Looking for a relaxing and laid-back vacation in Egypt? Then look no further than the charming and quaint Aswan as well as far less chaotic and smaller than its much more glamorous counterparts - Cairo and Luxor. This city in Southern Egypt used to be known as the ancient Egpytians' getaway to Africa.
One of the major attractions to visit while holidaying in Aswan is the incredible Elephantine Island. Dotted with looming palm tree plantains and colourful villages sprinkled with mud-brick homes, tourists interested in learning more about the roots and culture of a place would love exploring this islet. There are several local ferries that will get you to the island or one can even sail around in a traditional felucca. Be sure to spend some time at the holy Temple of Isis (also referred to as Philae Temple). It is one of the most attractive monuments in Egypt and is known for its gorgeous artistry of its reliefs and the stunning symmetry of its architecture.
Don't forget to take a day trip from Aswan to visit the exquisite Abu Simbel. The temple is not only known for its beautiful ancient architecture but is also quite a feat of modern engineering. The colossal scale of the temple can only be appreciated in all its glory when witnessed first-hand. Visit one of the prominent attractions of Egypt - Aswan's High Dam - a controversial building project. The dam enabled a ton of advantages - allows sustainable electricity across the nation and increased the amount of arable land in Egypt. But at the same time, it also ended the annual Nile flood, which enriched the farmer fields with its rich silt deposits.
Head over to Aswan's Northern Quarry to view the famed Unfinished Obelisk - a 41-meter-long and four-meter-wide chunk of stone that may have been abandoned due to a crack in the rock. If finished, it is estimated, that the obelisk would have weighed 1,168 tons and would have been the biggest ever hewn. Do visit the extraordinary Monastery of St. Simeon, perched between the sand dunes on the Nile's West Bank. It is well-known as one of the largest and best-preserved Coptic monasteries in Egypt.
If you're a fan of Agatha Christie novels then be sure to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Old Cataract Hotel. Here is where the celebrated author wrote part of Death on the Nile and the hotel is also showcased in the film based on the novel. The ornate facade and luscious greenery add to the overall charm of this old-timey hotel. Drop by at the Nubian Museum for it is one of the finest ones in Egypt and ideal for those who are keen on learning more about the history and culture of both ancient and modern Nubia.
When it comes to shopping, do spend some time at the souk markets as they represent the heart and soul of the city. When in Sharia as-Souq, be on the look-out for Nubian talisman, baskets, Sudanese swords, African marks, food, fruits, vegetables, spices, henna powder, perfumes and so forth. While in Aswan, do gorge into the Egyptian delicacies served in the restaurants dotted in the city. Since Aswan is Egypt capital of sugarcane, do sip some refreshing sugarcane juice.
Aswan is home to a plethora of stay options that caters to millionaires who crave to be put up at the best luxury hotels and swanky apartments. There are also several budget accommodations offering a cheap stay to those who are light on the pocket.
Aswan experiences hot desert climate. The best time to visit would be during spring (March-April) and autumn (September-October) when the weather is more pleasant and conducive for a holiday.