Your Ultimate Travel Guide to Luxor, Egypt
Egypt is full of historical sites, impressive temples, and beautiful cities. However, of all the places we visited in Egypt, Luxor had to be my favourite. The religious capital of Egypt, and what used to be ancient Thebes, Luxor simply has so much to offer.
Besides being a picturesque city located on the Nile, it is also filled with rich history and famous temples. But, given the many monumental sites, temples, and landscapes, where do you even start? What sites cannot be missed and what time of day is the best time to visit? Well, look no further... we're about to get into all of it!
To make the most of your time in Luxor, be sure to visit the following sites. For reference, we spent 2 full days (3 nights) in Luxor and were able to visit all of the below!
Luxor Temple was built in approximately 1400 B.C. by Amenhotep III but completed by Tutankhamun and Horemheb. It was then added to, later on, by Ramesses II.
Unlike other temples in Luxor, the Luxor Temple was not built in adoration to a god or a deified version of the pharaoh in death; rather Luxor Temple was built in dedication to the rejuvenation of kingship. It was also a place of worship and is one of the oldest continuously used temples in the world.
During the Roman Era, it was converted into a church. The remains of a Coptic church can also be found on the west side of the temple’s compound. Then, for thousands of years, the temple was buried beneath the streets and houses of Luxor...
A mosque was eventually built over top of the temple in the 13th Century. The mosque of Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj still stands today and was carefully preserved when the temple was uncovered and still forms part of the site.
If the history itself isn’t enough to blow you away, it’s an iconic site for photography and is an incredible place to catch the light during golden hour.
Hours: 6 AM - 10PM
Entrance Fee: 160 EG10 PMP (13 CAD)*
*Prices are approximate
Valley of the Kings
Located on the West Bank of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings is the most famous collection of elaborate tombs in the world. It was the royal burial ground for pharaohs and other elites during Egypt’s New Kingdom from 1539-1075 B.C. Today, you can explore the excavated tombs of pharaohs like Tutankhamun (King Tut) and witness reliefs and colours that date back more than 3,000 years.
When visiting the Valley of the Kings, it’s important to note that the entrance fee only covers a few tombs (which rotate each year to help preserve them – there are about 64 tombs in total). Other tombs will incur extra fees. We decided to pay the extra fees to enter the tombs of Tutankhamun (King Tut) and Ramesses VI and it was absolutely worth it.
Because the tombs are hidden from sunlight, all reliefs and colours in the tombs are in perfect condition. They have also never been restored. Knowing that everything you see is the original art makes the sights of these tombs even more impressive. I recommend heading here early in the morning as it is one of the most popular tourist sites in the area and tombs can get busy, very quickly.
Note for photographers: The Valley of the Kings is one of many sites in Egypt that requires the additional purchase of a photography permit, should you wish to take photos with a professional camera. While I did not choose to do this during our visit, I may have chosen differently had I known in advance just how vibrant and detailed some of the tombs were. Regardless though, the photos from my phone still turned out pretty good.
Hours: 6 AM - 4 PM (winter) or 5 PM (summer)
Entrance Fee: 240 + 4 (Taftaf “Electric Train”) EGP (20 CAD)
Tomb of Tut Ankh Amon: 150 EGP (12 CAD)
Tomb of Ramses VI: 50 EGP (4 CAD)
Karnak Temple & Karnak Open Air Museum
Karnak is a temple complex located on the East Bank of the Nile River. It was developed over the course of 1500 years, with construction beginning around 2000 B.C., and is the largest building for religious purposes ever to be constructed.
During the New Kingdom, this complex was the center of the ancient faith. It was dedicated to the ancient Egyptian gods Amun (god of the sun and air), Mut (the mother goddess), and Khonsu (god of the moon).
Today, it is an incredible site worth visiting in Egypt, believed to be the second most visited historical site in the country.
I recommend setting aside a couple of hours at the complex to thoroughly walk through the open-air museum and temple as there is a great deal of shrines, temples, monuments and reconstructions to see. Plus, the Great Hypostyle Hall where you’re surrounded by 134 giant sandstone columns is an absolute photographer’s dream! This is another amazing place to capture golden hour.
Hours: 6 AM - 4:30 PM
Entrance Fee: 200 EGP (16 CAD)
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
The Temple of Hatshepsut is a mortuary temple that was built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. It was also a sanctuary of the god, Amon Ra. Considered to be an architectural masterpiece, it’s also pretty badass because Hatshepsut was one of the most famous female pharaohs of Egypt. Commissioned in 1479 B.C., it took nearly 15 years to complete.
In addition to the site itself being very grandiose, the history is fascinating, filled with family drama, pettiness, and power. The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is located near the Valley of the Kings.
Hours: 6 AM - 5 PM
Entrance Fee: 140 + 4 (Taftaf “Electric Train”) EGP (12 CAD)
Medinet Habu (Also called Medinat Habu)
Also located close to the Valley of the Kings, Medinet Habu is one of the ancient Egyptian temples that was built by Pharaoh Ramasses III and dedicated to the god, Amon. It was built as a mortuary temple for Ramesses III who is considered the last great pharaoh of Egypt.
Less commonly visited compared to other sites like the Temple of Hatshepsut, you’ll likely encounter fewer tourists -- but don’t let that fool you.
Medinet Habu boasts incredibly detailed hieroglyphics and some of the most vibrant colours we saw outside of the Valley of the Kings (be sure to look up). The famous relief detailing the Sea People invasion during the rule of Ramesses III can be found on the northern outside wall.
Hours: 6 AM - 5 PM
Entrance Fee: 100 EGP (8 CAD)
Valley of the Artisans (Deir-el-Medina)
Though less glamorous than the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Artisans (also known as "Deir-el-Medina" or the "Workers' Village") offers a glimpse into the lives of the men who constructed the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, including the stone-cutters, the plasterers and decorators.
The workers and their families were the only ones to live on the West Bank of Luxor, considered to be the City of the Dead. To keep secret the happenings on the West Bank, Kings provided the workers and their families with everything they needed so they would never have to go to the East Bank of Luxor, considered to be the main settlement of the living. Their jobs as workers held great prestige and workers were believed to be honoured in death for their service.
At Deir-el-Medina, you can see the excavated remains of the workers' village, several tombs of some of the artisans, and a temple dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of the sky, of women, and of fertility and love.
Hours: 6 AM - 5 PM
Entrance Fee: 100 EGP (8 CAD)
Note: Children under the age of 12 years and older than 6 years can enter the sites at half price. International Student ID card holders can also enter sites at half price.
BONUS: Nile Cruise
If travelling through Egypt, I recommend taking a Nile Cruise between Aswan and Luxor. We spent a total of three nights and two days on our cruise between the cities, with one full day spent on the boat. During the cruise, we had one stop off to visit Kom Ombo, a temple dedicated to the Egyptian crocodile god, Sobek.
Overall, we found the Nile cruise to be a welcomed break in our trip as a chance to rest and relax. With a variety of amenities to make our stay comfortable, our cruise ship had a small shop onboard to browse Egyptian gifts and souvenirs, a pool and lounging chairs on the top deck, a bar and live entertainment one evening, and food served buffet style for each meal. Our room even had a balcony with sliding doors that opened to stunning views of the Nile.
We cruised on the Steigenberger Royale.
As I have mentioned in my other Egyptian blog posts, I do highly recommend having an Egyptian guide and Egyptologist take you through these historical sites. In addition to ensuring a more safe and organized experience, there is simply too much history and vital information to risk missing or misunderstanding. I promise that having access to this information and knowledge will add greatly to your experience travelling through Egypt.
Our trip to Egypt was partially supported by G Adventures, a small group travel company focused on changing the world through authentic and sustainable travel. We were able to visit all of these sites and more through their Egypt Upgraded tour.
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested in reading, “Is Egypt Safe? | What to Consider Before Travelling to Egypt”.
Disclaimer: Our trip to Egypt was partially supported by G Adventures. The content of this blog is generated for entertainment and informative purposes. All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.