If you’re looking for a festive escape this year, then where better than the sunny climes of Egypt’s own Sharm El Sheikh? Many resorts are keen to celebrate Christmas and New Year so you don’t have to miss out on all the fun you’d normally have at home, while sampling some excellent local cuisine. And with cheap all-inclusive deals available through companies such as Holiday Hypermarket and First Choice, you can relax and let someone else worry about preparing Christmas dinner.
On holidays to Egypt in winter, temperatures generally remain in the 20s so you can certainly pack for warm weather. It can get quite cold at night however, so make sure you pack a few jumpers and a couple of pairs of trousers if you’re planning on wandering around in the evenings – around 4/5pm when the sun goes down. Most hotels provide a heated pool though, and the sea is certainly still warm enough for a dip if you’re looking for a lot of beach time. Pack your sunscreen, especially if you’re going with the kids as you never know when you might need it!
You can certainly put your feet up and relax here in Sharm El Sheikh, with hotels catering to all groups of people, providing poolside seats for the adults while the kids enjoy themselves with the fantastic waterslides on offer. Aqua Park Sharm is a great option for families looking to please everyone and is only about 18km from the main airport of the area. A lot of hotels offer diving courses and allow their customers access to the private beaches during this time. Cairo is also a short driving distance away, which means you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the pyramids without having to stray too far from base.
Resorts tend to make a big deal of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, with amazing buffet dinners and parties for their guests. Food is often free at these events, with live entertainment suitable for the whole family. Take along a few nice evening outfits to dress up for these occasions.
While we’re on the subject of food, your Christmas trip to Egypt will be the perfect time to sample the local cuisine. Forget turkey with all the trimmings, come Christmas day you could be dining on Fatta, a traditional celebratory dish consisting of layered rice and fried bread topped with a meaty broth and large chunks of tender meat and poached eggs.
For vegetarians in a largely meat-eating country, there are a few options for you to indulge in. You might like to try Tamaya, which is generally made up of deep-fried chickpeas and a selection of dips and salad items; or Koshari, a delicious blend of lentils, chickpeas, macaroni pasta and rice mixed with a spicy tomato sauce. To follow that up, why not ditch the Christmas pudding and sample a slice of Konafah? This sweet treat is thought to date back centuries, with recordings in ancient Arabian cookbooks. It is made with layered noodles and their juices that are left to set until rigid when they are mixed with butter or oil, baked and then served with fruit syrup drizzled on top and an accompaniment of cream and nuts.
When it comes to the big day itself, be aware that Egypt doesn’t hold western Christmas as a national holiday, which means all tours are fully operational. Imagine strolling down to the pier on Christmas morning to open your presents while you stare down into the Red Sea, watching the impressive array of sea life swimming below you. Bliss!