Marsa Matrouh is know for its sandy beaches and calm transparent waters

Although not many tourists who spend their vacation in Egypt visit the wonderful coastal city of Marsa Matrouh, the city and the area around it are featured for having the most magnificent beaches in Egypt.

Paradise for a quiet family vacation

Protected by rocks and sandy beaches overlooking the open sea Marsa Matruh is a paradise for a quiet family vacation away from the towns and villages. The Marsa Matruh area stretches to the border with Libya with its 450 km long shoreline.

Although there are many towns and villages that are considered to be part of the governorate of Marsa Matrouh, the largest and most important hub of the governorate is the city that holds the same name, Marsa Matrouh. Marsa is about 160 km from Alexandria.

The most significant characteristic of this city is its long amazing 7 km shore with its crystal clear water and white soft sand and the bay is protected with a series of rocks forming a natural wave breaker. This makes Marsa Matruh one of the most beautiful sea resorts in Egypt.

Travellers who visit Egypt can reach Marsa Matrouh using a private car from Alexandria. Moreover, there are many public buses that reach Marsa Matrouh from Cairo and Alexandria. In the summer, there is also the sleeper train from Cairo that takes the distance in around 7 hours. There is the Marsa Matrouh airport as well with a number of flights every day coming from around Egypt.

Marsa is full of hotels. Check the modest Riviera Palace Hotel, whose foyers are decorated with rescue belts and prepared animals. The rooms are comfortable, with views overlooking the sea.

At 35 km outside of the city, Jaz is a new 5-star hotel complex, located behind the chic beach of Almaza. The name “Almaza”, originates from the Arabic word “Diamond” to reflect the crystal clarity of the beautiful coast of the bay.

Beaches

There are many peaceful and less popular beaches in the surroundings of Marsa, which are literally lonely after the season. The best place to swim is Ageeba beach, 22 km west, on the main road to Sollum town. In the village of Sidi Barrani and Sidi Abdel Rahman, you can see the remains of world wars: the old ship wrecks that are now being explored by tourists-divers.

Other famous beaches in Marsa Matrouh are El Gharam, Rommel, Cleopatra, and El Obayed. The Cleopatra Beach is situated around 5 kilometres to the West of the center of the city. This beach has been a love site for Anthony and Cleopatra according to some historical records. The most remarkable feature in the Cleopatra beach is the Hamam or the bath. It consists of a huge rock inside the water that can be reached walking. There are some Pharaonic inscriptions at the entrance of the bath. There are some openings in the rock that allows the water of the sea to enter and move around the rock from inside. There are also some halls at the ceiling of the rock to allow the sun to enter inside the bath and makes the water warmer.

Right at the tip of Marsa Matruh’s eastern peninsula is located Romel Beach. This quiet but rocky piece of shore with its shallow and calm water is suitable for children and old aged people as well. Marsa Matrouh also hosts many other beaches like El Amirat Beach or the beach of the princesses that used to host the princesses of the royal family of Egypt. There is still a royal palace near the beach today. There is also the Obayed beach that is famous for its high and strong waves. El Obayed used to be a favourite place for the camps of the Italian and British tourists who visit Egypt

Shopping

Marsa Matruh is also an excellent place for shopping as its closeness to the Egyptian-Libyan border gives Marsa Matruh the chance to be the perfect market for products imported from Libya and other African North Coast countries. These products include shoes for all ages and cotton products that are imported and others that are manufactured in Egypt. There are the oriental perfume shops as well that sell different colognes and scents for men and women. Marsa Matruh is also quite famous for selling “Leb”, the most popular Egyptian nuts.

The other reason Marsa Matruh is an interesting place for shopping is that it is at the top of the Western Desert of Egypt and this gives it the chance to sell special desert herbs that can hardly be found anywhere else. These herbs can cure different sorts of diseases and illness. These include colon disorders, toothache, coughing and lung problems, headache, hair herbs, and so many other things. The most delicious herb among these is the desert mint that Marsa Matruh is so famous for.

There are two major markets in Marsa Matruh: Alexandria Street, the second major street after the Kornish, and Souq Libya, or the Libya Market where many products who are imported, legally or illegally from Libya. A visit to any of these markets can be worthwhile as they have many nice goods with good quality and very low prices.

Many of the hotels around the city have bars and nightclubs for those who would like more action in their night time. The nightclub at the Beau Site hotel is quite a nice place for having a drink and dancing. There are also places for billiards, bowling, and many other activities games. Some hotels offer entertainment programs for their guests of all ages.

You can also spend the night smoking shisha in oriental cafes and modern cafes all around Marsa Matruh.

Sightseeing in and Around Matruh 

Many tourists who visit Alexandria today prefer to take a two or three days trip to Marsa Matruh to enjoy in the sea and sun of Matruh that cannot be found anywhere else. The only touristic attraction in Marsa Matruh other than the sea is the Romel cave that was transformed into a small interesting museum. There is the military museum in Alamein, The British war cemetery, the Italian war Cemetery, and the German war Cemetery on the North Coast on the way to Marsa. One day trips to the Siwa oasis can be organized from Marsa Matruh to explore this oasis with its natural pools and astonishing antiquities. At Umm el Rakham, about 24 km west of Marsa Matruh and south of Agiba Hill, you can explore the ruins of the Temple of Ramses 2.

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One of the most famous resorts in Egypt is Hurghada.

Hurghada is the reckoned as the gem of Egypt. Renowned for its pristine quality of service and style, Hurghada is a remarkable place for the tourists and has a preceding reputation of quality versus quantity. The city was founded in the early 20th century and since then tourists have been enjoying this city and the visit is totally worth. This city was once an isolated fishing village but turned out to be a major success for the Egyptians. The resort is a destination for Egyptian tourists from Delta, Cairo, and Upper Egypt, also the package holiday from Europe. The city holds a subtropical desert climate, with hot to very hot summers and mild-warm winters. The appropriate month to visit would be in between March and April.

Hurghada is full of attractions that are capable of luring plenty of tourists year-round. The temple of Hathor, which includes surprisingly intact and impressive architecture, is well set up for visitors with an information center and cafe. The weather is absolutely amazing and you get the joy like never before. Keep in mind that hotels and resorts privately own the hundreds of meters of beaches in Hurghada; the better the retreat is, the quality your beach experience will be. Old Hurghada is also for those who love food as the most authentic restaurants and hotels are available. This is also the location where one would find the city’s largest bazaar, bus station and post office. Tourists are also attracted to visit Hurghada to see the Marine Biology museum. The museum answers the curiosity of core red sea secrets. The Red sea has amazing coral reefs that make a perfect place for thousands of species. Besides the museum one can also visit Mons Porphyrites, which excites everyone. The lads can also fill your heart by flying Kite and windsurfing.

So, above were some major tourist attractions. Besides these, there are uncountable things that you can do once you arrive in this city. Hurghada is known as a top three diving destination on the planet. It has something for everyone- even for the non-divers, plenty of things such as beach fun, extreme water sports, clubbing and golfing too are available. The red sea resorts of Hurghada: Sharm El- Sheikh and Taba are wonderful destinations that are awaiting your arrival offering you holiday packages and trip facilities. No trip to Hurghada would be complete without a day spent exploring the underwater world of the Red Sea. Snorkelling, diving, sunbathing and a welcome retreat from the mainland bustle are very famous in the Giftun Islands. Experienced divers are welcomed here and the offshore reefs provide spectacular drop-offs for you.

A three-hour tour with your own private guide is the perfect way to see the sights of Hurghada including the St Mary Church, Big Mosque and the port area, and in addition, you’ll have leisure time for shopping at the bazaars. Hurghada shore excursion from the Sinbad Submarine will entertain you to the fullest. As from the name, you will be enjoying in the Sinbad submarine into a spectacular blue world and seeing the creatures so vivid that you feel as if you are descending below the Red Sea to enjoy the tranquillity of life beneath the waves.

Besides aquatic experience, you also get a chance to hire a cool quad bike; the combination of the sand dunes and canyons and the dramatic desert scenery will refill your thrust of the amazing visit. Hotels will take the responsibility of pick up and drop up from centrally located Hurghada hotels for the riders. This will be the highlight for every tourist visiting Hurghada. You will also have a chance of discovering the beauty of Egypt’s oasis and deserts taking a 4×4 adventure safari in the missing parts of Egypt and Belly dancing, horses and a Sound and Light Show will spice you up.

Hurghada is a true party town. The nightclubs are concentrated along the same main street as the hotels and, although they attract mostly young people; there is entertainment enough for everyone. You’ll find the right program for you and you’ll surely be coming back for more!

Almost the ideal location on which Hurghada is located allows tourists to organize a large number of different excursions. Paradise Island, a visit to ancient Egypt and many other excursions can be made just from Hurghada.

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Alexandria is a cosmopolitan city of rich history and cultural heritage

Alexandria is the second largest city in Egypt, and certainly one of the most beautiful cities of this magical country. It extends over 70 km of the seashore and reaches the status of the megalopolis, which it had in the time of the Old World. This city, also known as the “Pearl of the Mediterranean,” exudes charm and beauty that is more Mediterranean than a Middle Eastern type. Likewise, the very ambience and cultural heritage of Alexandria make it quite different from other cities of the country. But this does not mean that Alexandria will not fascinate you, just like all in Egypt.

Alexandria is indeed abundant with many sights, different architectural buildings, cultural monuments, and natural beauties, which are really worth seeing, so it’s best to spend at least 3-4 days for sightseeing when you find yourself in Alexandria. It is best to make a small list of the most interesting, the most important tourist attractions and to follow your small tour schedule because in this way you will be able to visit the most. And do not forget, while you visit all these attractions, enjoy them to feel the beautiful atmosphere and charm that this city really makes special.

In Old Alexandria, there is a Heptastadion, built by Dinocrat and representing a bridge between the Pharos island and the mainland, dividing the city into the western and eastern parts. Here is also the oldest preserved part of Alexandria, which originates from the turbulent Turkish period, known as the Turkish quarter. However, although the Egyptians do not associate with prosperity, this part of the city is extremely attractive to Westerners, because of its narrow streets, squares, bazaars, small shops and oriental sentiment, so it is very much visited. Do not miss the place where the famous Lighthouse – — one of the seven wonders of the ancient world once was. Although you will not see the Lighthouse, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the sea, which is provided from here, as well as in the sightseeing of the fortress that was built there after the lighthouse was destroyed.

At the time of Alexander the Great, Alexandria became the capital of Hellenistic Egypt. Her status of “lighthouse of culture” of that time was symbolized by the famous Pharos lighthouse. This lighthouse got the name by the eponymous peninsula on which it stood and is said to have been more than 350 feet (110 metres) high. The name is preserved, but nothing more than that.

It was built by a Greek architect Sostratus of Cnidus around 300-280 BCE. It was a technological triumph and is the archetype of all lighthouses since. The lighthouse was the second tallest human-made structure in the world (after the pyramids of Giza) and it’s light (a mirror which reflected the sun’s rays by day and a fire by night) could be seen as far as 35 miles out to sea. The structure rose from a square base to a middle octagonal section up to a circular top and those who saw it in its glory reported that words were inadequate to describe its beauty. The lighthouse was badly damaged in an earthquake in 956 CE, again in 1303 CE and 1323 CE and, by the year 1480 CE, it was gone. The Egyptian fort Quaitbey now stands on the site of the Pharos, built with some of the stones from the ruins of the lighthouse.

The legend says that the Sostratus for a long time sought the best material for building a foundation that would resist sea water, in order to eventually build its tower on huge blocks of glass.

In 1994 archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur, founder of the Centre for Alexandrian Studies (Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines), made an exciting find in the waters off Pharos Island. He mapped the location of hundreds of huge masonry blocks; at least some of these blocks are believed to have fallen into the sea when the lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1300s. A large amount of statuary was also discovered, including a colossal statue of a king dating to the 3rd century BCE that was thought to represent Ptolemy II. A companion statue of a queen as Isis had been discovered nearby in the 1960s; these statues representing the deified Ptolemy and his wife, Arsinoe, are thought to have been placed just below the lighthouse, facing the entrance to the harbour. Based upon these finds, the Egyptian government abandoned the idea of a breakwater and planned instead an underwater park where divers could view the many statues, stone sphinxes, and remains of the lighthouse.

At the spot where was the lighthouse today stands the monumental fort of Qaitbey. Sultan Qaitbey in 1480 raised this fort from the remains of the famous lighthouse, and thus “usefully” used this old “building” material. The oldest Alexandria mosque is located within this fortress. But that’s not all you can see when you enter the fortress, because it contains two museums of very interesting collections. The first is the Underwater World Museum, in which you can see: various types of fish prepared (for most of them you never even heard!), Some of which, still look alive and very scary; skeletons of fish, and even a huge skeleton of whales; then various kinds of shells, peppers, sea stars; perhaps not very credible, mined seaside mines, with prepared fish that “float”, with sea grass, shells on the bottom …

To be able to photograph some of these really fascinating exhibits, you’ll have to pay for a permit at the museum entrance. Another museum that is also worth seeing is the Museum of Old Weapons and Military Equipment in general, where you can find different types of pistols, rifles, cannons and cannon balls, all from different periods of history. In front of the fortress, you will find many souvenir sellers, from natural seashells of various shapes and sizes, through the statues of Tutankhamun, Kleopatra, Nefertiti made in stone or alabaster, then pictures on papyrus (although souvenirs of this kind are much better in shops than in the streets) , to postcards, jewelry, various boxes made in Arabic style … And, one very useful advice – make sure you censor, because most of these prices are not really “real”, but just for tourists, so you can lower them sometimes and 2- 4, and many times.

If you continue the city tour, heading south, along the coast, you will reach Abu El-Abas Mosque, certainly the most famous, most beautiful, but also the largest mosque in Alexandria. This really beautiful building, with its high minaret and four domes, is one of the most important monuments of Islamic culture. In 1775, this mosque was built by the Algerians, at the site where the Andalusian saint from the 13th century, Ahmed Abu al-Abas al-Mursi, was buried. If you can, visit this mosque in the evening because under the lights of many reflectors it looks much nicer, more impressive, unusual and magical! Not far from it is the small and charming Mosque Terbana, as well as the Suq district, a part of the city where traders and Jews lived. Though you can still meet traders in narrow streets, Jews can not, because most of them, in 1948, emigrated to Israel. But nevertheless, it is possible to find very attractive items, from unavoidable jewellery, through Arabic medicines and herbs (Suk El-Magarba), to Bedouin clothes (Suk El-Libya).

Right next to it, there is the most famous street – Al-Horreya, which in ancient times was called the Canopic Way and it had on its eastern side the Gate of the Sun, and on the western the Gate of the Moon; and at that time, there were probably columns lining the road.

Further east, Al Horreya opens into a beautiful green area known as the Shallalat Gardens, which was once the fortification of Bab Rosetta. But in 1905, Alexandria created a garden area here with waterfalls and the only Alexandria cistern which can be viewed. This cistern is an example of those which once dotted Alexandria providing fresh water to her inhabitants.

Just south of the intersection of Al Horreya and el-Nebi Daniel was the site traditionally thought to be the burial place of Alexander the Great, but that has not been located, and may in fact be beneath the Mosque of Nebi Daniel or in a nearby Greek necropolis. The famous Alexandria Library was probably nearby. This interesting part of the city is complemented by a small Roman amphitheatre, recently excavated and the symbol of the city: the Sphinx and its companion, Pompeystub. For those who love jewels, there’s also a great Royal Jewellery Museum. Here is also the Attarine Mosque, which was once a church dedicated to Athanasius. Dating from 2nd century AD, the catacomb complex just south of Pompey’s pillar is the largest Graeco – Roman necropolis in Egypt.

Wondering along el-Nebi Daniel are several other attractions including the French Cultural Center, and nearby the Eliahu Hanabi Synagague, which is the only active synagogue in Alexandria and houses the combined treasures of the seven former Alexandrian synagogues.

Situated on the seafront Midan Saad Zaghlul is the most elegant square on the Alexandria. At the center of this square stands a statue dedicated to Saad Zaghlul, a former national leader. Opposite this monument stands a statue dedicated to Cleopatra. The park that surrounds the statue is one of the busiest in Alexandria.

On the location where now this square stands used to be the Caesareum, a magnificent temple begun by Cleopatra for her lover Anthony. In this temple, completed by her enemy Octavian, Cleopatra committed suicide in 30 BC. In the 4th century AD it became the Christian cathedral of Alexandria. In 1877 the two giant obelisks that used to stand in front of the temple, known as Cleopatra’s needles, were moved to the Thames embankment in London and to the Central Park in New York, respectively. Nothing else remains today of the Caesareum.

If you are a fan of colonial heritage, nearby is the famous Cecil Hotel, a place where giants such as Smerset Maugham, or Winston Churchill stayed. East of Al-Horeja is the Greek quarter, one of the most beautiful residential districts. The wonderful old villas include the massive Miclavez building, which is opposite the Town Hall and nearby the Adda Complex built in 1929. This is where the wealthy Greeks lived at the turn of the century. Further east is the Greek Orthodox patriarchate and the Church of St. Saba.

A walk along the Mahmudiya Canal and industrial districts of Alexandria is pleasant along the old paved road bordered by the canal and sycamore trees. South of the Greek district along the canal is the Antoniadis Gardens, which seep with history. Here, the poet Callimachus lived and taught, and in 640 AD, Pompilius prevented the King of Syria from capturing Alexandria. The well known Water Traffic Circle is also in the area.

Here one finds the Zoological Gardens, the small Museum of Natural History and the Fine Arts Museum in the Moharrem Bey area, and a Rose Garden. The beautiful public gardens extend into the surrounding area where the Antoniadis Palace is located, and there is even a nearby Roman tomb.

In a city of wonders such as Alexandria, it comes as no surprise that there still stands a district of lush soul-reviving gardens and extraordinarily-ravishing palaces where the royal family along with their exclusive guests spent their sunny summers along the Mediterranean coastline. An oasis of calm on the city’s eastern edge, Montazah is a lush haven of tall palm trees, trimmed lawns, and blossoming flowers that was once off-limits to all but the royal court. The complex, which is around from 360 acres in size, is a beautiful property that overlooks Al Montaza Gulf.

The eccentrically designed Montazah Palace, with its ornate Florentine-inspired towers and Rococo flourishes, is not open to the public, but everyone is welcome to stroll within the sprawling gardens, which can be a welcome slice of nature after a day spent within Alexandria’s hustle. On the coastal end of the park is a small beach with a peculiarly whimsical bridge to a small island.

The complex also contains five beaches for swimming: Aida, Cleopatra, Vanessa, Semiramis, and the private beach of Helnan Palestine Hotel. The Montazah Complex served as one of the most popular picnic spots in Alexandria.

Of course, there is also an attractive Corniche, a part of the city that is equivalent to the Brazilian Copacabana – once (in 1900), a 100-meter-long coastline was torn off the sea, and turned into a sandy beach, becoming so popular with a swimmer on the beaches (which, at that time, were quite rare). Corniche is reminded of the elegance of the 19th and 20th century where Alexandria was a melting pot of cultures. Much of the architecture from this era still stands along the Corniche, though these days, much of it is heavily dilapidated and falling into disrepair. On the western end of the Corniche near Silsila where the New Alexandria Library is being constructed is the Shatby Tombs which are said to be the oldest in Alexandria.

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