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Last updated: 30 July, 2023

At the base of Mount Sinai, set amid a dramatic and harsh desert landscape, is the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this remarkable monastery was built by order of Emperor Justinian I (527-565) to protect the biblical ‘Burning Bush’, where Moses received his instructions to lead the Israelites out of Egypt in Canaan. The living bush in the grounds – now surrounded by a protective fence – is apparently the original.

The monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world, and it is still used by a religious community. It remains a holy pilgrimage site.

Don't miss

St. Catherine’s owns one of the world’s great collections of religious icons – from each period of religious art – housed in a separate gallery within the monastery compound.

While you're there

Just behind the monastery, also high on religious significance, is Mount Sinai, the rocky summit where Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments. Take an early-hours tour to climb the 3-mile trail to see the sunrise and dramatic colour shifts in the surrounding desert landscapes.

Climb Mount Sinai

Sharm el-Sheik, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt

Bucket List Experience
Pilgrims and tourists reaching the summit of Mount Sinai

A 3-mile trail, high on religious significance, leading up to the rocky summit where Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments.

Adult price: £35

Best for ages 13+

Duration: 3-5 hours

Price from: £2
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: 3-5 hours

Getting there & doing it

St. Catherine’s is reached by car from Dahab (about 90 minutes), Sharm el Sheikh (about 2.5 hours) and Cairo (about 8 hours). Guided tours e.g. with Viator are the most convenient way to go – everything is organised for you. Hotels in the resorts can also arrange tours.

If you’re going independently, taxis are the easiest ways of getting there from the coast. Be sure to arrange your return journey before you leave, or face a haggle and inflated charges to get back to the coast. The Bedouin Bus service is another option. It runs each Tuesday and Friday between St. Catherine and Dahab.

The monastery guest house has a good restaurant serving simple soups and grills. Kiosks selling hot drinks, biscuits and chocolate have set up on the summit for dawn climbers.

If you’re planning a dawn climb, book a room at the monastery guesthouse the night before. Accommodation is simple but decent and includes meals. There are also other hotels nearby.

When to do it

The monastery is open Monday-Thursday and Saturday. Closed Wednesday, Sunday and on religious holidays. If you’re climbing Mount Sinai, note that the mountain is extremely cold between November and February, and extremely hot (on the way down) in summer.

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

2 days private tours to Giza pyramids and Cairo Highlights Tours


2 days private tours to Giza pyramids and Cairo Highlights Tours
This 2-day, private tour covers both the ancient Egyptian highlights and Old Cairo. Visit the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx, the tombs and pyramids at Sakkara, Egypt's first capital, Memphis old city , and the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. Then explore the Citadel of Saladin, the Alabaster Mosque, the Hanging Church, and Ben Ezra Synagogue, concluding with a shopping trip

Price: $43

Min age: 1

Rating 4.95 / 5 [21 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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St Catherine Monastery and Mt Sinai Sunrise Tour from Dahab


St Catherine Monastery and Mt Sinai Sunrise Tour from Dahab
Visit Mt. Sinai and St. Catherine's Monastery on an excursion from Dahab. You will see the oldest active Christian monastery and watch the sun rise from the mountain where Moses is said to have received the 10 Commandments.

Price: $60

Min age: 0

Rating 4.53 / 5 [15 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Sharm El-Sheikh

Sinai Peninsular, Egypt

View of the Mosque Masjid El-Fateh on a sunny day. Colorful Mosque Masjid alsahaba Sharm El Sheikh in old town.

With world-class scuba diving, desert hills above, reliable sunshine and almost no rain – Sharm el-Sheik has become one of the world’s top beach destinations. It’s a package holiday nightmare, but you can escape to smaller towns nearby.

Round-ups that include this experience

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