Welcome to Luxor, a place rich in history and filled with wonderful experiences. Luxor, located in central Egypt, is the location of some of the most spectacular tombs, temples, and landscapes you will ever see. Luxor is brimming with unforgettable experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime, from exploring tombs deep below to gently gliding over the West Bank in a hot air balloon. But, what are the best experiences in Luxor?
The best thing, though? Greater peace and relaxation can be found in Luxor than in other well-known Egyptian towns like Cairo and Giza. Luxor is the ideal location if you’re searching for a peaceful escape that is nonetheless packed with activity. Here are some of the best things to do in Luxor, along with some tips to make the most of your time in this enchanting city.
1. Walking in the Footsteps of the Pharaohs: Visiting the Tombs of the Valley of the Kings
Welcome to Luxor, where the Valley of the Kings reigns supreme as the must-visit attraction. While it may be an obvious choice, it’s for good reason – the tombs here are truly extraordinary. From stunning artwork that has stood the test of time to enormous chambers fit for a king, the scale of these tombs will leave you in awe.
Although only twelve tombs are currently open to the public, they are all well worth exploring. The experience you’ll have varies greatly depending on which tombs you choose to visit. For those willing to splurge, the tomb of Seti I is an absolute must-see, boasting a golden burial chamber and breathtaking artwork spanning several rooms.
But don’t worry if you’re on a tight budget, there are still plenty of tombs to explore without breaking the bank. In fact, some of the best ones can be found just outside the main valley, offering a more secluded experience without the crowds.
2. Explore the monumental Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple
Luxor is a city that never fails to amaze and inspire, and nowhere is this more evident than at Karnak Temple. With its 134 colossal columns, the Great Hypostyle Hall is a sight that will take your breath away. This hall is just one part of the vast temple complex, which was once the heart of religious and political life in ancient Egypt.
Although the temple does get busy, there are ways to avoid the crowds. Visiting at the crack of dawn is one option, and it also happens to be the best time of day for photography. Alternatively, you could linger until sunset, when the light takes on a warm and dreamy quality. Don’t forget to take a stroll through the temple to the sacred lake at the southern end, and if you have time, check out the open-air museum onsite.
3. Beyond the Famous Tombs: Exploring the Vibrant Valley of the Nobles
While the famous Valley of the Kings attracts thousands of visitors every year, the nearby Valley of the Nobles often goes overlooked. However, if you’re looking for an hour or two of fascinating exploration away from the crowds, we highly recommend a visit. One of the standout tombs in this area is Sennefer’s, which boasts some of the most well-preserved artwork in the West Bank.
The ceiling, covered in vibrant grape vines and colorful patterns, is particularly enchanting. As these tombs belong to nobles rather than royalty, the artwork depicts scenes of everyday life rather than grandiose deities. Another noteworthy tomb is that of Rekhmire. Although it’s not as well preserved, the dark and mysterious atmosphere of the tomb is sure to ignite your imagination of ancient Egypt.
4. Sunrise above the monuments: Hot air balloon tour of Luxor
Picture yourself soaring above the enchanting West Bank of Luxor, gazing down at the breathtaking scenery as the sun slowly rises, casting a golden hue across the landscape. A hot air balloon ride in Luxor is more than just a ride; it’s an awe-inspiring experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Not only is it an affordable activity compared to other destinations, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the moment without the pressure of capturing the perfect photo. While the primary aim is to fly over the Valley of the Kings, the wind may take you on an unexpected journey, adding to the excitement and adventure.
Surprisingly, you’ll find yourself at peace high above the ground, even if you have a fear of heights. The landing may be bumpy, but it’s safe, and you’ll return to solid ground with unforgettable memories etched in your mind forever.
5. Uncover the hidden gems of Luxor at the Valley of the Queens
While the Valley of the Queens may not be as well-known as the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is home to some of the most amazing tombs in the world, including one of the most spectacular tombs you’ll ever see. With artwork that has been conserved so perfectly that it still appears vibrant after more than three millennia, Queen Nefertari’s tomb is a magnificent gem of ancient Egyptian art and architecture.
Despite the high entry fee (about $45 USD), the experience is well worth the money. You’ll be taken back in time to a time of extraordinary craftsmanship and beauty for just ten minutes. The elaborate decorations and minute features of the tomb are evidence of the ancient Egyptians’ skill and craftsmanship as well as of the queen’s status and significance in ancient Egyptian society.
6. Explore the ancient wonders of Luxor Temple
Prepare to step back in time and witness the incredible architectural feats of the pharaohs at Luxor Temple, located right in the heart of the city. Although not as large as the Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple is still a remarkable site that showcases several ages of history depicted on its walls, including sections commissioned by Alexander the Great.
While the temple is often busy with crowds of tourists, you can beat the masses by visiting at sunrise. We visited at sunset, which was still atmospheric, but crowded. After exploring the temple, take a few minutes to stroll along the Avenue of Sphinxes, starting just outside the temple. The first 130 meters of the paved walkway are lined with the most intact statues, but for the more adventurous, you can walk all the way to Karnak Temple, 3km away.
7. The Temple of Hatshepsut: A Testament to One of Egypt’s Greatest Rulers
A breathtaking site that will amaze you is the Temple of Hatshepsut, which is hidden among the West Bank’s precipitous cliffs. Even though this temple in Luxor is not the most historically intact, it is nonetheless worth visiting because of its unique location. As you approach the temple, you will be stunned by its splendor, which has made it a popular attraction for a long time.
Although the temple has undergone substantial repair, it’s ornate sculptures and lofty columns still make it a masterwork of architecture. The lack of numerous paintings and reliefs is more than made up for by the beauty of the temple’s surroundings. This is a must-visit location for everyone with an interest in the history and architecture of ancient Egypt.
8. A tranquil retreat: Exploring the Ramesseum temple
Step back in time and explore the quiet serenity of Luxor’s Ramesseum, a hidden gem among the city’s many ancient sites. Despite being the mortuary temple of one of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs, Rameses II, the Ramesseum receives fewer visitors than other temples in Luxor, which means you can enjoy the peaceful surroundings without feeling overwhelmed by crowds.
While some of the temple’s structures have deteriorated over time, there are still impressive statues and reliefs of Rameses’ reign, depicting his victories and accomplishments. When you need a break from the heat, stop by the on-site cafe for a refreshing drink. Plus, with the Valley of the Nobles just across the road, you can easily fit in both attractions in one visit.
9. Discover the secrets of ancient Egypt at the Tutankhamun Replica Tomb and Howard Carter’s House
Embark on a journey through time and explore the fascinating world of Howard Carter, the renowned archaeologist who discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun. A visit to Carter’s house in Luxor offers a unique opportunity to delve into the life and legacy of this remarkable figure and to discover the secrets of his groundbreaking discovery.
Carefully restored to its former glory, the house immerses visitors in the early 20th century, providing a captivating glimpse into the world of Egyptology. Even if you’re not an expert on the subject, the experience is one not to be missed. And while you’re there, don’t forget to visit the stunning replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb, which offers an unforgettable glimpse into one of history’s most remarkable treasures – and a budget-friendly alternative to the original.
10. Get lost in the art and history of Medinet Habu Temple’s intricate carvings
When it comes to temples in Luxor, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. But if you’re looking for a temple that stands out from the rest, then you can’t miss Medinet Habu. This temple complex, dedicated to the Pharaoh Rameses III, is one of the most impressive in the area – and yet it receives fewer visitors than some of the more well-known sites.
As you wander through the various pylons and corridors of the temple, you’ll come across some truly unique carvings. Some of the most memorable include scribes counting the hands and even penises of Rameses III’s defeated enemies. These unusual carvings make it clear that Medinet Habu was not just a place of worship, but also a site of military conquest.
Despite its grandeur and historical significance, you don’t need to spend all day at Medinet Habu. It’s easy to fit a visit to this temple into a busy day of exploring Luxor’s West Bank. And once you’ve seen those fascinating carvings for yourself, you’ll be glad you did.
11. Luxor Museum After Dark: A Fascinating Journey Through Time
Discover the hidden gem of Luxor Museum, nestled in the heart of the city. Unlike larger museums that can be overwhelming, Luxor Museum offers an intimate and up-close experience with some of the most fascinating artifacts of ancient Egypt. You’ll find statues of pharaohs and intricate hieroglyphics, each piece telling a unique story of a once-thriving civilization.
What makes Luxor Museum truly special is its nighttime hours. After a day exploring Luxor’s temples and tombs, there’s no better way to end the day than wandering the museum’s galleries under the soft glow of dim lighting. The stillness and calm of the museum at night provide a peaceful contrast to the bustling city during the day.
12. Experience the romance of the Nile on a felucca ride at sunset
Discover the ultimate way to unwind in Luxor with a sunset sail on a traditional felucca. There’s no better way to end a day than floating along the Nile River, basking in the golden light of the Egyptian sun. The peacefulness of the experience is enhanced by the absence of a noisy engine.
The traditional feluccas, with their simple but elegant design, offer the perfect mode of transportation for this calming journey. Make a stop at Banana Island to enjoy some locally grown fruit as a snack and take in the local birdlife. Although there isn’t much to see on the trip, the sunset view is simply breathtaking.
You don’t need to book a tour to do this, as it’s easy to organize your own private boat from the dock opposite the Winter Palace Hotel. For a reasonable price (about $20 USD for four people boat), you can create your own magical memories while enjoying the tranquility of the Nile.
13. Enjoy a Riverside Drink at Luxor’s Best Nile-Side Bars
Nothing beats relaxing with a drink by the Nile if you’re seeking for a laid-back evening in Luxor. The Hilton Resort and Spa is one of the best places to do this. The breathtaking view of the Nile may be admired from their outdoor seating area without having to be a guest.
There are plenty inviting places to sit so you can enjoy the clear view whether you’re in the mood for a cup of tea, a cool soft drink, or a well-earned bottle of wine. Watch for the pied kingfishers, which frequently dart across the pond. We do not suggest dining at the riverside tables, despite the fact that they appear appealing with candles and mood lighting.
The food can be hit or miss and isn’t worth the money. Stick to the drinks and soak in the beautiful setting. Another great spot to enjoy a drink by the Nile is at the Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel. The colonial-era hotel has a stunning terrace overlooking the river, where you can enjoy a drink and take in the beautiful sunset views.
14. Explore the Mysteries of Mummification at the Mummification Museum in Luxor
As you learn about the distinguished past of the process of embalming the dead, this one-of-a-kind museum will take you back in time. You’ll be amazed by the variety of mummified animals on display, including cats, baboons, a crocodile, and even a person. You practically get the impression that these prehistoric beings are with you as you look through the museum’s exhibits. what is the best thing, though? The museum is open at night, when it is dimly lit, creating a spooky but intriguing atmosphere.
15. Savor Luxurious Drinks at the Historic Winter Palace
Step into the grandeur of Luxor’s past at the Winter Palace, where history and luxury converge. This storied hotel has hosted some of the world’s most famous names, from royalty to celebrities, and its walls exude a sense of grandeur and sophistication. Even if you can’t afford to stay the night, it’s worth a visit for a drink or a meal in one of its elegant restaurants or bars. Indulge in the opulence of the Belle Epoque decor and take a step back in time, imagining the glamorous guests who once graced these halls.
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