Sharm el Sheikh is a tourist hot-spot that has grown in 30 years from a lazy coastal town to a glistening city. It consists of strings of 5 to 3 star hotels along the beaches and running over a large cliff top, with residential areas that include beautiful villas and apartments that are rented by the tourist visitors or are the holiday homes for the well-off, and less grand places for those who staff the hundreds of hotels, resorts and tourist related businesses.
People come for the beaches and year-round sunshine, cheap drinks and nights of partying. Sharm is an inexpensive escape from Europe’s cold, with flights constantly streaming in to the international airport. All-inclusive deals at the resorts are a bargain if you are earning in Euros or dollars, or in the Egyptian upper classes, though they are beyond the reach of the average Egyptian. Sharm workers invariably speak multiple languages, to cater to the visitors.
Close to the city the attractions of the Sinai desert include safari by jeep or camel, and quad bike riding. Most tourists come to enjoy the beaches. Many are drawn by the magnificent Red Sea reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving, and Dive Centres provide training and excursions. When the beaches close for the day there are the bazaars, restaurants, and clubs offering everything a European club offers. There are parties in the clubs and at some beaches every night, featuring the best DJs from around the world featured, as well as local DJs who are expert at getting the drinking crowds even happier. Bikinis rule, and nearly everyone dresses to show off tanned skin (that is, they don’t dress much at all), and the few Egyptian visitors who adhere to religious dress codes really stand out here.
There is another Sharm beyond what most tourists experience. This can include visiting the Coptic cathedral and the largest of the many mosques. This year another large mosque is being built in the centre of the Old Market. It will be beautiful when completed, though it may seem strange that this holy building sits at the heart of one of the biggest commercial / tourist areas of the city, surrounded by bazaars, restaurants, and amid the sounds of salesmen calling to everyone who passes and determined haggling over prices. Perhaps the idea of being in the centre of this commercial mecca is to remind people that life is not really about money and the desires of the flesh.
The hotels each have their own beach, either part of the hotel / resort, or a dedicated beach a few minutes away that guests can catch a shuttle bus to reach. But if you are not staying at a hotel there are a few public beaches. Most charge a small entry fee (about $5). A favourite sits at the bottom of the cliff and is accessed by a narrow path that leads off a prime sea-view residential road, then down winding stairs. It provides the same views as many of the 5 star resorts, and is usually not as crowded.
Before or after a swim, a walk along the edge of the cliff top cannot fail to lift the spirit. This is beauty! There is no protective rail along much of the cliff walk, so you can go right to the edge and take in the sublime view unobstructed, and feel like it is there just for you.
short video, views from cliff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU9C6ZEkqF0&feature=youtu.be