The Old Market: Bazaars, Entertainment, Dining & More in Sharm El Sheikh
The Old Market, also known as the Old Town, is one of Sharm El Sheikh’s most iridescent, culturally rich and enticing attractions, especially nowadays as it has undergone many profligate enhancements.
Over the last year this exceedingly popular domain has grown in size; smooth, polished flooring has been put down and several new shops, cafes and even a stage featuring a unique range of shows have been introduced. The Old Market is definitely on the list of places to visit when in this eclectic city; it’s open all day from 10AM, however the night time is when its at it’s best if you want to catch a show and bask in it’s night time glitz and glam.
Each night the shows on stage vary; one particular night might host the talented magicians who will keep you mesmorised at their tactful tricks, later followed by a group of three female dancers who will make you want to join in their lively routines and our favourite: the Snake Master; a fearful young boy who performs to powerful music with three live cobras.
Crowds often gather to watch the show, but if you prefer to be seated and have a drink or a light snack while you enjoy the performance, there is an open café with wooden seats and tables right in front of the stage. You may find their prices slightly more expensive than around the corner though.
The Old Market’s focus is not just entertainment, however; it's actually more of a large domain filled with bazaars, cafes, restaurants and the glitter and glam that Sharm El Sheikh likes to portray.
When you take a stroll within its winding paths, you can really absorb all the smells, tastes, sights and sounds of Egyptian culture which is why it is so popular with tourists. The smell of shisha, musky perfumes and oils on one street quickly turns to a new and exotic aroma of herbs, spices and grilled meats, and the picturesque scene of three or four camels lounging by the entrance is suddenly transformed into one of glittering jewels and souvenirs the further into the market you go.
You will be truly immersed in this Oriental culture when taking a stroll through old market with sound of tourists and locals bartering over prices in various languages mixed with loud oriental music. ‘Magic’ is the word.
However, it wasn’t always that way. The Market has a rather extreme history that may entice you even further. In 2005, it was unfortunate to suffer a terrorist attack that destroyed most of the area, killing eighty-eight people and injuring over 200.
The response was swift and security around Sharm El Sheikh has increased immensely as the safety of its residents and visitors is of top priority. Sharm El Sheikh is now considered to be one of the safest cities in Egypt.
Now thankfully, the Old Market is back and thriving once again providing dazzling entertainment, an extensive commercial shopping area and a fun, unique day or night out for all who visit.
Unlike Naama Bay, despite offering much of the same services and facilities, the atmosphere is completely different and portrays a more traditional side of Egypt. While the shop keepers will lure you in with enticing products, bartering skills become a must as all prices are actually negotiable.
The actual shopping experience includes products ranging from clothes, leather handbags, purses and suitcases, ornaments and memorabilia to name a few. The ‘Attar (herb shop) is particularly interesting, especially the ones who sell medicinal and beauty products, alongside food spices and herbs.
In the food department, aside from international chains that can be found throughout Sharm El Sheikh, the Old Market boasts traditional restaurants that aren’t as expensive as everything else. There are also seafood restaurants and juice bars.
Travelling to and from the Old Market is quite easy too; right outside the large stone entrance are a cluster of blue microbuses and taxis just waiting for customers. Of course, the microbus will save you a lot of money – just 2.25LE to Naama Bay – while taxis can cost up to 15LE to the same destination. Be sure not to miss the new red brick mosque being built just outside the Old Market; it’s quite beautiful.