Last Updated 07/08/2021.
Abu Simbel is one of the greatest, most spectacular monuments or temples in Egypt. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get to. We’ve been twice, two ways, one for the annual sunrise on Rameses at the very back of the temple. Either way, it’s not an easy place to reach. It’s possible to fly directly to Abu Simbel from Aswan (or Cairo & Luxor), we did this first time, but most recently, we chose to get there slowly, following the Nile south from Cairo to Luxor to Aswan by train. The trip from Aswan to Abu Simbel, a distance of about 280 Km, is the tricky bit. We took a 4 am minibus to be at the greatest monument to Rameses for 8 am when crowds and temperatures were manageable. On our previous trip, we got there by air from Aswan. Choices in getting to Abu Simbel include mini bus, coach, private vehicle, tour and plane. Whichever way you choose to do it, it will be worth it, Abu Simbel is one of the most incredible places you will ever see. We also include some Abu Simbel tours from Aswan, Luxor or Cairo and transfers, that you can book online to avoid the hassle of arranging your Abu Simbel visit locally. It’s also possible to stay overnight near Abu Simbel, more on that too.
Abu Simbel From Aswan
Sunrise on Rameses, It Happens Twice a Year
This temple was famously moved, partly funded by UNESCO, when the rising waters of Lake Nasser flooded its original site on the banks of the Nile.
It was an epic achievement, but such a shame that it no longer stands where Rameses the Great ( Rameses II) intended it to stand.
He and his favourite wife, Nefertari, had been deliberately placed there to catch the rising sun on two days of the year, his birthday and his coronation day.
Chef ( my husband – he was a chef before joining me in running this travel blog) and I were privileged to be there on one of those occasions many years ago. It was magical, but a dawn arrival necessitated a flight. If you have the chance, be there. It’s more than worth it to watch the light creep in to the very back of Abu Simbel and light up its creator.
According to the Egypt Independent, this event takes place on the 22nd February and 22nd of September, double check this for yourself, but if you’re heading to Egypt around those dates, be sure to be there for this.
Trips and Tours to Abu Simbel From Aswan and Even Luxor
We tried to book our trip to Abu Simbel direct at the Abu Simbel public bus station. We had plenty of time in Aswan and my husband was willing to trek out there ( it’s a long walk or taxi ride) but in the end we failed. It was just too confusing and disorganised and nobody seemed to want to sell us tickets. In the end, we took the easy option and asked out hotel owner ( for a fee) to arrange tickets for us. He did and our trip was fine.
The road to Abu Simbel is long and straight with almost no traffic and few hazards but they do drive very fast. I was uncomfortable with it, but we survived. The bus we booked turned out to be a small but fairly comfortable minibus. If you want to save yourself some hassle, you can book your tour from home and have everything sorted before you even arrive.
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Aswan to Abu Simbel by Plane
We have done this, it’s a comfortable short flight and is essential if you want to be there for sunrise. There are approximately 12 flights per week and the flight duration is around 45 minutes. Flights are with Egypt Air and depart Aswan from before 7 am to just after midday. See it here. here. Be aware that these times could change, check current flight times.
Abu Simbel from Aswan by Private Car
A private car may offer you a more comfortable ride and allow you some extra time at the start and end of the day. Minibuses do the rounds of Aswan in the early mornings, picking up clients from various hotels. It will be more expensive, but for a small group, it’s not a bad deal. You may even be able to get your driver to slow down a little! See it here.
Cheapest Way to Get to Abu Simbel We Can Find, Full Day Tour to Abu Simbel Temples With Private Guide
We hunted around for the cheapest way to get to Aswan we could find. This one offered best value we saw. Check this one out here. This company does come with best price or money back guarantees but I think finding a deal in Aswan, if you have time and patience to hunt around, could give you the most budget option.
There are plenty of different tours to Abu Simbel to choose from, most will pick up around 4 am from your Nile Cruise Ship or hotel. Guides will be available in English, German, Spanish and most languages. Take a look at a few more here.
From Luxor, 2 Day Tour to Aswan and Abu Simbel
Yes, you can arrange a trip to Abu Simbel from Luxor too, try here.
A Quick Note About Visiting Abu Simbel From Cairo
Yes, you can get to Abu Simbel direct from Cairo by air. It’s fairly straightforward and you can book a simple one day tour here.
Staying at a Hotel Near Abu Simbel
This is also a possibility. There is a small selection of hotels and accommodation near the Abu Simbel site, so if you’re not up for the 4am Aswan departure you can take longer over your visit. Have a look at hotel options here.
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We hope you find the information we are able to provide here useful. Yes, getting from Aswan to Abu Simbel can be difficult, but one of the many ways outlined above should suit your vacation style. The site is incredible, one of the absolute wonders of Egypt and the world. If you’re going to Egypt, really, try to get there.