The temples in Abu Simbel have been the most impressive sight we’ve seen during our trip to Egypt. That’s why you shouldn’t miss a day tour to Abu Simbel!
Where is Abu Simbel located?
The temples are located in the very south of Egypt. Only 20 kilometers away from the border to Sudan. The Abu Simbel village is very small and was only rebuilt since it’s located so close to famous sight. That’s why It’s enough to plan a day tour from Aswan to visit the temples of Abu Simbel.
How to get to Abu Simbel?
Since we didn’t want to book a guided day tour to Abu Simbel, we paid a taxi driver in Aswan for a private tour. You will have your own driver picking you up from the hotel, driving around 3 hours to Abu Simbel, waiting for you at the parking lot and of course driving back to the hotel.
To book a private driver in Aswan is very common but make sure to negotiate about the price in advance. We paid 2000 EGP (Egyptian Pounds) for the both of us and both ways – which ist around 115,- EUR or 130,- USD. I think that’s a very fair price. In the hotel we stayed at they wanted to have the triple price for the same tour!
In case you don’t plan to stay in Aswan you can also reach Abu Simbel by plane. Around two times a day there are flights from Cairo, Luxor and even Aswan landing at the small airport of Abu Simbel.
The two temples of Abu Simbel
How much is the entry for a day tour to Abu Simbel?
The regular entrance fee for an adult is 200 EGP and has to be paid in cash. But like at all historical sites in Egypt you only have to pay 50% of the price with a valid Student-ID! This saved us so much money during our trip!
Additionally you have to buy a ticket for a local guide for 15 EGP – no matter if you need a guide or not!
If you wanna take pictures with a camera inside the temple you have to get a photo pass which costs another 300 EGP. Taking photos outside of the temple is free of charge.
Which is the best time to visit Abu Simbel?
The temples are open from 6am – 5pm from October to April & 6am – 6 pm from May to September.
We started our drive from Aswan at 5am and arrived around 8am to Abu Simbel. Unfortunately this was exactly when all the tours arrived too! The good thing is that the groups only stay for 1-1,5 hours. After they left the whole area was empty and we had both temples almost to ourselves.
In the late morning the temples are hit by the sunshine which is perfect for taking pictures.
Note: We did our day tour to Abu Simbel only a few days before Egypt closed its borders due of the Corona Virus. So naturally there have been less tourists than normal at all places we visited.
We heard that afternoons are usually the emptiest time of the day BUT unfortunately the sun won’t shine directly on the temples during this time.
About Abu Simbel
The two temples are both built by Ramses II. 3300 years ago. The bigger one is dedicated to himself and the main gods of the Egyptian Empire. He built the smaller one for his favorite wife Nefertari. The pharaoh had eight wives in total!
After the era of the Egyptian Empire and since the temples are located so far in the south, people started to forget about them and they slowly got covered by sand. In the year 1813 the Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered the temples and a few years later they got excavated and explored. After that they got a famous attractions for tourists and even got declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When the famous Aswan High Dam was built, the temples were threatened to submerge by the Nile River. To save the monuments an international team completely disassembled both temples in different parts and rebuilt them 60 meters above the original position between 1963 and 1968 .
If you see the massive temples today It’s hard to imagine that they once stood somewhere else!
The four sitting statues in front of the bigger temple are all showing Ramses II. and each of them is more than 20 meters tall. One of them got destroyed during an earthquake already a few years after they built it.
The inside of the temples is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Several halls are all covered with colorful hieroglyphics which are in a very well condition. Seeing them for the first time with your own eyes is a goosebumps moment!
The sitting statues are all showing Ramses II.
Inside the temple of Ramses II.
The smaller Temple for queen Nefertari
Inside the queen’s temple
A few more tips for a day tour to Abu Simbel:
- The guards of the temples have been very kind (at least in our case) and even let us take a few pictures inside the temple without having a photo pass. One of them was so much into photography that he showed us a few funny perspectives. We gave him a little tip after we left 🙂
- You won’t get a lot of shadow in Abu Simbel and the sun will be very strong. But the shops with drinks are only located at the ticket counter – so make sure to bring enough water!
- Toilets are located on the site but the ones at the ticket counter are way cleaner!
- If you walk towards the exit you will notice a path leading to the top of the rock which offers a nice perspective to see the temple of Ramses from above. We didn’t walk up since it was to hot but I saw some really cool pictures of other travelers who did it! Make sure to take the path really close to the Exit – the ones you see earlier are closed and very steep.
The kind guard let us take pictures inside the Ramses Temple.
The temples of Abu Simbel are in such a good condition that you feel like stepping back in time! So make sure to put these temples to your bucket list!