As the month of Ramadan draws to a close, there’s only one thing to talk about: where will you be spending Eid this year? While many of us are already packing up their cars to head to the Mediterranean coast for a long weekend of reveling in Sahel, (see our expert Sahel guide for everything you need to know about making the most of the North Coast), we’ve come up with a few suggestions for all you last minute Eid-holiday planners.
El Gouna For a few years now, El Gouna has skyrocketed in popularity, with rapid real estate growth and vacationing appeal. A good percentage of Cairo’s population is heading to El Gouna for the Eid weekend, so expect some serious crowds on the scenic beaches. If you’re looking for the party, head to Abu Tig Marina where Moods, Angel and C provide open air nightspots to kick off a festive beach-side evening that lasts far into the night. No trip to El Gouna would be complete without a meal at Chez Chantal, which serves excellent Belgian food. For more tips on where to stay, what to see and how to have fun, check out Cairo 360’s guide to El Gouna. This weekend, internationalist electro trance vocalist JES performs a show as part of her High Glow tour on Friday; find out how you can win yourself some tickets with Cairo 360's latest competition. The concert takes place in Mangroovy Beach , which is best known for its excellent kitesurfing and beach-side parties.
Hurghada This hotspot is no secret getaway; we Cairenes have been flocking here for years in search of a little fun in the sun, some rousing beach-side nightlifeand a chance to let loose outside of the city limits. For a special Eid event, we’re lucky to have Hed Kandi Beach Bar set up for the weekend at The Hurghada Marina. This ‘weekend of stylish partying’ promises fun music and more for all of our Hurghada party-goers. In another must-see event, catch Ministry of Sound Presents the EID Festival, featuring three days of international DJs and plenty of beach party spirit to boot. For a detailed list of everything from wind surfing to desert safaris to memorable night reveling, see Cairo 360’s guide to Hurghada, or check out the official Hurghada website.To get there, hop on a plane for short ride (Egypt Air provides regular flights) or make the five hour drive from Cairo; just remember that accommodation and flights are pricey during the peak tourist season.
Ras Sidr For something a little off the beaten path in terms of Eid destinations, this provides some serious peace and quiet – be prepared for beach solitude for the most part. Wind surfing, jet-skiing and other water sports are on offer here, at comparatively low prices. Moon Beach is one of the oldest beaches in the area, and a favourite amongst expats who return seasonally to vacation here. As the only bar around, Surf Club turns into small but ideal open air nightspot once the sun goes down. Located along Sinai’s western-facing coast, this resort provides a welcome balance between pristine natural beauty and sporty adventure. Nearby Green Sidr offers reputable kite surfing while La Hacienda offers unbeatable rates at 200LE per night, breakfast included. It usually takes under three hours to travel there from Cairo by car, making this a relatively hassle-free and refreshing getaway.
Dahab This well-known beach town is often described as a more affordable party destination than Sharm El Sheikh; meaning it boasts a pretty hefty nightlife scene, despite its small size. Located seven to nine hours outside of Cairo by car or bus, the resort consists of one street, boardwalk-style, filled with little eateris and cafes and bedouin souvenir shops. Note that Dahab’s touristic reputation precedes it, so be prepared to receive a lot of attention from hecklers, vendors, and venue-owners along the street. Dahab is well known for its excellent diving; check out the legendary Blue Hole for one of Egypt ’s prime diving spots about ten minutes outside of Dahab. For accommodations, we recommend Green Valley Safari, Penguin Village, Jasmine Pension and Restaurant, Bishbishi Gardem Village and Neptune Dahab.
Nuweiba This peaceful borderland is arguably one of the most beautiful locations in Egypt and is known for its excellent snorkeling and peaceful atmosphere. Note that while it’s a peaceful, no-hassle escape, it is severely popular as an Eid vacation, so if you haven’t booked yourself a straw hut on one of the popular beaches, good luck! We suggest you get an early start and drive up and down the coast in the hopes that there will be a few spots left; but bring your camping gear just in case, as you may have to set up camp on a beach for your serene getaway. Castle Zaman is located between Taba and Nuweiba and although reserving space can sometimes be difficult, it is a must-see as the only slow-cook restaurant in the Middle East. The kitchen serves up a delicious leg of beef, rack of lamb and a variety of other dishes, but make sure you order your food a day in advance, because your meal takes about ten hours to cook. If you’re lucky enough to find a same day reservation, then don’t worry, they can still prepare fish dishes, although you will not have experienced what is certainly one of the best restaurant experiences in Egypt. If adventure is more your thing, take a day trip to the Colored Canyon and Ain Khudr Oasis, or brave the heat for a trek through Abu Galum National Park. A 4x4 and bedoiun guide can be arranged at any one of the beaches on the coast, and will set you back about 1000L.E. at most.
Ain Sokhna As the closest Red Sea beach to Cairo, Ain Sokhna is a prime destination for those who can only get away for a day or two during the Eid vacation. Only an hour or so drive from the Capital, the beaches will most likely be absolutely packed this Eid weekend. While there are a range of hotels to choose from, the most popular choices are Stella Di Mare Grand Hotel, Movenpick Resort, and Horizon El Wadi Hotel Ain Sokhna. Prices for a night’s lodging range from 1000LE up to a few thousand. For a unique hotel experience, try Sokhna’s debut boutique hotel Jaz Little Venice Golf Resort Ain Sokhna; just remember luxury comes at a price. For more hotel info, see our guide to Ain Sokhna. Whether you’re making the hour drive for a day trip or for a few nights, we suggest you hit the beaches early to guarantee a spot for you and your towel, and remember that permits for most private beaches are only given to property holders in the Sokhna area.
Sharm El Sheikh We might roll our eyes at all the hype, but we can’t deny that a good time is to be had in Sharm, if we do it right. This party capital is teaming with Europeans for most of the year; but during Eid expect to see plenty of Cairenes enjoying themselves at Le Pasha, Little Buddha and Hard Rock Café. Prices are steep, beaches are packed (it’s best to stay in a hotel with either a private beach or spacious swimming pools) and if you’re looking for a lively night out, the partying never stops. You’ll be hard pressed to find a boutique vacation experience here; but all the top tier hotel brands are on offer, from Sofitel to Intercontinental to the Marriott. Head to Terazzina Beach for sea and sun before trying Camel Bar inside Camel Dive Club and Hotel in Namaa Bay . For some decent tandoori, the Camel Dive Club's Indian restaurant offers some hearty post-beach cuisine, while El Fanar restaurant (creatively named after the adjacent lighthouse) serves up an Italian menu. The food, much like any holiday experience spent in crowded, lit up Sharm El Sheikh is generally good, but can be a bit hit or miss. So go big, splash out, and don’t forget you’re glitzed-out beach attire.
Whatever your plans for the coming Eid, drive safely as highways can be treacherous this time of year, and make sure you have as much fun as we plan to.