A guide to things to do in Luxor
Luxor is one of the most visited destinations in Egypt, and it all comes down to its feast of relics, stunning landscapes and incredible food. Whether you’re out by the bank of the Nile, exploring the secrets of the Pharaohs or making your way through Luxor’s wide open streets, you won’t be short of things to do on your cheap Egypt holidays here.
Stride royally through the Valley of the Kings
Luxor is blessed by so many ancient Egyptian landmarks, offering beautiful windows into the world of the Pharaohs. However, the Valley of the Kings leads the charge, with 500 years worth of tombs constructed for noble leaders and royalty. Today, excavators are still discovering new entrances to chambers they had no idea existed, and there’s plenty for you to discover too.
Its elaborate tombs were designed to remain secret, giving no hint of the immense riches they contained. Building the tombs was regarded a sacred duty to ensure that the pharaohs went into the afterlife with everything they would need.
Over the centuries the majority of the tombs were robbed, but beautifully hand-painted hieroglyphs remain, giving those who come here a fascinating insight into ancient Egyptian life. This is also where you can see Tutankhamun’s tomb – although a relatively minor pharaoh, his fame came from his incredible recovered relics.
The ancient ruins of Karnak
Karnak is a massive complex of temples, pylons and chapels just north of Luxor. So, if you’re a history enthusiast this is an incredible trip as you can spend a full day exploring. And those who don’t find the Egyptian Empire thrilling will find it hard not to gasp in awe at the sheer size of the great halls and columns that rise high into the sky.
Made up of a mix of temples, huge pillars and ceremonial buildings, The Karnak Temple complex was once a bustling spot that was in constant use throughout the year.
It’s also the site of an ancient observatory where precise mapping of the stars and planets were calculated.
The sheer size of the monuments and buildings is stunning, so taking photos is a must. There are also displays and reconstructed images to help you visualise this fascinating site as it would have looked during opulent religious events.
History is cool at Luxor Museum
Overlooking the west bank of the River Nile, the Luxor Museum is a great opportunity to learn all about the ruins scattered here without having to trek into the wild. You can also enjoy the air-conditioning while you make your way between Kingdom Statues and the mummified body of Ramesses 1.
You’ll find fascinating exhibits of pharaonic art, religious and everyday items as well as stunning statues, which were found as recently as 1989 buried beneath the floor of Luxor Temple. There is also an annex dedicated to the history and culture of Egypt’s Golden Age, which spans from the 1550 to 1070 BC.
Dig deep at the Mummification Museum
Close to the Luxor Temple, The Mummification Museum is small but offers a very comprehensive understanding of how the Egyptians went about preserving their dead. Be warned it may put you off your dinner, but you’ll be an expert by the end of your trip.
A cruise on the Nile
There are a few cruise companies who offer trips down the Nile, taking tourists on five or eight day trips past all those incredible Egyptian views. There are also excursions on land, which include guided tours of the Valley of the Kings, Karnak and Luxor Temples, plus Edfu Temple, Kom Ombo and Philae Temple in Aswan. Prices range from £200 to £500 for this once-in-a-lifetime tour of Egypt.
The Luxor Temple
Another wonder of the Egyptian world, is the Luxor Temple which dwarfs the Acropolis in Athens. Pictures don’t do the temple justice, so a visit is highly recommended. Early morning or evening are the best times to avoid the heat, plus as night falls a series of ambient lights dance over the temple’s columns to create a romantic atmosphere.
Make some animal pals at ACE
Animal Care in Egypt, or ACE, is Luxor’s nearest animal sanctuary, which cares for the ill and injured as well as the homeless. For animal lovers, this is an absolute must, and the locals are more than happy to show you around their hospital and explain the work they’re doing. Donations are welcome to help with the incredible work they do.
Browse Souks Market
This huge market is located in Luxor’s cultural centre, and is made up of street after street of hand-crafted pottery, clothing and local organic produce. Bartering on Egypt holidays is very different from the Western world, with full conversations being held over the act of buying a simple product. It’s a great way to interact with the locals.
Walk along the stunning Avenue of the Sphinxes
Stretching for one and half miles, The Avenue of the Sphinxes is a walkway of huge human headed sphinxes. It is believed that there were around 1,350 sphinx statues along this route which connected the Temple of Karnak with the secular city of Luxor.
The purpose of the avenue was purely religious and only used once a year during a ceremony that celebrated the marriage of the ancient Egyptian gods Amun and Mut. Those who walk along this long-standing path will be following in the footsteps of ancient history.