Aswan Travel Guide

Aswan is a city in the southern part of Egypt and is the capital of the Aswan area. It’s a busy place with markets and tourists, located on the Nile River. The city now includes an area that used to be a separate island called Elephantine Island.

Aswan is more relaxed and welcoming than bigger cities like Cairo and Luxor. It’s the smallest of the three main cities along the Nile that people visit. In this ultimate Aswan guide, you will discover all the best things in Aswan.

How to Travel to Aswan

By Airplane

Aswan International Airport

On the west bank, just south of the high dam, Aswan International Airport is located 25 kilometers southwest of the city. Since public buses do not run to the airport and security is tight on the road to the terminal, it is usually best to use a taxi, although you will need to arrange a fare in advance for this. It is possible to reduce the fare to LE25, but for most foreigners, LE30 to LE40 is more practical (and simpler).

Air Memphis (to/from Abu Simbel ), Astraeus (to/from London Gatwick), EgyptAir (to/from Abu Simbel, Cairo, Luxor), Iberworld (to/from Madrid), and LotusAir (to/from Cairo) all fly to Aswan International Airport.

By Train

Aswan Railway Station

Between Cairo and Aswan, Egypt’s passenger rail service travels along the Nile. 1st/2nd On class AC services, travel time from Luxor is roughly three hours. Five AC express services depart from Cairo every day; The journey takes approximately 13-14 hours and costs 57LE for second class and 113LE for first class. In addition, two sleeper trains depart from Cairo’s Ramsis station at 8:9 and 35:60, with fares starting from 2016 dollars. Tickets sell out quickly, so buy them a few days in advance.

Aswan Railway Station is located on the outskirts of the city, a few hundred meters from the Nile. Counter service is slow so allow plenty of time to purchase tickets. There are many restaurants and modest motels in the blocks between the station and the river, and minibusses leave from outside the station (turn right when you exit the terminal).

By Bus

Aswan Bus

Buses from Hurghada (513 kilometers) cost 50LE. Tickets are sold on the bus, but be sure to inquire about the price at the ticket office as the bus ticket seller can often increase the price by 5LE or more and pocket the difference if you are a foreigner.

By Boat

Aswan Cruise

Many cruise ships depart from Luxor to Aswan every day. These can be booked through travel agents or directly on the ships. Once a week, a passenger boat operated by the Nile River Valley Transport Corporation departs from Wadi Halfa, Sudan. The journey takes over 24 hours and first class tickets with cabin start from £385.

Getting around Aswan

Taxi In Aswan

Aswan is small enough to be easily explored on foot. You can take a taxi or horse carriage to get to Philae, the High Dam, and the unfinished obelisks. A taxi ride to all these attractions should cost between 80LE and 100LE for each car.

To see the sites on the river islands or the West Bank, you will need to cross the river by motorboat or felucca. Pay attention to pricing, as some operators try to overcharge visitors. The cost of using the public boat to the West Bank is approximately 5 LE.

Places To Visit In Aswan

Aswan Town and East Bank

The Nubian Museum

Nubian Museum In Aswan

The Nubian Museum is located across from the Basma Hotel, near the Old Cataract Hotel at the southern edge of Aswan on Sharia Abtal al-Tahrir. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the downtown area. This museum has a well-put-together collection of Nubian artifacts that were saved before the flooding of Nubia.

El-Tabia Mosque

El-Tabia Mosque In Aswan

The El-Tabia Mosque in Aswan is known for its unique architecture and is among the city’s biggest and oldest mosques. It got its name, El-Tabia (meaning “The Fortress”), because it sits on a hill in the city’s center, on the same spot where Muhammad Ali Pasha once built a fortress overlooking the Nile.

With its tall minarets visible from all over Aswan, the mosque has enough space inside for thousands of people to pray.

The Unfinished Obelisk

Unfinished Obelisk  In Aswan

The Unfinished Obelisk is found to the south of Aswan. It’s the largest ancient obelisk that was carved straight from the rock. It would have been 42 meters (about 120 feet) tall and weighed around 1,200 tons if it had been finished.

The Fatimid Cemetery

 Fatimid Cemetery In Aswan

The Fatimid Cemetery, located at the southern tip of Aswan, is a historic site showing the once-great Fatimid empire’s decline.

Feryal Garden

Feryal Garden  In Aswan

Feryal Garden is at the southern end of the Corniche, the main waterfront promenade in Aswan. It’s recommended to take a stroll along the Corniche at least once while in Aswan. The walk is enjoyable and leads directly to Ferial Gardens at the end. This park is both beautiful and peaceful, offering a nice spot for relaxation.

Aswan Islands

Elephantine Island

Elephantine Island In Aswan

Elephantine Island is known for its Nubian communities, Siou and Koti. Visitors can see ancient structures like Nilometers and the temples dedicated to Sati, Khnum (the ram-headed god), and Pepinakht-Heqaib. The island also hosts a Movenpick resort. At the southern end of the island, the Aswan Museum showcases finds from the digs on Elephantine Island.

Kitchener’s Island

Kitchener'S Island  In Aswan

The Aswan Botanical Gardens are on Kitchener’s Island, located west of Elephantine Island. In the 1890s, Lord Kitchener transformed this 6.8-hectare island into a botanical haven with many plants, palm trees, and birds. To visit, you’ll need to take a Felucca (a traditional wooden sailing boat) ride.

Seheil Island

Seheil Island In Aswan

Seheil Island, situated just north of the Old Aswan Dam, is home to welcoming Nubian villages known for their exquisite beaded jewelry. The island is also the site of the Famine Stela, a historical inscription. This cliff has over 2016 engravings from the 18th dynasty, offering a glimpse into ancient times.

West Bank

The Tombs Of The Nobles

The Tombs Of The Nobles In Aswan

The Tombs of the Nobles are rock-cut tombs on the northern plateaus of the west bank, used from the Old Kingdom through to the Roman period. These tombs, some of which form interconnected family complexes, belong to princes and contain important biographical inscriptions from various dynasties. The interiors are adorned with colorful murals that illustrate daily life, hieroglyphic biographies, and accounts of the nobles’ journeys to Africa.

Dome of Abu al-Hawa

Dome Of Abu Al-Hawa In Aswan
Assuan, Grabmal von Sidi Ali Bin el-Hawa

Dome of Abu al-Hawa, located atop the hill above the Tombs of the Nobles, is a small mausoleum or tomb of a local sheikh and holy man. Visitors who make the climb are rewarded with stunning views of Aswan, the Nile River, and the surrounding area. The name translates to “dome of winds” in Arabic, capturing the essence of the panoramic views from this site.

The Tomb of Muhammad Shah Aga Khan

Aga Khan Mausoleum In Aswan

Aga Khan Mausoleum, situated high on the west bank, is the resting place of the 48th Imam of the Islamic sect and his wife. Though closed to the public, its exterior can still be viewed from afar.

St. Simeon’s Monastery

St. Simeon'S Monastery In Aswan

St. Simeon’s Monastery is open from October to May (8:00 AM to 6:00 PM) and from June to September (5:00 AM to 7:00 PM). This monastery has a history that dates back to the 7th century and served as a Christian stronghold in southern Egypt until it was destroyed by Saladin in 1173. It could house up to 100 monks and accommodate 300 pilgrims. Enclosed by a high wall, it functioned as a fortress. After its destruction, it seems the monastery was never used again. Access to the monastery is through a camel ride or a walk past the Noble Tombs.

around Aswan

The Aswan High Dam

The Aswan High Dam

The Aswan High Dam is a crucial infrastructure project, but interestingly, it’s not particularly tall.

The Temple of Philae

The Temple Of Philae In Aswan

The Temple of Philae, now on Agilkia Island, was the last ancient temple built in the traditional Egyptian style, dedicated to the goddess Isis around 690 BC. Originally on Philae Island, it was moved to avoid the waters of Lake Nasser, in a massive project led by UNESCO. Visitors can still spot the original island’s location, marked by steel columns used during the move. The temple is known for its Night Sound and Light show, which is considered unique among similar shows in Egypt. Watch out for the guards who might try to photobomb for a tip or point out obvious hieroglyphs. The temple was later converted into a Christian church, with crosses etched over some hieroglyphs and images of Egyptian gods defaced. You can also find graffiti dating back to the 1800s.

Kalabsha Temple

Kalabsha Temple In Aswan

Kalabsha Temple, dedicated to the Nubian sun god Mandulis, was moved to prevent it from flooding due to Lake Nasser, similar to Philae. Built during the reign of Emperor Augustus, it’s part of a complex that includes the impressive Beit al-Wali Temple of Ramses II.

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel is often visited from Aswan, with a convoy usually leaving at 4 am. This site is famous for its grand temple.

The Aswan Sculpture Museum

The Aswan Sculpture Museum features artworks from the International Sculpture Symposium, held every spring. Sculptors from around the world create their pieces in Aswan, which are then displayed near the old quarry, offering a unique cultural and artistic experience.

Museums & Galleries in Aswan

Nubian Museum

Nubian Museum In Aswan

The Nubian Museum tells the history of Nubia from its first settlements to the present day. Nubia is defined as the region bordered between Aswan, Egypt, and Khartoum, Sudan.


Animalia In Aswan

Animalia is Nubia’s information resource center (nature and culture) is an ethno-biological museum consisting of three sections.

Additionally, lessons are given about Nubia, the Nile, and the elephant while overlooking the gardens. Animalia also organizes Nile birding tours led by expert guide Araby.

Best Places To Eat in Aswan

Nubia House Restaurant In Aswan
Restaurant at Nubia House

Al-Masry Restaurant

Al-Masry Restaurant on Sharia Al Matar is popular among locals and is known for its excellent kebabs, kaftas, pigeon, and chicken dishes, all served with bread, salad, and tahini. Meal prices range from 8LE to 30LE.

Biti Pizza

Biti Pizza, near the train station at Midan al Mahatta, serves flaky Egyptian-style pizza and Western-style pizzas for 20LE.

Chef Khalil

Chef Khalil, close to the railway station on Sharia al Souq, is a fresh fish restaurant where you pay by the pound. Prices range from 25LE to 60LE. Despite its small size, it’s worth the wait.


Emy, on a double-decker boat moored on the Nile next to Aswan Moon, is favored by Nubian felucca skippers. They offer beer for 9LE, salads for 3LE, Egyptian and foreign cuisines ranging from 13LE to 18LE, and fresh juices for 5LE.

El Madinah

El Madinah Restaurant, near the Kleopatra Hotel on Sharia al bazaar, is a small place offering meatball dinners for 22LE and vegetarian meals for 15LE.

Nubian House

Nubian House, located outside Sharia al Tahrir about 1 km behind the Nubian Museum, boasts spectacular sunset views over the first cataract. Enjoy hookah and tea with prices between 15LE and 22LE.


Panorama, on Corniche and Nil, serves basic Egyptian stews in clay pots with salad and appetizers. Breakfast is served throughout the day. Meals ranging from 8LE to 20LE.

Best Places To Stay in Aswan For Every Budget

The Sofitel Legend Old Cataract- For a Luxury Stay

View From The Sofitel Legend Old Cataract In Aswan

The Sofitel Legend Old Cataract, nestled in the Nubian Desert and 1.3km away from the center of Aswan, offers stunning views and top-notch 5-star service. Its rooms are elegantly designed and come with both indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, and fitness facilities, ensuring a luxurious stay.

Price: from € 389 for 2 persons / 1night

Tolip Aswan Hotel- Luxury For An Affordable Price

Tolip Aswan Hotel

For those looking for luxury without a hefty price tag, the Tolip Aswan Hotel is an excellent choice. Situated with views over the Nile River, it provides guests with a buffet breakfast, pool-bar service, and beautifully decorated, air-conditioned rooms, all at a more affordable cost.

Price: from € 197 for 2 persons / 1 night

The Mango Guest House- Budget-Friendly Stay

Mango Guest House In Aswan

The Mango Guest House, set on a quaint island in the Nile River, offers a cozy and budget-friendly option. It’s conveniently located just a short water taxi ride from Aswan’s renowned attractions and a mere 5-minute walk from the Nile, making it an ideal choice for travelers looking for both comfort and affordability.

Price: from € 32 for 2 persons / 1 night

Shopping in Aswan

Aswan’s souks (markets) are unique, without the high-pressure sales tactics seen in some tourist destinations further north. In general, Nubian handicrafts are of better quality and more affordable in Aswan. Everything else will cost more than in Cairo due to high shipping costs to Aswan and reduced visitor demand.

Souks Of Aswan

Souk In Aswan

Sharia as- Souq

Aswan Old Souk, locally known as Sharia as-Souq is Egypt’s most attractive souk, There is much less pressure to buy here than in other places. Shop for Nubian amulets, baskets, Sudanese swords, African masks, living goods, food, fruits and vegetables, henna powder, t-shirts, perfumes, and spices, as well as dresses and statues.

Aswan Souk

Aswan Souk is the address for everyone looking for a unique shopping experience. Three blocks from the Nile River. It consists of seven blocks of retail space. The market is densely packed with vendors selling exquisite goods. From Persian rugs to traditional hookah pipes, this location is a shopper’s paradise. Various souvenirs and gifts are sold in this market.

The Spice Souk

Aswan is world famous for its spices. Egyptian cuisine is bursting with flavor, and the key lies in spices. There is a market in Aswan devoted solely to the spice trade. The Spice Market has every possible condiment. From the most expensive saffron to extraordinary lemongrass, Spice Market has it all. Its smell will attract you to this market located in the Nile Valley. Spices such as cumin, fennel, mint, and basil will relax your senses with their colors and scents.

Nightlife in Aswan

Sound & Ligh Show

Sound And Light Show In Philae Temple In Aswan

As the sun goes down, Aswan becomes a lively center of night-time fun, perfect for those who love history and myths. These night events offer a deep dive into the local arts and culture.

A must-see is the Sound and Light Show in Philae temple complex. This show uses lights, multimedia, and storytelling to make the ancient stories of Osiris, the Lord of the Dead, and his wife Isis come alive. The temple looks magical under the night sky.


Cocktail In Emy  Bar In Aswan

In Aswan, many hotels, bars, and restaurants enhance your evening with live Nubian performances.

Emy Bar

Emy Bar is a nice bar that has a great view of the Nile River. They make tasty local shawarma, which is real comfort food. If you want a true bar experience in Aswan, this is the place to go.

The Club Lounge

The Club Lounge in the Aswan Oberoi Hotel is a fantastic spot to enjoy a drink while admiring views of the city and the Nile River with live music and a Nubian performance during each cruise.

Night cruises

Night Cruise In Aswan

For a quieter experience, consider a night journey on the Nile. A four-day, three-night cruise from Aswan to Luxor presents a serene and splendid way to see the region. This journey offers a chance to escape the city’s hustle and create lasting memories amidst the tranquil beauty of the Nile.