Spread out along the banks of the Nile, Aswan is a relaxed and friendly town that provides a tranquil interlude if you've just arrived from busier Luxor or Cairo. Once ancient Egypt's gateway to Africa, this is a perfect base for exploring the temples, monuments, and other tourist attractions in the southern reaches of Upper Egypt and the area's distinctly different Nubian culture. Many of these can be done on day trips from Aswan.
The best way to discover Aswan's charms is to hop aboard a felucca (traditional sailboat) and view town from the watery highway that once made Aswan an important trading post. The river here is speckled with islands holding picturesque mud-brick Nubian villages and hemmed by the West Bank's colossal sand dunes. It's all incredibly photogenic, particularly at sunset, when hundreds of lateen-sailed feluccas take to the water, and the river shimmers in the setting sun. Plan your trip with our list of the top things to do in Aswan.