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Abu Simbel is one of the most impressive Egyptian temples ever built, which is standing right next to the Queen Nefertari Temple near the border of Sudan in southern Egypt.
These temples have survived the passage of time despite having been constructed by Ramses II more than three thousand years ago. After the Aswan High Dam was built, the entire complex of Abu Simbel had to be moved to higher ground to protect it from floods.
However, most tourists visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, but I am pretty sure that after reading this article, you definitely want to admire this stunning temple yourself.
It was the highlight of my Egypt itinerary and to inspire you to visit this beautiful temple, I will share how to get from Aswan to Abu Simbel including my experience, where to stay, additional tips, and beautiful photos.
READ ALSO: The perfect 2 weeks in Egypt itinerary
Flights to Egypt?
You should absolutely visit the land of the pharaohs and mummies, and perhaps the easiest way to get there is by flying into the international airport in Cairo or Hurghada.
Flights to Egypt are pretty affordable with rates from most European destinations to either Cairo, Hurghada, or Sharm El Sheik for €150 for a return ticket.
Although Etihad and Qatar are my favorite airlines, I use Skyscanner to find most of my flights as it has the cheapest offers and best deals.
How to get to the Abu Simbel in Egypt?
The temples of Abu Simbel and Queen Nefertari are located near the border of Sudan and about 300km from Aswan, which means that they are quite a distance away from the majority of the tourist destinations.
You have a few different options to choose from if you want to visit this fascinating landmark in Egypt. The fastest way is to search for flights from Cairo to Aswan and join a guided tour or travel by bus to Abu Simbel.
However, if you have more time on your itinerary of Egypt or you want to experience a unique way of traveling through the country, you can combine a trip to these temples with a Luxury Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan.
As part of the Le Fayan Nile Cruise, I went from Aswan to Abu Simbel with a private driver and guide as it was on my bucket list for years.
Where to stay?
Although most visitors stay in Aswan and visit Abu Simbel and Queen Nefertari’s temples on day trips, the hamlet near the temples offers accommodations as well but aside from visiting the temples, there isn’t much to do here.
If you stay in the hamlet, you will have the opportunity to admire the light show in the evening and enjoy a more peaceful visit to the temples.
Nevertheless, a visit to this region of Egypt is a truly unforgettable experience.
READ ALSO: 18 x best hotels in Egypt
Abu Simbel entrance fee
When you visit the temples on your own, you can purchase entrance tickets for Abu Simbel at the ticket office which is located at the visitor center only a short walk from the parking area.
The entrance fee is EGP 260 per person and includes a visit to both temples. However, for the night show and during the special event in February and October, prices are EGP500 per person
On the other hand, if you have booked a private tour, your guide will take care of everything as the tickets are included in the package, so you do not have to worry about anything and you can enjoy your time at this unique location.
I paid US$100 per person for a private driver and guide, including a bottle of water and entrance tickets.
Good to know
- Bring a pillow
- Ask for breakfast to bring with you to the staff of your accommodation
- Bring a hat, a cap, or even an umbrella to protect you from the sun
- Take enough water with you, there is a small shop but prices are much higher
- The guides are also not permitted to give their explanations inside the temples, so instead, they do it outside but there is no shade so make sure you bring a hat.
- Explore the temples in the opposite order. The big groups and tour buses arrive around 8 AM and will visit the Abu Simbel Temple first. At 9 AM most of the tours visit the temple of Queen Nefertari.
- Since most tours and coach buses leave around 10 AM, you will have almost the entire temple complex to yourself from 9:30.
- It’s a long drive but worth every second
- On the way back you might witness some mirages in the desert, really beautiful!
Abu Simbel Temple: A magnificent landmark in Egypt
To visit Abu Simbel, you have to wake up very early in order to make the long drive through the desert. The guide and private driver were waiting for us at 4 AM at the waterfront where Le Fayan was moored, to take us to these majestic temples of Egypt.
The drive takes about 3 to 4 hours and is quite boring, with little change in scenery, so bring a pillow and take a nap as you’ll need enough energy to wander around these stunning temples.
Along the way, you will also stop at a sort of coffee shop or souvenir store, where you can use the restroom and actually have breakfast. When the trip continued it became much more enjoyable as the sun rose on the horizon during the last part of the journey from Aswan to Abu Simbel.
Once we arrived at the parking area, I felt absolutely thrilled to explore the most impressive and famous landmarks in Egypt.
TIP: Wherever you stay, ask the staff to provide a breakfast that you can bring with you along the way.
The Abu Simbel Temple
Even though the guide purchased the entrance tickets for us, you can buy them easily yourself at the ticket office and once you are inside you will face a mountain which is actually the backside of the temple.
Keep walking along the path over the hill that will bring you to the impressive structure of King Ramses II, The Temple of Abu Simbel.
The Abu Simbel Temple complex was constructed with four enormous statues of King Ramses II, carved out a single rock to represent himself as a god and as a warning to invaders, merchants, and cruise ships that sailed along the Nile River.
The temple was originally situated a bit lower down the Nile River but was later rebuilt at the spot where it is standing today.
While the guide was telling more about the history and the reconstruction in front of the temple, I was still in awe of the 18-meter-tall statues of King Ramses II in front of the temple. You have to see it yourself to believe it.
Inside Abu Simbel, you will be stunned by 9-meter-tall statues of Ramses on each side and various rooms with beautiful hieroglyphs and carving on the walls.
The Great Temple is also known as the Sun Temple of Ramses II, which refers to the extraordinary event when the sun will perfectly align with the entrance of the temple twice a year (February 22 and October 22). It will illuminate the entire back, where the four statues of the gods Ra, Ptah, Amun-Re, and Ramesses are located.
It’s incredible that people in ancient times were capable of creating something so unique.
The Queen Nefertari Temple
Right next to the Great Temple, you’ll find the temple that’s dedicated to Queen Nefertari, Ramses II his beloved wife, which is also known as the Temple of Hathor and adorned with six massive statues of Ramses II and Nefertari.
In contrast to most of the temples that can be seen in Egypt, these particular temples were carved out of a single sandstone cliff that is found along the Nile River.
As soon as the guide finished his explanation about the temples, I could explore the complex myself and make some awesome photos, however, more buses and groups had arrived and the Abu Simbel Temple was fairly crowded, so I decided to visit the Queen Nefertari Temple first.
If you enter, you’ll see a pillared hall decorated with artwork and carvings reminiscent of those in the Great Temple. Images of Ramses and his wife, Nefertari, making sacrifices to various gods.
I felt like I was treasure hunting in an Indiana Jones movie.
After half an hour exploring the inside of the temple, I returned to the Abu Simbel Temple, which was now considerably less crowded as most group tours and buses leave around 10 a.m., which means you’ll have the Great Temple completely for yourself.
Back to Aswan
After braving the intense heat for nearly two hours while exploring the site, we made our way back to the entrance where the guide was waiting for us.
I am confident that you also will leave this enchanted place with an immense feeling of happiness and return to Aswan in no time.
On the way, you stop at that coffee shop again, and because the sun is now higher and shining brighter, you can see mirages here, which is also unique.
READ ALSO: 8 incredible things to do in Aswan Egypt
With the impressive statues and the wonderful atmosphere, a visit to the Abu Simbel Temple and the Queen Nefertari Temple is just that little bit more special than all the other landmarks in Egypt, and you simply must include them in your itinerary.
I bet you won’t regret it.
Let me know if you have been to Abu Simbel or if you have any questions about your upcoming trip.
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Explore Abu Simbel with my favorite travel apps
To plan my adventures, I use these FREE websites and apps as they provide the best information, the best deals, and they are user-friendly.
- Trip – Flight deals
- Booking.com – Hotels and accommodation
- TourRadar – Group trips
- TripAdvisor – Reviews and activities
- HostelWorld – Hostels
- GetYourGuide – Activities and excursions
- RentalCars – Car rental
- Omio – Transport
- iVisa – Travel documents
- Wise – Money transfer
- InsuredNomads – Travel Insurance
PICTURES AND EDITING
All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.
Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!
The camera gear I used for this trip
I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.
Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.