Explore the wonder-filled nooks and crannies of Egypt for a quick getaway from Cairo.  While there are a whole lot of hotspots that are ideal if you want to step away from the hustle and bustle of the city, eniGma’s Mariam Nowar has handpicked a few varied top destinations that are easily accessible and make for a wonderful reprieve. From a weekend getaway in Fayoum, picnic outings under Ras Sudr’s sizzling sun, wild excursions at bewitching Saint Catherine, to unwinding sessions in Sinai, here are some fun and relaxing options for you to chill out.

Fayoum

Located around 100 kilometers south-west of Cairo is the city of Fayoum, one of the country’s seven oases whose unspoiled nature will let your inhibitions run wild with imagination. Its iconic valley of wild prehistoric whales’ remains and its waterfalls are considered UNESCO World Heritage sites and are major attractions.  Then, of course, there’s the magnificent natural lake Qaroun, the second largest in the entire country. Overlooking the lake is the luxurious Byoum Lakeside Hotel, where you’ll find your peaceful escape and quintessential refuge. Another breathtaking destination near the lake is Lazib Inn Resort & Spa, which not only looks like a piece of art, but also doubles as a vibrant boutique hotel with welcoming staff and scenery. For souvenirs, we suggest you stop by Al Nazla pottery village, where the area is highly picturesque and the hand-made tokens are plentiful.  Also don’t miss a visit to artist Mohamed Abla’s studio.

Ras Sudr

The town is located 200 KM away from Cairo, but it is definitely worth the drive so long as you bring your best buddies along! Ras Sudr is considered one of the best kitesurfing sites in the world.  The coast is usually as clear as the sky, the blue horizon extends all the way to the heavens, and the wind blows stronger every year. If you find yourself catching a tan at Nozha Beach, make sure you’ve brought along your jumpsuit and gear for a quick (or rather long) dip! The beach is only 43 KM away from the Ahmed Hamdy tunnel that crosses under the Suez Canal, and is home for epic live entertainment acts. If you wish to take up kitesurfing courses, La Hacienda resort is home to the most professional trainers in the region.

Hurghada

All you need to do is land at Hurghada International Airport and your journey through the metropolitan desert begins. First off, the paradise that is El Gouna is only located 25 KM north of Hurghada, where you can take out the whole family and loved ones to Abu Tig Marina that overlooks the Red Sea and holds two 4-star hotels, including the prestigious Ali Pasha and Mosaique, along with a selection of restaurants and cafes. After you’ve explored the town using its iconic tuktuks, Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh Hotel is a 30-minute drive from El Gouna, minutes away from one of the area’s most spectacular beaches. Snorkeling and diving are offered at the hotel, but the fun doesn’t stop there; Somabay is around 15 K M away from Hurghada and its Kempinski Somabay Hotel offers memorable golf retreats.

Saint Catherine

Settled on the outskirts of El Tur Mountains and at the foot of Mount Sinai is one of the world’s oldest places of worship, the Saint Catherine Monastery, and Moses’ burning bush. The thousand-year-old monastery includes a fortress, chapel, the 6th century Church of the Transfiguration, along with various monastic buildings. Its library holds a complete collection of rare manuscripts, reliquaries, and priceless icons. The trek to St. Catherine’s summit is the highlight of your visit, and you’ll be rewarded with the unparalleled sunrise view from the top! The local Al Milga Bedouin camp is safe for your stay and offers delicious carob syrup tea along with all three meals a the day, but if you’re looking for something more comfortable, the Morgenland Holly Village is the place for you. You can drive to Saint Catherine from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport.

South Sinai

The waterway along the Sinai Peninsula is where you’ll find yourself chillaxing without a care in the world. If you’re soul-searching, Sinai is where you need to be, and from Bohemian Dahab to the relaxed Nuweiba, you’re going to be kept busy! Sharm El Sheikh Airport is where you’re landing, and Mividaspa at Iberotel Palace in Sharm can be your luxurious beginning to what lies ahead. After you’ve had your meals at Hard Rock Café Nabq, you’ll find yourself drawn to the wondrous diving waters of the Blue Lagoon, only a couple hours north from Dahab. Their bamboo huts overlooking the Red Sea under the starry skies is where you’ll be lounging for hours, and we highly doubt you’ll be missing the city.  Alternately, Nuweiba’s Ras Shitan, located only 45 KM from Taba will also have you sky-gazing for hours, and it also has plenty of bamboo huts ready for your arrival.

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