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Car Rental in Sharm El Sheikh

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Sharm El Sheikh

Car Rental in Sharm el-Sheikh: Driving in the “City of Peace”

One of the most desirable spots to visit in the Arab world, Sharm el-Sheikh and its surroundings are beautiful places to explore by rental car. Whether your major goals are beach lounging, some of the best diving in the world, or photographing the meeting of desert land and azure sea along the coastline of the Sinai Peninsula, automobile hire is a unique way to see the best and the most remote of Sharm.

Spring and autumn are the best times of year to visit Sharm el-Sheikh, before the summer heat lasting from the end of April to the beginning of October makes day adventures uncomfortable.

Arabic is the official language of Sharm el-Sheikh as in all of Egypt, though English is widely spoken throughout the tourist sites of the city and its surroundings, and many Egyptians speak a wide range of the world’s languages, at least at the basic level.

The time zone of the city is Eastern European Time, UTC+2, and the currency is the Egyptian pound. Your best option for acquiring Egyptian pounds is taking advantage of the ATMs throughout the city – unless of course you have a good head for calculations and are willing to haggle with any of the local currency exchange shops.

You’re most likely to arrive in Sharm el-Sheikh via airplane at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport located about 11 minutes northeast of the city. If you’re planning on renting a car for the length of your stay in the city, doing so directly from the airport is recommended, as taxi fares into the city will be much higher than you’d expect. You can also pick up rental cars in the city itself along El-Salam Road and just off of Al Reyadat Al Bahareya.

Some popular day trips include a visit to Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai, a 3-hour drive from Sharm, and Raas Mohamed Nature Reserve, less than an hour’s drive south of the city at the very tip of the Sinai. Though driving in Cairo is not recommended at all, you can reach the city in about 6 hours.

Driving in Sharm el-Sheikh

Of all the cities in Egypt, driving in Sharm el-Sheikh is the easiest, though this still means you should be alert at all times, avoid driving at night, and expect the unexpected, whether from road conditions, other drivers, animals, or other non-vehicular users of the roads. Don’t expect other drivers to follow traffic rules, and keep your eyes on your surroundings!

Right-Hand Driving

  • Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road throughout Egypt.

Speed Limits

  • In cities: 50 km/h
  • On highways: 90 km/h
  • Note that traffic congestion will regulate your speed more often than speed limits will, and even in Sharm, expect traffic around rush hours to add some time to your travel.

Other Regulations

  1. Parking is difficult in Sharm, so if you’re planning on hiring your car for the length of your stay, consider booking a hotel with parking included.
  2. You must have an international driver’s permit in addition to your valid domestic driver’s license in order to rent and drive throughout Egypt.
  3. There are a number of toll roads around the Sinai Peninsula.
  4. Egyptian drivers have to be at least 18 years old, though you will likely have to be at least 25 years old to rent a car in Egypt. Some companies may allow you to rent between the ages of 20 and 25, though you will likely pay a surcharge to do so.
  5. Most Arab nationalities require no visa to visit Egypt, and many others, including Europeans, can simply purchase a visa upon arrival. Double check regulations before you leave, as some nationalities must apply for a visa before they arrive.

Other Tips

  • Consider hiring a driver, particularly for visits into the desert or even for a drive to Cairo.
  • Petrol or gas stations are typically open from 8am to 8pm.
  • One-way rentals are permitted by many rental companies, though it is very rare for a rental company to permit you to cross borders with their rental vehicle. Make sure to discuss any one-way or international plans with your rental agency, as special documentation will be required to cross any borders.
  • For any travel across the Sinai, have all of your documents on hand, including your rental contract, in preparation for frequent security checkpoints.
  • Always carry a significant amount of water with you (much more than you think you will need!) when driving between cities in Egypt! If you’re stopped by the police and are asked to pay an on the spot fine, ensure that you receive a written receipt in English.

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