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Egypts most tranquil town is Aswan, set upon the winding curves of the Nile. Backed by orange-hued dunes, this is the perfect place to stop and unwind for a few days and soak up the chilled-out atmosphere. Take the river ferry across to Elephantine Island and stroll the colorful streets of the Nubian villages. Ride a camel to the desert monastery of St. Simeon on the East Bank. Or just drink endless cups of tea on one of the riverboat restaurants, while watching the lateen-sailed feluccas drift past.
There are plenty of historic sites here and numerous temples nearby, but one of Aswans most popular things to do is simply kicking back and watching the river life go by.
5. Abu Simbel
Even in a country festooned with temples, Abu Simbel is something special. This is Ramses IIs great temple, adorned with colossal statuary standing guard outside, and with an interior sumptuously decorated with wall paintings. Justly famous for its megalithic proportions, Abu Simbel is also known for the incredible feat, which saw the entire temple moved from its original setting — set to disappear under the water because of the Aswan dam — during the 1960s in a massive UNESCO operation that took four years.
6. Egyptian Museum
A treasure trove of the Pharaonic world, Cairos Egyptian Museum is one of the worlds great museum collections. The faded pink mansion is home to a dazzling amount of exhibits. Its a higgledy-piggledy place with little labeling on offer and not much chronological order, but thats half of its old-school charm.
Upstairs is the golden glory of King Tutankhamen and the fascinating royal mummies exhibits, but really every corner you turn here is home to some wonderful piece of ancient art or statuary that would form a highlight of any other museum.
7. White Desert
Egypts kookiest natural wonder is the White Desert, where surreally shaped chalk mountains have created what looks like a snowy wonderland in the middle of the arid sand. The landscapes here look like something out of a science fiction movie, with blindingly white boulders and iceberg-like pinnacles. For desert fans and adventurers, this is the ultimate weird playground, while anybody whos had their fill of temples and tombs will enjoy this spectacular natural scenery.
8. Siwa Oasis
Way out west, Siwa is the tranquil tonic to the hustle of Egypts cities. This gorgeous little oasis, surrounded by date palm plantations and numerous fresh water springs, is one of the Western Deserts most picturesque spots. The town is centered around the ruins of a vast mud-brick citadel that dominates the view. This is a top spot to wind down and go slow for a few days, as well as being an excellent base from which to plan adventures into the surrounding desert.
The most European of Egypts cities, Alexandria has a history that not many others can match. Founded by Alexander the Great, home of Cleopatra, and razzmatazz renegade city of the Mediterranean for much of its life, this seaside city has an appealing days-gone-by atmosphere that cant be beaten. Although today, there are few historic remnants of its illustrious past — feted in songs and books — this is a place made for aimless strolling along the seashore Corniche, café-hopping, and souk shopping.