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Aswan Travel Guide


Aswan is the third biggest town in Egypt today and the biggest one in upper Egypt. It is situated at the foot of the Nile Valley to the North end of Lake Nasser. In recent times Aswan has become a major mining area for aluminum and iron mining. It is also a favorite place for tourists to visit due to it being a major stop for cruise boats on the River Nile as well as Lake Nasser. It has a local market that is an excellent place to do your holiday shopping. This is especially true if you want spices as you will find the best types of fresh spices in the Aswan market. Aswan also has many attractive tourist spots to visit.

Aswan is the capital of its governorate and has a population of about 1.2 million. Most of the city's residents are Nubians and local tribes of the Kenzo people.

After the construction of the Aswan High Dam, the city became a refuge for Nubians who chose to flee to Egypt after the waters flooded their homelands. There was also a worldwide rescue campaign for the Nubian monuments during and after the dam's construction.

Aswan takes its name from the ancient Egyptian word “swan”, meaning “the market”. This is because it was located on the main trade route between Egypt and the southern lands, bringing gold, slaves, and ivory into Egypt. The governors of the 6th Dynasty sent many expeditions to explore the many African countries located to the south, and most of these started from Aswan. It was also the major source of granite, sandstone, and quartzite used in the construction of various major monuments throughout Egypt.


In ancient times, the city worshipped the God Khnum, but he was later replaced by the Goddess Isis, the Goddess of magic and maternity, in the Greco-Roman period. A temple was built for her on the Island of Philae, which had to be moved, along with other structures, when the waters of Lake Nasser engulfed the island. Though still known as “the Temples of Philae, they can now be accessed on the nearby Agilika Island.

Because of Aswan's location, just north of the Tropic of Cancer, the city has a hot climate throughout the year and it is advised to cover your head when walking about and drink water constantly.  Aswan has situated 890 Km (553 miles) to the south of Cairo and 220 Km (137 miles) to the south of Luxor. It is the third most popular place to visit in Egypt, behind Cairo and Luxor, and is accessible in several ways.

Because of the location of Aswan, just north of the Tropic of Cancer, the city enjoys a very hot climate throughout the year! It is advised to cover your head when walking about and drink water constantly to avoid heat stroke and exhaustion.

How To Get To Aswan


By Road

Although Aswan is connected by road to Cairo and has a good bus connection with the capital, tourists are asked not to attempt to use this mode of transport for this journey and are therefore left with only rail or flight as an alternative. The road to Luxor can be used though as it allows visiting sites such as Edfu and Kom Ombo. Please note: if you do intend to use this mode of transport you are best booking your seats at least 24 hours in advance to ensure you get the seats you want.

By Air

Aswan International Airport is located 25km (16 miles) southwest of the city and can be reached from most countries around the world, though, like Luxor, it is most popular for charter flights. From here you can also fly to most of the main cities and towns in Egypt, as well as arrive from them. EgyptAir runs daily flights from Cairo to Aswan, as well as Aswan to Cairo, which take, on average, about 60 minutes. It is also possible to book flights to Abu Simbel, though this must be done in advance.

By Train

Aswan is the terminus on the main Cairo to Aswan railway line and has a modern station at the northern end of the city. Services to both Cairo and Luxor are very frequent, though restrictions on tourists are in place right now which allows them to only use the sleeper service or the trains on either side of them.

Sleeper Trains: From Cairo to Aswan /Cairo

Train No.

Train Type

Time Of Departure



Train 84

Cairo Aswan



per person in a double room $65

Single $105

It arrives in Luxor at 05:00, leaves at 5:15, and arrives in Aswan at 8:15 

Train 85

Aswan  Cairo



per person in a double room $65

Single $105

It arrives in Luxor at 21:30, leaves at 21:45, and arrives in Cairo at  6:45


By Cruise

Nowadays you can only go to Luxor by cruise boat. The River Nile has not been used for cruises between Cairo and Aswan since the late 1990s. Another popular cruise is one on Lake Nasser, which gives the only way to visit some of Nubia’s ancient monuments.

You could also attend the marvelous Sound and Light show at the Temple of Philae. The schedules are listed below.  

Sound and light show schedule at Philae

Show First Show  Second Show  Third Show
Daytime 8:00 PM  9:15 PM  10:30 PM
Saturday English Arabic  
Sunday German French  
Monday English French  
Tuesday French English  
Wednesday French English  
Thursday French French  Italian
Friday English French  
Cost 175 LE 175 LE 175 LE
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