When think­ing about Egypt, like­ly the first image that pops into your mind is one of soar­ing, mas­sive pyra­mids. Like the ones depict­ed in so many movies that make the most of these ancient and breath­tak­ing struc­tures as a back­drop for action scenes shot in North Africa, the pyra­mids of Giza are indeli­bly linked with our per­cep­tion of Egypt, whether you’re an avid, ama­teur archae­ol­o­gist, an eager tourist or a pro­fes­sion­al historian.  Yes, ancient ruins and pyra­mids are part of Egypt’s image, and the entire globe thinks of them when pon­der­ing Egypt’s past, peo­ple, and mod­ern culture. But Cairo, the cap­i­tal, and those very famous pyra­mids are not the entire sto­ry. Not even close. Lux­or, a city in south­ern Egypt, may not come quite as quick­ly to mind when you’re think­ing of a trip to Egypt, but it deserves atten­tion too, and plen­ty of it. You can even take a boat cruise up the Nile and vis­it both cities! But we’re get­ting ahead of our­selves! For now, let’s stay with Luxor.  In this arti­cle, we offer some high­lights of the amaz­ing sites on offer in Lux­or. It is a mag­i­cal place that has been in exis­tence for many cen­turies, known once at Thebes. It even served as the pharaoh’s cap­i­tal, back when the gods and god­dess­es ruled every­day life and Egypt was a major hub of trade and commerce.  Let’s do a deep dive into all you can explore in Lux­or and the many day trips filled with adven­tures await­ing you.

Here Are a Few Quick Facts About This City Of Just Over 1.3 Million:

  • Lux­or is divid­ed into the East and West Banks on oppo­site sides of the Nile Riv­er. Both sides have enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar sites to see – archae­o­log­i­cal won­ders that deserve plen­ty of your time.
  • A five-star hotel room in Lux­or can be found for approx­i­mate­ly $90 (USD). That’s a bar­gain to any tourist and makes the idea of stay­ing in Lux­or for longer than one night not only appeal­ing but eco­nom­i­cal­ly savvy, too. Also avail­able are guest hous­es, short stay apart­ments and oth­er accommodations. 
  • Before head­ing to Egypt and many oth­er coun­tries in North Africa, the Mid­dle East and Europe, be sure to have proof of vac­ci­na­tion doc­u­ments ver­i­fy­ing that you’ve been vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID-19. Some mea­sures may have loos­ened by the time you arrive, but proof of vac­ci­na­tion is still required at the time of this writing. 
  • Lux­or has a hot, dry desert cli­mate, so when you’re head­ing out for the day, dress light­ly but respect­ful­ly, keep­ing with the mod­est tastes of the Egypt­ian peo­ple, par­tic­u­lar­ly the women. Wear a hat when you’re going into the sun and plen­ty of sunscreen!
  • Many guide­books refer to Lux­or as the “world’s largest open-air muse­um,” so keep that in mind when choos­ing your wardrobe. You will be doing lots of walk­ing, so sneak­ers or sup­port­ive san­dals are the best options. 

Let’s Look At The Most Compelling Sites In & Around Luxor.

The East Bank:

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  • The Kar­nak Tem­ple. This astound­ing com­plex con­sists of many ancient columns, tem­ples and a Great Hall. It is locat­ed out­side Lux­or, on the East Bank. It is vis­it­ed by thou­sands of peo­ple every week and is sec­ond in pop­u­lar­i­ty only to the Pyra­mids of Giza as a tourist des­ti­na­tion. Some of the sites here are the Precinct of Mun-Ra, the Tem­ple of the Mut, the Precinct of Mon­tu, and the Tem­ple of Amen­hotep IV. Also locat­ed here is the Kar­nak Open Air Muse­um, chapels, stat­ues, and del­i­cate­ly and intri­cate­ly carved mas­sive stone blocks.
  • Lux­or Tem­ple. Many kings in ancient Egypt were crowned in this tem­ple; it wasn’t ded­i­cat­ed to the gods and pharaohs like oth­er tem­ples were. Walk­ing around this ancient build­ing is tru­ly awe-inspiring!
  • Lux­or Muse­um. This muse­um was opened in 1975, and many arti­facts and antiq­ui­ties are on dis­play here. Objects found around Lux­or are housed here, and so are many arti­facts found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. 
  • The Mum­mi­fi­ca­tion Muse­um. This loca­tion is ded­i­cat­ed to the art and sci­ence of how ancient Egyp­tians pre­served bod­ies using the process of mum­mi­fi­ca­tion. And bod­ies are indeed on dis­play here, but so are oth­er crea­tures, includ­ing mum­mi­fied birds and croc­o­diles, to name but a few. 

The West Bank:

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  • The Val­ley of the Kings. These are the bur­ial grounds of many pharaohs from the 18th, 19th and 20th dynas­ties, includ­ing that of Ramess­es II and Tutankhamen. In addi­tion, many pow­er­ful men and their wives were buried here, and tourists are able to tour these tombs and see the intri­cate, detailed buri­als these impor­tant peo­ple were giv­en so many cen­turies ago.
  • The Val­ley of the Queens. Here is the bur­ial site of impor­tant women of the rul­ing class­es, and of course, queens. Queen Nefer­tari is here, and her tomb is tru­ly spec­tac­u­lar, regal enough to rival that of the kings. Although she was laid to rest approx­i­mate­ly 3,000 years ago, the col­ors and details etched into the walls of her tomb are almost as clear and vivid as they were all those many cen­turies ago.
  • The Mor­tu­ary Tem­ple of Queen Hat­shep­sut. This tem­ple stands out for many rea­sons, but one of the most com­pelling is its loca­tion – built almost into a high series of cliffs. The set­ting is dra­mat­ic, and the tem­ple is tru­ly stunning.
  • The Val­ley of the Nobles. These bur­ial sites are those belong­ing to the elite and pow­er­ful mil­i­tary men and oth­ers who com­prised ancient Egypt’s rul­ing classes.
  • The Howard Carter House. As almost every ama­teur his­to­ri­an knows, Howard Carter was the British archae­ol­o­gist who dis­cov­ered King Tut’s tomb almost a cen­tu­ry ago, in 1922. The house is locat­ed in the Val­ley of the Kings, and step­ping through its doors is like step­ping back into a whole dif­fer­ent world. The house has been pre­served as a muse­um, and see­ing it – and the objects belong­ing to Carter back then – lends a sense of almost tan­gi­ble time trav­el, as though the famous Egyp­tol­o­gist were about to enter the room, shake your hand and start telling you all about this adventures!
These are some (but not all!) of the com­pelling rea­sons to choose Lux­or as the next des­ti­na­tion for a dream vaca­tion. It has all the best ingre­di­ents of a sat­is­fy­ing hol­i­day – a lit­tle his­to­ry and awe-inspir­ing sights to see, as well as ele­gant places to stay, great food, good weath­er and friend­ly people. If you just can’t decide between Cairo and Lux­or, why not plan a trip to both loca­tions? Spend three days in Lux­or get­ting your fill of all things archae­o­log­i­cal, then head to Cairo for the vibrant sophis­ti­ca­tion and busy­ness of the cap­i­tal city. And of course, go to the pyra­mids while you’re there. Or con­sid­er tak­ing a cruise on the riv­er Nile and vis­it Lux­or and Cairo as stopovers along the way. The cities are about 400 kilo­me­tres apart – about sev­en hours by car. Most tour guides and trav­el experts rec­om­mend that, once you’re set­tled in your quar­ters in Lux­or and ready to head out to see the archae­o­log­i­cal won­ders, hire a car or a cab to take you there and back.  Whether you stay in an apart­ment or a lux­u­ry suite at the Hilton, Lux­or has many options for accom­mo­da­tions that will suit you to a tee.  An excel­lent place to start plan­ning your trip to Egypt is by vis­it­ing the government’s Min­istry of Tourism & Antiq­ui­ties web­site at Egypt Trav­el web­site. Oth­er links from there can help you learn about when the best time to vis­it is, in terms of weath­er and any restric­tions in place because of the pandemic.  But there is one part of the trip you can take today: a vis­it to Lux­or in your imag­i­na­tion, see­ing in your mind’s eye all the fab­u­lous tourism spots you’re going to see!

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