Hurghada is Egypt’s oldest and most famous resort.

Offshore is the colorful and bizarre Red Sea world of coral and fish life that first brought Hurghada to worldwide attention, while back on solid ground, the once tiny fishing settlement has mushroomed into a resort city catering directly to tourism.

For northern Europeans (who make up most of Hurghada’s tourism influx) this is a prime winter escape, with sandy white beaches and blue skies in abundance throughout the year.

But while Hurghada’s main tourist attraction tends to be flopping on the beach, there are plenty more things to do, both in the water and on dry land, for travelers who want a taste of adventure.

For ideas, see our list of the top tourist attractions in Hurghada.

1. Experience Hurghada’s Beach Life

Beaches
Beach at Hurghada

Hurghada’s best patches of sand have all been claimed by the shore-side resorts that stretch along the coast both north and south of town.

Even if you’re not staying in one of the hotels, nearly all of the resorts offer day access to non-guests.

To really sample Hurghada’s beach life though, you should book yourself in for a few nights of resort living.

The best beaches lie south of the main town area (called Sigala) in the unimaginatively named “Resort Strip.”

Travel a bit farther south, and you get to the area known as Sahl Hasheesh, which is home to some of the Red Sea coastline’s prime pieces of white-sand beach and best hotels.

2. Take a Boat Trip to the Giftun Islands

Giftun Islands
Giftun Islands

The Giftun Islands are one of Hurghada’s most popular boat excursions, with prime swaths of white sand to soak up the rays, and snorkeling opportunities galore on offer.

For those who aren’t scuba diving enthusiasts, the easily accessed coral reefs in the area surrounding the island shore are an excellent taster of the Red Sea’s beauty.

When dozens of boats descend on the islands daily during the height of tourism season, treat a Giftun Islands trip solely as a beach trip, as the crowds scare off any sea life.

In quieter periods, while paddling close to shore, you could spot colorful fish flitting through the clear water,

Those not interested in underwater exploits can simply claim a palm-frond shelter on the beach, sit back, and enjoy the sun.

3. Dive the Sites of the Straits of Gubal

Abu Nuhas Shipwreck Sites
Abu Nuhas Shipwreck Sites | Blaue Flosse / photo modified

Egypt’s Straits of Gubal, a narrow strip of water squeezed between the Red Sea Coast and the Western shore of the Sinai Peninsula, is one of the Red Sea’s major diving destinations and is easily accessed from Hurghada.

This area is known chiefly for its wreck diving and is home to The Thistlegorm (a WWII cargo ship rediscovered by French diver Jacques Cousteau), renowned as one of the world’s top wreck dive sites.

Accessed by liveaboard from Hurghada, The Thistlegorm is easily the Straits of Gubal’s most popular dive site, but divers who want to explore further will find plenty of other opportunities to dive.

One of the most rewarding diving areas in the Straits of Gubal is Abu Nuhas, within dive-boat day-trip distance from Hurghada.

This area around Shadwan Island in the Straits is home to six separate dive sites with several wrecks.

The main attraction is the wreck of the Carnatic, a UK cargo ship sunk in 1869, which is still in incredibly good condition, with its skeletal remains home to flourishing coral and abundant fish life.

The Greek ship Chrisoula K (sunk in 1981) and the German Kimon M (sunk in 1978) are two more popular wreck dives in this area, with plenty of opportunities to spot lionfish, triggerfish, and pipefish among the wreckage.

4. Explore the Desert by Jeep or Quad Bike

Desert Jeep Expeditions & Quad Biking
A jeep expedition in the desert

With so much action happening in the water, some travelers forget that there’s an entire desert world to explore back onshore.

Among Hurghada’s most popular on-the-ground things to do are quad biking, jeep expeditions, and dune buggy trips into the dune hinterland.

You don’t have to travel very far off-road from the resort town to discover the acacia tree-studded wadis (valleys), sandwiched in by red-tinged mountains, that make up most of the landscape of the Eastern Desert.

A popular way to experience this desert hinterland is on the five-hour quad bike safari in Hurghada, which includes a break at a Bedouin village and a camel ride.