The River Nile has been the source of life and agriculture for Egyptians for over ten thousand years and continues to the sustain life and livelihood of this country dominated by desert terrain. Built close to where the first Egyptian town of Swenet stood in ancient times, Aswan still stands as a gateway to the rest of the African continent. The quarries where stones for the pyramids, shrines and massive statues were once collected still stand and Aswan still exports granite from its modern quarries. Today, Aswan is a highly popular tourist destination due to its proximity to several historical sites as well as its more relaxed atmosphere in comparison to the larger cities of Cairo and Luxor.
A highly popular historical site in the Aswan area is the Temple of Philae, built in honor of Ancient Egyptian goddess Isis. In the last few hundred years, this temple has seen quite a few changes. Some of the hieroglyphics and reliefs were altered when this temple was used as a Coptic Christian church in an effort to erase the building's associations with the Ancient Egyptian religion. Prior to the creation of the Aswan Dam reservoir Lake Nasser, Isis' old temple was moved from its home of Philae Island to Angilka Island with the efforts of a multinational organization to prevent this historical treasure from being lost to the lake. Despite all this temple has seen, it still stands proudly as one of the last temples to be built in the Ancient Egyptian style and is full of stunning relief carvings and hieroglyphics upon the walls.
With a wide variety of artifacts including highly detailed stone sculptures, sarcophagi, and jewelry spanning through over eight thousand years of Nubian history, the Nubian Museum provides a highly educational insight to the people of Nubia, a region spanning between Aswan and Khartoum, Sudan. As you walk through this museum, you will see where Nubian history has mingled with Egyptian history throughout the ages as well as see a mock Nubian village. In addition to the various artifacts with fact tags in English and Arabic, you can view an exhibit with several pictures documenting the process of relocating and rebuilding temples and other historical sites that were in danger of being submerged by the creation of Lake Nasser.
If you prefer modern art and sculptures over ancient statues, the Aswan Sculpture Park--better known to the locals as the Symposium Museum--is a vast collection of modern stone sculptures created from granite attained at the nearby quarry. Since 1996 artists from all over the world associated with the Aswan International Sculpture Symposium have gathered to this park to create new works of art from blocks of granite. These works of art range from abstract to humorous to truly ethereal in subject matter, offering a view into the mind of the sculptor. As the pieces displayed in this open-air museum are periodically changed out, even if you've visited this lovely park before it's worth going again to see new pieces.
Aswan is home to many shops and souqs, including a souq on Elephantine Island where you can pick up a wide variety of exotic spices and handmade beaded items made by members of the Nubian village on the island. Browsing the shops in Aswan is a very relaxed experience; you can enjoy a cup of tea with a shopkeeper, chat a bit about the day and perhaps engage in some amiable haggling concerning the price of an item that has caught your eye. After touring the nearby temples or finding bargains at the souqs, there are several options in town for enjoying a delicious traditional Egyptian or seafood meal. Should you find yourself homesick for American fare, there are also a few familiar fast food restaurants in Aswan as well. At the end of a long day, there are a handful of bars in the city where you can enjoy a beer and socialize with the locals as well as fellow tourists.
With so much to see and do in Aswan, getting a restful night's sleep before exploring more of what the city has to offer truly is important. After all, it's hard to remember things that occur during the day or where you wish to go next when you're feeling groggy! From the backpacking traveler seeking out cheap hotels in Aswan to the traveler wanting the unrivaled pampering only found at all-inclusive hotels, it's easy to find a clean and comfortable hotel room in an establishment with friendly, English-speaking staff that will work hard to ensure you have a pleasant stay when you book hotels in Aswan.
Primarily located in the downtown area, budget hotels in Aswan offer modestly sized rooms with simple contemporary furnishings. Many of these hotels offer a rooftop terrace where you can relax and enjoy a birds-eye view of the city and some provide free wi-fi. If you need help planning out your day, the on-site tour desk can assist you with picking out places to go and things to do. With these hotels in Aswan available laundry service, you can have your clothes cleaned for you while you're out and about exploring all this city has to offer.
A stay at one of 3 star hotels in Aswan will have you conveniently close to the corniche and souqs for your shopping and sight-seeing convenience. You can start the day with breakfast at the on-site restaurant or have room service bring you a delicious meal to your room before enjoying a good book in the library or working out in the gym. After a long day in the desert heat, you can cool off with some time in the pool before retiring to your spacious room with contemporary furnishings or heading back out to take in more of Aswan's charms.
Wake up to the elegance of traditional furnishings and views of the Nile as you ready yourself to enjoy a complimentary breakfast when you stay at 4 star hotels in Aswan. A stroll through the lush gardens on the hotel grounds are a tranquil sensory break from the surrounding desert terrain. If the heat is too much for you, there are indoor games such as billiards and table tennis to enjoy as you wait for the air to cool. After enjoying a wonderful meal at the on-site restaurant, you can relax as you enjoy a drink with friends at the bar. Should you need anything during your stay, the 24-hour front desk of your hotel will quickly and gladly accommodate your request.
Farther from the heart of the city yet still close enough to be convenient, Aswan's 5-star hotels offer its guests a tranquil stay from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave. These spacious rooms with luxurious modern furnishings open to balconies with spectacular views of the River Nile or gorgeous pools. Sit back and relax in the hot tub after working out in the fully furnished gym or indulge in a massage from the spa before enjoying the sauna. These luxury hotels have elegant restaurants that serve the finest cuisines for the ultimate dining experience to start or end your day.
From the Unfinished Obelisk to a day trip to Abu Simbel or just taking a tour of the temples in the city, it may very well seem like there just aren't enough hours in the day or enough days in your stay to take in all that Aswan has to offer to those who visit this lovely city. Resist the urge to rush through the city in an effort to see and do it all; relax and enjoy your time in the city as you talk with the locals and haggle with the shopkeepers at the souqs. While it may not be possible to see all that you wished to see before the end of your stay, it is very much worth it to come back to make another stay in one of the best hotels in Aswan.