Venture south from the cultural hub of Luxor and you’ll find Esna, a small, thriving city on the west bank of the Nile. A lesser-known, more modest sibling to its neighbouring tourist hotspots, Esna holidays nevertheless immerse you in impressive heritage dating back to ancient Egypt. Most visitors head straight to the Temple of Khnum, dedicated to the ram-headed god Khnum, who - as legend has it - created man from his potter’s wheel. The immense columns and superb sandy sculptures were first constructed by the king of Egypt in the second century B.C. and completed a few hundred years later by the Romans.
While impressive, you’d be wrong to think the temple is the only draw to this charming city; with an important agricultural market and a lively souk that fills the streets stretching inland from the river, Esna is more than worthy as a destination in its own right. It’s also the starting point for numerous river cruises along the Nile; a time-honoured way to discover the many historic wonders the country has to offer.

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