Fodor's Expert Review Monastery of St. Simeon
This 7th-century sand-colored structure is one of the largest Coptic monasteries in Egypt. The complex is in ruins and feels like an abandoned fortress, full of dark barrel-vaulted passages and crumbling arches, but it was once a lively way station for monks preaching Christianity in Nubia and later for Muslim pilgrims on their way to Mecca—you can see their graffiti in some of the sleeping quarters. A few poorly preserved Christian frescos remain in the basilica and one of the rooms on the lower level. The vistas over the golden sands of the Western Desert will make you feel a million miles away from the Nile.
To reach the monastery, take a camel through the desert from the Tombs of the Nobles or from the nearby boat dock. From the dock, you can also make the uphill walk yourself, which takes about 15 minutes. It's partially paved, but wear sturdy shoes.