Egypt’s 500km-long Mediterranean coast (known as Al-Sahel) has beautiful beaches and sparkling sea all the way to Libya. However, many stretches are still mined from World War II or off-limits due to military bases, while all the most accessible sites have been colonized by holiday villages catering mainly to Egyptians, whose beach culture is so different from Westerners’ that most foreigners prefer the Sinai and Red Sea resorts.

Travelling between Alexandria and the World War II battlefield of El-Alamein you’ll pass a slew of resorts reserved for elite sections of Egyptian society such as the army and diplomatic corps, and others open to anyone who can afford to stay, though for independent travellers they’re simply blights on the landscape which make the colonial-era beach resort of El-Agami (20km from downtown Alexandria and now a commuter suburb) seem historic by comparison. With the ancient lighthouse at Abu Sir and the ruins of Taposiris Magna off-limits, the only accessible “sight” is the Coptic Monastery of St Menas, off the highway between Alexandria and El-Alamein.