Luxor is probably the most visited place in all of Egypt. Rightly so! This capital of ancient Egypt is full of ancient monuments, magical tombs and impressive temples. We spent four full days in the temple city of the pharaohs and selected the must-visits for you.
The Luxor temples and tombs on the map
The top things to do in Luxor: 7 must-visit temples and tombs
#1 The temples of Karnak
One of the most impressive temples of the ancient Pharaohs was that of Karnak. These days this special temple complex is an enormous open-air museum of hieroglyphs, pillars and gates. The temple is the result of 1500 years of extensions and improvements by the Pharaohs. Each of them wanted to pay tribute to the gods of ancient Egypt in this way. The enormous obelisks of the female pharaoh Hatjsepsut and the forest of columns of Pharaoh Seti I and his famous son Ramses II are particularly impressive. The obelisks of Hatshepsut are made from a single piece of granite, which must have been an immense achievement. The forest of pillars consists of no less than 134 pillars in an immense hall of 5500 m2.
Tip : There is a light and sound show almost every evening. For 300 Egyptian pounds you can see the temple in the dark for an hour, while the magic is beautifully lit. In the meantime, the explanation tells something about the temple, but the echo is not always easy to understand.
Practical : For entry tickets you pay 200 EGP. From downtown Luxor it is only a short drive to the Karnak Temple. In the past, the two were connected to each other via a 3-kilometer-long avenue with sphinxes and this is now being restored. From downtown Luxor you can get there with a taxi, but also with a local public bus. These are the white minivans with open doors and a colored stripe at the bottom of the vehicle. The one with the blue line goes from downtown Luxor to Karnak. A nice, local experience that also saves you some Egyptian pounds. By the way, skip the horse-drawn carriage, if the fate of the horses is also dear to you.
#2 The Valley of the Kings
If you have never heard of Tutankhamun, you still have some reading work to do before your trip to Egypt. And if you’ve heard of him, you’ll love this highlight at Luxor! The Valley of the Kings is a place in the rocks on the west bank opposite Luxor, where for years the pharaohs were buried in all their splendor. Much of all that wealth has not been recovered, because grave robbers were before the archaeologists. Until Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922! It is a relatively small grave of a rather trivial pharaoh in history, but perhaps that is precisely why the grave has been spared. For the beautiful riches – including the death mask and the sarcophagi – you must visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. But visit the tomb of Tutankhamun and his mummy in the Valley of the Kings!
Of course there are many more tombs to discover and actually they are even more beautiful than those of the famous pharaoh. Think of corridors deep underground, beautiful murals and endless hieroglyphics.
Tip : Are you coming to the Valley of the Kings purely for Tutankhamun’s grave? Then you might even like to visit Howard Carter’s old house. This museum tells the story of the spectacular discovery and has an exact replica of the tomb. In that tomb you can see all the corners and rooms without the crowds.
Practical : A standard ticket for the Valley of the Kings will set you back 240 EGP and you can visit three tombs of your choice. But some tombs require a separate ticket: one for Tutankhamun’s grave costing 300 EGP, Seti I 1000 EGP and Ramses 100 EGP. The easiest way to get to the Valley is by crossing the Nile by boat. You can take a taxi there for around 150 EGP. For 30 more practical tips for your visit you can read this extensive article about the Valley of the Kings .
#3 The Hatshepsut Temple
Hatshepsut is one of the more famous pharaohs of ancient Egypt: this queen was not the wife of, but ruled independently as, Pharaoh. You can see that in her famous rock temple near the Valley of the Kings. Those images of a pharaoh with a fake beard? Yes, that is Hatshepsut. Her death temple on the west bank opposite Luxor is built against the rocks and consists of three terraces. The style is different from what you will encounter in Egypt. It has almost something modern. To form an image of this temple back in the days, you must imagine a long avenue of sphinxes. There was a large square in front of the temple with space for exotic trees; the roots of two of these are now protected by a gate at the entrance.
If you think the temple looks particularly well preserved, then you are right. The temple has been almost completely rebuilt and reconstructed. Throughout history, this structure has had to endure quite a bit. The stepson of Hatshepsut tried to remove her from history by destroying her name on temples and monuments. Also, religious changes – a heretic pharaoh with radical ideas and Christians who founded a monastery here – did little good for the murals of the ancient gods. Excavations are still being made.
Tip : This temple is extremely hot during the warmest part of the day. Take this into account in your planning.
Practical : The Hatshepsut Temple is near the Valley of the Kings. Therefore, combine the two – with the Medinet Habu Temple – on your day trip to the West Bank. Our taxi waited at the Valley of the Kings and then brought us to the Temple of Hatshepsut for 70 EGP. An entrance ticket cost us 140 EGP per person.