The Best Things To Do In Aswan

Written By: Joaquin Silva

Ancient Egyptian temples, Coptic monasteries and Fatimid tombs weave different eras together in a richly patterned tapestry in this southern Egyptian city which is located to the south of Edfu, Nagaa Hassanein and Daraw. Egypt’s gateway to the south, is also situated west of the Wadi el Gemal National Park, east of Baris and north of Ibrim and Toshka. With its stately ruins, floating restaurants and tranquil palm groves, Aswan is the ideal location for treating yourself to a sedate, relaxing vacation with a touch of shopping, exploring and sightseeing thrown in. And thanks to this winning combination, you are certain to feel revitalized and refreshed once your vacation in this sun-drenched town comes to an end.

With its spice scented markets and traditional sailboats drifting along the Nile, Aswan looks like a postcard which has come to life. It is also the perfect stop for taking a break from the colourful cacophony of Cairo or Hurghada and even comes with its very own airport ensuring you can arrive there in the shortest time possible. The seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh is about a four-hour flight away using the quickest flight routes while Hurghada with its colorful coral reefs is a five and half hour flight away. The capital Cairo is a lot closer with flight trips averaging 90 minutes. Taxis are the most popular and convenient mode of transport for getting from one destination to the next in Aswan, while motor boats and traditional sailboats otherwise referred to as feluccas are especially handy for getting from island to island or for enjoying a ride along the Nile.

One of the best locations to visit in order to get your holiday in Aswan off to a great start is the famous Agilika Island. Here you will get to travel through time as you visit elegant complexes dating back to ancient Egypt and Trajan’s Kiosk built during the Roman era. The 7th century Monastery of Saint Simeon on the West Bank is also worth visiting for a glimpse of monastic life in Coptic Egypt. Market places are some of the very best spots for feeling the heartbeat of the city you are in and it is certainly the case with Sharia al-Souq. Here you will be able to admire traditional Nubian embroidery and silverware, inhale the fragrance of a profusion of spices and perfumes and hone your bargaining skills to impressive levels. Aswan as a whole also serves as a gateway to a region which served as one of Egypt’s most powerful neighbors and rivals in ancient times, Nubia. If you have always wanted to find out more about this mysterious kingdom, your vacation in Aswan will provide you with an excellent opportunity to do so thanks to its Nubian Museum which is filled with secrets and artifacts from that ancient nation.


Temple of Philae

The Temple of Philae was originally built on the island of Philae, but with modern day damming of the Nile River, the temple was threatened, and over ten years was moved to higher ground. Now located on Agilka Island, take time out with a boat ride to visit and explore the temple, enjoying its engravings and towers that tell the story of that time. The island has other ancient landmarks too, so take time to wander and explore it in its entirety.


Aswan High Dam

With so many places honouring the achievements of the ancient world, take time to appreciate the incredible engineering feat of the Aswan High Dam. Take a trip to admire the immense dam wall built in the 1960’s, which is 3.6 kilometres long and 111meteres high. The views down the Nile are spectacular, and the photos will be memorable!


Abu Simbel Temples

The four towering figures of Ramesses II at the entrance to the Abu Simbel Temples, show why these temples – originally carved into sandstone cliffs – are so very popular. Built in the thirteenth century BC – and relocated in the 1960’s because of the Aswan Dam – you will be amazed at the beauty and detail of the two temples. Explore the interior, and study the statues and reliefs that depict the stories of battles, as you wander through the chambers and explore the temples.


Temple of Kom Ombo

The unique Temple of Kom Ombo was dedicated to two gods – Sobek and Horus – and in honour of each, the structure is actually two identical temples – not one – which mirror each other down the central axis. Built around 100 BC, the ruins have deteriorated, but the design of the temple and the reliefs and texts are fascinating. This magnificent structure honours both gods, and tells the stories of a mysterious bygone era.


Lake Nasser

The construction of Lake Nassar was part of the magnificent engineering marvel that is the Aswan Dam; it is 340 miles long and up to 22 miles wide! A perfect and relaxing way to see the many tombs and temples, is to take a cruise on the lake. There are many options, from single day-trips to multi-day tours, which explore the beauty of the lake and visit many of the famous landmarks.


Nile River

Arguably the longest river in the world – at 6680 kilometres long – the Nile River flows through eleven countries. From ancient times, the river has been the lifeblood – and primary water supply – of the countries it flows through, but nowadays it’s a great way to explore history and culture on a cruise, seeing major landmarks as you glide along its famous waters.

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