15 Best Things to Do in Aswan: A Traveler’s Guide

We’re diving into a city that’s like the greatest hits album of Egypt—Aswan. This place is packed with so much cool stuff, you won’t even know where to start. I’m talkin’ about ancient temples that look like they’re straight out of a movie, mixed with modern spots that are just as jaw-dropping. So, let’s buckle up and get into why Aswan is the must-see city on your Egypt travel list!

Get ready, ’cause we’re about to unpack the 15 best things to do in Aswan. Trust me, by the time you’re done reading, you’re gonna be as hyped about Aswan as I am!

1. Visit the Philae Temple Complex

Philae Temple Complex

If you’re heading to Aswan, you have got to check out the Philae Temple Complex. This place is like the Avengers of ancient Egypt, bringing together all kinds of cool stuff that will make your trip unforgettable.

So, why is Philae Temple such a big deal? Well, first off, it’s really, really old. And I mean, like, older-than-your-grandparents old. It was built to honor the goddess Isis. But guess what? It’s not even in its original spot! They had to move the whole thing in the 1970s because of a dam project. Yeah, like pick up a whole ancient temple and move it—how wild is that?

When you walk in, it’s like stepping into an ancient world. The place is full of towering structures, intricate carvings, and just a whole lot of whoa. There’s the Temple of Isis, which is all grand and majestic. Then there’s the Kiosk of Trajan, which sounds like something out of a video game, and the Gate of Hadrian—both super cool spots to check out.

Oh, and don’t forget about the Nilometer! No, it’s not a villain from a superhero movie. It’s an ancient gadget they used to measure how high the Nile River was. Kinda like their version of a yardstick, but way cooler.

Here’s a pro tip: Try to go early in the morning. You’ll dodge the big crowds and sidestep the scorching heat. Trust me, it’s way better to explore when you’re not sweating buckets. If you want to really get the inside scoop, think about hiring a local guide. They can give you all the juicy details that make the place come alive.

How much is the entrance?

If you’re planning on going between October and May, the temple doors open at 7 in the morning and close at 4 in the afternoon. Now, if summer’s more your vibe and you’re heading there between June and September, good news! You get an extra hour to explore—the place stays open till 5 pm.

Now, let’s talk money. Bring some Egyptian Pounds with you, ’cause there’s an admission fee. It’s 180 EGP to get in. I know, I know, it’s not free, but trust me, it’s totally worth it!

Read more: 15 Amazing Experiences In Luxor You Won’t Forget

2. Explore the Aswan Botanical Gardens

Aswan Botanical Gardens

if you’re craving a break from the city hustle and bustle, I’ve got just the spot for you—Aswan Botanical Gardens. Picture this: You’re chilling on an island in the middle of the Nile River, surrounded by some of the most amazing plants and trees you’ve ever seen. Yeah, it’s like a paradise island, except it’s real and it’s in Aswan! Lord Kitchener, the dude who once lived there, turned this place into a global garden. He filled it with exotic plants from all around the world, like palm trees, banana trees, and even fragrant jasmine bushes.

Hold on to your hats because there’s even a little museum where you can learn about all the cool plants around you. Ready to go? Good, ’cause you’re gonna need just 20 Egyptian Pounds (that’s like $1.25, folks) to get in. Aim to visit between October and April when the weather’s nice and cool. Trust me, you don’t wanna be walking around in the blazing summer heat.

3. Go on a Nile River Cruise

nile river

Get ready to set sail—literally—on one of the most epic adventures you can have in Aswan: a Nile River cruise. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “A cruise? Really?” But hold on a sec. Imagine gliding along the Nile, surrounded by amazing views, while diving into ancient history at every turn. You get to mix a bit of luxury with a whole lotta exploring, and you’re gonna love it! The 3-4 night trips usually zoom past some of the most legendary spots in ancient Egyptian history, so get ready for a ride through time!

Now, let’s talk options, because there are a ton. You can go all-out with a five-star experience, complete with personal butlers and gourmet meals. But if you’re more of a budget traveler, don’t worry; there are affordable cruises too. Most cruises even throw in cool cultural stuff like belly dancing shows and visits to temples. The price? Well, the fancy ones could set you back a thousand bucks a night, but budget ones start around a hundred. Just make sure to book early, especially between October and April, ’cause spots fill up fast.

4. Visit the Nubian Museum

If you’re looking to dig deep into Nubian culture, then you absolutely can’t miss the Nubian Museum in Aswan. Picture this: you’re right next to the Aga Khan Mausoleum, hanging out by the Nile River’s east bank, and boom—you walk into this incredible museum that’s like a time capsule of Nubian awesomeness. Founded back in 1997, the museum itself is a sight to behold. I mean, it’s designed to actually look like the traditional Nubian villages. How cool is that?

Okay, once you’re inside, you’ll find everything from huge statues and boats to smaller stuff like clothes, bling (that’s jewelry, by the way), and even pottery. It’s like a treasure trove of Nubian history! The ticket is around 100 Egyptian pounds (about 6 bucks, American) and the doors are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day—just not on Fridays.

And hey, if you don’t like standing in lines (who does?), snag those tickets in advance. While you’re there, don’t just rush through; take your time to check out the exhibits and even catch a short documentary they show in the museum theater. If you’ve got questions, the staff are super friendly and ready to chat.

5. See the Unfinished Obelisk

Unfinished Obelisk

Queen Hatshepsut, way back in 15th century BC, ordered what was supposed to be the biggest, baddest obelisk ever. But here’s the twist—while carving it out, they found a crack in the granite and had to stop.

Nowadays, you can actually visit this awesome “almost-was” wonder for just 80 Egyptian pounds (that’s like 5 U.S. dollars). It’s open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every single day.

6. Explore the Tombs of the Nobles

Tombs of the Nobles

These tombs were basically the penthouse suites of the afterlife for Egypt’s ancient bigwigs. Built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, these places aren’t just holes in the ground; they’re like mini-museums showing off the swaggy lifestyles of Aswan’s past elite.

For about the cost of a fancy coffee—just 5 bucks or 80 Egyptian pounds—you can roam around these tombs like an archaeologist on a scavenger hunt. They’re open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now, get this: not all tombs are created equal. Some are extra-special, like the Tomb of Sarenput II, which is basically the Beyoncé of tombs with its stunning wall art and killer woodwork. And don’t skip the Tomb of Harkhuf; it’s like the Instagram of ancient Egypt, full of scenes from Harkhuf’s globe-trotting adventures to Nubia.

7. Experience Nubian Culture at a Local Village

nubian village

If you’re in Aswan and you skip visiting a Nubian village, you’re seriously missing out. Picture this: you’re walking into a community that’s buzzing with history, vibrant colors, and music that’ll make you wanna dance. It’s like stepping into a whole new world, and the best part? You’re gonna learn a ton while having fun!

The tours aren’t free, but they’re worth every penny. Expect to shell out somewhere between 200 and 400 Egyptian pounds—that’s about 12 to 25 bucks. But hey, for that price, you get a front-row seat to some of the coolest traditions ever. We’re talking henna art, weaving, and pottery making that’s been passed down for generations. Hungry? You gotta try their legendary dishes like ful medames (it’s like the best bean stew you’ll ever have) and ta’amiyya, which is basically Nubian falafel. And don’t even get me started on the music and dancing! You might hear the strings of an oud or the beat of a tar drum. Who knows? You might even learn a dance move or two.

8. Explore Elephantine Island

Elephantine Island

Elephantine Island isn’t just a cool name; this place used to be a big deal in the ivory trade way back in the day. Today, it’s like stepping into a time machine, but way cooler because it’s real life!

As soon as you get there, you’ve gotta check out the temple of Khnum. Who’s Khnum, you ask? Oh, just the Ram god people used to really revere. The temple is filled with hidden gems like old-school shrines and rock tombs that were VIP-only. Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find Siou and Koti—two Nubian villages—right there on the island. If you’re looking to make your visit super comfy, Mövenpick is the go-to hotel on the island. It’s like base camp but with room service. Just a heads-up, if you’re planning to explore outside the resort, ladies should dress a bit conservatively as a sign of respect. But once you’re back in the hotel, feel free to chill in whatever makes you comfortable.

9. Take a Camel Ride to St. Simeon Monastery

St. Simeon Monastery

How about a camel ride to an ancient monastery? St. Simeon Monastery is on the west side of the Nile, and trust me, it’s a whole vibe with echoes of Egypt’s religious past.

Imagine this: you hop on a camel (way cooler than your typical horse, right?) and start your trek through the desert, just like the pilgrims from the old days. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine, except it’s way more sandy and way less sci-fi. As you ride, the camel’s smooth pace lets you take in the quiet of the desert, the mountains in the distance, and the Nile River doing its eternal thing. Once you get to St. Simeon, you’ll find it’s no regular old building. The walls practically whisper stories of monks and spiritual quests. There’s something calming about wandering through the old rooms and courtyards, thinking about the folks who once called this spiritual retreat home.

Read more: Everything You Need To Know About The Sleeper Train From Cairo To Luxor

10. Visit Kalabsha Temple

Kalabsha Temple

This spot is like that hidden level in a video game that everyone talks about but few have actually found. It’s dedicated to the Nubian sun god, Mandulis, and let me tell you, it’s a feast for the eyes and the history buff in you. The temple is a mash-up of jaw-dropping architecture and artwork so detailed you’d think it was made yesterday. Pylons as grand as skyscrapers, columns that could double as artworks, and reliefs that tell tales of a time long gone—you’ll find it all here.

Getting there is its own little adventure, too. You can take a serene boat ride on Lake Nasser and let the water vibes set the mood before you reach the temple. It’s about 50 kilometers away from Aswan, so it’s like a mini road trip but on water! You can go solo or get a guided tour to walk you through all the nitty-gritty details. Oh, and about the tickets—generally, it costs around 60 Egyptian pounds if you’re an international visitor and half that if you’re a student. But prices can be like the weather, always changing, so maybe double-check before you go.

11. Discover Edfu Temple

edfu temple

Located about 60 kilometers north of Aswan, in the city of Edfu, this temple is the epitome of ancient Egyptian grandeur. It’s dedicated to Horus, who you’ll recognize by the falcon headdress he’s rocking. Walk through its majestic pylons, decode the hieroglyphs that could give any modern novel a run for its money, and take a selfie (mentally, at least) with the massive statue of Horus. The air here practically tingles with history and mystique.

Getting to Edfu Temple is a breeze. You can hire a private ride, or if you’re more of a “the more, the merrier” type, hop on a group tour. Once you arrive, get lost (not literally, please) in the labyrinth of rooms and courtyards each telling its own millennia-old story. It’s like walking through a graphic novel, but instead of flipping pages, you’re stepping stones. As for the tickets, they usually go for around 140 Egyptian pounds for adults and 70 pounds if you’re a student.

12. Enjoy the Aga Khan Mausoleum

Aga Khan Mausoleum

If you’re drawn to places that evoke a rich tapestry of history, culture, and spiritualism, the Aga Khan Mausoleum is a stop in Aswan you won’t want to miss. Standing like a sentinel on a hill, this mausoleum is a lesson in Islamic architectural splendor. It’s like stepping into a realm of geometric poetry, with each tile, dome, and marble slab telling tales of the Aga Khan’s profound legacy and the Ismaili community’s rich history.

The ambience here feels like a cup of herbal tea for the soul: calming, invigorating, and filled with introspection. It’s not just a place to snap photos, but a space to absorb the weight of its spiritual significance. As you wander through its corridors, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a meditative mood, pondering the Aga Khan’s monumental contributions to cultural heritage and education.

While the mausoleum casts its spell on you, it won’t bewitch your wallet. Entrance tickets are quite budget-friendly and can be purchased on-site. However, make sure you’re aligned with the opening hours; celestial experiences are sadly subject to earthly timetables. Local guides are also available, always ready to sprinkle your visit with enlightening tales and trivia.

13. Take A Ride In A Felucca

ride in a felucca

If you’re in Aswan, don’t let the opportunity to take a Nile felucca ride sail by. This quintessential Egyptian experience lets you float effortlessly along the world’s longest river in a traditional wooden boat, complete with billowing sails that capture the Nile winds just as they’ve done for centuries.

This is the Nile as you’ve never seen it: framed by a sailor’s eye view and scented with a breeze that has touched ancient temples and modern skyscrapers alike. As you glide on the river’s placid waters, you’ll drift past iconic landmarks like Elephantine Island and the Aga Khan Mausoleum, each offering an intimate portrait of Aswan’s layered history and stunning natural beauty. It’s like a moving panorama that brings the city’s past and present into sharp focus.

Heading to the Aswan riverbank, you’ll find skilled felucca captains ready to whisk you away on this tranquil adventure. Now, here’s where your haggling skills can make some waves; the ride usually costs between 150 and 300 Egyptian pounds per hour. Don’t be shy—negotiating is as much a part of the local culture as the felucca ride itself.

For an experience as comfortable as it is captivating, consider timing your ride to avoid the sizzling midday sun. The early mornings and late afternoons not only offer milder temperatures but also bathe the Nile in hues of gold and orange, making your journey not just a ride, but a voyage through the very soul of Aswan.

14. Learn about the Aswan High Dam

Aswan High Dam

Alright, you’ve got to check out one of Aswan’s most jaw-dropping events: the annual flooding of the Nile River. I know what you’re thinking: “Floods? Aren’t those usually bad news?” Well, not here! Thanks to some pretty amazing engineering, the Aswan Low Dam makes sure the floodwaters don’t wreck the place. Instead, the flood turns into this spectacular natural show that’s safe and awe-inspiring.

Just picture it: you’re standing on the riverbank, and you see the Nile slowly puffing up like it’s taking a deep breath. Then—whoosh!—it sends all this life-giving water out to places near and far. It’s like nature’s own fireworks, but wetter!

The Aswan Low Dam is more than just a flood-stopper, though. This century-old marvel also brought electricity to the city. So, we’re talking about a place where ancient history and modern life hang out side-by-side. It’s like if your grandma started posting TikToks and actually got more likes than you.

Read more: The Authentic Nubian Experience: Visiting the Nubian Village in Aswan

15. Visit The Kom Ombo Temple

kom ombo temple

If you’re planning a trip to Aswan, you can’t, I repeat, CAN’T skip the Kom Ombo Temple.

So what’s the big deal about Kom Ombo? First off, this temple is a two-for-one special, and who doesn’t love a good deal? It’s actually dedicated to two gods: Horus, the falcon-headed god, and Sobek, the crocodile god. Yeah, you heard me right, a crocodile god! It’s like ancient Egyptian mythology got together and said, “Let’s make the coolest temple ever.”

The artwork and carvings on the walls are just mind-blowing. Imagine hieroglyphics, mythical creatures, and gods all over the place. Plus, they’ve got this rad crocodile museum right there. Back in the day, Sobek’s live crocodile homies used to hang around the temple, and now you can see some mummified ones. Sounds kinda creepy, but trust me, it’s cool!

Bottom Line

Seriously, Aswan is like a buffet of awesome stuff to do and see. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just want to chill, this city’s got your back.

So, let’s talk must-dos. If ancient history is your jam, brace yourself. Aswan is a treasure trove of temples, tombs, and all that cool stuff you see in adventure movies. But hey, maybe history’s not your thing. No worries! You can dive right into the local Nubian culture, listen to some banging tunes, and maybe even try some mouthwatering dishes.

The best part? You won’t have to empty your piggy bank to have a blast. Most of these places are easy on the wallet, so you can do more without turning your pockets inside out.

Trust me, Aswan is one of those spots that’ll make you go “Wow, I need more time here!” But even if you’re short on time, you’ll leave with a camera full of memories. So, when you’re sketching out your Egyptian dream vacay, make room for Aswan. You won’t regret it!

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