Sharm el Sheikh Old Town (Sharm el Maya) was the first resort area in Sharm el Sheikh, created when the Israelis occupied the Sinai Peninsula after the Six-Day War. Today, the Old Market is a major point of interest in the area, a popular beach resort.
You can visit Sharm el Sheik Old Town independently, although most find it more relaxing and informative to visit with a local guide or driver. Most Sharm el Sheikh tours don't spend much time in Old Town, but many do stop at the Old Market area, where you find souvenir shops, coffee joints, shisha pipes, fake goods, live performances, and great-value local restaurants. There's also a sandy beach to check out if you're in the area.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Visit Sharm el Sheikh Old Town for bargains at the Old Market and cheap street eats.
- As always in Egypt, you should haggle for your goods: Don’t be afraid to walk away if the price is not right.
- Consider dressing more conservatively in Old Town than in other areas of Sharm. Women should cover shoulders, cleavage, and legs above the knee.
- Sharm Old Town’s narrow sidewalks present challenges for wheelchair users.
Sharm el Sheikh Old Town sits about six miles (nine kilometers) southwest of Naama Bay, Sharm el Sheikh’s main resort area, and about 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the airport. From Naama Bay, Arabic speakers can negotiate a ride on the blue microbuses: These typically won’t stop for visitors who don’t look Egyptian. In general, like so much in Sharm, it’s easiest to visit with a private driver.When to Get There
Evenings are the best time to visit Sharm el Sheikh Old Town, particularly over Sinai’s long, hot summers (roughly, June through August). At night, the Old Market’s coffee shops are at their busiest, the stores are buzzing, performers are often in action, and, with the heat of the day long past, it’s easy to explore on foot. Souvenir shops do, however, stay open throughout the day.
The Story of Sharm el Sheikh
Uninhabited through much of history, Sharm el Sheikh began life as a simple fishing settlement. Its strategic position, with views over the Gulf of Aqaba, meant it developed as a military base for the Egyptian Navy. When Israel captured the Sinai during the Six Day War of 1967, tourist development began with a settlement and the opening of the first hotels. When Israel withdrew in 1982, Egypt continued to develop the southern Sinai for tourism.