Off the Beaten Track: 7 Destinations in Upper Egypt to Add to Your Bucket List

By: Toka Omar

The typical destinations for travelers in Egypt during the winter season are usually Luxor and Aswan, but there are some forgotten sites in other Upper Egypt governorates that are just as impressive as the more popular sites.

Let us walk you through some of the more unknown and underrated sites in Upper Egypt where you can enjoy the view of the Nile, warm weather and plenty of hidden treasures, minus the crowds!

Tel El Amarna

Located in Minya, this historical site was also known as Akhetaten. It has the remains of the capital city of the Pharaoh Akhenaten dating back to the late Eighteenth Dynasty 1353 BC. It includes the ruins of the Great Temple of Aton, the sanctuary, palace, and residence of the royal family.

The Church and Monastery of the Virgin Mary

Also located in Minya, the monastery is carved directly into a mountain called Gabal et-Tayr (the mountain of the birds), and it was one of the stations of the Holy Family during the travels.

There is an interesting story behind the name of this mountain. Apparently, some species of birds migrate annually to it and don’t leave until their death.

Banana Island

Located in Assiut, it is the perfect place for those who want to enjoy the view of the Nile during a sunrise or sunset picnic. The island is located to the north of the town and is famous for its banana and other fruit trees. While picnicking on the island you may pass by crocodiles and even monkeys, and you will also get the chance to see how farmers grow and harvest their crops.

Meir Monumental Tombs

An hour away from Assiut, if you enjoy hiking this place is the perfect destination for you. You’ll need to climb through sand and rocks in order to get to the tombs, which date back to the 6th-12th Dynasty and contain unusual painted scenes, characterized by their naturalistic qualities. Besides, many of these tombs contain highly detailed scenes of daily life, such as industry and sports.

Abydos Temple

The temple is located in the town of Al-Balyana, south of Sohag. It’s famous for its many tombs that date back to the 1st and 2nd Dynasty. It was one of the most important religious sites in ancient Egypt since it was the main temple for worshiping Osiris, the god of the afterlife, death, life, and resurrection.

Girga Mosques

Girga is located in the Sohag Governorate of Upper Egypt. The city has beautiful surroundings and many historical mosques from different Islamic eras, like the Chinese mosque that dates back to the Ottoman Empire.

The Dendara Temple Complex

The complex is southeast of Dendara, Qena, and it dates back to the late Ptolemaic and Roman Periods. It was a place of pilgrimage and healing for ancient Egyptians and includes the temple of Hathor, the goddess of love. Hathor temple is the largest and most impressive temple in this religious complex and is visually stunning with its grand entrance, detailed carvings, hieroglyphs, and decorated ceilings. Dendara is one of the best-preserved Ancient Egyptian temples and is home to one of the earliest known zodiac calendars.

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