What To See On A Nile Cruise

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We’ve been spotting a lot of great value Nile Cruise deals around at the moment but it can be tricky to know what to spend your money on when it comes to heading off on excursions. What is there to see? Is it worth it? And how can you prioritise if you can’t afford the full week of trips off the boat? We’ve investigated all of this for you!

Most Nile cruises depart from Luxor, where your flight will arrive, and then take seven nights to make the voyage to the Aswan High Dam and back again. Many of the cruises are full board, with the rest being all inclusive, and although the vast majority of the cruise ships are advertised as five-star you should be aware that these are not at all like the seafaring five-star cruise ships! Facilities normally include a small pool with sun deck, a couple of bars and a restaurant.

Karnak Temple Complex

A row of statues

This open-air museum in Luxor is the largest ancient religious site in the world and includes the Precinct of Amun-Re, the Precinct of Mut and the Luxor Temple. The sheer size and number of things to see can be overwhelming, and it’s clear that 30 different Pharaoh’s wanted to make their own impression on the site! Since this is in the centre of modern Luxor it’s easy to visit before your cruise gets underway.

Verdict: Must-See

Valley of the Kings

Rocks hide the impressive tombs

Home to the tombs of Pharaohs spanning a 500 year period, the Valley of the Kings is split into the West Valley and the East Valley. There is only one tomb open to the public in the West Valley whilst in the East Valley you need two separate tickets to see all the open tombs. This is one for the Tomb of Tutankahmun (known as KV62), and one for all the rest.

Verdict KV62: Must-See; The rest: Should See

Valley of the Queens

More rocks hide more tombs

Whilst the Pharaohs and rich men were buried in the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens is the nearby burial site of the Pharaoh’s wives. There are over 70 tombs, many of which are lavishly carved and decorated, with the highlight being the tomb of Queen Nefertari, which is hewn out of the rock and still features its brightly coloured reliefs.

Verdict: Should See

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

Many-columned temple

This temple stands alone (except for a smaller neighbour) by the cliffs at Deir el Bahari, some distance from the Valley of the Kings outside Luxor. It’s best known for its relief sculpture, much of which is well preserved, as well as for its mammoth size!

Verdict: Could See

Abu Simbel

impressive rock-hewn temple

So important are these two rock temples that before the valley was flooded by the Aswan Dam they were moved piece by piece to their current site. The temples were originally carved out of mountain, and the Great Temple is considered the grandest and most beautiful in all of Egypt.

Verdict: Must-See.

Esna Temple

more columns
Paul Mannix

Known also as the Temple of Khnum after one of the deities it was built for, this temple is best known for the beauty of its architecture as well as its picturesque setting. The portico is the most photographed part, boasting six rows of four columns all slightly different from each other, whilst the carvings are also particularly good.

Verdict: Could See.

Temple of Edfu

Impressive carvings

Often called the Temple of Horus as it was dedicated to this God, this is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. This temple is of particular interest thanks to its incredible amount of writing which has survived, providing a great resource for translating hieroglyphics. It’s also now lit up at night for after-dark visits.

Verdict: Should See.

Temple of Kom Ombo

column details

Also called the Temple of Sobek, this is an unusual temple because it’s to two Gods, hence there are two of everything. Look out for the Chapel of Hathor where you will find three mummified crocodiles!

Verdict: Could See

Aswan High Dam

Aswan and Lake Nasser

This dam in Aswan is one of the world’s great engineering projects of the modern era, and quite a sight to behold. Its ability to stop the Nile flooding and to provide regular water, as well as hydroelectric power, has led to the formation of modern Egypt. Lake Nasser is the result of all this, and it’s a staggering 550 kilometres long!

Verdict: Could See

Unfinished Obelisk

Half-cut obeslisk still in the ground

This partially-made obelisk offers a look at how the Ancient Egyptians made their mammoth structures, as this huge obelisk is partially excavated out of the bedrock. It shows marks from workers’ tools as well as measurement lines, and it lies next to its unfinished obelisk base in an open-air museum near Aswan.

Verdict: Could See

Temple of Philae

Beautiful temple on an island

Another Ancient Egyptian site endangered by the Aswan High Dam, it was also moved from its original site, to the Island of Agilkia where it can be found today. Dedicated to the Goddess of nature, it’s covered in beautiful carvings and reliefs and boasts a stunning colonnade as well.

Verdict: Must-See

Aswan Botanical Gardens

Pretty gardens seem miles from the dusty rocky desert

Taking up the entirety of Kitchener’s Island, a small island in the Nile near Aswan, this is a beautifully laid-out tropical paradise, especially when you consider its location in the middle of the dusty, barren surrounding land. It’s also home to a fair number of rare plants.

Verdict: Should See.

Elephantine Island

Ruins from a different era on this island

Much larger than Kitchener’s Island, this island once marked the edge of Egypt. The Aswan Museum holds a small collection of archaeological artefacts and there are a number of ruins dotted across the island, most notably those of the Temple of Khnum which are on the southern tip. There is also some Jewish history here, as well as developments of Nubian housing, and a luxury hotel.

Verdict: Could See.