Chasing Pharaoh’s and Other Things to Do in Luxor, Egypt

By Mark Wiens 29 Comments
Karnak Temple
Things to do in Luxor, Egypt

The famous city of Luxor, Egypt, has made it on travel itineraries for thousands of years, offering a host of attractions.

The city itself is not overly charming, hot piercing sun, dust choking streets and it’s share of irritating touts and tourist bred personnel.  Aside from a few of the hassles, Luxor has scores of incredible ancient Egyptian sites, monuments, and tombs and temples that can’t be missed!

Figuring out an exact itinerary of what to do in Luxor can be a little confusing; trying to balance time with ancient sites and other variables.

It’s possible to visit most ancient Egyptian sites in 2 days of site seeing, though an extra day allows for a little more relaxation and comfort.  I would suggest booking a day tour to the West Bank Sites (see bottom “Standard Day Tour“), and then seeing the East Bank sites on another day.

Note: If you have a student card (preferred ISIC card) all entrance fees are 1/2 the price.  Depending on the ticket vendor at the time, it might be possible to persuade for the student price (if you look like a student, it’s worth a shot!).

Temple of Karnak

The Temple of Karnak is a massive ancient site comprising of a number of different temples dedicated to various gods. The great hypostyle hall is the pinnacle part of the the Temple of Karnak. Gargantuan 23 meter high and 15 meter circumference columns line an area of 6000 square meters. The pillars make it seem like you are in the midst of a slot canyon with cliffs rising on either side.

Entrance – 65 LE / 35 LE Student

hypostyle-hall
Temple of Luxor – Hypostyle Hall

Temple of Luxor

The Temple of Luxor is easily accessible from the center of town. It was originally founded by Amenophis III but altered in later years by Tutankhamun, Horemheb, and Ramses II.

At night the temple is illuminated with yellow lights to reveal a golden halo around the ruins and statues. Egyptian boys shout and play football into the night in the adjacent courtyard at the base of the once dominant Temple of Luxor.

temple-luxor-egypt
Temple of Luxor at night

Luxor Museum

The Luxor Museum houses a collection of some of the most important relics found in temples and tombs around Luxor and the Theban Necropolis.  Though it’s not as significant at the Cairo Museum of Antiquities, if you enjoy Egyptian history, it’s worth a visit.

Entrance – 80 LE / 40 LE Student

Valley of the Kings

Across the Nile from Luxor, lies the Valley of the Kings, tucked beneath a barren mountain with the top resembling a triangular pyramid.

The valley was hollowed out like an ant hill to bury some of the most legendary Pharaoh’s of ancient Egypt, as a place to secure and ensure eternal life.

Exquisite reliefs, hieroglyphics and spells from the book of the dead for afterlife are plastered onto the walls and carved into the stones.

Photography is no longer permitted so I wasn’t able to take any pictures inside the tombs themselves.

Entrance (for 3 tombs) – 80 LE / 40 LE Student

valley-of-kings
Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Queens

Situated on the same arid mountain as the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens is the resting place for a number of royal family members and relatives.

Queens including Nefertari (her tomb costs $5000 to enter), princes and royal children are all represented.

Entrance (2 tombs) – 40 LE / 20 LE Student

Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahri

Deir el-Bahri

Deir el-Bahri is the mortuary temple of King Hatshepsut, the only female Pharaoh to rule Egypt.  The temple, located on the opposite side of the ridge from the Valley of the Kings, is anchored into the rock behind.

The interior of the temple has somewhat deteriorated, but the view from the outside with it’s multiple terraces and colonnades is impressive.  Though it dates to around 1400 BC, Hatshepsut succeeded at creating a temple with an extremely modern looking design.

Entrance – 30 LE / 15 LE Student

Medinet Habu

The mortuary temple of Ramses III is known in Arabic as Medinet Habu. The immense structure was centered around Ramses’ cult god of Amun.

Colossi of Memnon
Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon are two enormous statues of the the Pharaoh Amenophis III. The temple that the statues once marked the entrance to, have since been destroyed, leaving only two parallel statues amidst modern day farms and cornfields.

Entrance – Free

fuul-beans
Delicious food

Kushari and Ful

After a long hot day of visiting sites around Luxor, get your fill of Kushari (mix of pasta, beans, and sauce) and Ful (almost like re-fried beans).

Cost – Not much! $1-2 will get you a nice meal!

Hang out sippin on tea and sheesha

Another way to relax in Luxor and all over Egypt is to sit down at 1 of the many street-side cafe’s and sip on some local tea or puff on some sheesha with the rest of the men in the city!

Cost – Tea should cost 1 LE!

Where to Stay:

I stayed at Bob Marley Hostel, 1 of the cheapest guest houses in Luxor.  Dorm beds go for about 20 LE / night.
Bob Marley Hostel
E-mail: [email protected]
(002) 010 0653258

For a bit nicer accommodation with great wi-fi, I would recommend Boomerang Hotel.  Great ambiance and clean rooms.

Standard Day Tour:

All guest houses and hotels will offer a pretty standard day tour to the West Bank historical sites near Luxor.  I booked through the Bob Marley Hostel, getting student price, which also included entrance fees.  Our guide bought all the tickets so that we didn’t even need to deal with officials, just went from place to place in a minivan.

This is what our tour included:

Cost for entire trip (including entrance fees) – 220 LE (Adults), 150 (Students), Prices may fluctuate depending on where you book.

29 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Barbara

    8 years ago

    The comments provided are extremely helpful as I am thinking of visiting Luxor. The pictures are awesome! It was also helpful to get an idea of the average cost of a day trip. Now, I am ready for my trip.

    Please do not publish my email

    Thanks

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Hey Barbara, glad you found this article useful!

  • Kevin

    10 years ago

    Luxor remains one of our favorite holiday destinations. It’s inexpensive, peaceful, quiet, and packed full of interesting things to do — when you get tired of sitting by the pool and soaking up the sun. The hotel staff are generous, kind and friendly (I’m not saying where we stay, it’s that good) and we find that Luxor remains one of the best vacation values that a frequent traveler could ever hope to find. So good in fact, we’ve been there five times, and each time we return it feels like you’ve come home.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Very cool Kevin! Sounds like you really enjoy Luxor and will continue to return for relaxing trips!

  • Spencer

    10 years ago

    The history and architecture of Egypt is something that has always fascinated me. I would love to go there one day. I hear the food there is great too.

  • Norbert

    10 years ago

    This is a great overview of things to do at Luxor. This place has been on my must-do list for years! Hopefully I will go there soon. I love Egypt’s history.This is a great overview of things to do at Luxor. This place has been on my must-do list for years! Hopefully I will go there soon. I love Egypt’s history.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Thanks Norbert! Yes, Egypt’s history is mind blowing, hope you have a chance to visit soon!

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    Cool Shannon! Glad these pictures can help for a little while and hope you can see them in person soon!

  • Shannon O’Donnell

    10 years ago

    Gorgeous photos! I had hopes of making it there this spring but it’s been pushed back once again so I am living vicariously through these pics for now! 🙂

  • Cathy Sweeney

    10 years ago

    Definitely a must-do trip that’s been on my list forever. Love your photos.

  • Cam

    10 years ago

    Looks like you hit up all the spots! What did you think of Karnak? It totally blew my mind, those columns were incredible! We became mildly addicted to all the sheesha and tea, it’s one of the things I’ll remember most! 😉

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      @Cam: Yes, Karnak did blow my mind. I think mildly addicted would be a good way to describe my tea and sheesha partakings as well. It’s just so convenient and relaxing!

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Edmond: Hey, thanks for checking it out and sharing it. “LE” stands for Egyptian Pounds. When I was there, it was about 5.7 LE to 1 USD. Thanks for pointing that out, I will go back and put some conversions in.

    @Thanks Lorna!

    @Inka: Yah, it will interesting for you to compare the two sites, when you visit Egypt. I haven’t been to Petra, but I’m sure they are both amazing in their own ways!

    @Jim: Hehe, you will get a chance!

  • Jim

    10 years ago

    Great post, very inspiring. I cannot understand why we haven’t been.

  • sandra

    10 years ago

    Egypt really provide a wide array of attractions. We were in Egypt for three days and we get to explore this place very deeply. The temple of Luxor is smaller than Karnak but well preserved and worth seeing, the two giant statue and valley of king have been my favorite sites.

  • inka

    10 years ago

    And here I was thinking that Petra was the ultimate. Luxor looks even grander. I mist see that. Luckily I am not far away, so will see when I can make it there. Your pictures are absolutely amazing. Love the little side story about the boys playing irreverently football next to these historical sites.

  • Lorna – the roamantics

    10 years ago

    I love how you include times, prices & specific places in your posts- very helpful and of course some more gorgeous photos here. Can’t wait to go 🙂

  • Edmond

    10 years ago

    Sweet place , lot’s of historical temple and relics ,a must see town in Egypt. However I don’t understand your term of currency , what dose 35 LE means in USD ? I checked Boomerang Hotel web-page and the rooms look nice plus Wi-Fi not to mention you can book tours on the hotel itself but still I don’t Get what 35 LE for a night means ?

    I do enjoy reading you blog and shared this on FB , do keep posting please .

    • ArgaJones

      7 years ago

      35 LE is about $5 us

  • Zablon Mukuba

    10 years ago

    i love everything about Egypt, apart from the hot sun

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Andrea: Awesome, I will upload a bunch more photos pretty soon, but hope you get a chance to visit in person soon!

    @Ayngelina: Cool, I’m sure you will make it!

  • Breville800JEXL

    10 years ago

    Wow, this place is amazing! Actually, this is one of my dream place to travel. 🙂

  • ayngelina

    10 years ago

    Luxor is at the top of my list for Egypt, if I ever get there!

  • Andrea

    10 years ago

    I’ve never seen pictures of Luxor before. The temples look just incredible. Egypt is on my list – I’d love to visit there. Thanks for sharing this info!