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A bastion of Bedouin culture, Sharm el Sheikh is one of the most established resorts along the Red Sea Riviera

Visitors first came here for the fantastic diving and the beautifully clear warm waters are still a favoured spot for snorkelling.

The liveliest part of Sharm el Sheikh is Na'ama Bay, but the Old Town of Sharm el Sheikh is far more peaceful. From here you can explore the pyramids at Cairo and the temples of historic Luxor.


Top holidays in Sharm el Skeikh

Culture and history

The two most important things to Egyptians are the family and Islam, which both govern their lives, and as you'll know, Egypt has a strong presence in popular culture. Films set here have included Death on the Nile, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Spy Who Loved Me, and The Mummy.

The history of Egypt is as long and as rich as the River Nile that sustained it. Painting in broad brushstrokes, the period of Ancient Egypt, which gave rise to the pyramids, lasted from around 3,000 to 300 BC. Foreign invasions after this period were numerous, and included the Romans, who ruled Egypt from 30 BC to the seventh century AD.

Both Arab and Ottoman armies were to follow, and there was a brief strategic occupation by the French at the end of the 18th century. Britain took control of the region for much of the 19th century, in a thinly veiled attempt to safeguard its trading routes to India, not least through the Suez Canal, which was constructed in the 1860s.

In 1919 the Egyptian Revolution gained the country sovereignty, but it was still controlled by the British. The Republic of Egypt was finally established in 1953, with the complete withdrawal of British troops from the Suez Canal coming a few years later in 1956.

Things to do

Our escorted tours of Egypt and archeologically tours take in all the sights, from the tomb of Tutankhamen to the temples of Luxor and Karnak. The ultimate way to experience the wonders of ancient Egypt must be by boat on a Nile river cruise. Sit back and relax as the desert landscape drifts past and stop off to visit all the hot-spots along the way.

For sun worshipers there are the beach resorts of the Red Sea, including divers' paradise, Sharm el Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, and some excellent all-inclusive hotels and resorts in the east. If you can't choose between ancient culture and the pool bar, then why not get the best of both worlds and book one of our cruise and stay trips to the Red Sea and the Nile?

And don't forget, Egypt is also a stop off on some enticing ocean cruises too - now that's got you thinking hasn't it!

Cairo and around

Frenetic to say the least, metropolitan Cairo is home to some 22 million people. If you can look past all the chaos, you'll find a fascinating and engaging city full of wily but welcoming people, grand palaces and mosques, and colourful bazaars.

Lift your eyes to the horizon, gaze through the city haze, and you should just about make out the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. An easy day trip from the capital, nearby Giza is also home to the Great Sphinx.

The Nile River Valley and Delta

The River Nile runs south to north, entering at the border with Sudan and flowing north to the Mediterranean Sea. This is where you'll find nearly all of Egypt's archaeological wonders, from the Valley of the Kings to the temples of Luxor, Saqqara and Abu Simbel, with their complex rock carvings and monumental scale.

Sinai Peninsula

Bordering Gaza, Israel and the Red Sea, Sinai's desert interior has great religious significance. The coastal city of Sharm el Sheikh is the gateway to the underwater wonderland of the Red Sea. Divers and snorkellers flock to its waters to explore the coral reefs and wrecks.

The Eastern Desert

This rugged region stretches east of the Nile to the Red Sea coast. This is where you'll find many of Egypt's best beach resorts, especially around Hurghada and El Quseir.

Flight time

It takes approximately five-and-a-quarter hours to fly from London to Cairo.


Pound - The currency is the Egyptian Pound (£E), which is divided into 100 piastres. Sterling, euros and US dollars are also accepted and ATMs are widely available.

Passports and visas

You will need to carry some form of identity with you at all times – a photocopy of your passport is a good idea. A tourist visa is required on arrival, but Saga will foot the bill for that.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.


Hello – Ahlan wa sahlan

Goodbye – Salam

Good morning – Sahab el-kheir

Good evening – Masaa el-kheir

Yes – Aiwa

No – La

Thankyou – Shukran

I don’t speak Arabic – Ma batkalemsh Arabi


Egypt is two hours ahead of GMT.


Mains voltage is 220 volts AC. Most sockets take small, round, two-pin plugs so you’ll need an adaptor for British appliances – bring one with you as they’re not widely available locally.


Arabic - The official language in Egypt is Arabic, although English is widely spoken in the main towns.


The Egyptian term for a tip is ‘backsheesh’ and you will be asked for backsheesh by anyone who has offered you service (and, indeed, by anyone who has not).

You will be expected to tip any staff in your hotel who assists you: the porter will wait to be tipped 3-5 £E per bag and the maid 5-10 £E per night.

Your restaurant bills will probably include a service charge, but this goes to the restaurant and not the waiter, so be sure to tip them separately.

Somewhat surprisingly, it is not customary to tip taxi drivers.


Egypt is one of the hottest countries in the world, so bring a wide-brimmed hat, plenty of suntan lotion and, if you can squeeze one in your suitcase, a punkah wallah.


Flying insects – including mozzies – are commonplace in Egypt so a can of repellent is highly recommended. Perhaps also pack some pills for that unexpected tummy bug.

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Egypt is the fifteenth most populated country in the world and is home to more than 86 million people. Mind you, most of them live in Cairo.

Egypt is four times the size of the UK and is easily the world’s most square-shaped country.


Smoking is banned in public places but many turn a blind eye to the law and some hotels, restaurants and bars still have designated areas for smokers.