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5 Best things to see & do in Aswan

  • Aswan, Upper Egypt, Egypt

Last updated: 20 August, 2023
  • Aswan, Upper Egypt, Egypt

Front entrance of the Temple of Isis at Philae

Bucket List Experience

Temple of Isis at Philae

For thousands of years this temple has attracted pilgrims from along the Nile and around the Mediterranean. Begun by the Ptolemies in the 4th century BC, dedicated to the goddess and her husband, Osiris, it became one of the country’s most sacred sites during Roman times.

The temple was relocated to a new island following the building of the Aswan Dam, but it remains one of the most beautiful Graeco-Roman temples in the world, with the most romantic setting of all.

Look out for crosses and an altar in the inner courts of the temple: after the cult of Isis was suppressed, the temple was converted into a Christian church.

Adult price: £13

Good for age: 13+

  • Aswan, Upper Egypt, Egypt

One of the best ways to experience the magic of the Nile – and to see a glimpse of the authentic Egypt away from the tourist trail – is to go sailing in a traditional felucca (sailing boat).

Sit back on cushions as the single sail pushes you upriver alongside farmland and villages, past grazing water buffaloes and camels – landscapes unchanged for thousands of years. Boatmen will offer drinks and may bring a drum and sing.

Adult price: £8

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 1-2 hours

  • Aswan, Upper Egypt, Egypt

This colossal structure, left incomplete around 1500 BC, offers a unique insight into ancient Egyptian stoneworking techniques. Had it been completed, it would’ve been the largest obelisk ever erected.

It was commissioned by the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut (1507–1458 BC) for the purpose of complementing the Lateran Obelisk, which is now in Rome, at the entrance to the Karnak Temple in Luxor.

Obelisks were often erected in pairs at the entrances to temples and were significant monuments in Ancient Egyptian religion, believed to act as a connection between the earth and the sun god, Ra. Unfortunately, the Unfinished Obelisk developed cracks during its construction – which can still be seen – and was subsequently abandoned.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 8+

Aswan Dam

  • Aswan, Upper Egypt, Egypt

Aswan Dam

Experience

Built between 1960-1970 to prevent flooding and generate hydroelectric power, this massive structure effectively created Lake Nasser, one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. It also famously required to relocation of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 8+

Monastery of St Simeon

  • Aswan, Upper Egypt, Egypt

The old and dilapidated St. Simeon's Monastery in Upper Egypt. An Egyptian stands in front of the ruin in a white robe and a turban. It's late afternoon. A blue sky with clouds.

Experience

This gem of early Christian architecture stands like a fortress amid the arid landscapes of Aswan. Abandoned in the 13th century, it a wonderfully atmospheric step back into monastic life in the 7th century. Half-day guided tours include a boat ride to the island and camel ride to the monastery – often the highlight of the tour!

Adult price: £3

Good for age: 18+