The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Sights & Travel

A Veteran’s Guide To El Gouna

A Veteran’s Guide To El Gouna
    written by
    Donya Raslan

    When you think of El Gouna,
    you think elite, sky-high benchmarks; supreme quality of living … the list goes
    on. Built two decades ago on 10km along the Red Sea coast, this quaint resort
    town is very cosmopolitan yet very local, with many Egyptians and expats
    choosing El Gouna as their retirement destination or the perfect summer getaway.

    Getting There: Located 450km south
    of Cairo, the best way to get there is to fly to Hurghada and cab it to El
    Gouna (the taxi ride should cost you around 90LE). Your second best option is to
    drive from Cairo, which takes around four-and-a-half hours. Having your car inside
    El Gouna isn’t necessary, but would be convenient if you want to go down to
    Hurghada for some shopping or a night out. For travelling around El Gouna, take
    a tuk tuk for just 5LE per person. You can find them at a tuk tuk stop or just
    holler when you see a free one.   

    Staying There: If you’re after five
    star-pamper-till-you-drown hotels, you have the Steigenberger (famous for its pool and spa where you can get the best massage in town),
    the Mövenpick, and the Sheraton– designed by the famous architect Michael Graves. For something a little more
    wallet-friendly, book in Dawar El Omda
    or Sultan Bey.
    Both hotels are located in downtown El Gouna, conveniently across from the Clubhouse, a
    popular hangout where you can tan by the pool during the day and enjoy live
    music at night. At night you can go for a romantic walk on the
    cobble stone bridge just round the corner of Dawar El Omda. 

    Breakfast: For breakfast, your
    options are rather slim. Seven Stars is also located on the Abu Tig
    marina, an intricately designed marina with a South of France vibe to it. Seven
    Stars hosts 90% of the passionate breakfast seekers in the area. It’s a nice
    place to sit outdoors and soak up the warm rays of the early sun. It serves
    freshly brewed coffee, along with home-baked bread, croissants and biscuits.
    Dive into the croissants wholeheartedly; they are a bit overly buttered, but
    nicely crisped from the outside with tender layers forming its centre. A large
    breakfast will average at 75LE per person.

    Head to the Beach: Avoid Mangrovy
    if you have no plans to wakeboard or kite surf– this packed beach is
    extreme water sport terrain. Zeytouna Beach is more lounge-friendly,
    though the loud animation team games and classes can be a little annoying. For
    a quick escape, take a boat out to Tawila Island, which is one-hour away
    from Gouna and a breathtakingly beautiful spot for snorkelling and

    Dining Out: You’re spoilt with
    culinary options from Italian to Moroccan to Indian. An all-time favourite has
    to be Saigon (Call 010-6762329): mouth-watering Vietnamese cuisine is
    served by an efficient staff in a mellow ambiance. For starters, go for the
    fresh spring rolls: the raw pastries are filled with exotic fresh vegetables
    that boost your senses, and served with tamarind and peanut sauce on the side. An
    average meal for two including a main course would cost between 300LE and 400LE.

    Not in the mood for Vietnamese? Then try Pier 88 (Call
    065/3580032) – a boat restaurant by the marina with great cocktails and
    impeccably prepared food. The place is relatively small and intimate; you can
    either get a table or sit by the bar. For appetisers, order the Pil Pil– prawns
    in garlic sauce. A great dish to kick off your meal, the shellfish is perfectly
    cooked; giving that scrumptious crunch in every bite, and the sauce is
    exquisitely flavoured. Be warned: you’ll
    guarantee a one-meter buffer between you and your significant other for the
    rest of the night from all that garlic!

    Call it a seafood night and ask for the parrot fish–
    yes, the parrot fish! It might sound politically incorrect but it’s worth
    breaking the rules for. Served with vegetables and a mash on the side, it
    presents itself covered in rich creamy sauce. Boned, skinned and juicy, it has
    the perfect thick texture. Make sure you order a mojito to wash down all the
    flavours with. The only disadvantage was the open kitchen engulfing us in
    pungent aromas. Prices vary from 150LE to 200LE per person.

    Chill by the Marina : At the very
    end of the marina, you’re welcomed by Moods.
    This chilled lounge/bar/restaurant/shisha hangout also has its own beach. A
    nice place in theory, this place is always busy, which brings out its weak
    point- efficiency! One has to be on the sharp lookout for a waiter, fish him
    out of the crowd and place an order. Then, forget about it; your order will
    never make it to your table, and if it does, chances are it won’t be correct. Despite
    all that, they’re not that bad during low season.

    El Gouna is a blissful town, but with some extra skill
    put into the cuisine business, the experience there could be eternally engraved
    in your memory.