Aswan travel guide
Aswan is a city located in the south of Egypt, on the banks of the Nile River. It was founded by the Pharaohs during the New Kingdom and quickly grew to become one of the most important cities in Ancient Egypt. Aswan is a great place to visit for its stunning ancient ruins, natural wonders and lively nightlife. Here’s our Aswan travel guide to help you make the most of your trip.
Is Aswan worth visiting?
Aswan is a unique destination with a long and rich history. While it may not be the most popular tourist destination in Egypt, the attractions in Aswan are definitely worth a visit if you have the chance. Aswan is home to some of the most beautiful temples and monuments in the country, as well as stunning natural scenery and great local food options. If you’re interested in learning more about Egyptian culture and history, Aswan is the perfect place to do so.
The Best Things to Do and See in Aswan, Egypt
Abu Simbel on a Day Trip
The facade of the great temple of Ramses II is a sight to behold, with four massive seated pharaoh sculptures greeting you as you walk in. Once inside, you’ll find several more standing sculptures guarding the entrance, welcoming you to this incredible archaeological site. Beware of scammers who may try to charge you for photos or admission – just be sure to take your time and enjoy the experience.
Experience a Felucca Ride on the Nile River
If you’re looking for an activity to do in Aswan that’s not just touristy, but also incredibly fun, I highly recommend taking a felucca ride on the Nile River at sunset. It’s a unique experience that will take about an hour or two and will take you around each of the islands on the river before bringing you back to the East Bank of Aswan. What makes it truly interesting is seeing how they use wind power to navigate the Nile – it’s something that they’ve perfected for many centuries, so a Nile cruise is definitely something you won’t want to miss.
Visit the Philae Temple
The Philae Temple is a beautiful, well-preserved temple from the Ptolemaic period that will offer you a look at how impressive these ancient structures were when they were first built more than 2,000 years ago. Located on an island in the Nile River, the temple’s original location was actually somewhere downriver but due to the construction of Aswan Low Dam, it was submerged most of the year until it was moved up onto its current location. At the temple, you can climb up one of its pylons to get an amazing view of both the temple and its surrounding area. One of Aswan’s top attractions, Philae Temple , is also known as Pilak and is dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus. UNESCO assisted with moving the original complex on Philae Island to its current locale after Lake Nasser flooded.
Walk Around Nubian Villages
If you’re looking for a unique and exciting way to spend your day, you can walk around various Nubian villages. Not only will you get to see some of ancient Egypt’s most famous landmarks, but you can also visit a small village on the Elephantine Island on the Nile. Here, you can experience the vibrant culture of the Nubians firsthand and learn about their traditional ways of life.
Visit the villages of Nagel-Gulab and Nagaa Al Hamdlab and the nearby Nubian farmlands. These ruins are scattered along a stretch of road that runs for about 5km from the Tombs of the Nobles to the New Aswan City Bridge. Some of these ancient structures date back over 3,000 years, and they offer a fascinating glimpse into ancient Egyptian culture. The villages have been bypassed by most tour companies, so this is an opportunity to experience genuine Nubian culture. Don’t expect performances of traditional culture for foreign tourists; these are real villages with real people going about their daily lives.
As you wander through the village, you’ll notice that most of the houses are decorated in a traditional Nubian style. The villagers generally ignore a few foreigners who are wandering around, but along the way you’ll find the Abu Al Hawa Cafe – a small tea house. In the garden, there will be a group of Nubian men sitting in a circle playing backgammon. They are likely chatting and having a good time. The waiters speak English and it’s a great place to stop on your way through for a cup of Egyptian tea (remember to say if you don’t want ten teaspoons of sugar!). There’s also an extremely local restaurant next door. As you continue walking, you’ll come to an area of lush farmland on your right hand side. The Nile makes this area famously fertile and we saw some gigantic cabbages here! It’s interesting to wander through the little paths between fields and see the different crops being grown – some of which don’t exist in Europe. Onecrop that really caught my attention was a peculiar type of fruit used as animal feed – it looked like brains! The Nubians still use many traditional farming methods that have long since been mechanised in Europe, such as an ox-driven water wheel that was driving a traditional irrigation system.
Visit the Nubian Museum and learn its History
The Nubian Museum is home to a rare Egyptian artifact collection of over 3,000 pieces, including rare items like the statue of Ramses II and the black granite head of Tahraqa. The museum provides an educational experience about Nubian culture and heritage through three levels of exhibitions, as well as beautifully landscaped Aswan botanical gardens and public spaces.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Nubian people, or if you simply want to enjoy a beautiful garden and public space, the Nubian Museum is a must-visit attraction.
Check Out the Unfinished Obelisk
The colossal obelisk is a towering monolith of granite and marble, carved from bedrock with its imposing height measuring around 42 meters. If completed, it would be the largest obelisk in the world and weigh more than 1,000 tonnes.
Enjoy the view from Qubbet el-Hawa Mosque
Walk south from the Qubbet el-Hawa Mosque and scale the sand dunes at the end of the path. There is no need to go through either of the tombs, and you will only have to pay the entrance fee if you do.
Kitchener’s Island is a small, lush island situated in the Nile River. It is the site of the Aswan Botanical Garden, home to a colorful and exotic collection of trees and plants from around the globe. The island was gifted to Lord Kitchener in the late 1800s for his work on the Sudan campaigns. Today, it is a popular spot for tourists and nature lovers alike who enjoy spending time outdoors in beautiful surroundings.
Wadi al-Subua is known for its beautiful pylon and exterior, as well as its inner sanctum that was carved into the bedrock. It is a must-see destination for visitors to Egypt
The Temple of Kalabsha
The Temple of Kalabsha is an ancient and mysterious temple located on an island in Lake Nasser. It’s close to the Aswan High Dam, and about 11 miles from Aswan. Within the temple, you’ll find a pylon, open court, hallway, vestibules, and the sanctuary.
Starting from the southern end, Sharia As Souq appears much like the tourist bazaars all over Egypt. However, closer inspection reveals a greater variety of goods, with traders selling strange talismans and baskets from Nubia, swords from Sudan, masks from Africa, and gigantic stuffed creatures from the desert. Additionally, peanuts and henna are popular products here. The pace is slow, particularly in the late afternoon; the air has a faint sandalwood scent; and as in ancient times you may feel that Aswan is the gateway to Africa.
When to Visit Aswan, Egypt
Are you looking for an ideal vacation destination? Consider travelling to Egypt during the shoulder seasons, when the crowds are lower and the weather is mild. June and September are especially good options because they offer cool temperatures and beautiful scenery without all of the hustle and bustle of peak season.
How to Get to Aswan
From the Far East, you can travel to Egypt by flying with one of the many airlines that serve Middle Eastern airports like Turkish Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad. These carriers fly from major hubs all over Asia, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a flight that works for you.
There are two direct trains per day and fourteen trains per week that depart from Cairo and arrive at Aswan. The trip takes approximately twelve hours and the tickets cost from three dollars. There are eighty direct flights per day and eight hundred flights per week from Cairo to Aswan.
How to Get Around Aswan
For those visiting Philae Temple, there are a few different ways to get there. You can hire a taxi to the port and take a boat from there, but this can cost more money than just going with an organized tour. Alternatively, you can ask your taxi to wait for you, which is much cheaper. Both options are reliable and hassle-free, so it’s up to you which one you choose.
How Much Money Do You Need For Aswan As A Tourist?
With so many amazing activities and sights to see in Egypt, it can be difficult to decide which to do first. Luckily, with transportation and food costing around 30 EGP each on average, you’ll have plenty of money left over for other fun things. When it comes to sightseeing, consider visiting the Philae Temple or Abu Simbel for a day trip each. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more relaxing, Nubian Museum is a great option at 140 EGP entrance fee. Prices for some of the other activities listed here vary depending on the location you choose to visit them in, but as an overall estimate you should not expect to spend a lot during your stay here.
Is Aswan safe for tourists?
It’s less comfortable in the area between El Sadat Road and the site of the unfinished obelisk. This area appeared very poor and people are usually cold towards tourists. This is a good reminder that, despite the tourists, many parts of Egypt are still very conservative and it’s important to be sensitive to local customs.
It’s important to be aware of the safety precautions you should take when traveling to Aswan. Although the area around El Sadat Road and the site of the unfinished obelisk is less comfortable, it’s still a popular tourist destination. Make sure to stay alert and use common sense when visiting these areas.
Aswan is a great city to live in. Although it may be tempting to stay within the tourist areas, be sure to venture out and explore the less-known parts of the city. It’s also important to be aware of thieves who will try to steal your belongings while you’re in the souq or during carriage rides. However, if you’re careful and stick to know locals, you’ll have a great time in Aswan.