This vibrant South city of Egypt is a cultural and history epicentre, with things to do that still pay homage to its ancient civilization past. The city is on the Nile River and has been Egypt’s commercial gateway since the middle ages – it has remained one of the fastest growing cities in the country and visitor numbers are rapidly on the rise year-on-year. This ancient Egyptian city is famous for its trading route between Egypt and the Southern lands where gold, silver, ivory, animal skins, camels and caravans passed into Egypt. A great tourist destination, Aswan offers visitors great sightseeing adventures such as the Philae temple complex, on Agilkia Island near the landmark Aswan Dam, the mesmerizing temples of Abu Simbel and so much more. With help from our local insiders, we’ve outlined 7 marvellous things to do when in Aswan, including its world class dam and historical areas to explore.
Visit the Nubian Museum
The Aswan Nubian village museum is deemed to be one of the most important Egyptian museums. The only unique open museum of its kind, the Nubian museum is a treat, a showcase of the history, art and culture of Nubia. Exhibits are beautifully displayed in huge halls, where clearly written explanations take you from 4500 BC through to the present day.
The museum was established in 1997 in cooperation with UNESCO, the museum is a reminder of what happened to the communities after the creation of the High Dam and Lake Nasser, which flooded much of the original valley. Among the museum highlights are 6000-year-old painted pottery bowls and an impressive quartzite statue of a 25th-dynasty priest of Amun in Thebes with distinct Kushite (Upper Nubian) features. A fascinating display traces the development of irrigation along the Nile, from the earliest attempts to control the flow of the river, right up to the building of the old Aswan Dam.
A fun day trip to Elephantine Island
Aswan is a beautiful city but Elephantine Island is really special. Its name means both ‘elephant’ and ‘ivory’ in ancient Egypt, a reminder of the important role the island once played in the ivory trade.
Elephantine Island is a delightful place to stroll around, taking in the quiet, dusty streets and traditional villages. The Nubian people who live on the island are known to be very friendly and hospitable. Home to Aswan’s famous attractions like Old Kingdom Temple of Khnum, and Temple of Satet, this is a top of the list location of any Aswan tour in Egypt. It also has the famous Nilometer used by ancient Egyptians to measure the Nile’s rise and fall and predict floods.
Visit the Aswan High Dam
A short drive to the high dam is one of the marvelous activities you should definitely do in Aswan. The construction of the dam is considered a great engineering feat and holds the story of its origin. In the creation of the dam and the subsequent Lake Nasser, many Nubian villages in this area were lost, but the dam also stops the annual flooding of the Nile and damage in the rest of Egypt.
Sail to Kitchener’s Island
Are you keen on boat rides? Then a sail to Kitchener’s Island will definitely do you good. Located west of Elephantine island, Kirchener’s Island is a peaceful paradise, full of shady trees, beautiful flowers and unusual plants. The island is a haven for rare exotic birds and you’ll surely get a glimpse of their colorful plumage in the branches of most of the trees. According to history, the island was given to Lord Horacio Kitchener who turned the entire island into a botanical garden of exotic plants from Asia and Africa in 1928.
Wander the Abu Simbel temples
With mystical atmosphere, marvellous paintings depicting scenes of ancient life, the temples of Abu Simbel is a must see attraction in Aswan. A well documentation of Egypt’s cultural and historical heritage, that has been attracting people from around the globe to explore. The two massive rock temples at Abu Simbel are important parts of Egypt’s landscape and are a must-do cultural and spiritual experience for any visitor to the capital of the Aswan Governorate.
Dine at the Panorama Restaurant & Bar
The Panorama restaurant and bar has been rated as one of the best restaurants in Aswan. Apart from the good food, elegant rooms and hospitable service, the main attraction of Panorama is the breathtaking 360-degree view of Aswan, the river and the desert – spectacular at sunset, glittering at night. The menu is North African – mezze, tagines, kebabs, Red Sea fish and also includes curries and some Italian dishes.
Explore the Unfinished Obelisk
The large unfinished Obelisk is a historical landmark and top choice archeological site in Aswan. Aswan was the main source of ancient Egypt’s finest granite, used to make statues and embellish temples, pyramids and obelisks. The large unfinished obelisk in the Northern Quarries has provided valuable insight into how these monuments were created. At 1168 tonnes, the completed obelisk would have been the single heaviest piece of stone the Egyptians ever fashioned. At a late stage in the process, however, a flaw appeared, so it lies where the disappointed stonemasons abandoned it, still partly attached to the parent rock.
We also recommend our guide to the top-rated tourist attractions in Dahab.