Luxor is Egypt's premier tourist destination due to it's wealth of ancient tombs, ruins, temples, and museums. Located right along the Nile River, it's also a popular place for both river boat rides and spectacular views of the Egyptian Sahara desert.
Boat trips ranging from a few hours to a few days are available along the Nile River for very cheap, and are a great way to take in the iconic sandy landscape of Egypt.
Walk between these two valleys, which for 500 years served as the place for rock cut tombs of ancient Pharoahs and their wives.
This complex holds many temples, chapels, and other buildings on the West Bank, including Hypostyle Hall, Ramesses the Third's Temple, and the Amun-ra Temple.
Take a short boat trip to this modern banana tree plantation, where you can sample the fruit and get a bite of traditional Egyptian food at the on-site restaurant.
This museum features many ancient pieces of artwork as well as historical artifacts and well-preserved mummies.
These are the remnants of Karnak, a veritable city of temples that was built thousands of years ago. Dedicated to the Theban triad of Egyptian gods, Mut, Amun and Khonsu, its stunning 200 acres was meant as a place of pilgrimage for the general Egyptian population. It stood from 2500 BC to nearly 100 AD and its sheer scale makes the cathedrals of later civilizations pale in comparison. As you roam these ancient ruins, remember that the enclosure of just Amun could hold 10 average European cathedrals while the main temple at the heart of Karnak is large enough to accommodate the cathedrals of St Peter's, Milan, and Notre Dame at the same time.
The Valley of the Kings, as it's so appropriately called, is a large area on the west bank of the Nile which contains no less than 63 tombs and chambers that were all cut between the 16th and 11th centuries BC for nobles and royals. These feature intriguing depictions of Egyptian mythology and symbols. As the principal burial place, this site is subject to new excavations every so often.
Forged with the labor of a 1000 slaves and built of sandstone on the east bank of the Nile, the grand Luxor Temple was host to many an ancient Egyptian ceremony, as well as being a major place of worship. Its collection of temples feature chapels made specifically for marriages and coronations. During the day, you can wind through the temple complex's multiple gargantuan statues, especially at its entrance. At night, however, the area is set aglow from the ground by several hidden lamps lining the walkway, creating a truly mystical setting.
In ancient Egypt, to be royal was to be the hand of the divine. Carved in celebration of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC, these massive stone statues have withstood the sands of time remarkably well. They were intended as a marker to the entrance of Amenhotep's memorial temple, which covered, at its height, an area of 86 acres. Clearly, ancient Egyptians had a love for grandiosity and scale because these statues are larger than life and can be seen from far across the west bank.
While many of the stone statues, temple complexes, tombs and valleys of Luxor are dedicated to pharaohs, the Luxor Museum is dedicated to a larger study of the Egyptian civilization, royals, noblemen, peasants and warriors alike. This two-storey building was established in 1975 and is well worth a full day's visit, with its vast collection consisting of ancient artifacts, recovered grave goods and various parts of tombs. Included in the collection are antiquities dating from the Old Kingdom that give Egyptologists clues about daily life and social structure in ancient Egypt.
Avoid the big tourist season and visit Luxor in early spring or fall for moderate temperatures, small crowds, and cheaper hotel rates.
Luxor International Airport (LXR) is located 3.7 miles outside of Luxor city center. A trip from the airport to the city center costs around E£50.
Trains between Ramses Station in Cairo and Luxor are an inexpensive way to travel between main Egyptian cities. One-way tickets cost roughly E£100-150.
From Sinai, route 75M connects Sharm El Sheikh across the Suez Canal to Luxor and other mainland Egyptian cities.
Buses from Sinai terminate at the Luxor Temple, with a standard fare costing E£140 and taking 6.5 hours.
The opulent Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor Hotel sports classic Victorian architecture and is located on the East Bank.
East Bank - this area features the Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, as well as many tourist hotels and restaurants.
West Bank - this side of the city has the bulk of ancient ruins, including the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
Waset - this ancient city, once called "Thebes", has been referenced many times in historical literature and is around 15 minutes drive outside of Luxor center.
Minibuses are the cheapest and most common way to travel around the city, with most terminating at the train station. Fare is E£0.50 and can be paid directly to the driver on entering the bus.
There are many taxis in Luxor. Taxi prices start at E£5 and cost around E£10-20 for a trip around Luxor.
Rental cars and motorcycles can be picked up from the train or airport locations. Prices start at between E£50-200 a day.
There are two main markets in Luxor for shopping, located side by side at the Market Hall near Luxor Temple. Here you can haggle over prices of textiles, local handicrafts, and other tourist souvenirs.
Most of the grocery shopping in Luxor is done at small farmers markets or "souks." A dozen eggs costs E£17.50.
Africa Restaurant on the West Bank serves traditional Egyptian food in set menus that include several appetizers, a main dish, and dessert. Menus cost E£80 per person.