With two days to explore Aswan, there’s time to do more than visit the ancient sights in and around the city. From Abu Simbel day trips to local Nubian neighborhoods and Nile sunset cruises, here’s how to get the most out of 48 hours in the city.
Start by ticking through Aswan’s major sights with a half-day sightseeing tour. View the Aswan High Dam and Unfinished Obelisk—still lying in the quarry where it was abandoned 3,500 years ago. Then, finish with a tour of the Temple of Philae, an island gem considered one of Egypt’s most beautiful.
Having covered Aswan’s headline acts, make tracks for some off-the-beaten-track gems. Explore the Temple of Kalabsha beside Lake Nasser on a private tour, or visit St. Simeon Monastery. Getting to this medieval fortress-church on Aswan’s west bank is an adventure in itself, involving a boat trip and camel ride.
Unwind with a sunset horse-drawn-carriage ride along Aswan’s riverfront gardens and boulevards, or board a felucca sailboat for a cruise on the Nile to admire the glinting waters and silhouetted palms. Alternatively, head for a Sound and Light Show at Philae Temple: a cavalcade of illuminations and dramatic storytelling that brings its long history alive.
Earmark today for visiting some of the great antiquities reachable from Aswan. Topping the list for most is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Abu Simbel on Lake Nasser. Travel by air or road to marvel at its statue-fronted temples, relocated to escape the Nile floodwaters. Otherwise, venture north to the temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo or onward to Luxor to see treasures such as Karnak and the Valley of the Kings.
If you chose a predawn departure for Abu Simbel, you’ll be back in Aswan with the afternoon free to explore further. Take things easy with a felucca sailing cruise to enjoy the Botanical Gardens on Kitchener’s Island, or opt to visit the city’s Nubian Museum to view its age-old sculptures and archaeological finds.
Focus on the present-day city on your last night with an authentic Nubian dinner experience. Visit a Nubian family home for a home-cooked supper of dishes such as ‘bird tongue’ pasta soup and Nile perch, and gain firsthand insight into your hosts’ ancient culture as you dine.