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Coral reefs and golden beaches: A guide to the town of El Gouna, Egypt

El Gouna
El Gouna   -   Copyright  Orascom
By Evan Bourke

Egypt's southern coastline is home to coral reefs, golden beaches, and world-class hotels. El Gouna is where you want to head to. But make it quick - this small tourist town is getting more popular by the year.

It has taken just three decades for El Gouna to become what it is today. It contains a network of small lagoons and cobbled streets that connect everything up, in this unlikely town on the edge of the desert.

Omar El Hamamsy, CEO of Orascom, the developers of El Gouna, told Euronews, "There's just an overall vibe of relaxation, of easygoingness, tolerance and acceptance, all the while being in an absolutely marvellous location from the weather, nature and geographical perspective.”

What are Egypt's travel restrictions?

When arriving in Egypt you must present one of the following.

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccinations (course completed at least 14 days prior to arrival in Egypt); or
  • A negative PCR test (taken within 72 hours prior to departure)

An approved laboratory must issue the PCR certificate. Certificates are accepted in Arabic or English.

If arriving by air, do check with your airlines' requirements as they may require a negative PCR test even for fully vaccinated passengers.

Egyptian authorities recognise the following vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V, and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson).

Do you have to wear a mask in Egypt?

Masks are compulsory in airports and train stations. The only exception to this rule is when consuming food or drink.

It’s recommended that you wear a mask in hotels and restaurants but it’s not compulsory.

How do I get to El Gouna?

El Gouna is only a four-hour flight from many of Europe's capital cities. It's located just 25 kilometres north of the larger town of Hurghada.

Travelling via Cairo is the most popular route for international travellers. From Cairo, a five-hour drive south along the coast of the Red Sea will take you to El Gouna.

To reduce travel time, many holidaymakers opt for a connecting domestic flight from Cairo to Hurghada. This flight takes just one hour and can be budget-friendly, depending on your airline. Many taxis and minibuses are available from Hurghada airport, which will take you on a thirty-minute drive to El Gouna.

Canva
El Gouna, EgyptCanva

How do I get around El Gouna?

The two hotspots of El Gouna, the marina and downtown, are only a seven-minute drive from each other.

Most tour companies and hotels have shuttle buses taking visitors to events and tour meeting points Cars, scooters and ATV's are available to hire from a few outlets, but the best mode of transport is a tuk-tuk taxi.

Tuk-tuks are the fastest, cheapest and most entertaining way to get around El Gouna. Friendly and never without a joke or tale, the tuk-tuk drivers have some of the best knowledge of El Gouna's hotspots.

The tuk-tuks are limited to two people, and the minimum charge is 20 Egyptian pounds which is just over 1 Euro.

What currency is used in Egypt?

Egypt's national currency is the Egyptian pound. €1 is equal to 18.27 Egyptian pounds. In El Gouna, many vendors will accept Euros and US dollars. However, prices may be more budget-friendly if you pay in Egyptian pounds.

There are many ATM machines located around the town and in most resorts.

Where is best to stay in El Gouna?

There are fifteen hotels and resorts in El Gouna to suit a range of budgets. Five of these are five-star hotels. Golf enthusiasts will find comfort in ‘The Steigenberger’ and ‘Ancient Sands’, which both have their own 18 hole golf course.

Travellers who prefer home from home accommodation will find many guesthouses and apartments available on Airbnb and booking.com.

What is there to do in El Gouna?

During your time in the seaside town, there are many tours available that allow you to explore the Red Sea.

Tours in SUV's or on quad bikes take you deep into the desert mountains. Here you can see how the Bedouin tribes native to the region still live today.

Egypt is a country steeped in history, of course. There are many tours to nearby Luxor to visit the Valley of Kings, the burial place of Egypt’s most powerful kings, Queen Hatshepsut Temple, the Colossi of Memnon and Karnak Temple.

Food lovers will love the variety of restaurants in downtown and the marina.

What time of year is best to visit El Gouna?

El Gouna has good weather all year round, including being an ideal winter sun destination.

There are a few popular events on El Gouna's calendar which may help you plan your visit. El Gouna Film Festival takes place in October. For two weeks some of the biggest stars in Arab cinema, as well as international talent, come to screen their latest movies. Expect to see the streets and bars extra busy during these two weeks.