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Marsa Matrouh Travel Guide

Marsa Matruh is the most beautiful Mediterranean city in Egypt! The city has been always special to me. I can still remember, more than 20 years ago, when I often visited the city with my family. My dad would rent a government chalet that was quite convenient at the time and my mom would take me and my brother to a different beach each day, as Marsa Matruh is quite famous for its many beautiful beaches. 


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 entire city have expanded. My family usually visits Marsa Matruh once every two or three years and I have seen the city grow over the years. However, the last time I went to Marsa Matruh this past summer, I have to admit that the city has changed a lot. 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 with every service and fun activity you could ever imagine.


Marsa Matrouh

 

Matruh's History

 

I could never have imagined that the history of Matruh went back to the period of Alexander the Great who is said to be the builder of the city. In 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 also mentions 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 in the Mediterranean Sea.


The Egyptian government has begun giving special attention to Marsa Matruh in the past few years. It was considered a small unimportant city but as they noticed that Matruh can attract a huge number of tourists they have started to pay increasing attention. This special care the government given to Marsa Matruh can be felt as soon as you step into the city.


The traffic has become 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 also amazed to see international food chains opening in Marsa Matruh such as McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Hardees. Of course this is in addition to the numerous oriental restaurants that offer tasty Egyptian and international dishes, with very cheap prices, that are located on the seaside and ion downtown 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 walking downtown. Marsa Matruh is also an excellent place for shopping as its closeness to the Egyptian-Libyan border 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 also 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 diseases and illness. These include colon disorders, toothache, coughing and lung problems, headache, 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 worthwhile as they have many nice goods with good quality and very low prices. 


Many of the hotels around the city have bars and nightclubs for those who would like more action in their night time. The nightclub at the Beau Site hotel is quite a nice place for having a drink and dancing. There are also places for billiards, bowling, and many other activities adn games. Some hotels offer entertainment programs for their guests of all ages. 


You can also spend the night smoking shisha in oriental cafes and modern cafes all around 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 to tourists and how to welcome 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 100,000 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 kilometers away from Alexandria and 524 km away from Cairo. The most significant characteristic of this city is its long amazing 7 km 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 makes Marsa Matruh one of the most beautiful sea resorts in the whole world. 


Another major aspect of Matruh is the number 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 in 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.

 

Beach Activities


All kinds of beach activities can be done in Marsa Matruh starting with 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 safely, play around the beach, and build sand castles as much as they want. You can also rent a motorboat, jet ski, row boat, and paddle 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. It takes 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 max. There are also buses that go from Cairo to the North Coast and then Matruh twice a day. A ticket from Cairo to Matruh costs 45 pounds. 


There is also an overnight train that goes to Matruh from Cairo every night and this is the best choice overall because is cheap and the trains are quite organized and clean. The last means 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 style major destination out of Matruh. 


Sightseeing in and Around Matruh 


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 guidebooks 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 many 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.


Matruh Beaches

 

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 gone to 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 just recently. Another reason for my excitement was the name of the beach, Cleopatra, as I thought there might be some antiquities and historical sights there.

 

Marsa Matrouh

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 buses that took groups to the beach.


Marsa Matrouh

 

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 lovely features. Of course, this statue does not belong to the era of Cleopatra but it is at least a demonstration of how this beautiful lady looked.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

After you go inside the gate, you move into a small paved passageway that leads to the beach. To the left of this passageway, there is the “Max” Coffee shop that offers delicious natural juices and some kinds of coffee and tea.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

The first thing you see when you are finished with the passageway is a huge rock at the beginning of the sea. I saw many kids playing around it and families taking pictures in front of it. The color of the sea behind this rock and all around the beach is magnificent with all shades of blue and turquise dancing together in the waves.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

Afterwards, you start walking over the warm white sand for quite awhile watching the sea colors and different fascinating rock formations that are spread all over the beach. 

 

I kept on walking until I reached the main rock in the beach and the rock of Cleopatra. It is a huge rock located 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 sunbath. People claim that Queen Cleopatra used to come to this beach to enjoy this exact same sunbath hundreds of years ago!

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

Cleopatra beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Matruh and in all of Egypt. However, it is not safe to swim there and if you take the risk, you must 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 with undertow and rough conditions. However, it is an amazing place for sunbathing and spending some time exploring this mysterious rock of Cleopatra

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

Rommel 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 of 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. 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 a wonderful view of the city and the shore.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

This time I was not actually going there to visit the beach itself. I was going there to visit Rommel cave that was converted into a small museum. The beach is named after the famous German commander, Rommel, who was a leader of the German forces in Egypt during the Second World War.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

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. It is a marvelous beach for kids, however the beach was overcrowded when I went there.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

Another significant thing about this beach is the light blue color of the sea water" it is just breathtaking.  The beach is divided into two sections: the first section is the umbrella 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.  Rommel beach is one of most famous beaches in Marsa Matruh.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

Gharam Beach

 

More than fifty years ago, the former famous Egyptian singer Layla Murad sang while sitting on a huge rock on this beach during a famous movie scene. 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 he is on vacation and falls in love with her. The first time he sees her is when she is singing the song on the beach. The name of the movie is Shate’ El Gharam or "the Beach of Love," and this is the reason why this beach is named Gharam Beach.

 

Marsa Matrouh

My memory of this beach goes back when to I was in preparatory school. My family used to visit Marsa Matruh every year and my dad and I 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.  Even though that was more than fifteen years ago I  have to admit that the beach has not changed a lot since then. 

 

 Marsa Matrouh

 

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 and most 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 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.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

The second section is the rocky section.  You keep on walking from the other section of this section moving between rocks so wearing shoes or sandals is really recommended. The water there is very clear and walking around the rocks can 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.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

It is a huge rock that looks like a shoe. It is around 10 meters long. Many people (including me) wondered how they were able to let Layla Murad climb this rock in the 1960s. Many young men love to climb the rock, stay in the sunshine for a while and then jump in the sea. This seemed very pleasurable to 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 motorboat and go around the sea as well.  There are special places for snorkeling near tGharam Beach where you can see many diverse fishes and sea creatures.

 

Ageeba Beach

 

The most famous beach in Matruh is Ageeba. In fact it is starting to get recognized worldwide on the same level as Naama Bay in Sharm El Sheikh. Western guidebooks 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 got the name because of the astonishingly beautiful nature of the beach and the mountains around it.

 

I have visited Ageeba beach with my family when I was younger more than twenty years ago and I can remember huge mountains and a fabulous sea beneath them. Although this wasn’t my first time to visit 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.

 

Afterward, 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 path. 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.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

The moment I saw the sea, I knew that my image of the beach was quite accurate. If anything, the beach has changed for 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 kaleidascope of beauty.

 

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 there is now a nice reception area on top of the cliff with a beautiful sea panorama view at the left-hand side. 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.

 

Marsa Matrouh

 

I kept on going down the stairs, as it is a long distance between the top of the cliff to the beach. I stopped 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 everyone to swim out there.

 

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 a fascinating beach in Matruh and you must visit it if you have the chance to visit the small jewel of the Mediterranean, Marsa Matruh.

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