Africa, Travel

10 Best Things to Do in Luxor, Egypt

Luxor is a captivating city in the southern part of Egypt divided by the Nile River between the East and West Banks.  There are many top tourist attractions and unique things to do in Luxor on both sides of the river. 

These tourist attractions in Luxor aren’t your average run-of-the-mill things to see and do.  Luxor has a great deal of history to explore and stunning landmarks to see, such as the Valley of the Kings, Karnak, and Luxor Temples. 

On top of that, Luxor is special because of its open-air museums showcasing Egyptian history around the city.  It’s an unforgettable experience seeing these artifacts and ancient temples while the sun shines down on the temples.  You’ll be amazed walking through thousands of year-old monuments. Plus, seeing massive statues and temples sprinkled with hieroglyphics and carvings is mind-blowing.  

Luxor is lit

After I saw the Great Pyramids of Giza I thought that was going to be the highlight of my trip. But I was wrong because the more I began to explore other cities in Egypt like Aswan and Luxor, the more I became inspired and awe-struck by the plethora of history and artifacts in this magnificent country.  

Similarly, this trip to Luxor will be one of the highlights of your Egypt itinerary.  Seeing this part of Egypt will help you appreciate all the work they’ve put into building this city of Luxor.  

Continue reading along this list of the 10 Best Things to Do in Luxor. 

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Read Next: Egypt Travel Tips: Top 20 Things to Know Before Traveling to Egypt

Valley of the Kings

First up, is the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  If you don’t do anything else in Luxor, visiting the Valley of the Kings is a must-see.  It is by far one of the best things to do in Luxor and Egypt as a whole. 

The drive up to the Valley of the Kings is mesmerizing.  You are out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of these desert hills and cliffs. 

Anyhow, the Valley of the Kings are tombs created for Pharaohs to keep their bodies preserved and hidden and taken into the afterlife.  The Royal tombs began construction during the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties, digging deep inside the Valleys.  

In these tombs, the walls are decorated beautifully with hieroglyphics, vibrant colors of reds, blues, yellows, with references to the underworld.  

Additionally, some of the artwork on the walls and tombs are scenes from The Book of Caverns, Book of the Dead, the Book of Heavens, and more.  These books and hieroglyphics are what guide them on how to get to the Underworld safely. 

The most famous tombs

King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922 by English Archaeologist Howard Carter.  His tomb is the smallest one, yet the richest one due to being adorned with precious stones, gold masks, etc. 

Other famous tombs in the Valley of the Kings are Ramesses II, Horemheb, Amenophis II, Sethos II, and Thutmosis IV.

Tickets prices: When going to the Valley of the Kings, the general admission is 240 EGPs to see 3 of the 8 tombs currently open. 

To see the other tombs, it’ll cost you extra.  You’ll have to buy a separate ticket to see Ramses V/VI (100 EGPs), Seti (1,000), and Tutankhamun (300 EGPs) tombs. 

Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Recommended Tours to take

Temple of Hatshepsut

Next up in the same area of the Valley of the Kings is the Temple of Hatshepsut. The mortuary temple is in Deir al-Bahari and its phenomenal.  To see it in person is stunning.  That’s why you should include this on your Luxor itinerary as one of the best things to do in Luxor. 

Things to do in Luxor

Her temple stands sculpted in the cliffs of Deir al-Bahari on the West bank of Luxor.  Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple is unique because it is built with 3 terraces, with one rising above the other.  Her temple is also a dedication to her father, King Thutmose I.

Anyhow, Hatshepsut was a Queen that ruled as a Pharaoh for 20 years in c. 1479-1458 B.C.  During her reign, she’s often depicted as a man while wearing a kilt, King’s crown, and even a fake beard in many paintings.  There was much controversy around a woman ruling over Egypt during this time.  

Furthermore, Queen Hatshepsut has a unique story including marrying her half-brother, becoming a co-emperor as well. Then her artifacts being destroyed after her stepsons reigned Egypt for 33 years.  He tried to destroy any inkling of her being King; however, her defaced statues and her mummified body were later found. 

Despite this, today, her legacy lives on as being one of the first and best female pharaohs of Egypt. 

Queen Hatshepsut Mortuary

Ticket prices: To visit it costs 140 EGPs.

Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Recommended Tours to take

Colossi of Memnon

After visiting the Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut’s Temple, we made a pit stop at these 2 enormous monuments.   It doesn’t cost anything to see these statues on the West Bank of Luxor.

These are Statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III (reign in the 18th dynasty) and it towers at 60 feet high and weighs 720 tons each.  Whoah!  

Things to do in Luxor

Still, the twin monuments were completed in 1350 BC and still stand today even with part of them being destroyed due to an earthquake in 27 BC.  Even though it’s not in the greatest condition after 3,500 years, it is still a sight to see these monuments standing in all their glory.

Hours: 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Recommended Tours to take

Best Things to do in Luxor – Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple is another stunning historical site to visit and is at the top of the list of the best things to do in Luxor.  If fact, Karnak Temple is the second-largest temple in the world!  

As soon as you walk up to the site, you’re greeted by these ancient walls made of sandstone.  You can tell that the ruins are a thousand years old by the crumbling of the walls, but it’s still fascinating to see nonetheless.  

Karnak Temple

Also in this entryway, you’ll walk through several sphinx statues lined on both sides.  These statues have human heads and the bodies of a lion.  Additionally, they are a part of the “Avenue of Sphinxes”.  This Avenue of Sphinxes is about 1 ½ mile long and connected the Karnak and Luxor Temples in the past.

Anywho, once you get past the sphinxes and the walls, it keeps getting more alluring the more you walk into this temple complex. Karnak Temple is one of the most famous temples people flock to year after year.  

Then, one of the most amazing areas you’ll feast your eyes upon is the temple’s huge pillars. To be honest, this is one of the main reasons why I wanted to visit this complex because of the extraordinary pictures I’ve seen of these gigantic pillars online. 

It’s safe to say that, even though the pictures online inspired me to visit, it doesn’t do it any justice because it is impressive to see the temples in person.  You’ll be in awe at the construction, carvings, and massiveness of the statutes and pillars of this entire complex. 

Ticket prices: Inclusive ticket entry for Karnak Temple and Karnak Open Museum: 200 EGPs

Hours: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Things to do in Luxor

Recommended Tours to take

Luxor Temple

Visiting Luxor Temple was on our list of things to do in Luxor and I’m glad we visited here. Although Luxor Temple is smaller than the Karnak Temple, it is still a remarkable area and stamp of history to see.

Anyhow, the temple wasn’t built for pharaohs in the afterlife, nor is it dedicated to a specific cult god. It was used as a place of worship and for the coronations of Kings. They began construction around 1390 BC by Amenhotep III and it was completed by King Tutankhamun in 1336-27 BC. But, of course, King Ramses II had to add himself to the mix in (1279-13 BC) 

Luxor Temple

Nevertheless, the Luxor Temple is beautiful and has some remarkable statues to witness.  Upon entry, you’ll come upon Pylon with 2 gigantic statues of Ramses II sitting down and 4 others standing up.  Plus, a humongous sphere called the Obelisk.  There used to be two obelisks on each side, but only one remains.  The other one still exists; it is in Paris at Place de la Concorde.

Another thing, the Luxor Temple complex is all about its massive columns.  Inside the complex are huge papyrus columns in the Court of Rameses II, a tranquil and peaceful open space.  

Additionally, the other parts of the Temple are the Amenhotep III Colonnade and the Court of Amenhotep.  We went at the perfect time of the day before sunset.  It was a great way to end our tour by seeing the sun setting at this amazing Luxor Temple.

Ticket prices: 160 EGPs

Hours: 6:00 AM – 10 PM

Things to do in Luxor

Recommended Tours to take

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride at sunrise.  A Hot Air Balloon ride is one of the best things to do in Luxor and it’s an adventurous activity.  Get a bird’s eye view of the city of Luxor and the many open-air museums from above.  Then see the astonishing Valley of the Kings while drifting through the clouds.  Doesn’t this sound magical?  

Ticket prices: You can book a Hot Air Balloon Ride from your Hotel at various prices depending on the company.  They typically run between $40 – $150. Or see below for other options on recommended tours.

Hours: For sunrise between 0400-0530 AM

Recommended Tours to take

Luxor Museum

If you are a history buff, then take a trip to the Luxor Museum.  The museum opened its doors in 1975 and has artifacts from all over Luxor. 

Inside the Luxor Museum, there are also precious items from King Tuts’ tomb and statues from the Luxor Temple. Then, see other preserved statues and mummies of Ahmose I and Ramesses I.  

Sculptures at Luxor Temple

Additionally, it’s also a great way to cool down and beat the heat after visiting the open-air Luxor and Karnak Temples.  Plus, you’ll get to learn about more history and culture of Luxor.

Ticket prices: 100 EGPs for Adults; 50 EGPs for students

Hours: 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Sunset Felucca Ride

Take a relaxing ride down the majestic Nile River on a Felucca.  It is a top tourist attraction and one of the best things to do in Luxor. 

Felucca in Luxor

A Felucca is a wooden Sailboat popular in Egypt and has been around for years.  People use the felluca to get around the city and the surrounding islands by locals and visitors.   

The Felluca is a sailboat powered by the wind, so it’s slower than your typical powered motorboats.

You can take a Felucca boat ride along the Nile at any time, but going for a sunset ride along the Nile is wonderful.  Seeing the sun’s horizon peaking over the hills is breathtaking. 

So take a cruise around the Nile if you have the time to enjoy the tranquil water of the Nile and the scenic landscapes.  

Sound and Light Show

The Sound and Light shows go on throughout Egypt, and seeing it at Karnak Temple will be a treat.  Go to Karnak Temple at sunset to see the gorgeous grounds from a unique perspective. 

Once there, you can hear someone narrate the story and history of ancient Thebes, its pharaohs, and God Amun while an array of colored lights illuminates on the temples. 

Avenue of Sphinx
Avenue of Sphinx

The Karnak Temple Sound and Light Show is one of the most unique things to do in Luxor if you are into legend stories of Gods and interested in Ancient Egypt.  They thoroughly talk about the history of the temples as you walk through the complex.  

Furthermore, seeing the Karnak Sound and Light Show isn’t a must-see, but if you have time, why not.  Some people like it; others not so much. However, if you’ve seen the Sound and Light Show in Aswan or Cairo, I wouldn’t even bother with this one. 

Ticket prices: For entry to the show, the ticket prices are $20.

Hours: the show starts in the evenings at 7:30 every day.  Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the show since you have to take the boat.

The Valley

Valley of the Queens

The Valley of the Queens is a burial site for pharaohs’ wives, princesses, and Queens.  The Queens Valleys are located close to the Valley of the Kings.  I think it’s very fitting that this Valley’s nickname is the Ta-Set-Neferu, AKA “the place of Beauty.”  

Additionally, the construction of the Valley of the Queens began in 18th dynasty with its first tomb for Princess Ahmose.  They continued to use and construct tombs in throughout the 19th and 20th dynasties. There are approximately 90 tombs that have been discovered so far. 

Queen of the Nile (maybe)

The Valley of the Queens holds the tombs of Queen Nefertari (wife of Ramesses II), Queen Satre, and The Ramses lineage and Seti I wives.  

Furthermore, the Valley of the Queens became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.  

Ticket prices: 50 EGPs for Adults; 25 EGPs for students

Hours: 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Recommended Tours to take

How to get around Luxor

The best way to get around Luxor is by private car hire.  We had a tour guide that traveled with us from Cairo to Luxor.  Heba is very knowledgeable about Egyptian history.  If you are looking for an awesome tour guide, you can contact her via her Instagram page.

Things to do in Luxor
Our Tour Guide Heba

Other ways to get around Luxor

Tour Company

Another way to get around Luxor is by booking tours with a reputable tour company.  I love going to Tripadvisor and booking tours with them.  With Tripadvisor, you can look for things to do and see, plus you can read the reviews from other travelers.  They will let you know how their experience was and what to expect.  

Additionally, many companies will pick you up from your hotel in an air-conditioned car, van, or bus.  They will give you a tour of whatever excursions you’ve chosen, and then they’ll drop you back off.  Sometimes instead of them picking you up from the hotel, you’ll have to go to a meeting point. However, sometimes, it can be within walking distance, or you may just have to catch a taxi. 

Click here for Tripadvisor activities

Your Hotel Accommodation

Another option for getting around Luxor is to go through your hotel accommodation.  Most times, they will have a company of cars/taxis that works for them.  Or go through your hotel to get recommendations from reputable taxi companies.  

Again, you would want to go through them instead because sometimes trying to catch a taxi yourself can turn into a scam in Egypt.  The driver may try to charge you way too much for a ride.  So to be on the safe side, go through your hotel for recommended drivers.

By Walking

If your hotel is near some of the tourist attractions, then you could just walk there.  Just be careful of hagglers and scammers.  

I talk more about this in my Top 20 Things you Need to Know When Traveling to Egypt post. 

Where to Stay in Luxor

Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa.  This was one of our favorite hotels during our entire visit to Egypt.  

The Hilton is a five-star luxury Resort & Spa.  The location of the Hilton Resort is perfect too.  The resort is on the edge of the Nile River and faces the West Bank.  I loved the 2 gorgeous pools they have.  The infinity pool was fascinating with the feeling of being on the Nile River.  The views over the Nile River from the pool are magical.  

Hilton Luxor Infinity Pool

Plus, the outdoor lounge area is insane.  You’ll get incredible views of the mountains of the Valley of the Kings.  Then in the morning, you can see the hot air balloons taking off to reach the clouds. 

Then, the rooms were nice and comfortable as well.  We had a suite room, and it was spacious with a separate living room from the bedroom.  The bathroom was huge, with a walk-in shower and a walk-in closet.  If you want to have a room with a view of the River Nile, make sure you book the Nile View room.  It’s dreamy waking up to a view of the Nile from your window. 

The Hilton has it all
Things to do in Luxor

In addition, there are plenty of amenities at the Hilton Luxor.  There’s a spa at the resort if you want to get a day of peaceful relaxation with a massage, facials, etc.   

Furthermore, there are 3 restaurants at the hotel and five bars.  The complimentary buffet serves traditional Egyptian food for dinner, and they have local and international foods for their breakfast buffet.  The homemade falafels are to die for, so eat up.  

You can take a dip in the infinity pool and then get a drink at the swim-up bar.  Or have a nice relaxing time at the shisha cafe.  Enjoy the incredible views of the Nile while eating dinner, having a drink, or indulging in a water pipe.   

Click here to check out rates and availability

How to get to Luxor

By Plane

Most people fly into Cairo International airport first to see the iconic Pyramids of Giza.  So if you are coming from Cairo, you can take a flight directly to Luxor.  Egyptair is one of the major airlines that’s operating throughout Egypt.

To check out flights and rates, click here. 

By Private Car

We had a private car to take us to Luxor after visiting Aswan.  We took this option, which I think is the best out of all.  There are very few flights from Aswan to Luxor, and you’ll have to fly back to Cairo first.  So our tour guide recommended we take a car instead of wasting precious time.  

Still, I’m glad we took a car over a train ride.  This way, we were able to see more of Egypt.  We passed by people’s homes and neighborhoods in between cities.  And we got to experience the chaos of the streets of others driving cars, motorbikes, and horses and carriages.  

Plus, I loved seeing the kids walking around after getting out of school.  People were everywhere, and these weren’t the touristy areas either.  

Other than that, it took about 4 hours to get to our hotel from Aswan.  It costs $200 for 2 people.  Taking a private car hire cost more than a sleeper train, but we were in a comfortable, clean car. 

By Train

You can take a sleeper train to get you to Luxor if you prefer.  A train may be the least favorite option as I heard the train rides could be uncomfortable and unclean, but it is the cheapest option.

Check the train schedules and prices here.

By Cruise

Another way to get to Luxor is a cruise.  Taking a cruise down the River Nile is one of Egypt’s most popular things to do.  It’s a slower yet easy way to get between cities and great for people who love being on the water and relaxing in between touring.  Some cruises will start in Aswan and take you to Luxor.  Others will begin in Luxor and end in Aswan or Cairo.  

Recommended Cruise Tours 

Looking for other things to do in Egypt? See my other posts on Egypt below.

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