Luxor the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes has been dubbed the world’s greatest open air museum. An accurate description as I can’t imagine a better display of ancient artifacts, a visit to Egypt would not be complete without visiting Luxor. While the city is full of history and the area has enough temples and tombs to keep you occupied for months, three days is enough to see the highlights without succumbing to pharaoh fatigue.
The hypostyle hall at the Karnak Temples, one of the largest temples in ancient Egypt
East Bank: The Temples of Karnak, Luxor Museum and the Luxor Temple
Start your first day in Luxor with some background by visiting the excellent Luxor Museum. Unlike the Cairo Museum, exhibits are well labeled and the mummies are in great condition for no extra charge. Armed with information head to the Temples of Karnak the largest standing temple complex in Ancient Egypt, supported by 134 stone columns with beautiful hieroglypics and housing an intact obelisk. This massive temple is the highlight of Luxor for many visitors.
The imposing statue of Ramses at the Luxor Temple lighted at night
End your first day in Luxor with a stop at the Luxor Temple, which is at it’s best lighted at night. Approaching via the lighted avenue of sphinxes and entering the massive gates is stunning. The statues have an ominous presence lighted at night and create a powerful atmosphere, giving you a taste of the former might of the Egyptian empire.
Cost: Luxor Museum 80 LE, Temples of Karnak 65 LE, Luxor Temple 50 LE
The Hathor Chapel at the Hatshepsut Temple on the West Bank
West Bank: Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, Medinet Habu and the Colossi of Memnon
On your second day in Luxor hop on a tour of the West Bank, seeing these sights by air conditioned vehicle with a guide is much preferred to sweating and haggling with taxi drivers on your own. A tour can easily be arranged through your accommodation. The highlight of the West Bank is the Valley of the Kings where all the powerful pharaohs of ancient Egypt are buried. While the tombs may have been looted much of the artwork is still intact. From the Valley head to Hatshepsut Temple dedicated to the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, a female pharaoh and often considered the most successful boasting the longest reign of any other woman. Next visit Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses III with it’s well maintained hieroglyphics and reliefs depicting the defeat of the Sea Peoples. Finally, take in the Colossi of Memnon, which are two statues that remain of what was once the largest temple of Ancient Egypt
Cost: Valley of the Kings 80 LE (three tombs of your choice), Tomb of King Tut 100 LE, Tomb of Ramses VI 50 LE, Temple of Hatshepsut 30 LE, Temple of Medinet Habu 30 LE, Colossi of Memnon FREE
The doorways of Kom Ombo Temple
Ancient Cities: Edfu and Kom Ombo
For your third day in Luxor hop a ride out of town and visit the ancient temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo. Both of these temples are impressive and well preserved. The temple of Edfu is dedicated to the God of Horus and offers a unique inner sanctuary open to visitors. Kom Ombo is dedicated to the crocodile God Sobek and has some excellent reliefs of the God. In addition make sure you visit the museum on site housing mummified crocodiles.
Cost: Kom Ombo Temple 30 LE, Edfu Temple 50 LE
The inner sanctuary at the temple of Edfu
WHEN YOU GO:
-Book a tour, for the West Bank and temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu it is easiest to book a tour through your accommodation rather than go it on your own, taxis are expensive. Remember to haggle as they will start high and don’t pay more than you want as every hotel in town offers a tour.
-Be ready for touts, this is the most touristy area of Egypt so have your guard up and be ready for touts to accost you at every turn. Bring water with you, which you can get at a local grocery store with labeled prices, rather than pay the high prices of vendors at the sights.
–Use local transport, to get around to the museum and temples on the East Bank you can take mini-buses for only .50 LE, which provide an affordable and interesting way to get around.