Marsa Alam is the perfect choice for a peaceful beach holiday along the famed Red Sea Riviera. A diver’s paradise, its coral reefs are home to an astounding array of marine life, shipwrecks and coral formations. With white sand beaches and desert excursions, it’s the perfect spot to get away from it all.
Marsa Alam is one of the best places around for diving enthusiasts and sun worshippers. Its many reefs run the gamut from shallow, beginner-friendly waters to coral outcroppings that extend well into the open sea. If your party includes those who would rather relax on the beach, head over to Abu Dabbab, where a pristine beach borders reefs with forests of sea grass frequented by guitar sharks, sea turtles and even rare dugongs.
Meanwhile, if you want a change from the seashore, the eastern Sahara landscape is full of hidden gems – quite literally, as the region was famed for millennia as the site of emerald mines during the time of the pharaohs. Explore ancient emerald mines and the ruins of temples that have been reclaimed by the desert. If you’re ready for a beach holiday that’s nothing close to the ordinary, Marsa Alam awaits.
Book your flight from Zurich to Marsa Alam with SWISS today and you’ll be swimming with the dolphins in no time.
- All timetable details may be subject to change. Insofar as is permitted by law, SWISS accepts no liability for the correctness and completeness of the details provided.
What is the best way to get around in Marsa Alam?
The distances between towns and individual beaches mean that getting around can be a challenge. If you are staying in town, there is a bus service up and down the Red sea coast. At a resort, staff should be able to help you book shuttles for any tours into the countryside or isolated beaches that you would like to embark on. Car hire is available as well – but even though the Red Sea area is one of the safest regions in Egypt, be sure to plan ahead and ask around before venturing too far afield.
How should I pack for a trip to Marsa Alam?
The first thing to remember is that the sun shines every day here – so sunblock, sunglasses and a hat are absolute musts. In addition to that, many visitors are unaware of what is considered appropriate for a beach holiday in Egypt, which is a majority Muslim country where conservative dress is the norm. Dress standards are more relaxed on the Red Sea, where few tourists cover up on the beach or by the pool. However, it is wise to dress more modestly while visiting towns. In general, always have a loose scarf or top ready in case you need to cover your shoulders.
What currency is used in Egypt?
The Egyptian currency is the pound, abbreviated to LE or EGP. In tourist spots like Marsa Alam, you’ll find that US dollars, UK pounds or euros are commonly accepted, though always at a fair discount. The best thing to do is to exchange your currency when you land or withdraw pounds directly from local ATMs – though remember that these are only to be found at the airport or in towns.
Attractions in Marsa Alam
The Red Sea Riviera, of which Marsa Alam is a part, is famous for its diving and perennial sunshine – your hardest decision will be which reef to explore or which white sand beach to plop your towel down on. Popular diving sites include Sha’ab Samadai, an offshore reef frequented by pods of dolphins that sometimes number in the hundreds, and Elphinstone, where strong currents help create high visibility and a great diversity of fauna, including reef sharks and turtles. If you can’t decide between diving or sunbathing, head over to Abu Dabbab, which is perfect for both. Or try out one of these other options:
- Fury Shoals
- Sataya Reef
- Rocky Island
- Sharm el-Luli Beach
Go on a trip in the Sahara
If you want a change, take advantage of the eastern Sahara location and head on a trek inland. The surroundings are incredibly remote, so a guide and a sense of adventure are essential here. The Wadi el-Gemal National Park is an ideal place to explore, with sandy dried out river valleys, or wadis, and rugged peaks. Visit a Bedouin village and experience desert life – the Abdaba tribe welcome tourists into their villages and show visitors a taste of hospitality that includes music, sweet jibena coffee, and camel rides.
Shop at traditional markets in Marsa Alam
The nearby towns also provide an interesting cultural experience: markets with colourful rugs, semiprecious stones, and local cuisine. To the north of Marsa Alam is historic Al Quseir, a city dating back to the time of the pharaohs with coral-block structures including an Ottoman-era fortress and mosques.
No matter what brings you to the Red Sea Riviera, you’re sure to have a good time. Book your flight with SWISS from Zurich to Marsa Alam today.
Food: Spoil yourself after a day on Marsa Alam’s beaches
A day lounging in the desert sun or diving among the coral reefs is sure to give you a hunger – or a thirst. While most travellers who are on a package holiday tend to dine in their resort, you can find some gems on the streets of Marsa Alam, Port Ghalib, or Al Quseir. These include beachside bars that offer cocktails and shisha with a view, or restaurants offering traditional Egyptian fare like kofta skewers or shawarma, a kind of roast meat. Café culture is also quite prominent, with strong coffee and sweet pastries offered alongside Italian-style gelato.
Shopping: Find the perfect Marsa Alam souvenir
Once you’ve explored the reefs and desert, you’re sure to want souvenirs or gifts to bring back home. While Marsa Alam itself is not exactly a shopping paradise, it’s only a short bus ride to the towns of Port Ghalib or Al Quseir, which do have more by way of souvenir shops. Do remember that in all but the most official outlets, bargaining is often part of the experience and can lead to some stellar deals.
Discover the traditional markets
Egyptian markets do souvenirs right, with plenty of excellent things to bring back with you: pick up some perfume from the home of jasmine, with a tradition that spans back millennia. Or look for colourful rugs, Bedouin-inspired leather goods, or genuine alabaster figurines. If you develop a taste for shisha while here, the water pipes are easy to come by at an attractive price, but be careful when packing them as they are quite fragile.
Zurich - Marsa AlamFlight duration: 04:35 hrs total, Frequency: Thu,Thu
Departure ZurichTerminal: 1 / 3Counter opening time: 24 h prior to departure
Airbus A320-214Height: 11.80 mLength: 37.60 mSeats: 136-168
Crew:Pilots: 2Cabin crew: 4
Arrival Marsa AlamDistance to city centre: 60 km