Egypt is known for its rich history, especially from the Pharaonic era, which continues to attract visitors from all over the world. But for those interested in contemporary history, El Alamein is a must-visit destination. This town on the Mediterranean coast played a crucial role in World War II, and visiting its memorials and museums offers a unique understanding of the significance of the battles fought here.
In addition to its historical importance, El Alamein has become a popular spot for sun and beach tourism in recent years. Large urban projects, such as the Marina and Borg El Arab airport, have been developed to take advantage of the Mediterranean Sea’s benefits. This type of tourism is increasingly popular among both Egyptians and foreign visitors.
This guide provides all the information you need to know about sightseeing in El Alamein, including what to see, how to get there, and more. If you’re planning a trip, remember that Egipto Exclusivo can take care of all the details. El Alamein is sure to surprise you!
El Alamein is situated approximately 100 km west of Alexandria, where the German and Italian forces were halted during their advance towards the Nile Delta in World War II. The location was critical for the Allies’ defensive strategy, as it was the only viable communication route between Libya and the Nile Delta, running along the Mediterranean coast.
Apart from its historic significance, El Alamein boasts beautiful natural surroundings with pristine white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers. The town’s climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. With numerous resorts opening in recent years, El Alamein has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists seeking sun and relaxation.
The climate in El Alamein is similar to other places along the Mediterranean coast, such as Alexandria and Marsa Matruh. Expect hot summers but not scorching, mild winters but not as warm as those in the Red Sea, and a higher number of rainy days per year. Rainfall is practically non-existent in summer and only sporadic in winter. These climate differences between winter and summer create a distinction between high and low season in tourism in El Alamein, so keep this in mind when planning your trip, especially if you are interested in enjoying the town’s beaches.
El Alamein holds a significant place in contemporary history, particularly related to World War II. Before the outbreak of the war, it was just another corner of the Mediterranean coast on the route between the Nile Delta and Libya.
But in 1942, El Alamein became a fundamental location in the war. The German and Italian forces, known as the Afrika Korps under the command of Erwin Rommel, “the Desert Fox” were positioned in Libya with the strategy of advancing towards Egypt. In particular, against Alexandria due to the importance of its port, and Port Said, with the intention of taking control of the Suez Canal. All of this would have been a decisive blow to the outcome of the war. All of this would have been a decisive blow to the outcome of the war. The Allied forces, on the other hand, were organizing their defense in Egypt, from the British headquarters established in Cairo. At the helm was Bernard Montgomery.
The German and Italian troops began their advance, winning at Marsa Matruh, where Rommel established his headquarters. But time was running against them, as one of the Allied strategies was to harass and disrupt the supply lines of the enemy troops through air raids. This prompted Rommel to launch the offensive in the summer of 1942, in what became known as the First Battle of El Alamein, which the Allies were able to contain.
A battle that ended in a stalemate, but which gave a moral victory to the Allies. And months later, it encouraged the Allied forces to launch a counterattack, known as the Second Battle of El Alamein, taking advantage of the shortage of supplies still suffered by the Afrika Korps. On this occasion, the Allied victory was clear and caused the retreat of the German and Italian armies towards Libya.
A move by Rommel that apparently did not yet have the approval of Adolf Hitler, but served to prevent a total annihilation. But above all, the outcome of this battle marked a turning point in the course of World War II, as reflected in a famous quote by Winston Churchill: “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat.”
In any case, it did not prevent numerous casualties on both sides, as can be seen by visiting the cemeteries of El Alamein. Since the battles of El Alamein, this place has become a great memorial, a visual and emotional reminder of the horrors of war, visited by numerous people. Many of them are Europeans and, in some cases, descendants of soldiers or relatives who were involved in that great global conflict in one way or another. But above all, these memorials are now open to all those who visit El Alamein as tourists and want to understand and remember that war episode.
In remembrance of the historical battle and the thousands of casualties it caused (around 70,000 soldiers, according to some sources), official commemorations take place every October in El Alamein. However, the city’s tourism has evolved over time and now focuses on its natural beauty and favorable climate along the Mediterranean coast.
The strategic location of El Alamein, with its proximity to Alexandria, other Nile Delta cities, and Cairo, presented a development opportunity that both the Egyptian government and private investors seized. Private resorts and tourist developments have since been built, altering the coastal landscape with new jetties, artificial lakes, and other man-made structures. The most prominent of these is Marina El Alamein, a large private resort that boasts higher exclusivity standards than Marsa Matruh.
Despite the growth of the tourism industry, the population of El Alamein remains relatively small, with just over 10,000 permanent residents. This number, however, increases significantly during the summer months.
El Alamein’s present has moved on from its past as a World War II battleground. Today, tourists flock to the area to enjoy its natural beauty and favorable climate. However, the future of the region may be vastly different, with the Egyptian government planning significant urban developments in the coming decades to accommodate the country’s projected population growth while promoting sustainability.
Similar to New Cairo, significant investments in desalination plants and solar-powered electricity will support the development of New Al-Alamein City, located south of El Alamein on arid terrain. The city is intended to provide housing for up to one million inhabitants by the mid-21st century and numerous government administrative buildings, according to government estimates.
While these plans are still in their early stages, they showcase the vital role that the region will play in Egypt’s future. The city’s development must coexist with El Alamein’s thriving tourism industry, which already includes numerous resorts and services.
El Alamein is a destination rich in history, with almost everything to see related to the battles of World War II. Visitors can explore spaces dedicated to preserving the memory of the fallen and learn about the battles through preserved weaponry and objects that offer a glimpse into the past.
The War Museum is the primary museum in El Alamein and offers a comprehensive visit to the events that took place during the momentous days of the summer and autumn of 1942. Visitors can learn about the entire North African campaign of World War II and explore pavilions dedicated to each of the four major countries involved: the United Kingdom, Egypt, Germany, and Italy. The museum also features a pavilion showcasing objects and documents from the conflict. Outside, tanks and war vehicles used in the battles of El Alamein are on display, providing visitors with a tangible connection to history.
The Commonwealth Cemetery is a must-see memorial in El Alamein, with its carefully designed layout of nearly 7,240 graves extending amidst desert plants with overwhelming symmetry and regularity. Although the majority of the soldiers buried here are British, the cemetery also includes the graves of fighters from Australia and Canada, among other nations belonging to the Commonwealth.
The German Memorial is one of the most striking memorials erected in El Alamein. Located about 7 km west of El Alamein, it is designed to look like a medieval fortress, with the flags of Germany and Egypt waving over it. The memorial houses the remains of around 4,000 soldiers, and in the center of the cemetery stands an obelisk in memory of the fallen.
The Italian Memorial is situated approximately 11 km west of El Alamein and is a grand space with an impressive entrance named ‘Sacrario Militare Italiano El Alamein’. A wide avenue flanked by greenery leads to the main building, which is a polygonal tower featuring windows that open towards the Mediterranean, along with an altar. On either side of the tower, there are pavilions with walls adorned with marble tombstones, announcing the remains of approximately 5,000 soldiers who lost their lives in the battle, many of whom are still unidentified.
The complex also includes other structures, such as a small museum with maps, objects, and documents relating to the Battle of El Alamein. Additionally, the memorial mound is symbolic, and a large plaque reading “Mancó la fortuna, non il valore” (“Fortune failed, not valor”) is prominently displayed.
El Alamein’s beaches offer a unique blend of history and natural beauty. Despite the construction of several tourism resorts in recent years, the coastline still retains an uncluttered appearance. However, most of the main beaches are private and only allow access to their clients. These beaches are known for their fine white sand and crystal-clear waters, which are much cleaner and clearer than other parts of the country. Here are some of the most notable beaches in El Alamein:
If you’re planning a trip to El Alamein for tourism purposes, it’s important to know how to get there and how to move around the destination. Here is some information that will help you plan your vacation or day trip.
With the opening of the Borg El Arab airport, tourism in El Alamein has grown significantly. While its primary goal was to alleviate congestion at the old Alexandria airport, it has proved to be a springboard for this and other tourism projects along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.
The airport is approximately 80 km away from El Alamein, which is just over an hour’s drive. It has direct connections from cities in the Middle East, Cairo, Milan, and Athens. You can find a detailed list of these destinations on the Alexandria tourism page.
If you are traveling from other parts of Egypt, you can reach El Alamein by road. Alexandria is just over 100 km away, which takes about an hour and a half. Cairo is only 250 km away by car, which takes about 2 and a half hours. Marsa Matruh, another major vacation destination on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, is approximately 200 km away (a little over two hours by car).
Although El Alamein’s tourism is growing, it still does not have a large bus station. So, if you prefer to travel by bus, you will need to use a private one. Egipto Exclusivo offers private taxis of different sizes, including minivans, and can help you arrange transportation.
The port of El Alamein is small and only serves small boats, not passenger ferries. Therefore, if you prefer to arrive by boat, you will also need to use a private service.
The best and practically the only way to get around El Alamein is by car. If you prefer to be the one driving, several car rental offices are available, including some large chains that allow you to return the vehicle to another branch, such as Borg El Arab Airport.
Taxi services are usually private and on-demand, commonly used for transfers from the airport. However, they are not a common sight on the streets. Therefore, if you’re looking for a vehicle with a driver and wide availability for sightseeing in El Alamein, you can contact Egipto Exclusivo. We provide various services in this tourist destination and have ample experience designing tailor-made travel programs for our clients.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any assistance in planning your trip to El Alamein. We have a wide portfolio of providers and are eager to help you make the most of your time in this historical location.