Getting There and Away
If you are in a push for time, it's possible to catch a flight from Cairo to Aswan, or even from some airports in Europe.
The Aswan Airport is located approximately 25 kilometers from town and it's easiest to take a taxi into the center.
The easiest way to get to and from Aswan is by train. The station is located in the middle of the city and you can walk from the station to any part of town.
Unless you are coming from somewhere close or from the Red Sea east coast of Egypt, there's no real reason to take a bus into Aswan.
The train is the much easier and safer method to travel.
Getting Around Aswan
The city of Aswan itself is not too big and it's possible to walk to most places. If you do need to take a form of transportation there are some taxis and horse carts available for use.
To get from one place to another on the Nile, you can negotiate a price with a local felucca sailboat.
If you choose, you can also rent a bicycle to get around Aswan.
Where to Stay – Hostels
- Memnon Hotel – Located on the Nile River, Memnon Hotel is a nice place to stay with a great view. Though it's a nice place you can get dorm beds for around $8 per night and private rooms for right around $10 per person.
- Queen Nourhan Hotel – First of Atlas St., Aswan, Egypt. This is a decent hotel in Aswan that offers triple rooms for about $7 per person and double rooms for about $10 per person.
- Noorhan Hotel – Saad Zaglool st, Aswan, Egypt. When I was in Aswan I stayed at the Noorhan Hotel. I had a clean room, nothing fancy, but friendly staff and a great location. I paid about $10 for a triple room altogether.
Things to Do and See
- Sharia as-Souq – The giant sprawling central market in Aswan is a great place to pick up some local Egyptian goods from the south of the country. You can find everything from handicrafts to local clothing to fruit and vegetables.
- Nubian Museum – Southern Egypt is quite a bit different culturally from northern Egypt and the Nubian museum houses some of its most important treasures. Entrance fee is 50 LE ($8.38) for adults and half price for students.
- Unfinished Obelisk – As the name suggests, this is a giant obelisk that is etched into the stone, but was never completely carved out. Entrance fee is 30 LE (about $5) per person and half price for students.
Inside Aswan itself, there are a few things to do, but the city is kind of a jump off zone to many world class attractions (mentioned below) in the vicinity.
- Abu Simbel – The highlight of many people visiting Aswan is a day trip (sunrise convoy) to the famous temple of Abu Simbel located nearly on the border of Sudan. The famous Ramses II built the temple to showcase the battle of Kadesh against the Hittites. It's easiest to visit on a tour as buses must travel together through the desert to get there. Entrance is a pricey 95 LE ($15.92) per person.
- Philae Temple – Due to its location in the middle of an island in the Nile River, the Temple of Isis at Philae was one of the coolest temples I visited in Egypt. Though it was dismantled and re-constructed on dry land (due to the shift of water), the temple is well preserved and in an amazing setting. Entrance is 50 LE ($8.38) and half price for students.
- Felucca Trip – A felucca trip down the mighty Nile River is one of the coolest things to do while in Egypt. It can also be hard or confusing to arrange as there are many touts and tours offering similar trips. In the end I haggled and booked a 3 day, 2 night all-inclusive Nile felucca trip at the cost of just 115 LE ($19.27). Prices are extremely flexible, make sure to bargain if you choose to go. Take a look at this felucca cruise video.
Food and Drink / Restaurants
- Abeer Restaurant – This is one of the best restaurants if you are looking for grilled Egyptian meat. They have a wonderful selection of kebabs and chicken at very reasonable prices.
- Al-Masry Restaurant – Serves Egyptian food that is similar to Abeer, including local grilled specialities at affordable prices.
- Egyptian Sandwiches – Of course, if you are looking for cheap food, there's a great abundance of street food like Arabic bread sandwiches and ful medames for just a few LE per meal.
Compared with Cairo or other places in Egypt, Aswan seems to be a bit more relaxed with regard to drinking alcohol.
However, venues that serve alcohol are still required to be indoors with curtains covering the windows. There was actually a bar on the bottom floor of the Noorhan Hotel where I stayed. Stella is the most widely available beer.
For night entertainment you may want to just shop around the pleasant souq or enjoy tea and sheesha at a local coffee shop.