Hurghada, known locally as Ghardaga, has grown from a small fishing village to an internationally renowned holiday resort town on the Red Sea coast of Egypt, famous for its underwater life and diving and snorkelling opportunities. Popular as a European package holiday destination, the town of Hurghada boasts first-class hotels and all-inclusive resorts, as well as a highly vaunted nightlife.
South of the town is the resort strip with hotels packed along a 12-mile (20km) stretch of beach, while within the town there are many bars, restaurants, shops and a variety of accommodation to suit all types of budget. The town's central location on Egypt's coast provides a gateway to prime diving sites throughout the Red Sea.
El Dahar, the old part of Hurghada town, has a traditional Egyptian bazaar with a variety of shops selling tourist souvenirs and holidaymakers can splurge to their hearts' content. Bargaining is expected and prices will generally be better than in the resort village shops. The best buys are papyrus scrolls or traditional 'shisha pipes'.
Hurghada has a variety of restaurants for those on holiday to enjoy, serving food from around the world including Indian, French, Thai, Mexican and Japanese. El Dahar (downtown) offers a wide choice of authentic Egyptian eateries, including street stalls and inexpensive restaurants. Fast food chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds are also available. Most local places don't serve alcohol. Hotels all have their own restaurants, which serve up a variety of local and international cuisine.
With its growing reputation as a holiday party town 'par excellence', Hurghada hosts a lively nightlife with numerous clubs, discos, pubs and trendy lounges, and a variety of entertainment that includes beach barbeques, karaoke evenings and foam parties. Popular places include Papas Beach Club and Calypso, while Alf Leila Wa Leila is famous for belly dancing and Arabic folklore.
The holiday resort of Hurghada is renowned for its variety of watersports, including sailing, fishing, kitesurfing and windsurfing. Offshore underwater gardens and coral reefs make this an internationally recognised location among divers and snorkelers, and for the less active many hotels offer glass-bottomed boat excursions to admire the corals and marine life. Hotels and resorts also offer water activities such as banana rides, pedal boats and canoeing, as well as trips to the Giftun Island Marine Park. On land there are beautiful beaches, golf courses, horse riding, and desert excursions, which include camel rides, hiking, and 4x4 or quad safaris.
The beach in Hurghada is made of dark red grainy sand interspersed with rocks and boulders; sandals should be worn. Although the resort is considered safe there are areas of the Sinai region that have become dangerous for foreigners, so visitors are advised to be careful on excursions into the desert.