches, turquoise water with high waves, and cool sea breezes.

Sahel is not just about the beaches though; there's plenty to do once the sun has gone down, with many restaurants, bars, and some nightlife spots too.

This popular destination is a bit pricey though; hotels range from EGP 2,000 to EGP 10,000 per night. You can also rent a villa or an apartment in one of the many beach-side compounds from EGP 750 to EGP 3,000, depending on the compound.

One of the best parts about the north coast is that it's so close; by car from Cairo it's only around 2 and a half hours. There are also regular buses between Cairo and some of the more popular compounds.

Ain El-Sokhna
Ain El-Sokhna beach (Photo: Salma Shukrallah)

4. Ain Sokhna

Just an hour from Cairo, you can find yourself on the Red Sea, enjoying the quiet beaches of Ain Sokhna.

There are plenty of places to stay, including the Stella Di Mare Grand Hotel, the Golf Hotel, the Sea Club, as well as the Movenpick, Jazz Little Venice, or the Ramada Hotel. Rooms range between EGP 700 and EGP 1500 on a half board basis.

Stella Di Mare: Address: km 46 Suez - Hurghada Road، Ain Soukhna
Phone: 0100 177 4781

Movenpick: 64 km Suez-Zaafarana Road, El Ein El Sokhna, Suez Governorate
Phone: 062 3390800

Jazz Little Venice: 062 3420870

Azhar Park
Al Azhar park is the perfect spot for family picnics (Photo by Mai Shaheen)

5 .Cairo

If you don't feel like travelling, the Eid holiday has some advantages: Cairo's streets are almost empty and the city has lots to offer.

You can spend a day at Seasons Country Club in the satellite city of 6 October, on the Cairo-Alexandria highway, where you can enjoy the greenery, gardens, playgrounds and swimming pools. There is also a restaurant, bar and a café, offering some delicious choices – we recommend their chicken tandoori, or go for the quinoa salad if you're after something a bit lighter.

Entrance fee to the club is EGP 200 for adults and EGP 100 for kids.

Seasons Country Club: www.seasonscountryclub.com 

KM 18 Cairo-Alex Desert Road، Giza, 12556
Phone: 02 38387389

And who said you can't chill by the beach in Cairo? The JW Marriott in Mirage City in Qattameya has an artificial beach pool with gentle waves, and you can book a night or day use at the hotel for around EGP 1,000.

JW Mariott Hotel Cairo: Ring Road- Mirage City- Box 427 Heliopolis
02 24115588 

For those on a budget, Eid in Cairo still has plenty to offer, like people-watching among the greenery in Al-Azhar park. Go early in the morning to see families paying a visit to their departed loved ones in the nearby cemeteries, then flocking to the gardens to enjoy their picnics. Don't forget to pick the dates from palm trees and enjoy a free snack.

Happy Eid everyone!

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