Best Places To See In Luxor, Egypt
Regarded as one of the most impressive seats of power in the Egyptian empire, the city of Thebes (modern day Luxor) has thrived along the Nile for over three thousand years. Come see the grandest remnants of the Pharaohs in the Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings and more. And if you are curious about the tombs of the most famous King, Tutankhamun, read on.
In this blog post, you’ll find everything you need to know to plan a trip to Luxor, Egypt. We have details on how to reach Luxor, where to stay on the West Bank of Luxor, secret tips for cheap transport and where to eat the best street food in Luxor. Additionally, check out the list of things to do in Luxor city and the best places to see in Luxor Egypt
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About Luxor, Egypt
Thebes was one of the most important cities in the ancient Egyptian empire. The Pharaohs ruled from Thebes far up to Alexandria and down south to modern day Sudan and beyond. The city lies on both sides of the Nile river.
The west bank has been largely preserved as is to protect the Valley of the Kings, Medinet Habu and other such monuments. These have indeed become some of the best places to see in Luxor Egypt. On the east bank of the Nile, the best places to see in Luxor Egypt include the Karnak Temple (wow!) and the more elegant Luxor Temple.
Here’s our list of the best places to see in Luxor Egypt and a few tips to help you experience them better.
Valley of the Kings, West Bank
The Valley of the Kings is situated on the opposite side of the Nile river from Luxor city. With over 60 tombs and many more being explored every year, the Valley of the Kings is one of Luxor’s greatest historical sites. Make sure to visit here when in Egypt.
From small pits to elaborately constructed palatial tombs, some of ancient Egypt’s greatest rulers were buried at the the Valley of the Kings. Tutankhamun was perhaps the most famous king who was laid to rest in a large tomb here. So was Seti, many of the Ramesses. Although many of these mummies and the immense wealth found in the tombs were moved to the Egyptian History Museum in Cairo, the tombs have been preserved very carefully. The natural colours used in the 15th century BC and after have still remianed intact!
Tip: Visit the Valley of the Kings as early as possible in the mornings to avoid crowds.
In order to preserve the Valley of the Kings, only a few tombs are opened to visitors everyday. The tomb of Seti and Tutankhamun are open on most days but cost an extra fee to enter.
Tickets: An entrance ticket for Valley of the Kings costs EGP 200 (USD 13 or INR 950). This ticket allows a visitor to enter three tombs – so choose well! You can buy multiple tickets if you want to visit more tombs. Tutankhamun tomb entry charges are separate. To visit Seti’s tomb the cost is an extra EGP 1,000!
The camera pass costs EGP 300 (USD 20 or INR 1,500) and is required only if you use professional cameras. It is worth using your professional cameras as the lighting inside the tombs is very less.
Medinet Habu, West Bank
The temple of Medinet Habu is also known as the mortuary temple of Ramesses III. This open temple has retained most of its engravings and stunning heiroglyphics even today. Although mostly in ruins, there are a number of walls and pillars which have remained intact for millennia.
Tickets: A ticket to visit Medinet Habu costs EGP 160 (~INR 750 or USD 10). Spend upto one hour exploring this site which is close to the Valley of the Kings.
Karnak Temple, East Bank
The Karnak temple is located in north Luxor on the east bank of the Nile. It is the most popular site in Luxor with so many tourists visiting each day. The temple complex consists of many smaller temples, sharp pillars and the famous Columned hall in the name of Amun Ra (the Sun God).
The temple complex is one of the largest in the world after Angkor Wat, Cambodia. A grand pathway was built by Ramesses III from the Karnak Temple to the Luxor Temple down south. This path has been preserved even today and parts of it are being rebuilt with the guidance of archeologists.
Tickets: The entrance tickets for the Karnak Temple including the open air museum cost EGP 200 (USD 13 or INR 1,000). Visit in the morning before 7 am to get the best experience with the sunlight and smaller crowds. Alternatively head there after 4 pm to avoid crowds.
Tip: Take a blue/red shared minivan for EGP 1.5 (INR 6) from the city centre or near the Luxor Temple to the Karnak Temple. Before 7:30 am, Guides may charge as little as EGP 50 (USD 4 or INR 250) for 40 minutes.
Luxor Temple, East Bank
The Luxor Temple is the most easily accessible temple in the region as it is located in the middle of the city, by the banks of the Nile. It has a large colonaded hall and massive open spaces in the front. The sandstone obelisks draws great significance here. There is a long pathway to the Karnak temple (as told above) in the north. Many grand processions were carried out in the 1400s BC.
Tickets: Entrance tickets to the Luxor Temple cost EGP 160 (USD 10). Best to visit mid day when the crowds are smaller.
Many local events are organised in front of the temple in the evenings every week. The temple is also beautifully lit after sunset.
Hatshepsut Temple, West Bank
This is one of the grandest mortuary temples or cenotaphs we’ve seen! The Hatshepsut temple or Dier el-Bahari is a desert temple with a stunning approach. As you enter through the eastern gates, there is a 300 metre path leading to the temple. This walk puts the whole image in perspective! A three tiered, pillared hall spanning three hundred feet across was built on the front face of a large vertical mountain wall. Stunning?
It was built in honour of Queen Hatshepsut who was regarded as one of the strongest lady rulers of the Pharaoh kingdom! She reigned in the 15th century BC.
There are many sculpted pharaoh statues along the front facade of the temple. You can visit both the lower and upper levels of the Hatshepsut temple. You can visit this after visiting the Valley of the Kings as they are close to each other.
Tickets: Entrance tickets to Dier el-Bahari or Hatshepsut temple cost EGP 100 (INR 450 or USD 6.5). There are many souvenir shops at the entrance counter.
Colossi of Memnon, West Bank
The two massive statues of Amanhotep III (a famour Pharaoh King) stand at what seemed like the official gate to the Mortuary temple for him. Although most of the statue is destroyed, the larger structure has remained intact and the sheer size is amazing to see! Curiously, they were sculpted from a large piece of sandstone. The statues are located along the way to the Valley of the Kings and the Hatshepsut temple.
Tickets: Free, visit anytime
Other best places to see in Luxor, Egypt
Besides all these places to see in Luxor, you can also consider these things to do in Luxor depending on how much time you have:
- Visit a Coptic Church (located 300 metres north from the Luxor temple, along the Grand Pathway)
- Take a sunset Felucca cruise on the Nile (the pier is behind the Luxor Temple)
- Go shopping in the Luxor Bazaar (across the street from Luxor Temple)
- Spend a valuable hour at the Luxor Museum to know about the history of Thebes (modern day Luxor)
All of the above places are just a few hundred feet between each other and you can easily walk. There are horse drawn carriages too.
Tip: Hot Air Balloons are extremely popular in the West Bank. Reserve a seat in a sunrise Hot Air Balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings, the Hatshepsut Temple, Medinet Habu, Valley of the Queens and more. You can find many small ticketing agencies near the ferry counters or tourist shops along the main roads near hotels on the West Bank. Count that as part of your list of the best places to see in Luxor, Egypt and also as a top experience in Luxor!
Read more on the official tourim site for Egypt
How to get to Luxor
Luxor is very well connected with Cairo, Aswan, Giza and many other cities in Egypt. You can travel to Luxor using multiple means
1. By flight: Luxor airport connects many other cities in the region, but flights are very expensive in Egypt.
2. By Train (recommended): Taking a train is the cheapest way to move around in Egypt. The Luxor train station is just a few minutes away from the Luxor temple and the ferry serviec to West Bank. We took the train from Aswan to Luxor (4.5 hours) and again, from Luxor to Giza (overnight).
3. By Bus or Taxi: Bus connectivity is good although not suggested. Taxi rides from/to Aswan cost about EGP 1,500 (USD 100) and it takes 3 hours.
4. By Ferry: The Nile Cruise is the most popular choice for tourists. The Nile cruises range from 2 nights to 4 nights depending on the stops you wil make along the Nile river between Luxor and Aswan (and Abu Simbel). Although a Nile cruise is quite expensive, it covers stay, food and guided tours. You even get to experience the Nile river in a new perspective!
Where to stay in Luxor
The West Bank of the Nile river is the best place to stay in Luxor. It offers a great variety of hotels and hostels. From budget hostels to mid-range hotels and even luxury hotels in Luxor, the West bank is best for sightseeing. The distance to most of the sites is less than 20-30 mins. We stayed at the family-run Cleopatra Hotel and wholeheartedly recommend it for its quality and price!
If you decide to stay on the East bank side of Luxor, we recommend that you cross the Nile and then hire a taxi to do a private tour of the West Bank. This is far cheaper than renting a car from East Bank (which adds at least another hour of travel to the opposite side of the Nile.
Local commute in Luxor
Commute between East Bank and West Bank in Luxor using the public ferry for EGP 5 from the pier below the Luxor Temple. Use the shared minivans (EGP 1 per km) in Luxor city. You can consider renting bicycles for sighseeing too. Private taxi tours of West Bank Luxor cost EGP 300 (~USD 20) for three hours. The best places to see in Luxor, Egypt are all very close to each other and it does not take much time to travel between them.
Check out all accommodations in Luxor here
Where to eat in Luxor
The best thing about Egypt is the affordable, mouthwatering Middle Eastern cuisine (besides the Pyramids, sure)! There are many small restaurants in and around the Luxor Temple and further east into the city from there. Although meat is heavily consumed, vegetarian food is very easy to find too.
Koshary, falafels, pita bread and hummus, labaneh, shawarma, Ful (kidney beans) and boiled vegtables, cheese and dairy products are eaten in Egypt. Street food stalls sell very tasty and cheap food and pick the shop or cart with the most locals. We found the most incredible Falafel store right in front of the Luxor Temple. A vegetarian falafel sandwich cost us EGP 5 (INR 23 or USD 0.32) and it was sooo good!
Vegetarian food is cheaper than meat – expect to spend less than USD 1 on street food per meal. Non-vegetarian meals cost EGP 30 (USD 2) and upwards.
Best time to visit Luxor
Egypt experiences very hot summers because of its desert geography. But the cooler months are from late October to March. Visit during this time to enjoy the open air museums of Karnak, Luxor temple and the other monuments on the West bank of Nile in Luxor.
Wear cotton clothing and dress modestly – respect for local traditions and cultures goes a long way here and locals will appreciate that more. During the winter months dress in soft layers to adjust to the sunny afternoons and the cool evenings. You could wear blues, dark oranges, reds and such colors. Contrasting colours for clothing against the sandstone landscape is perfect for photography!
How many days to spend in Luxor
Spend at least two nights in Luxor. That way you can comfortably explore West Bank of Luxor on one day and East Bank on another day.
Preferably start your day in East Bank with a visit to the Karnak Temple. Similarly, visit the Valley of the Kings first on West Bank. Start early to beat the crowds and to get cheap guide services too!
From Luxor there are three destinations you can head to. If you go South, you can explore Aswan and the stunning Abu Simbel. To the east, you can visit Hurgada for beautiful blue beaches on the Red Sea. If you go north, you can visit the Great Pyramids at Giza and Cairo.
Read more about Egypt here
If you have more questions or want to explore Egypt with us, write to us – we’d be very happy to help!
Shishira & Navneeth