Aswan Travel Guide
Overview Aswan, the most southerly Egyptian resort city, and a popular
holiday destination, has more of an African ambiance than most
Egyptian cities, due to its numerous Nubian inhabitants, who bring
in their own interesting culture and customs. Although every bit as
touristy as Luxor, Aswan and its inhabitants are generally far more
laid-back and travellers often report how friendly they are.
A picturesque city, Aswan's attraction as a holiday destination
lies not so much in its historical sites, as in the peacefulness of
a felucca cruise at sunset, a visit to the colourful market (Sharia
el-Souq), or dinner at one of the floating restaurants on the Nile.
Aswan is a perfect base from which to visit the magnificent Sun
Temple of Ramses II, Abu Simbel, which is one of the most famous
attractions in Egypt.
Aswan © Dennis Jarvis
Shopping There is plenty of shopping to be done in the various markets
while on holiday in Aswan, from shoes and clothes to jewellery and
leather. Sharia as-Souq is a popular market in Aswan where the
touts have a reputation of being less pushy than in most of Egypt.
Haggling is the best way to get the cheapest price. It is wise to
be cautious when buying jewellery as many fake pieces can be
mistaken as authentic.
Restaurants There is endless appeal in dining on the edge of the Nile. Aswan
fully capitalises on this with numerous riverfront restaurants and
even floating restaurants. There is traditional Egyptian fare
available of course (and Egyptian fare tends to be cheap and
plentiful) but also a lot of international cuisine. The 1902
Restaurant, in the Old Cataract Hotel, is reminiscent of an ancient
tomb and serves French cuisine and local fish. It played host to
such dignitaries as Winston Churchill and King Edward VII's brother
on its opening night and is still one of the top restaurants in
Nightlife Aswan's nightlife can't compete with that found in Cairo or
Luxor but there is plenty of fun on offer nonetheless. Night shows
are popular in Aswan and the dramatic light and sound shows are a
good introduction to Egyptian folklore and history. There are
regular live music performances on offer. Night cruises on the Nile
are also a lovely after-dark activity. There are many more
conventional nightlife options though, with bars and pubs and even
the odd disco to investigate.
Activities A felucca (traditional sailboat) trip down the Nile is one of
the best ways to see Aswan and surrounds while on holiday. The
Nubian village and remains of ancient Memphis on Elephantine Island
are well worth a visit, as are the Ruins of Abu, Aswan's most
ancient settlement. Visitors can delve deeper into history at the
Nubian Museum. The far side of the Nile is desert as far as the eye
can see and this is the perfect setting for a camel trek.
Negatives Aswan can become quite touristy and overcrowded during peak
The two temples of Abu Simbel - the Temple of Ramses II and the
Temple of Hathor (the Sun God), dedicated to his wife Nefertari -
were cut out of the sandstone cliffs more than 3,000 years ago. Not
only are these ancient... see full details
The Nubia Museum in Aswan is an excellent introduction to the
history and culture of the Nubians. It contains a collection of
artefacts from Nubia (the region approximately between Aswan and
Khartoum in Sudan) and an exhibition of Nubian culture and crafts.
It also... see full details