Hurghada was founded in the early 20th century. For many decades it was a small fishing village, but it has grown into a major Red Sea resort as a result of Egyptian and foreign investment that began in the 1980s. Holiday resorts and hotels provide facilities for windsurfing, kitesurfing, yachting, scuba diving and snorkeling. The city is known for its watersports, nightlife and warm weather. Daytime temperatures are around 30 °C (86 °F) most of the year, and during July and August temperatures can reach over 40 °C (104 °F). Hurghada is a popular holiday destination for Europeans, especially during the winter, and some spend Christmas and New Year there. Tourist numbers from Russia dropped significantly after the Metrojet Flight 9268 plane crash in November 2015.
The village, which later evolved into what is now the city of Hurghada, was first settled in 1905. It acquired its name from a plant which has grown there naturally since the days of Ancient Egypt. Originally Hurghada was a fishing village. Oil was discovered in the area in 1913, and in 1921 British oil companies began its production and export. During the reign of King Farouk a recreational center was built in the city, but after President Nasser‘s nationalization of Egypt’s industries it was reallocated to the Egyptian Armed Forces.
During the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt (1967–70), Shadwan Island in the Red Sea to the east of the city was fortified by Egyptian troops and used as a radar post. On 22 January 1970 the island was the site of Operation Rhodes, a helicopter assault by Israeli troops who occupied it for 36 hours.
The 2016 Hurghada attack was caused by two terrorists who were inspired by the jihadist group Islamic State. Three tourists were wounded. On 14 July 2017, in the 2017 Hurghada attack, a man declared that he wanted to kill only non-Egyptians. He stabbed seven female tourists: five German, one Czech and one Armenian. Two of the German women were killed. The Czech tourist died later in hospital. The attack occurred at two separate resort hotels.
In 2022 two swimming women were killed by unprovoked shark attack