Egypt's southernmost city sprawls along the Nile's east bank just downriver from the Aswan Dam. While the pharaonic monuments may not be as grand as those in Giza or Luxor, there isn't a more beautiful place in all of Egypt.
What We Love
Old Cataract Hotel: This British-colonial relic has hosted many a celebrity over the years, from statesman Winston Churchill to "Death on the Nile" author Agatha Christie. The terrace provides an unparalleled view of the river and distant Sahara Desert.
The Islands: Like a verdant oasis in the middle of the Nile, Kitchener's Island (Elnabatat's Island) is a botanical paradise, while Elephantine Island offers a mix of ancient monuments, modern village life, and the Aswan Museum.
Best Known For
Aswan High Dam: Considered one of the engineering wonders of the world when it was completed in 1970, the two-mile-wide dam created Lake Nasser and provides much of Egypt's electricity.
Philae Temple: Dedicated to the goddess Isis, this almost perfectly preserved ancient Egyptian shrine was dismantled and moved to an artificial island to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser.
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Who It's Best For
Shutterbugs: Brilliant sunsets, sailboats flitting back and forth across the Nile, ancient ruins, waterfront villages, and eclectic architecture. What more could a photographer ask for?
History Buffs: Aswan exudes an exotic blend of ancient Egyptian, Greek, early Christian, British-colonial, and modern history.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's One of the Hottest Places on Planet Earth: Triple-digit temperatures are the norm from May to September — with the hottest reading ever, 124°F (51°C), recorded in 1973.
Abu Simbel Isn't as Close as You Think: The 360-mile round-trip drive between Aswan and Abu Simbel makes for a very long day; better to fly despite the much higher cost.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.