You’re planning a trip to Egypt and wondering if adding Luxor to your itinerary is worth it.
The answer is YES! Luxor is the perfect contrast to visiting the Egyptian city of Cairo. Luxor is calm. It is a small farming village along the Nile without much traffic. You can breath the air comfortably. You can walk the streets without worrying about cars.
While Luxor operates on a much slower pace, there is no shortage of jaw-dropping things to see. The big ticket items in Luxor are the Valley of Kings on the West Bank of the Nile, and the Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple on the East Bank. It is hard to do both sides of the Nile in one day, therefore we recommend 2 full days in Luxor to see everything.
WHEN TO VISIT LUXOR, EGYPT
Winter, the moths of December through February, is the high season for Egypt tourism as temperatures are not too hot. However, by not too hot I mean 75 degrees (24 Celsius). We visited in September because that is when we could this trip happen, and let me tell you it was HOT HOT HOT in the middle of the day.
However, the hotels were cheaper and relatively empty, and the we were able to visit the tourist sites in the early morning without anyone else around. We enjoyed traveling in Egypt during the off-season as we are early risers anyways. We would get up at 6AM to visit temples before the other tourists, and take naps during the hottest part of the day. It was a perfect compromise!
If you also like traveling during off-season, and don’t mind slightly higher temperature, then March through April or October through November would be good months to visit Luxor.
Related Post: The Complete One – Two Week Egypt Itinerary
THE WEATHER IN LUXOR, EGYPT
Luxor is located in the middle of the desert, so the weather is generally the same as the rest of the Egyptian cities.
The average Luxor, Egypt temperatures from the coolest to hottest months:
December – February (coolest): Average 75 High (24 Celsius) / 45 Low (7 Celsius)
March – April & October – November: Average 90 High (32 Celsius) / 60 Low (16 Celsius)
May & September: Average 102 High (39 Celsius) / 71 Low (22 Celsius)
June – July (hottest): Average 106 High (41 Celsius) / 76 Low (24 Celsius)
HOW TO GET TO LUXOR
Getting to Luxor by Plane
The fastest and most expensive way to get from Cairo to Luxor. This is the route we took after giving the overnight train some consideration. Based on the step price for the over-night tourist train, and the questionable reviews we decided on the flight after finding a decent price (100EUR) and didn’t regret our decision. We were in Luxor after a 1 hour flight, which would have taken all night via train.
If you are short on time, you can book a highly rated private one-day tour from Cairo via plane.
Getting to Luxor by Train
There is a train that will take you from the Giza or Cairo train station to the Luxor train station. The train leaving from Giza is #86 which leaves Giza around 815PM, when on-time, and arrives into Luxor around 6AM. A bed in a double cabin for foreigners will cost around $80 per person. A great resource for train travel in Egypt, and where I did all my research, is Seat61.
Getting to Luxor by Car
The drive in between Cairo and Luxor is a 7 hour drive which we have actually hear from locals takes much longer due to the condition of the roads. We did not consider this as an option due to safety concerns of self-driving in Egypt and the time involved.
However, there are tour options to which would allow you to visit Luxor from Cairo on a one-day, overnight guided tour by Bus.
GETTING AROUND LUXOR
Transportation around Luxor is much easier than in Cairo. The top attractions in Luxor are generally split into two areas: the East Bank (the east side of the Nile) and the West Bank (the west side of the Nile).
On the East Bank, you can get around via taxi or by walking depending on the location on your hotel. The taxis in Luxor are more likely to use their meters and to agree on a price of the ride beforehand.
The West Bank is a little further away since you will most likely be staying on the East Bank and need to cross over the Nile. I would suggest booking a tour of the West Bank one day during your time in Luxor.
THE BEST HOTELS IN LUXOR
Two of the best and most famous hotels in Luxor are the Sofitel Winter Palace and the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa. We stayed at the Hilton which was a pure oasis in the middle of Egypt. Located right on the East bank of the Nile, you can watch the sunset over the Nile from the hotel pool or dinner each night! That experience alone was something I would make sure to add to your Luxor itinerary and I couldn’t have imaged a better place to do it from then the Hilton’s resort in Luxor.
DAY ONE: THINGS TO DO IN LUXOR EAST BANK
Getting Around the East Bank
You can easily flip around which day you explore the East Bank and which day you explore the West Bank, however it is good to stick to one side of the Nile as it does take some time to get from the East to the West Bank via car. As you will most likely be staying in a hotel on the East Bank, the sites on this side of the Nile are relatively close and easy to navigate on your own via taxi or walking. We did the East Bank on our own without a guide.
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride over Luxor
There is no better way to watch a sunrise in Luxor than a hot air balloon ride. These tours start with an early pick-up from your hotel around 4AM and drive you to the launching site where you will be up in the air by sunrise. The tour usually lasts about 2 hours passing by notable landmarks such as the Nile River, Statue of Thebes, over Karnak Temple, and Luxor Temple by air.
The Luxor Temple was our favorite temple on the East Bank. It is smaller in size than Karnak, but in so much better condition that it was amazing to see and a lot easier to digest. There are even remnants on the walls of when the Christians took over the temple and painted Christian murals over the hieroglyphics.
This temple opens for visitors around 6AM and when we arrived around 730AM and were the only ones there for about an hour. We did not have a guide for Luxor Temple and simply took a taxi from our hotel. We found it enjoyable after 2 days of walking around with a tour guide just to explore this temple on our own.
If you want to mix up some tours with some free time to explore yourself – the East Bank in Luxor is definitely the place! Luxor is calm, taking a taxi is relatively easy and the streets of Luxor are very walkable!
Entrance Price: 160EGP
Photography Price: Free but an additional 20EGP ticket is required for a tripod
Also located on the East Bank of Luxor is the Karnak Temple. Karnak was the most important religious complex in Ancient Egypt. Karnak temple is the second largest ancient religious site in the world, after the Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia.
Due to its importance, the Karnak temple is the most visited site in Luxor, Egypt. That means that it is always busy, even at 6AM in the morning with the first wave of tour buses. We usually like to do the most crowded sites first, however, since Karnak Template is so large, and everyone visits in a large tour group, we were actually able to find quiet moments between the groups in late morning.
Entrance Price: 200EGP
Photography Price: Free but an additional 20EGP ticket is required for a tripod
End the day watching the sunset along the Nile
Due to the temperatures during the day in Egypt, we were usually out very early in the morning and back to the hotel by noon to take naps during the hottest part of the day.
During late afternoons we spent time at the hotel pool and drank Egyptian wine as we watched the sunset over the Nile. It was honestly the most relaxing part of the entire trip!
DAY TWO: THINGS TO DO IN LUXOR WEST BANK
Getting to the West Bank
There is a a ferry service that runs daily that will take you from the East bank to the West. You will find it in Google as “National Ferryboat” in Luxor and it runs every 15 minutes for only 1EGP.
I would really recommend that you get a tour guide for visiting the West Bank as this will double as transportation over to the West Bank as well as includes tons of information on the history of the sites that you wouldn’t otherwise learn without a guide.
We booked a fabulous guide through Egypt Tailor Made Tours, I couldn’t recommend working with them enough. Our guides were always on time and our transportation was always a nicer, clean car. As we were leaving the West Bank around late afternoon, our tour guide even stopped at a road side falafel shop to pick us up the local specialty falafels from Luxor!
The Valley of the Kings
The current day city of Luxor, was the location of the ancient capital of the New Kingdom, Thebes. One notable change of the New Kingdom was how pharaohs were buried.
As seen in Cairo during the years of the Old Kingdom, pharaohs had been buried under pyramids. The pyramids proved costly and encouraged grave robbers by showing the location of the pharaoh’s burial. During the New Kingdom, pharaohs were buried deep underground in tombs on the west side of the Nile. These tombs were carved beneath towering cliffs that hid the entrance from tomb robbers. This area became known as the Valley of the Kings.
When you visit Luxor, the Valley of the Kings will be one of the highlights of your trip, as this is where the great pharaohs that ruled in the New Kingdom lay to peace. There is a total of 63 tombs and each tomb ihas different layout and design.
Previous to 2018, all photography was banned from the Valley of the Kings. Now, only phone photography is allowed unless you purchase a camera pass. We did not purchase the camera pass and our Valley of the Kings pictures below were taken via iPhone.
Entrance Price: 240EGP General ticket includes 3 tombs of your choice from the tombs open to the public at the time of your visit
Photography Price: a professional camera pass costs 300EGP and no tripods are allowed
Additional tickets are needed for:
Rameses 5th tomb & Rameses 6th tomb: 90EGP
Tutankhamun tomb: 300EGP
Here are the tombs we visited:
KV2 – Ramses IV Tomb
KV 8 – Merenptah Tomb
KV11 – Ramses III Tomb
The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
The stories of this mortuary temple were some of the most fascinating I heard during our time in Egypt. Hatshepsut came to power after the death of her father and then the untimely death of her husband (also her step-brother). This left only Hatshepsut’s step-son, Thutmose III, as the next ruler in charge.
The problem was he was only couple years old at the time. As the daughter of the most powerful and popular god in Egypt at the time, Hatshepsut claimed for herself special privilege to rule the country as a man would and in the 7th year of her reign she even broke Egyptian tradition and had herself crowned pharaoh of Egypt.
Despite her unconventional ways, her years of reign were recorded as some of the most profitable and successful in Egyptian history. She commissioned the building of her mortuary temple at the beginning of her reign which the design of the temple would depict the story of her life and power.
After Hatshepsut’s death, her step-son, Thutmose III, had all evidence of her reign removed by erasing her name and cutting her image from all monuments and her mortuary temple.
Within the mortuary temple, he did however leave the story of her divine birth untouched, but was attempting to eradicate any overt evidence of a strong female pharaoh. Hatshepsut’s name successfully remained unknown for the rest of Egypt’s history and up until the mid-19th century.
Entrance Price: 140EGP plus a small fee for the train to take you from the ticket booth to the entrance (but you also can just walk!).
Photography Price: Free, however a 20EGP ticket is required for a tripod.
Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon are two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned in Egypt during the Dynasty XVIII. Since 1350 BCE, they have stood in the Theban Necropolis, located on the West Bank of the Nile.
Entrance Price: Free, but you will get bombarded by guys trying to sell you random things as soon as you arrive
ADDITIONAL DAYS IN LUXOR
If you have additional days to spend in Luxor, check out the Madinet Habu temple on the West Bank. Also consider taking a day trip to the The Temple of Horus at Edfu which is a 2 hour drive south of Luxor on the way to Aswan. This temple was built between 237 and 57 BC and is one of the best preserved ancient monuments in Egypt.
Another great activity for any Egypt itinerary would be to add on a Luxor Nile Cruise. Unfortunately, due to time and traveling during off-season we did not get the chance to experience this for ourselves, but you can book a cruise for a varying number of days which can start at many different places along the Nile.
If you are planning an international trip, check out my international trip planning process to help you think through all the details!
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What Camera Gear Do I Use?
- Camera Body: Canon EOS 6D Mark ii
- Wide Angle Lens: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom Lens: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
- Super Zoom Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
- Portrait Lens: Tamron 35mm f/1.4
- Drone: DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro with RC Controller
- Camera Bag: Vegan Leather Backpack
- Tripod: Manfrotto Element Traveller
- SD Card: SanDisk Extreme Pro 256 GB
- External Travel SSD: SanDisk Extreme Pro 4 TB