Everything You Need to Know Before You Visit Aswan

It’s hard to choose a favorite place we visited on our trip to Egypt, but Aswan certainly makes the short list! This small town has such charm, so much history, and the most epic hotel in all the world. It’s the place you never knew you needed to go in Egypt, and the place you’ll never want to leave. But first, here are the top tips you’ll want to know before you go!

It’s the Launching Point to Abu Simbel

You’re going to love Abu Simbel. It’s unbelievable. And huge. And definitely worth the trip nearly to Sudan to get there! But you’re going to have to go to Aswan first. It’s the launching point for all flights, road trips, and cruises. Instead of simply making it a way-point, or a means to an end, make a trip of it and enjoy all that Aswan has to offer.

Larger than life.
Get the details: Your Guide to a Day Trip for Abu Simbel

You’ll be Taking Boats

Situated on the clearest part of the Nile and adjacent to Lake Nasser, you’ll surely be spending a little time on a boat or two while you’re here! This is the best place to take a traditional felucca ride, thanks to the clear water, courtesy of the Aswan High Dam. Prefer something faster? Motor boats are also available!

Several historical sites, including Abu Simbel and the Temple of Philae, were rescued from rising waters created by the dam. And don’t forget about Kitchener’s and Elephantine Islands. Many sites are only accessible by boat!

You’ll love being on Lake Nasser and the Nile River!
More here: The Best Things to Do in Aswan

You Need to Go with a Guide

As with any city you visit in Egypt, it’s really best to go with a guide. Why? Mostly so you can know what you’re looking at and why it’s important! We got so much more out of our trip because she was there to tell us about it all. Aida, our guide, was an absolute rock star. I have no idea how she keeps all the information straight, especially all the dates! She also stepped in as assistant boat captain when needed.

This is an action shot of Aida, our excellent guide. She also pitched in as navigator when needed!
More here: Why Egypt Elite is the Best Tour Company in Egypt

The Cruises Only Leave Aswan on Fridays

And the cruises return on Mondays. All the cruises to and from Luxor keep this schedule, whether you’re on a traditional dahabiya or one of the much larger river cruise ships. This is important to know when planning your trip to Egypt, and one of the reasons why logistics can be overwhelming for travelers. We’re glad we booked with Egypt Elite so they could take care of those logistics for us!

We loved our traditional dahabiya cruise!
Read on: What It’s Like Sailing in a Traditional Dahabiya

You Definitely Want to Fly to or From Aswan

Why fly? Mostly because tourists are not allowed to drive through what’s referred to as “Middle Egypt.” It would also be a 12-hour drive from Cairo even if you were allowed to travel by car, and no one really wants that! Flights are short and inexpensive, so it’s the primary way people travel to and from Aswan. The alternative is either the train or cruise ship from Luxor. Just know that the train is not quite as nice as you may be expecting if you’re familiar with trains in the United States or Europe.

You will most likely be flying either Egypt Air or Nile Air.
Must read: What to Know Before You Visit Egypt

The Old Cataract is the Most Luxurious Hotel

I’m ruined on hotels forever. I’ve never stayed in a hotel as nice as this one in every single way, and I never will again–because a nicer hotel cannot exist. It was luxurious, it was historic, it was beautiful. But most importantly, the staff were kind, helpful, and looking for ways to go the extra mile.

We have stayed at luxury hotels all over the world, from La Mamounia in Marrakech to the Marina Bay Sands Singapore, and from Hotel Sacher in Salzburg to the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, and nothing tops the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan.

Need to be even more inspired? Take the tour of the hotel, offered every night at 5:00. You’ll get to see the Churchill Suite, with the epic terrace pictured below, as well as the Agatha Christie Suite. Christie spent a full year at the Old Cataract Hotel in the 1930s and wrote one of her most well-known murder mysteries here, Death on the Nile!

Need a room with a view?
Keep reading: What It’s Like Staying at the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan

You’ll Probably See Triple Digit Temperatures

Aswan is far south in Egypt! We were fortunate enough to be able to visit in January. And let’s face it, my husband would have stayed home if we’d had to visit in a triple-digit month! If you’re visiting in May-September, average high temperatures stay over 100 Fahrenheit. I’d venture to say April and October are also pretty hot. Your sweet spot for temperatures will be November-March, so plan accordingly if you’re able!

Be ready with light fabrics, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen!
Read next: The Things You Cannot Do in Egypt

Want more? Get everything you need and more on my dedicated Egypt Page!

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