When you travel to Aswan, you will love to visit popular tourist spots and enjoy the local culture. Amongst other Things to do in Aswan, you can surely explore some of the best things to do in Aswan to make your trip a fulfilling one. On a trip to Aswan things to do can include exploring Aswan attractions and visiting the places of interest.
These are two massive rock temples, each carved out directly from the mountain. Located on the western bank of the Lake Nasser, these temples comprise of the complex known as the Nubian Monuments. This entire complex has been marked as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. These twin temples were built in the 13th century to be dedicated to the Pharaoh Ramesses II and his wife queen Nefertari. The façade of the Great Temple is adored by four colossal 20m statues of the Pharoah himself. However, one of these was destroyed by a massive earthquake and the broken parts of the statues can be seen lying down. These temples were relocated to a higher ground in 1968. It was necessary to do so otherwise it would have been submerged under the water of the Lake Nasser.
The kids will enjoy the numerous archaeological sites concentrated at one single place. Lying in the Northern Quarries, there is an unfinished Obelisk which is around 42m in length. Due to some flaw detected in the stone it was abandoned by the stone masons. Apart from this they can visit the Botanical Garden on the Kitchener’s Island.
Another great treasure trove is the International Museum of Nubia. Built in 1997, this building is spread over an area of 50,000 square meters. This museum houses some 3000 antiquities and artifacts which depict the Nubian culture and the development of this civilization.
The Aswan Museum- Originally it was the villa of Sir William Willcocks who was the architect of the Aswan Dam. In 1912, this place was turned into a museum. Here, you can see many artifacts which were collected from the ruins of Abu Simbel like statues, weapons, pottery and utensils. Also there are several encased mummies belonging to different period of time put to display here. The exhibits are very well labeled in both Arabic as well as in English.
It is an ancient Egyptian temple which is thought to e the burial place of Osiris, the god of the afterlife, death, life, and resurrection. This island in the Lake Nasser was a site of an ancient Egyptian temple which was relocated to a nearby island of Agilkia to prevent it from getting submerged. It forms a part of the complex known as Nubian Monuments which has been declared as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This temple complex is thought to be built by the Ancient Pharoah Nectanebo I in 380BC.
This two storeyed monastery was first dedicated to the 4th-century local saint Anba Hedra. However, later in the 10th century it was renamed as the Monastery of St. Simeon where monks used to reside along with the visiting pilgrims. From here the monks used to travel to the neighbouring Nubia in order to fulfil their missionary duties. This included their activities to turn the Nubians towards Christianity. This brought wrath upon this monastery when Saladin destroyed this monastery in 1173AD. If you are planning to visit this site then you can walk around 25 kms from the boat landing towards this place or hire a camel to take you up. You can also reach here from the Tombs of the Nobles by a camel ride.
Aswan is a desert city which is also one of the driest and hottest places on this Earth. It receives less than 1mm of precipitation annually. As a result it is a very dry region throughout the year. The summers are very prolonged and intense season where the average daytime temperature is always 40c and more. It receives around 4000 hours of sunshine annually which is very close to the maximum theoretical sunshine duration as known. Like Egypt, Aswan also has desert like geographic characteristics.
Tombs of the Nobles- In the Egyptian culture, dead people are highly revered. They are always respected and paid homage for their achievements and good doings while they were alive. Similarly, in ancient times, the bodies of the nobles and other famous personalities were also embalmed in the best possible ways and buried in elaborated tombs. In the high cliffs just opposite to Aswan, there are tombs of various nobles and great personalities who lived in the ancient island of Elephantine. This includes several governors, dignitaries and the Keepers of the Gate of the South amongst them. Some of these tombs retain their original grandeur which is a treat for eye. Visit this site anytime between 8am to 4pm in the evening.
It is one of the earliest settlement areas in Aswan. Here, in 3000BC, the ancient city of Abu was established which gained a much importance due to its trading relations with other provinces. It is a very important archaeological site which tells us about the life of the ancient Egyptian settlements here and their life. This island is also considered to be the dwelling place for the ram-headed god Khnum, who was worshipped as the creator of humankind on his potter’s wheel, Satet, his wife and goddess who guard’s the southern frontier and their daughter Anket. However, with the advent of Christianity, these ancient cult deities were later forgotten.
Aswan has several archaeological sights which can be explored either on foot or by travelling on the back of a camel or a donkey. These sites will give you ample opportunities to know more about the ancient settlements of Aswan and their culture and heritage. Exploring these sites in the deserts of Aswan is something which will excite any adventure loving person.
Also, the Aswan Dam is a great place to visit. Reach the top of the dam and have a breathtaking view of the Lake Nasser and the surrounding region. Visit the Kalabasha Temple on the banks of the Lake Nasser.
One can relax by checking in into some of the resort hotels of Aswan and living in luxury and style. For instance, Moevenpick Elephantine Island Resort is a great destination. Situated in the middle of the Nile River on an island, it is a great place to relax and rejuvenate.
For a rich fine dining experience, visit the 1902 Restaurant which serves some of the best dishes in Egypt. Its chefs, some of them trained in France, dish out the local delicacies along with some of the international dishes. Along with good food, expect an impressive collection of wine, which completes the whole experience.
The Golden Pharoah is also very popular for its Nubian dishes among the local well off Aswani families. If you are craving for some good pizza then, go to Biti Pizza. You will not be disappointed.
Egyptian cuisine makes use of vegetables and lentils very much in their dishes. As Nile makes the surrounding region very fertile, these crops are very bountiful in this region. So, their cuisine has several dishes of soup and salads to go with rice dishes and breads. Meat is quite popular among the Egyptian as well as Aswani people. They also prefer fish. There are various kinds of kebabs which is a grilled preparation of spiced minced meat.
There may not be several options for live music here; however, there are several Nubian cultural programs. Here, a Nubian style dinner is followed by local folk music and dance which enthrals the tourists.
Underground is most probably the only destination in Aswan where you can have a feel of the 70’s disco. Here, some of the local bands also perform which entertains the local young generation. It is quite popular among the travellers as well.
The Aswan has various souk that are very well stocked with local handicrafts and Egyptian art objects. There are several stalls which sell local textile, ornaments, handicrafts, baskets, etc. Also, do not forget to get yourself some papyrus items which can only be found in Egypt.
You may not come across multi brand retail shops easily here however, there are several shops where you will find all items necessary.
The markets of Aswan are considered even better than those in Cairo and Luxor. Here, one can get a very good deal if you can bargain. However, always bargain with the sellers in humorous and in a polite manner. If a price is agreed upon by both, then it is considered to be rude if you do not buy the object. The spice markets of Aswan are very famous. Also, do buy some exotic varieties of Tea. Try visiting the Hanafi Bazar.