Nuweiba to Taba
The coastline between Nuweiba and Taba is Egypt's last bastion of the traditional beach camp. For years this region's business came from Israelis looking for a closer-to-home Goa, but unfortunately political turmoil in recent years has kept them away, and other travellers are still to venture north and discover this tranquil beach-bum haven.
If you're looking for a family-friendly beach resort far removed from the rough and tumble of real life, look no further. The brainchild of Egyptian billionaire Onsi Sawiris, El-Gouna is a self-contained holiday town frequented by Egypt's chi-chi set and by Europeans on package tours.
Beni Suef is a provincial capital, 120km south of Cairo. From antiquity until at least the 16th century it was famous for its linen. In the 19th century was still sufficiently important to have an American consulate, but there is now little to capture the traveller’s interest beyond the sight of a provincial city at work.
The Nile Delta
North of Cairo, the Nile River divides into two branches that enter the Mediterranean at the old ports of Damietta and Rosetta, forming one of the most fertile and most cultivated regions in the world. Laced with countless waterways, the lush, fan-shaped Delta region is a relaxing counterpoint to Cairo’s grit and the desert’s austerity.
Ras Sudr (or simply Sudr) was originally developed as the base town for one of Egypt’s largest oil refineries, though its coastline and proximity to Cairo have spurred its transition into a resort area for wealthy Cairene families. The town centre lies just off the main highway, while to the south and north lie a handful of ageing resorts interspersed with holiday villas.
Sidi Abdel Rahman
The gorgeous beaches of Sidi Abdel Rahman are the raison d’être for this growing resort hamlet, and with charter flights between Europe and nearby El Alamein (23km east), development is likely to continue. Several resorts take prime position on the sparkling waters and white sands of the Mediterranean and are the major draw – though there is little else to see or do here.
The largest city in the Delta, Tanta is an easy place to sample slower-paced Delta life, as it’s accessible by good trains. It’s a major centre for Sufism, and home to a large mosque dedicated to Al-Sayyed Ahmed al-Badawi, a Moroccan Sufi who fought the Crusaders in the 13th century.
Zagazig & Bubastis
Just outside the city of Zagazig (Egyptians say ‘za’-a-zi’) are the ruins of Bubastis, one of the country’s most ancient cities. Serious Egyptology buffs will an enjoy a visit to the temple that’s dedicated to the resident deity, the elegant cat goddess Bastet. It’s an easy outing to combine with the larger Tanis.
Ras Abu Gallum Protectorate
The starkly beautiful Ras Abu Gallum Protectorate covers 400 sq km of coastline between Dahab and Nuweiba, mixing coastal mountains, narrow valleys, sand dunes and fine-gravel beaches with several excellent diving and snorkelling sites. Scientists describe the area as a ‘floristic frontier’, in which Mediterranean conditions are influenced by a tropical climate.
Al-Tor, also known as Tur Sinai, has been a significant port since ancient times, although today it primarily serves as the administrative capital of the South Sinai Governorate. Due to its stiff and constant breezes, Al-Tor has been trying in recent years to establish itself as a wind- and kitesurfing destination.