Getting Oriented in The Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea Coast

Because the Sinai Peninsula and Red Sea Coast both have seaside activities and ancient monasteries—the most impressive mountain scenery is in the Sinai—you don't need to go to both areas. Air connections are limited and unreliable. To avoid long desert drives, you can fly from Cairo, Luxor, or Alexandria to your beach resort of choice. The resorts on the Red Sea Coast are also best reached by plane (or by road from Luxor). Bur Sa‘id is best seen as a day trip from Cairo or as a stopover on the way to the Sinai if you are going by road.

  • The Sinai Peninsula. Come here for spectacular desert mountainscapes, the natural home of the Bedouin peoples, and Saint Catherine's Monastery. Around the fringes, the growing resorts of the coast offer excellent rest and relaxation, including some of the world's best diving and Egypt's best beaches, especially near Sharm El-Sheikh. From Taba it's possible to take a day trip to fabled Petra in Jordan.
  • The Red Sea Coast. Excellent diving, great beaches, and a wealth of water sports are the major draws of this coast, which is popular with European vacationers for its year-round sunshine. The main destination is Hurghada. Beaches here are not quite as good as those on the Sinai Peninsula, but the diving is even better.
  • The Suez Canal. Visit the canal region if you like 19th-century architecture and an authentic small-town Egyptian atmosphere. Don't visit if you're seeking ancient monuments or great beach resorts. Most people visit on a day trip from Cairo, but those who appreciate a slower pace may wish to spend the night.

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