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:
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:
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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