It’s not always easy choosing a travel destination, particularly on a limited annual vacation allotment. Do you go the full cultural route and return with memory cards full of ancient ruins or just flop on the beach? To put it another way, would you rather your friends envied your sophistication or your tan?
With a carefully chosen itinerary for Egypt, you can activate the full gamut of buddy envy.
The Giza Pyramids and the Luxor Temple are a feast for the eyes but prolonged exposure can lead to overload; let’s call it hieroglyph blindness. When the carvings are swimming before your eyes, it’s time for time-out. While Sharm el Sheikh, near the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, has long been a resort favorite, visitors are increasingly sticking to the Egyptian mainland. The Red Sea coast around Hurghada enjoys year-round sunshine and is readily accessible from Luxor or Cairo, making it perfect for a quick side-trip.
Hurghada has the markets, shisha bars and other hallmarks of authentic Egyptian cities, but the development which has followed the influx of tourists hasn’t always been sympathetic. Still, there’s a wide range of restaurants and accommodation, and the water here is crystal clear, no more so than on uninhabited Giftun Island, the desert island of your dreams.
If your budget stretches a bit further, you may want to head out of the city. To the north is El Gouna, built on a network of canals and lagoons, mostly artificial, though development is generally low-rise and works in harmony with the surroundings, and the facilities are exceptional. Meanwhile the southern stretch of the Red Sea Riviera includes Makadi Beach, the new and exclusive Sahl Hasheesh and Soma Bay, with diving spots to rival Sharm el Sheikh’s. Towel off and you’re ready for the temples again.