Hurghada is an old fishing town that became a popular base for diving in the 1960s. As a result of the 1967 war between Egypt and Israel, Hurghada was closed to tourism and did not reopen until 1976. By this time, Sharm El-Sheikh, which was under Israeli occupation, was flourishing as a diving town. Hurghada had a lot of catching up to do.

Now, with a population of about 50,000, and some 75 hotels in and around town, Hurghada is definitely a Red Sea hot spot. Vacationers flock here in fall and winter specifically for its mild climate. But if it's sun, sand, and sea that you're after, other areas along Egypt's Red Sea Coast have more appealing beaches and desert diversions. Come to Hurghada if you're into scuba diving, however.

Hurghada has grown inexorably in the last decade, and almost all the development is tourism-related. The first hotels took the town beachfront. The oldest hotel here is the Sheraton (closed at this writing), and it is often used as a landmark. The main boulevard, with its 15 car-splitting speed bumps, is called Shar‘a Sheraton in the Sakalla district. Newer development stretches north along the road to Cairo and south through the newly gentrified Old Vic Village district, the 20 km (12 miles) to Sahl Hasheesh Bay where vast all-inclusive resort hotels are set in ample grounds.

This town is known for its strong north-northwesterly winds, so if you plan to lounge about, find a spot with a protective windbreak. From April to October, the hotter months, be prepared to battle the bugs: mosquitoes, light-brown desert flies, and other flying insects have nasty bites. Bring bug repellent and spend your time in the sea.

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