Marsa Matruh -Egypt NOrht Coast
The most beautiful Mediterranean City in Egypt!
The city of Marsa Matruh has
been always special to me. I still can
remember, more than 20 years ago, when I
used to visit the city with my family. My
dad used to rent one of these government
chalets that were quite convenient at the
time and my mom used to take me and my
brother to a different beach every day as
Marsa Matruh is quite famous for its various
I still remember the first time we went to the Beau Site hotel. At the time, the hotel had only 20 rooms and it was very cozy. Now the hotel and the whole city as well have expanded. My family usually visits Marsa Matruh once every two or three years and I have seen the city growing over the years. However, the last time I went to Marsa Matruh, this summer, I have to admit that the city has changed a lot and all the services, hotels, and shops have improved and started attracting tourists as well as Egyptians who consider Matruh to be their favorite summer resort.
I never could have imagined that the history of Matruh goes back to the period of Alexander the great who is said to be the builder of the city. At ancient times Marsa Matruh was called "Amounia" because it was the beginning of the way leading to Siwa where there was a temple for the god "Amoun" which was regularly visited by Alexander. History mentions as well that Cleopatra had a palace on the high hill that overlooks her famous basins in Marsa Matruh. Since these ancient times and up till now Marsa Matruh has become one of the most popular resorts over the Mediterranean Sea.
The Egyptian government has started giving special attention to Marsa Matruh in the past few years. It was considered a small unimportant city but they found out that Matruh can attract a huge number of tourists if they gave it some attention. This special care the government gave to Marsa Matruh can be felt as soon as you step into the city.
The traffic became quite organized, unlike Cairo. The governorate of Matruh prohibited the Kareta, the famous donkey carriage ride, because they caused a big problem in the traffic and in cleaning the city as well.
I was amazed to see international food chains opening in Marsa Matruh like Mac Donald’s, Kentucky, and Hardees. This is off course besides the numerous oriental restaurants that offer tasty Egyptian and international dishes, with very cheap prices, that are located by the sea side and down town in Matruh.
Activities in Marsa Matruh
The most important question people ask
before they go to a sea resort is what is
there to do at night? In Matruh, there are
many activities. The most popular among the
Egyptians who visit Matruh is to go walk
down town. Marsa Matruh is an excellent
place for shopping. This is because of two
reasons. The first one being near the
Egyptian Libyan boundaries 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 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 dieses and illness. This includes: colon, tooth ache, coughing and lung problems, head ache, hair herbs, and so many other things. I have noticed they sell herbs that are beneficial in curing almost everything. 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 worth while as they provide nice goods with good quality and very low prices.
Many of the hotels around the city have bars and disco techs for those who would like more action in their night time. The disco tech at the Beau Site hotel is quite a nice place for having a drink and dancing. There are also places for billiards, bowling, and different kinds of games. Some hotels offer entertainment programs for their guests of all ages.
You can also spend the night smoking Shisha in an oriental cafes and modern cafes that became quite a lot these days in Marsa Matruh. I have to admit that seeing tourists in Marsa Matruh in the past was a strange scene. However, over the years, I have noticed that the number of tourists visiting Matruh has grown and the people of Marsa Matruh themselves got accustomed with tourists and how to deal with them. It is now safe for any tourist from around the globe to move and walk freely with being annoyed by anybody.
The accent of the people in Matruh is different than any other Egyptian city. Their Arabic language is more like the Libyans. The population in Marsa Matruh has exceeded the hundred thousand in the past few years. Most of these people work mainly with local tourism as thousands of Egyptians visit Matruh in the summer. The original people of Matruh still live in tribes around the major city of Marsa Matruh.
Marsa Matruh, or the port of Matruh in Arabic, is the capital and main city in the governorate of Matruh. It lies 290 kilos away from Alexandria and 524 kilos away from Cairo. The most significant characteristic of this city is its long amazing 7 kilometers 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 made Marsa Matruh one of the most beautiful sea resorts in the whole world.
Another major aspect of Matruh is the quantity of different beaches spread all over its long shore. There is the Ageeba Beach, Al Obayed Beach, Al Gharam Beach, Cleopatra Beach, and the other public beaches that are located inside the city of Marsa Matruh like Al Awam Beach and Romel Beach. Each hotel, as well, has its own private beach.
All these beaches have a common feature which is the clear water and the warm soft sand. On the other hand each of these beaches has a special element that makes it unique. This is why we are going to explore the beaches of Matruh separately in another story.
All kinds of beach activities can be done in Marsa Matruh like swimming in the charming sea water. You can also lay around in the sun as its rays are marvelous in the summer. The kids can go and swim securely, play around the beach, and build sand castles as much as they want. You can also rent a motor boat, Jet Ski, rowing boat, and peddling boats. You can also go surfing as some of the beaches in Marsa Matruh have the waves needed for wonderful surfing.
How to reach Marsa Matruh
Marsa Matruh can be reached by a rented car or your personal car from Cairo. The distance would take approximately 4 to 5 hours. From Alexandria, as most people would prefer to visit Alexandria first and then go to Matruh, the trip would take 2 hours and a half maximum. There are also buses that go from Cairo to the North Coast and then Matruh twice a day. A ticket would cost 45 pounds from Cairo to Matruh.
There is the sleeping train that goes to Matruh from Cairo every night and this is the best choice as it is cheap and the trains are quite organized and clean. The last mean of transportation to Matruh is by plane and the trip takes less than an hour. International flights will arrive in the Matruh airport soon as the government is trying to make another Sharm El Sheikh out of Matruh.
Sightseeing in Matruh and around it
Many tourists who visit Alexandria today prefer to take a two or three days trip to Matruh to enjoy 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 Matruh. One day trips to the Siwa oasis can be organized from Marsa Matruh to explore this oasis with its natural pools and astonishing antiquities.
The western view of guide books of Marsa Matruh that says that it is a crowded and littered city has changed over the years. Marsa Matruh right now is ready to host tourists from all over the world. There are a number of fine hotels that was recently opened in Marsa Matruh and other hotels who improved their rooms and services in order to get as much tourists in the summer as possible. Marsa Matruh will always be a charming place to spend three to four days in the summer in Egypt
The Cleopatra Beach
Although I have visited Marsa Matruh more than ten times before, as it is the favorite summer resort for my family, I have never went to the Cleopatra beach before. Maybe this was why I was so excited while I was taking my car from the parking of the Beau Site Hotel and heading towards the beach. Another reason for my excitement was the name of the beach, Cleopatra, as I thought there might be some antiquities there.
I drove for around twenty minutes from the hotel to the beach that lies less than 20 kilometers from the center of the city of Marsa Matruh. When I reached the beach, I easily found a parking space although there were many cars parked there as well as many busses that took groups to the beach.
The first thing I saw was a little wooden sign over the gate of the beach. Just beside this gate, there is a wonderful statue of Cleopatra with accurate features. Off course this statue does not belong to the era of Cleopatra but it is at least a demonstration of how this great lady looked like.
After you go inside the gate, you move into a small paved passage way that leads to the beach. To the left of this passage way, there is the “Max” Coffee shop that offers tasty Natural juices and some kinds of coffee and tea.
The first thing you see when you are finished with the passage way is a huge rock in the beginning of the sea water. I saw many kids playing around it and families taking pictures in front of it. The color of sea behind this rock and all around the beach is magnificent with all shades of blue suited together.
Afterwards, you start walking over the warm white sand for quite a while watching the sea colors and different rock formation that are spread all over the beach. There are various rock formations that look awesome.
I kept on walking until I reached the main rock in the beach and the rock of Cleopatra. It is a huge rock, 20 meters from the shore. I went walking like many others who came to visit the beach. There is an opening in the rock that enables people to go inside the rock. It is not very wide inside it but you can see the water waves coming from the top of the rock and emptying inside the rock. There are openings at the top of the rock that enables the sunshine to make the water warm forming a natural sun bath. People claim that the Queen Cleopatra used to come to this beach to enjoy this sun bath hundreds of years ago.
The Cleopatra beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Matruh and in all Egypt. However, it is not safe to swim there and if you take the risk, you should be a very good swimmer. If you swim there, you would have to make your way between rocks and the waves and water currents can become hostile. However, it is an amazing place for sun bathing and spending some time exploring this mysterious rock of Cleopatra
The Romel Beach
I used to go to this beach when I was a kid twenty years ago with my mom and my elder brother. I used to enjoy my time there a lot as the water is shallow in comparison to other beaches in Marsa Matruh and the sand is very soft.
The beach is located at the East of the city of Marsa Matruh. You keep on driving until you reach the end of the shore of the city Marsa Matruh. At that point, you make a U turn and then turn right to a bridge that takes you to the other side of the shore. This bridge has wonderful view of the city and the shore.
This time I was not actually going there to visit the beach itself. I was going there to visit the Romel cave that was converted into a small museum. The beach is named after the famous Italian commander, Romel, who was the leader of the Italian forces at a time in the Second World War.
The entrance to the beach is for free and the water is still the same as I left it, twenty years ago, shallow and with no strong waves. Therefore, it is the most marvelous beach for kids. However, the beach was over crowded when I went there.
Another significant factor of this beach is light shade of blue color of the sea water in it as it is just breathtaking. The beach is divided into two sections: the first section is the umbrellas section where each family pays five pounds to get an umbrella. The other side which calmer and less crowded consists of wooden sun blockers and each family or group gets a section of it. The Romel beach is one of most famous beaches in Marsa Matruh.
The Gharam Beach
More than fifty years ago, the former famous Egyptian singer, Layla Murad, sang while sitting on a huge rock in this beach. The song name was “Baheb Etenein Sawa, El Maya we El hawa”, which means I love two things in life, the water and the air. This song was in a scene of an old famous Egyptian movie about a man who meets a woman in Marsa Matruh while on he was on vacation and falls in love with her. The first time he sees her is when she is singing the song. The name of the movie was Shate’ El Gharam, or the beach of love, and this is the reason why this beach was called so.
My memory of this beach goes back when I was in preparatory school. My family used to visit Marsa Matruh every year and me and my dad used to walk from the Beau Site beach to the other public beaches to the right of the Beau Site beach and then swim to Gharam Beach. These things used to happen more than fifteen years ago but I would have to admit that the beach has not changed a lot through time. The beach is divided into two sections
The first section of the Gharam Beach is one of the best places to swim in Marsa Matruh as it is the largest popular beach in Matruh. Although the beach is seventeen kilometers out of the city of Marsa Matruh, it is actually facing town, occupying the last stretch of land around the lagoon before it opens up to the great sea. Although the beach can become quite crowded at times, there are sure places for everybody at the Gharam Beach because of its vast length.
The second section is the rocks section. You keep on walking from the other section to this section moving between rocks so wearing shoes or sandals is really recommended. The water there is very clear and walking around the rocks should be fun. The different shades of blue colors of the sea are marvelous. You keep on walking from the right to the left until you reach the famous Layla Murad rock at the very end of the beach.
It is a huge rock that looks like a shoe in its shape. It is likely to be 10 meters long. Many people and me among them wondered how did were they able to let Lalya Murad climb this rock in the sixties of the past century. Many young men love to climb the rock, stay in the sun shine for a while and then jump in the sea. This seemed very pleasurable for me and if I didn’t have my camera with me, I would have done the same as they did.
This beach is special as you can rent a motor boat and go inside the sea. There are special places for snorkeling near the Gharam Beach where you can see diverse fishes and sea creatures
The most famous beach in Matruh and it started being recognized internationally just like Ne’ema Bay in Sharm El Sheikh. Western guide books call it “the pride of Marsa Matruh” It is more than forty kilometers away from the city of Marsa Matruh but the beach is really worth the ride. The word” Ageeba” means the strange or wonderful place and it this beach was called so because of the astonishing nature of the beach and the mountains around it.
I have visited The Ageeba beach with my family when I was younger more than twenty years ago and I can remember was huge mountain and a fabulous sea beneath it. Although this wasn’t my first time to visit the Ageeba Beach, I didn’t know the way to go there well. This was why I lost my way and found myself in a private beach beside the public and main beach of Ageeba
This beach was actually amazing as the color of the water was soft light blue with some waves for those who like some adventures and it wasn’t very crowded as well. There were more than 10 meters between each group of people and the sand was light yellowish and very smooth.
Afterwards, I asked for the way to the main beach in Ageeba and an old man from the Bedouins who live in this area directed me. I parked my car in the parking lot attached to the beach and then I found a wide walking passage. I started walking very fast as I was so anxious to know if the image I had in mind for Ageeba is accurate or not and if this mind-blowing place is still the same.
The moment I saw the sea, I knew that my image of the beach is quite accurate and that the beach has changed to the better in the past few years. The most significant feature of this beach is that it is naturally set between two protecting cliffs and the beach itself is only thirty to forty meters long. Another important factor is that the color of the sea in Ageeba is different than any other beach in Egypt or any beach around the world. There are different shades of blue and green mixed together in a natural portrait.
I remember in the past we used to move between the rocks in order to go down from the right cliff to the beach. However, now, a nice reception area has been built on top of the cliff with a beautiful sea Panorama at the left hand side of this reception. There are also tables for people to sit and watch the sea and enjoy the refreshing air in the area as it is cooler than any other beach in Matruh.
I kept on going downstairs as it is a long distance between the top of the cliff and the bottom where the beach is set. I used to stop every now and then at different levels to take pictures of this astonishing beach. What amazed me was that the beach was not really crowded and there were places for sure for more and more swimmers.
I reached the beach after about 15 minutes and I was extremely thirsty and tired of the hot sun. However, a fresh cold lemonade juice from the cafeteria of the beach made a great difference. I kept on walking crossing the narrow beach at Ageeba until I reached the other cliff and I found many people sitting there in small caves in the mountains enjoying the sea view and the air. Ageeba is the most fascinating beach in Matruh and you must visit it if you have the chance to visit the small jewel of the Mediterranean, Marsa Matruh.