An entrepôt since ancient times, the RED SEA COAST, stretching 1250km from Suez to the Sudanese border, was once a microcosm of half the world, as Muslim pilgrims from as far away as Central Asia sailed to Arabia from its ports. Though piracy and slavery ceased towards the end of the nineteenth century, smuggling still drew adventurers and explorers long after the Suez Canal had sapped the vitality of the Red Sea ports. Decades later, the coastline assumed new significance with the discovery of oil and its vulnerability to Israeli commando raids. The latter led to large areas being mined, which is one reason why tourism didn’t arrive until the 1980s – although it has boomed since then, fuelled by the region’s good-value resorts and superlative dive sites.

Along the coast, turquoise waves lap rocky headlands and windswept beaches, while inland the Nile Valley is divided from the coast by the arid hills and mountains of the Eastern Desert, home to the Red Sea monasteries. Cairenes appreciate the beaches at Ain Sukhna, south of Suez, but the region’s real lure are the fabulous island reefs near the brash resort of Hurghada and the less touristy settlements of Port Safaga, El-Quseir and Marsa Alam to the south.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Egypt features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
7 amazing African journeys

7 amazing African journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …

06 Jul 2016 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook