A gateway between southern Egypt and Africa since antiquity, Aswan boasts ancient and cultural attractions, beautiful Nile scenery, and an easy charm. With three days in the city, you can enjoy its highlights, discover local culture, and take day trips or cruises along the Nile Valley or to Lake Nasser’s temples. Here’s how.
Start the day with a private tour to Aswan’s showstoppers: the island Temple of Philae, the Aswan High Dam, and the Unfinished Obelisk—a 3,500-year-old pillar unmoved from the quarry where it was first carved. In the afternoon, journey south to Lake Nasser to visit the Temple of Kalabsha, or sail across the Nile and ride a camel to 7th-century St. Simeon’s Monastery. This evening, take a horse-and-carriage tour through Aswan’s bustling streets and peaceful gardens and watch the city lights twinkle to life. Alternatively, devote your trip to a 3-night Aswan-to-Luxor Nile cruise. Tour the High Dam and Philae Temple and spend the next two days sailing the Nile downstream to see the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu and Luxor’s treasures.
Devote your second day to a day trip from Aswan. The most popular option is Abu Simbel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking Lake Nasser that can be done in a morning by air or on a day trip by car. Other options include the Ptolemaic-era temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo—the latter dedicated to the crocodile-headed god, Sobek—both among Egypt’s best-preserved. Alternatively, choose a private tour to Luxor, once the seat of ancient Egypt’s pharaohs. Follow the Nile to discover the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Hatshepsut, and the sphinxes and columns of Karnak. Most tours include transport and entry fees, while some also include lunch.
Spend your last day enjoying Aswan’s culture and leisure activities. Explore the Nubia Museum to learn about the Nubian peoples who settled in Aswan after their homelands were flooded by Lake Nasser, and perhaps ride a boat to the Nubian villages on Aswan’s west bank and Soheil Island. Alternatively, take a felucca sailboat ride on the Nile, gliding by farms and palms, watching birdlife, and enjoying lunch on board. Later, get a dose of Nubian culture with dinner at a family home, or wrap up your stay with a Philae Temple Sound and Light Show—a dazzling collision of ancient history and cutting-edge lighting and effects.