Philae temple floating on Nile

What makes a place beautiful other than its own beauty? Leaving the philosophical answer out, I think it is the context that enhances the beauty of the place. Hatshepsut temple at the foot of the mountain, Kom Ombo on the river banks, Edfu temple in the heart of the village, Abu Simbel inside a mountain – What lies behind and in front adds to the charm. While reading all about Egypt before the trip, the Phiale temple caught our attention because this magnificent temple on the water is reachable only through the boats

Let us get you afloat on the Nile and take you to an enigmatic Philae temple that was once used by Trojan too.


Where to stay near Philae Temple?

We made Aswan our base for 2 nights and 3 days for our day trips to Abu Simbel, Philae and Nubian village. You can either choose Nubian village or Aswan as your stay place, as Philae is only good for a few-hour trip. We stayed in Basma Aswan.  Read our post ” Guide to Booking hotels in Egypt” to know more in detail.

How do you get to Philae

Nearest airport, bus station and Train station to Philae temple – Aswan

Philae temple is located on an Island. From Aswan city to Philae port is around 8km. From the port, it is 15 min boat ride to the temple.

There are hardly any public buses running between Aswan and Philae. You may find shared taxis and minibuses at Aswan market. But these don’t leave until it gets full. So the best option would be hiring a private Taxi. You can hire taxis in the city centre or from the hotel. Usually, it is a combo the taxis offer- Visit unfinished Obelisk, drop at the Philae port+wait till you are back and drop you back to Aswan. If you hire the taxi at the city centre, very likely your driver is going to over quote. Plus, they may put lots of time restrictions. So you have to haggle before agreeing to a price and make your plan very clear about the places of your interest.

Why visit Philae

  1. A boat ride on the Nile to the temple during sunset is fantastic.
  2. The temple was transposed to its current location in 1970 from its original location after the Aswan dam. So this is a remarkable example of Restoration done to accuracy!
  3. Most of all – This may not be a hidden gem, but the temple by the riverside offers a few amazing quiet spots away from the crowd to sit and forget everything else in the world watching the Nile.

Why is Philae Temple important?

If you have already read our other posts of Egypt, you might be calling us ” Temple Maniacs.” You are right, in a way! We chose the Philae temple because ; This temple is surrounded by water on all four sides, and it is accessed by only boats. Abu Simbel and Philae temple have one thing in common – Both are transposed from their original location. While Abu Simbel is a temple beside Lake Nasser, Philae is a temple on water. Not only it survived through the Pharaonic, Greek and Byzantine Era, but it was also Transposed! The temple was rescued with the help of UNESCO from the water grave when Aswan high dam was built. So what you see here is not the actual temple, but a temple re-arranged the exact same way, 12km away from its actual location. How cool is that!

Philae temple is not an “Off-beaten place” or “Hidden Gem”. But when compared to the temples of Luxor, Karnak and Abu Simbel- this is less touristy. The initial plan was to spend an hour at the temple, come back to Aswan to explore the Market. The temple’s locality was exactly what we had expected it to be.

The best part of Philae Temple


The best part was “Trajan’s kiosk” on the eastern side of the island.

Tourists keep coming and going to the main temple, but many ignore this kiosk. Either you can choose to sit in the kiosk to watch the Nile or go further ahead near the green patch to escape the crowd. Once we entered this place, we decided to scrap all the other plans and spend time sitting near the kiosk till sunset.

Things Know Before you go to Philae temple in Egypt

  • Hire the guide ( if you want to )before you get onto the boat. Most things are narrated well on the boards in the temple premise. Also, the island is not so big that you lose track and get lost, so hiring a guide may not be needed.
  • The group boats easily fit 15 to 20 people. You can hire the entire boat for yourself or be a part of the group- like public transport. Whatever you choose, haggle! Do not agree with their first price.
  • Boat ride price(To and fro) – There are regular group ferries, which cost around 25EGP/person. But we had prebooked a private boat.. So the boat was ready to wait as long as the next 3 hrs! You can take the public boat, but they have fixed timing for waiting. Usually, they ask you to be back at the dockyard 45 minutes after drop off.
  • Once you are at the port parking area, you go through the market to the Boat Dock. Nubians are the ones who own most shops. There is no Bazar vibe, but the markets are colourful. Read our post ” What to shop in Egypt” to know more. Unlike the other cities, shopkeepers here are polite. They might ask you once or twice, but no clinching. 

The Nubian shops near Philae port

  • Temple entrance fees –180EGP or 13USD
  • Timings – 7am to 4pm in winter. Timing in summer may vary.
  • How much time to spend here – I suggest 1hr. But we spent 3hrs there. The previous two days were kind of hurry-burry time. We wanted to spend some quiet time by ourselves on the riverside. This temple seemed to be a perfect place to do our thing, watching people and watch the Nile.

Why was the Temple of Philae built?

  • The temple is dedicated to Isis (the mother of Falcon god Horus)
  • Built during the Greek-Roman period, in 600 AD, this was used as a church by Romans!
  • The eastern Trajan’s kiosk – This used to be the actual entrance before, but the main entrance was shifted to the Southside later.
  • Facilities nearby – Toilet, cafe (No food, only beverages), Souvenir shop.

Best spots for photos in Philae temple Island

You are wondering why am I talking about the spots? This is because the boat speeds so fast that you would miss the spot by the time you take your camera/phone out. Plus, the surroundings are beautiful, with a few Nubian houses and guest houses. Though there are no crocodiles in this water, we were looking for one. With all this, you may miss out on the best spots to capture some unique frames as your boat may take two different routes while going and coming back

Here is a list of 4 spots for amazing views for pictures and videos.

Spot A Northwest side of the temple. This is when you are approaching the temple from the port. The only spot where you get to see both the pylons of the temple in a single frame

Spot B This spot is on your right side (East side) after you walk up the staircase from the dockyard. This reminds me of our South Indian temple corridors! The tall Egyptian column arcade plays well with shadow here.


Spot C -The most serene spot of all – Trajan’s kiosk. The Flower capitals framing the Nile can not get more picturesque. Most tourists ignore it as it is a bit hidden from the main entrance near the dockyard. It stands outside the temple on to the Eastern side.


The last and best Spot D

Take a detour different from how you came to capture the fantastic exterior view of Trajan’s kiosk on the Eastern side.

How much time did you spend in Philae, and what are your thoughts about it? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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