Dahab bar and restaurants on the beachIf there’s one place you have to visit in Egypt, it’s Dahab. After a fairly rough 2.5 weeks in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, I was honestly tired of Egypt and wanted to leave. But as soon as I arrived in Dahab, everything changed.

Almost instantly I felt a weight lift off my shoulders as I tuned into the sounds of the waves crashing at the shore, the quiet buzz of people walking through markets, laughing and bartering, and kids on bicycles almost crashing into them. I felt the tiredness, tension and frustration from the past few weeks escape with my sigh of relief. I had heard good things about Dahab but even then, no one warns you that won’t want to leave.

Why is Dahab a must visit place in Egypt?

Since the plane crash in 2011, Egypt’s economy has declined with the tourism industry suffering most. Its locals are desperate for tourism to return back to what it was when Egypt was a hotspot for European tourists and with the Egyptian Pound plummeting, now is the cheapest time to travel.

Dahab is in its own little bubble in Egypt – completely separate from the harassment, busyness and insufferable heat. The chilled out, hippy town vibes are both contagious and addictive. It is ridiculously cheap to travel (and live) here, you’ll get 365 days of sunshine and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy.

Things to do in Dahab

1. Freediving the Blue Hole

If you only have time for once activity in Dahab, FREEDIVE. Daniel and I started freediving last year and despite my initial reservations and fears, I loved it. We came to Dahab with a plan to train for a few days and ended up diving for a week straight and doing another course to work on our technique and depth training.

If you’re not familiar with freediving, it’s basically diving using your breath-hold and following a line to guide to depth before turning around and resurfacing. Dahab is the Mecca of freediving because of the Blue Hole – submarine sinkhole over 100 metres deep!

Dahab Freedivers is hands down the best centre in town offering all levels of freediving courses as well as training sessions for experienced divers. The instructors offer very professional and tailored training and the general vibe of the centre is fun and communal. If you’re coming to Dahab alone, you’ll certainly leave with friends and will feel a part of the freediving community.

If you’re totally new to it and are freaked out by the idea, we highly recommend doing a 1-day discovery course to get a feel for it. Warning: it’s addictive!

2. Scuba Diving

The Red Sea is definitely a bucket list destination for scuba divers with comfortable year-round temperatures, depth and beautiful marine life. In Dahab, scuba diving is very affordable (around 20 EUR per dive with equipment) and all local dive sites are shore dives.

Personally, we preferred the dive sites near Sharm El Sheikh and these are usually extremely expensive to dive from Dahab. Rather than booking it in Dahab, we recommend taking the bus to Sharm El Sheikh (1-hour ride for around $1 USD) and booking in with Eagle Divers.

3. Snorkel or swim at the Blue Hole or Lighthouse

If getting deep isn’t your thing, you can snorkel and swim at the Lighthouse (the area right at the Dahab’s centre) or go to the Blue Hole.

The Blue Hole is Dahab’s top tourist spot so it gets very busy during the day. We recommend getting there early (before 10 am) and leaving your valuables at Aqua Marina (a restaurant where all freedivers leave their gear). Entering the water at El Bells (far left) so that you follow the current and drifts back towards Blue Hole where you exit at the shore.

To get to the Blue Hole, you can take a return taxi for around 150 EGP. We hired snorkelling equipment in town for 50 EGP for mask, snorkel and fins. Make sure you bring cash if you plan to stay for the day and need food as there are no ATMs at the Blue Hole.

4. Visit Ras Abu Galum from the Blue Hole

If you’re after even more seclusion and beautiful beaches, Ras Abu Galum is the perfect spot to escape. It’s accessible only by foot or boat from the Blue Hole. You can take a 20-minute speedboat from the Blue Hole for EGP or walk 2 hours. There, you’ll find options for food for around 80 EGP and accommodation for around 50 EGP per night.

Speedboats leave from north of the Blue Hole and the cost is usually divided by the number of people in the boat so expect to pay around 100-150 EGP. We found this trip online that might be of better value if you have a group to go with.

5. Kitesurfing

Most expats in Dahab are either there for the diving or kitesurfing. The lagoons offer world-class, reliable and safe conditions for any level of kitesurfing. You can also get lessons in Dahab.

6. Enjoy the surrounding desert

If you need a break from the sea, you can hike to St. Catherine Monastery for sunrise, have dinner with the Bedouins in the desert, go on an ATV tour or go rock climbing. Chat with the tour operators around town to gauge the best prices and try to get a group together for discounts.

Hiking to St. Catherine Monastery can be done without a guide but you’ll need to arrange transport there and back (scooters are available for hire in the area).

Where to stay in Dahab

The Lighthouse area is where all the main buzz is in Dahab. Here, you’ll find cafes, restaurants, vendors and tour operators. We recommend staying around this area so that everything is within walking distance. Hotels and Airbnbs are affordable and will set you back around $20 – 30 USD per night.

  • Cheap hotel: We stayed at Monica Hotel a boutique and affordable hotel with friendly service, a swimming pool and basic amenities. It’s about a 10-minute walk to the main part of town but this means it’s away from a lot of the noise and paid 300 EGP per night between 3 people.
  • Airbnb: The second time we came to Dahab, we stayed in a lovely Airbnb in the LIghthouse area just a few minutes walk away from the main heart of town. We paid $25 USD per night.
  • Hostels: there aren’t many hostels in Dahab and they are around the same price as hotels anyway. To keep costs low, we recommend staying in a cheap Airbnb with cooking facilities instead.

Get $55 AUD of Airbnb credit if you sign up using this link!

If you plan on staying in Dahab for a month or more, an apartment is only around 150 – 200 EUR a month. Check in with local expats for up to date advice.

Where to eat in Dahab

We were so surprised by the variety of food in Dahab after eating the same food for 2 weeks straight. Since there is a huge expat community here, you’ll find different budget-friendly cuisines.

Under 50 EGP / $2.50 USD

  1. Falafel: grab a falafel sandwich for 20 EGP from the falafel shop at the corner near Red Cat.
  2. King Chicken: cheap roast chicken meals (with rice, salad etc).
  3. German Bakery: cheap omelettes and a variety of bread and bakery options.
  4. Yum Yum: cheap Egyptian food.

Under 100 EGP / $5 USD

  1. Athanor Cafe-Pizzeria: decent pizza, pasta, burgers pancakes and other desserts for an average of 70 EGP.
  2. Box Meal: Asian wok dishes like Nasi Goreng and stir-fried noodles with lots of fresh veggies. My favourite was the eggplant dish.
  3. Marine Gardens: for vegans, vegetarians or anyone wanting a healthy meal. Meals are around 75 – 90 EGP.
  4. Mojo co-work cafe: freshly prepared sandwiches, wraps and salads with wholemeal bread.
  5. Churchill Bar: typical Western and British pub food with big portions.

Under 200 EGP / $10 USD

  1. Red Cat: moderately priced Russian food with a variety of soups and salads.
  2. Shark: if you want to treat yourself, come here and enjoy a rich seafood, grill or steak menu. Expect to pay around 200 EGP per dish.
  3. Zanooba slow cooking: we found this place to be quite overpriced for the meal size and what it offered. The food was okay but had way too much pepper. It’s reviewed pretty-well so perhaps we were there on a bad night.

Budget for Dahab

If you are on a tight budget and will stick to cooking your own food or eating at the cheapest places, you could easily get by in Dahab on $15 USD per day. We feel that a comfortable budget for Dahab is $25 USD per person per day to include some activities, transport and snorkelling gear hire.

Some average costs in Dahab are:

  • Food: 65 EGP per meal
  • Beer: 30 EGP
  • Long baguette roll from German Bakery: 25 EGP
  • Smoothie: 45 EGP
  • Accommodation: $8 – 15 USD per person per night
  • Snorkelling gear hire: 50 EGP
  • Return taxi to Blue Hole: 150 EGP
  • 1-day Intro to Freediving with Dahab Freedivers: €75
  • Scuba diving (2 or more) with gear hire: €20 per dive

Getting to Dahab

  • From Cairo: to get from Cairo to Dahab, the cheapest option is by bus for 150 EGP with Go Bus. The bus ride is approximately 10 hours. Alternatively, you can fly to Sharm El Sheikh and then take a bus or taxi to Dahab.
  • From Sharm El Sheikh: a daily bus goes to Dahab from Sharm El Sheikh for 20 EGP and takes 1 hour. The East Delta bus leaves at 9 am. Alternatively, you can take a taxi for around 300 EGP.
  • From Israel: follow our Taba / Eilat border crossing guide for the latest information on pricing and timetables.
  • From Jordan: take the ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba and then a bus or taxi to Dahab.

We have personally taken all these transport options and had no issues. The East Delta bus isn’t air conditioned so can get quite hot (especially in summer) but we took this bus from Taba to Sharm El Sheikh (5 hours) and survived so you will too!

Responsible Travel in Dahab

Walking around Dahab, I was saddened by the amount of rubbish in the area and reminded of my responsibility of a traveller to do my part. A few tips to responsible travel in the area are:

  • Throw rubbish in the bin and don’t litter: waste management isn’t big here so you can play your part by disposing of rubbish properly rather than adding to the piles of litter.
  • Say no to straws and plastic bags: as they are totally unnecessary and just cause harm to our oceans.
  • Use reef-safe sunscreen: did you know that most sunscreens contain an ingredient that bleaches coral reefs? This is why we use reef-safe sunscreen that isn’t harmful to the ocean or our skin.
  • Don’t touch marine life or coral: for your own safety, this is vital as there are poisonous species in the water. It can also harm marine life as they are alarmed, disturbed or aggravated. Just enjoy with your eyes!
  • Don’t purchase any coral reef products (dead or alive): as this encourages the removal of coral from the sea for consumer purposes.

Getting a Visa for Dahab

Dahab is part of the Sinai Peninsula so you don’t need the proper Egyptian visa to visit. If you are coming to Dahab via Israel, Jordan or Sharm El Sheikh, you will have a stamp which allows you to stay in Sinai for 15 days. If you are flying into Cairo, you will need to buy an Egyptian visa which will automatically cover the Sinai region.

If you’re planning on travelling onwards outside of the Sinai region, make sure you organise your Egypt visa in advance.

Read more:
Complete Guide: Egypt Visa On Arrival, E-Visa, Taba Border Visa and Other Options

Hopefully, that’s covered everything you need to know about your trip to Dahab, Egypt! Let us know if there’s any extra information you’d like and we’ll do our best to get it and update you. Otherwise, enjoy our favourite Egyptian paradise!

Read more: if you’re continuing your travels into the Egyptian mainland, we also recommend a trip to Hurghada for some more sea time.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links so if you make a purchase through one the of the links, you will not pay anything extra but we get paid a small commission. Your support helps keep our site running. We received discounts from Dahab Freedivers and Eagle Divers during our time travelling Egypt but our opinions and recommendations are in no way influenced by this.

6 thoughts on “Backpacker’s Guide to Dahab, Egypt: Our Favourite Place in the Middle East

  1. Matt says:

    Hi Amanda, thanks so much for all this information! I am planning to take the bus from Taba to Sharm El Sheikh in January, and now I am debating staying a night or so in Dahab as well. Would you be able to define what makes Dahab such a special and different place from Sharm El Shiekh?

    A main reason for why I plan to go to Sharm is so that I can get a significantly more affordable flight to Cairo (as opposed to any airport in Israel or Jordan). However, if the bus to Sharm from Dahab is only $1, then maybe it’s preferable to stay in Dahab instead?

    • Amanda | LVV Travel says:

      Hey Matt! So glad you found the post. I would definitely stay a night or two in Dahab if you can. I think what makes Dahab so special is that it is a completely chilled place that’s not full of resorts or fancy hotels. Beaches aren’t private so you can just jump into the water wherever you want, it’s cheap and there’s great food around. I also freedive so it’s hard to pass up since Dahab is one of the best places in the world for it 🙂 You should go! Amanda

  2. Dina says:

    I loved Egypt (went in 2010) but never made it to the Red Sea destinations. Will definitely check out Dahab when I return. I normally only hear of Sharm or Hurghada in the Red Sea. Great post and thanks for the inspo!

  3. faramagan says:

    Dahab looks and sounds like a dream…like probably many others, I would LOVE to visit Egypt but just question my safety. I would love more advice on this? From what you’ve said it sounds perfectly safe, but would love to hear more!

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