MAJESTIC PLACES TO VISIT IN LUXOR
There are a staggering number of places to visit in Luxor and the surrounding area, and certainly too many for us to discuss in a single article, but we will be covering all of the most popular ones, as well as several other amazing places which are rarely included in standard Egypt tour packages and/or Nile cruise packages. Some of these might feature in standalone Luxor tour packages, but again, there are some which you actively need to search out.
When it comes to booking Egypt tours or any tours for that matter, it’s worth remembering that not all tour operators are created equal. Not all tour operators put their clients first, despite what they might say. For example, they might include some attractions in their tours simply because it might be cheaper for them, and not necessarily because they believe that they are amongst the best places to see in Luxor.
WHY ARE SOME LUXOR ATTRACTIONS FEATURED IN SO MANY TOURS?
If you have been looking at our Egypt packages tours or any of our other Nile cruise packages, you will almost certainly have noticed that several Luxor tourist attractions feature in most of our tours. There are actually a number of reasons for this. Let’s begin with Nile cruises: All of our Nile cruises include professionally guided sightseeing tours in Luxor, and the attractions you visit during these tours are generally the same attractions which are featured in most of our Nile cruise itineraries.
During a Nile cruise, the length of time spent in a particular location is stipulated by the cruise ship operator. Generally speaking, most cruises only allow for two days in Luxor, so as a responsible tour operator, we feel it is our duty to include attractions which we believe to be amongst the best places to visit in Luxor, given the fact that you only have a rather limited amount of time for sightseeing before your cruise ship departs.
Another reason would be that we choose specific attractions more often than others, simply because of demand. We have been offering high quality tours of Egypt, including tours in Luxor, ever since 1955, and we have long since learned which attractions matter the most to those who are briefly passing through Luxor as part of a Nile cruise. On the other hand, if you opt for customized Nile cruise packages, you can ask us to add virtually any tourist attraction to your itinerary, either before or after the cruise itself.
There are also several wonderful places to visit in Luxor which might not always be open to visitors, so we avoid adding them to our tour itineraries rather than risk disappointing our clients. Sometimes the authorities close a particular site temporarily every once in a while in a bid to protect it from the effects of tourism. On other occasions, a site might be closed in order to allow for further excavation or perhaps renovation. For example, the tomb of King Tutankhamen got closed to visitors in 2018 and only opened again in 2019 following major renovation.
The only solution we have found for getting around these types of obstacles is by offering fully customizable Egypt tours. This allows our customers to either request that certain changes be made to their preferred tour itinerary, or else they can let us know exactly which sites they would like to see. In other words, our clients can decide on what places to visit in Luxor, and we then work with them to create the ideal tour package. Of course, we will also help then determine if all the requested attractions are currently open to visitors, and if any are not open, we can inform our clients, and in turn avoid later disappointment.
THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN LUXOR
As mentioned earlier, we cannot include every Luxor tourist attraction in this post, so instead, we will only name and discuss 5 of the top places to visit in Luxor, based on the feedback of the countless tourists who have visited and continue to visit this fascinating region of Egypt. Please note that these are listed and discussed in no particular order:
Valley of the Kings (West Bank)
Virtually every guide book will mention Valley of the Kings as being one of the most popular places to visit in Luxor, and yes, you will see this site featured in all our Nile cruise packages. It really is a place which every visitor to Luxor needs to see at least once.
Valley of the Kings is a huge ancient necropolis which was reserved for royalty, nobles, and certain people who wielded great influence or power. This burial site was used during the New Kingdom era, a time when rulers favored having tombs carved into the bedrock rather than building pyramids. This was partly an attempt to discourage tomb raiders, but needless to say, this approach wasn’t very successful because most of the tombs were in fact raided in antiquity.
Of the more than 60 tombs at this site, only a handful escaped being raided and looted, including the most famous one of them all, the tomb of King Tutankhamen, otherwise known as tomb number KV62. This tomb was discovered and excavated in 1922 by Howard Carter and his team. The tomb was still sealed, and a significant number of artifacts were retrieved and moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, while the mummy of King Tutankhamen was studied and then encased in a special enclosure which is on display within the tomb.
Our clients are almost always able to enter at least a few terms, but tourists who wish to enter the tomb of King Tutankhamen are required to purchase a ticket onsite when they visit. Also, only a limited number of tickets are available each day, which inevitably results in long queues. King Tutankhamen’s tomb is, after all, one of the most sought after places to visit in Luxor. If you really must enter this tomb and see his mummy, it is crucial that you inform us beforehand so that the necessary arrangements can be made.
Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (West Bank)
The mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut is also one of the very best places to visit in Luxor. Not only is this the mortuary temple of Ancient Egypt’s only female pharaoh, but it is also an utterly magnificent ancient monument; a vast complex that was carved out of the surrounding bedrock by the same workers and craftsmen who constructed and decorated the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. In short, if you are looking for unforgettable places to visit in Luxor, then you need to make sure that this site is near the top of your list.
Actually, if you happen to visit around the 21st or 22nd of December, then this temple needs to be right at the top of your list of places to visit in Luxor. These dates mark the winter solstice, and Queen Hatshepsut had the temple aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, and she did so for a reason. On one of these mornings, the sun is able to reach the wall which lies beyond the inner chapel, and then it moves towards the right where it then illuminates the Osiris statues which stand guard at the door which leads to the second chamber.
Another fascinating event that occurs on the day: A special feature known as a light box allows a block of sunlight into the temple, first appearing on the temple’s central axis, before moving slowly to illuminate a figure of the god Amun-Ra, before moving on to illuminate a kneeling figure of Thutmose III, and finally illuminating Hapi, god of the Nile.
Luxor Temple and the Avenue of Sphinxes (East Bank)
Luxor Temple also features in most, if not all of our Nile cruise itineraries because it is undeniably also one of the top places to visit in Luxor. The temple which was originally built at around 1400 BCE is considered well preserved and of significant historical importance. While most temples of the time were built and subsequently dedicated to various gods, Luxor Temple never was. Instead, it was a cult temple.
Rather than being used for religious purposes, Luxor Temple was used for other rituals and ceremonies. A lot of experts believe than many of Ancient Egypt’s kings were probably crowned at Luxor Temple, either in person, or in absence. Alexander the Great, for example, was crowned at Luxor Temple, although there is strong evidence to suggest that he himself never traveled any further than Memphis, near to modern-day Cairo.
By the way, Luxor Temple stays open to visitors until 22h00 every night because there are nightly Light and Sound Shows during which the site is beautifully illuminated. The history of the temple is also broadcast via headphones which are included in the Sound and Light Show ticket. So, not only is this a wonderful site to visit during the day, but it is also one of the most spectacular places to visit in Luxor at night.
Karnak Temple Complex (East Bank)
The Karnak Temple Complex is not only one of the top places to visit in Luxor, but also the second-most visited ancient site in Egypt, surpassed only by the Giza Pyramids near Cairo. The first structure at Karnak, which covers an area of more than 50,000 square feet, was built some 4,000 years ago. In the 2,000 years that followed, 30 different pharaohs contributed to the site. Some had earlier structures torn down and replaced; some focused on restoration of existing structures, and some had new structures added.
When the Romans seized control of Egypt, building at Karnak abruptly ended, but by then there were already more than 200 structures, and the site was bigger than several ancient cities. Today it is credited as being the largest place of worship ever built. Unfortunately, much of the original complex was intentionally destroyed, and most of what remained was left to decay. Today only decaying ruins remain, but there is nonetheless so much to see at this truly remarkable site.
Medinet Habu Temple (West Bank)
Even though this is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Luxor, its location means that it is often not featured in regular tour packages, which mean that it sort of remains off the main tourist trail. However, if you have the time then we highly recommend visiting this amazing complex which was constructed during the reign of King Ramesses III, the last “Great Pharaoh” of the New Kingdom.
Like Karnak, this complex is immense, covering an area of 66,000 square meters. The site is best known for its huge statues of King Ramesses and its incredibly well- preserved wall reliefs which cover an astonishing 7,000 square meters. In fact, the wall reliefs found here are amongst the best-preserved reliefs ever discovered. Initially, the temple was built to serve as a mortuary temple; a temple where Ramesses III could practice his mortuary rituals. However, the temple also served as a place of worship for the god, Amun.
The layout and designed, along with some of the discoveries made at the site, tend to suggest that Ramesses wanted his temple complex to rival the temple complex which was built by the great Ramesses II, and also to serve as a symbol of the power he wielded over both Nubia and Syria . One discovery which supports this was the discovery of a large number of human skulls which were kept on display, and it is believed that these all belonged to captives.
For the sake of tourism and visitor sensitivities, all the skulls were removed from the site prior to it being opened for visitors. It is without question one of the top places to visit in Luxor, and one we highly recommend, even though you won’t see it featured in many of our Nile cruise itineraries. Of course, as has been previously mentioned, our tours are customizable, so we can always make the necessary arrangements for you to visit this remarkable site.
Even More Amazing Attractions Await
In this post, we have only named and discussed what we believe to be the top 5 places to visit in Luxor, but there are so many other wonderful Luxor tourist attractions to enjoy, either before your Nile cruise, or after your Nile cruise. Again, we can’t list them all here, but a few other highly recommended places to visit in Luxor would include Dendera Temple Complex; Avenue of the Sphinxes; the Ramesseum Temple Complex; the Colossi of Memnon; Deir El Medina; Valley of Queens; Abydos, and the Luxor Museum of Mummification.
Nile Cruises Holidays – We Are Just a Call Away
Whether you are looking to book a truly unforgettable Nile cruise holiday, or whether you are still in the planning stages and simply want information about great places to visit in Luxor and beyond, our team of travel specialists are standing by, and we are always ready to help in any way we can.
After all, we want your vacation to be just as amazing as you do, and part of the recipe is to ensure that you get to see some of the very best places to visit in Luxor when you are in the region.