Updated: Feb 5
Hurghada is Egypt's oldest and most famous resort.
Offshore is the colorful underwater spectacle of the Red Sea's world of coral and fish life that first brought Hurghada to worldwide attention.
Back on solid ground, the once-tiny fishing settlement of Hurghada has mushroomed into a resort city with attractions and amenities that cater directly to tourists.
For northern Europeans (who make up most of Hurghada's tourism influx) this is one of the best places to visit for a winter sun-and-sea escape, with sandy white beaches and blue skies in abundance throughout the year.
But while Hurghada's main tourist attraction tends to be flopping on the beach, there are plenty more things to do, both in the water and on dry land, for travelers who want a taste of adventure.
For ideas, see our list of the top tourist attractions in Hurghada.
1. Experience Hurghada's Beach Life
Hurghada's best patches of sand have all been claimed by the shore-side resorts that stretch along the coast, both north and south of town.
Even if you're not staying in one of the hotels, nearly all of the resorts offer day access to non-guests.
To really sample Hurghada's beach life, though, you should book yourself in for a few nights of resort living. Hurghada has beautiful all-inclusive resorts for the perfect getaway.
The best beaches lie south of the main town area, which is called Sigala.
From here, the main resort area begins sprawling for kilometers down the coast. The areas known as Sahl Hasheesh (18 kilometers south of Hurghada Airport) and Makadi Bay (30 kilometers south of Hurghada Airport) are home to some of the Red Sea coastline's prime pieces of white-sand beach and best hotels.
2. Take a Boat Trip to the Orange bay Island
The Giftun Islands are one of Hurghada's most popular boat excursions, with prime swaths of white sand to soak up the rays and snorkeling opportunities galore on offer.
For those who aren't scuba diving enthusiasts, the easily-accessed coral reefs in the area surrounding the island shore are an excellent taster of the Red Sea's beauty.
During the height of tourism season, when dozens of boats descend on the islands daily, treat a Giftun Islands trip solely as a beach trip, as the crowds scare off any sea life.
In quieter periods, while paddling close to shore, you could spot colorful fish flitting through the clear water,
Those not interested in underwater exploits can simply claim a palm-frond shelter on the beach, sit back, and enjoy the sun.
3. Dive the Sites of the Straits of Gubal
Egypt's Straits of Gubal, a narrow strip of water squeezed between the Red Sea coast and the western shore of the Sinai Peninsula, is one of the Red Sea's major diving destinations and is easily accessed from Hurghada.
This area is known chiefly for its wreck diving and is home to The Thistlegorm (a WWII cargo ship rediscovered by French diver Jacques Cousteau), renowned as one of the world's top wreck dive sites.
Accessed by liveaboard from Hurghada, The Thistlegorm is easily the Straits of Gubal's most popular dive site, but divers who want to explore farther will find plenty of other opportunities to dive.
One of the most rewarding diving areas in the Straits of Gubal is Abu Nuhas, within dive-boat day-trip distance from Hurghada.
This area around Shadwan Island in the Straits is home to six separate dive sites with several wrecks.
The main attraction is the wreck of the Carnatic, a UK cargo ship sunk in 1869, which is still in incredibly good condition, with its skeletal remains home to flourishing coral and abundant fish life.
The Greek ship Chrisoula K (sunk in 1981) and the German Kimon M (sunk in 1978) are two more popular wreck dives in this area, with plenty of opportunities to spot lionfish, triggerfish, and pipefish among the wreckage.
4. Explore the Desert by Jeep or Quad Bike
With so much action happening in the water, some travelers forget that back onshore there's an entire desert world to explore.
Among Hurghada's most popular on-the-ground things to do are quad biking, Jeep expeditions, and dune buggy trips into the sand dune hinterland.
You don't have to travel very far off-road from the resort town to discover the acacia tree studded wadis (valleys), sandwiched in by red-tinged mountains, that make up most of the landscape of the Eastern Desert.
A popular way to experience this desert hinterland is on the five-hour quad bike safari in Hurghada, which includes a break at a Bedouin village and a camel ride.
5. Diving at Gota Abu Ramada
Also known as "The Aquarium," Gota Abu Ramada is a dive site with huge amounts of marine life and a coral garden of pinnacles.
One of the most popular dive sites near Hurghada, it is used by many dive operators as a try-dive site for novice divers. If you're in Hurghada to learn to dive, you will likely be spending some time here.
For more advanced and experienced divers, the huge variety of sea life is the main attraction.
Triggerfish, lionfish, and clownfish are always whizzing through the ethereal blue waters here, and many divers also manage to glimpse the resident eagle rays.
6. Dine at Hurghada Marina
Hurghada Marina is a rather swish and modern addition to the central district of Sigala. Since it opened, it has become one of the city's major dining destinations and comes alive after dark.
Head here at sunset to promenade next to the Red Sea or sit back with a tea and sheesha (waterpipe) at one of the cafés, while soaking up the last of the evening light. Afterwards, stay on to dine at one of the restaurants here, which offer a range of cuisines from classic Egyptian dishes to international fare.
Dining with views over the bobbing yachts and the Red Sea stretching to the horizon can't be beaten.
Address: Hurghada Marina Promenade, Sigala
7. Snorkeling in Hurghada
The best underwater sites of Hurghada's coastline can only be accessed by diving. If diving isn't for you, though, there are still plenty of shallow reefs that can be experienced by snorkeling.
The area surrounding the Gifton Islands is one of the most popular places to visit for snorkeling.
Trips such as this Red Sea snorkeling trip stop on the main Gifton Island for swimming and sunbathing before heading on to two nearby reefs for snorkeling. It includes pickup and drop-off from your Hurghada hotel and a full-day boat trip, with lunch. There is plenty of time for relaxation on board as well.
8. Get Active in El Gouna
El Gouna is a purpose-built resort town just 27 kilometers north of central Hurghada, so it is easily visited on a day trip from the city.
It's known for its water sports offerings, particularly kitesurfing and wakeboarding, as well as operators offering scuba diving and sailing.
Specialty kitesurfing centers offer both kitesurfing lessons, multi-day courses, and equipment rental on Mangroovy Beach here.
At the southern end of the resort town is Sliders Cable Park, one of the world's biggest cable parks and a major addition to any wakeboarder's list of things to do if they're in the Hurghada area.
El Gouna is also one of Egypt's top golfing destinations with two world-class courses: one 18-hole course, and another that's currently 9 holes but is slated to be extended to 18 holes.
There are excellent modern international dining options here around El Gouna's marina, so it's also a great choice for an evening visit.
9. Bedouin Dinner Tours
For a night away from the hotel, one of the most popular evening tourist attractions in the Hurghada area are the Bedouin dinner tours offered by many of the resorts.
For foodie travelers this is a must-do for the chance to sample the wholesome Egyptian dishes that never make it onto restaurant menus.
Tours, which sometimes include a camel ride, head out into the desert or to nearby Bedouin settlements to feast on flavorful local cooking while reclining on colorful cushions in a traditional Bedouin tent setting.
It's an atmospheric way to be introduced to Egypt's wonderful array of home-style cooking.
10. Go Below on the Sindbad Submarine
Hurghada's Sindbad Submarine offers the opportunity of seeing some of the Red Sea's famed underwater sights without getting your feet wet.
This tourist submarine is the only one operating in the Red Sea.
It delves below the Red Sea's surface to a depth of 22 meters, so passengers can glimpse the abundant flitting reef fish that inhabit the reefs of colorful soft corals.
Submarine trips take about one hour, and although they don't go very far offshore where the better coral reefs can be viewed, for non-swimmers, it provides an opportunity to see the magical world below the sea's surface, which the Red Sea is so renowned for.
11. Camel Ride into the Desert
Whether you want to go for a short stroll along the beach (great for the kids) or are looking for a longer one- or two-hour ride into the desert, all of Hurghada's resorts offer a chance to sample camel riding.
Longer trips usually head out to one of the Bedouin settlements not far from town and offer a chance to see the desert landscape, backed by the Red Sea coast's craggy mountains, from the high saddle.
All are guided by Bedouin camel-men, so you don't have to stress about skittish camels suddenly shooting off into a gallop, and you can simply sit back and enjoy the views.
12. Hurghada Aquarium
If you've been out snorkeling or diving and want to identify what you've seen, then Hurghada Aquarium in the northern part of the central town area (known as Ad-Dahar) can help you out.
These days, the aquarium is showing its age and could do with an update, but it still has the only decent display of Red Sea marine life in the Hurghada area.
For non-swimmers, it's also a good chance to see the many different varieties of the Red Sea's abundant fish life up close, though to see them in a natural habitat, you'd be better off buying a ticket for the Sindbad Submarine.
12. Astronomical Nights
Hurghada's twinkling city lights may scupper any plans of sky-watching while inside the town itself, but one of the most popular nighttime attractions for visitors here are the astronomical night tours, where your nighttime focus is entirely on the star-studded desert sky of your dreams.
Trips journey out of the city after dusk and into the lonely desert, where you'll spend an evening looking up into the wonders of the night sky with a telescope on hand for closer inspection.
With the incredible clear skies in this part of the world, it's one of the best chances most people have of witnessing the full beauty of the stars.