As I was making my travel plans for Egypt, many people I spoke to who had already been to this amazing country told me I must go to Luxor. And they often said this excitedly with a sparkle in their eye. Luxor is truly an extraordinary place and very deserving of the title “the world’s greatest open-air museum”.
In fact, no other site in the world comes close in comparison to the grandeur of the surviving ancient Egyptian monuments found here. I’m glad I scheduled my visit to Luxor towards the end of my Egyptian itinerary as I ended up saving the very best of Egypt for last!
The Luxor Itinerary
|Day||Schedule||What’s Happening!||Cost (LE)||Transport|
|Day 0||6pm||Bus – Sharm el-Sheikh to Luxor||120||Bus|
|Day 1||9.30am||Check In: Bob Marley Sherief House Hotel||70||Bus|
|Day 2||8am||Tomb of Ramses VI; Tomb of Tausert and Setnakhte||40||Taxi & Cart|
|10am||Temple of Hatshepsut||15||Taxi|
|11am||Colossi of Memnon||Free||Taxi|
|7pm||Horse & Carriage||20||Taxi|
|Day 3||10am||Bus – Luxor to Aswan||30||Bus|
Like most trips, the first day is generally time spent on transfers and it was no different on my trip to Luxor.
|Transfer to Luxor|
Always buy your transfer tickets at least a day before you travel long distance in Egypt to ensure that you secure a seat and know the departure time. The day before traveling to Luxor, I missed the bus as it was full and had to stay one more day in Sharm el-Sheikh.
9am – Arrived in Luxor
I arrived in Luxor and was accosted at the bus stop by touts trying to get me to stay at their hotels. But I had already made reservations so I just called my hotel – the Bob Marley Sherief House Hotel, and they gave me directions to their location. When I had called to make reservations, they had warned me not to go with any of the touts who were paid commissions by hotels they brought guests to.
9.30am – Check In Bob Marley Sherief House Hotel
Bob Marley Sherief House Hotel is located on Television Street and is run by Maria, a Belgian lady and her Egyptian husband Sayyid. Be sure to ask for them before booking your stay. This is an ideal option for budget travelers as they will organize tours and everything else for you to ensure a smooth inexpensive stay in Luxor. The place has a nice backpackers feel to it, breakfast is good value and I really appreciated all the tips on where to eat and shop. I would stay there again on my next trip to Luxor.
10.30am – ISIC Card
After breakfast at the hotel which is inclusive, Sayyid took me to get my ISIC card. The ISIC card will save you heaps of money. Admission ticket fees can really add up during a tour of Egypt. ISIC prices are typically half of what you should pay. On the way to the office, we passed by colorful street wedding decorations.
11am – Karnak Temple
Despite my fatigue after the long bus journey, I was rearing to go and didn’t want to waste any time so I headed straight to the Karnak Temple at Luxor. The temple sits on the largest ancient religious site in the world whose construction began sometime between 1971 – 1926 BC. Tickets to the temple are sold at the gate.
The entrance to the Karnak temple is lined by the impressive Avenue of the Ram-headed Sphinxes, which is enough to provide you with a glimpse of the ancient splendor that awaits. Inside the temple complex you will find gigantic statues of past pharaohs, as well as other sculpture remains.
The main attraction that left me in awe was the Pillars of the Great Hypostyle Hall. The massive pillars feature ancient inscriptions, hieroglyphics, carvings, and fading colors, all of which are testament to the temple’s former splendor. I was informed that the best time to view the Karnak temple is in the early morning when the dawn rays illuminate the interiors, providing a fascinating play of light and shadow on the pillars.
After my tour, I had lunch at a local restaurant, munching on some tasty kebda (spicy liver) with fresh bread, rice and salad.
|Karnak and Luxor Temples Tour|
Book a guide to take you to both Karnak and Luxor Temples in an air conditioned vehicle. A bottle of water and entrance fees will be included. Your private guide will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel in Luxor.
5pm – Luxor Temple
Founded in 1400BC, the Luxor Temple boasts intricately carved ancient façades, magnificent pillars and splendid interiors worth seeing. As you enter the temple complex, you will pass a massive pharaoh head to your left which provides a glimpse of the other colossal attractions that await inside. The massive seated statues on both sides of entrance are a sight for sore eyes, and so is the amazing obelisk next to them.
Inside the temple are rows of massive statues in the ancient Egyptian royal pose: their left leg in front of the right, arms to the sides, shoulders back and chest out. The statues are so huge that when I stood beside one on its raised platform, the top of my head only reached the shin of its leg! As with other pharaonic monuments, the statues had smaller queen statues carved into their sides.
The best time to see the Luxor temple is at dusk when the lights come on and the antiquities come alive. Tickets to the temple are sold at the gate.
After the tour, I went back to the local restaurant for a tasty dinner of kofta (Egyptian sausage) with fresh bread, rice and salad. After dinner I went on a stroll of the Luxor city streets, which was to become one of my favorite after-dark activities during my stay.
8am – Valley of the Kings
I woke up early, refreshed and excited to be heading out to the Valley of the Kings. As we approached the site, I could see why it was chosen to be the ancient royal burial ground for the Egyptian Pharaohs: the looming mountains in background add great mystery to the place.
|Private Guided Tour to Valley of the Kings|
Book a private tour guide who is a licensed Egyptologist to take you around the Valley of the Kings. On this 4 hour tour, you will be picked up and dropped off at your hotel in an air conditioned vehicle. See the main attractions including Necropolis of Thebes, the Tomb of Ramses III, the Tomb Of Merenptah, and the Tomb of Ramses XI.
8.30am – Tomb of Ramses VI
The tomb of Ramses VI (1145 BC-1137 BC) has very colorful interiors, and is ornately decorated with painstaking detail. The ceiling is particularly fascinating with its black background and intricately-drawn golden figures depicting the ancient Egyptian death rituals. Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed inside the tombs at the Valley of the Kings.
9am – Tomb of Tausert and Setnakhte
Inside the Tomb of Tausert and Setnakhte is the Sarcophagus of Pharaoh Setnakhte (1189 BC–1186 BC), with a heavy stone encasement that was designed to prevent looting.
10am – Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Queen Hatshepsut (1508–1458 BC) is regarded as the “first great woman in history” and her funerary temple at Deir el-Bahr was designed to reflect this status. As you approach the imposing complex, you can’t help but be awestruck. There is a row of colossal statues at the entrance, while the temple walls are painted in striking colors and figures that depict Hatshepsut’s expeditions.
11am – Colossi of Memnon
I had no idea what to expect of the Colossi of Memnon. We were driving and all of a sudden could see a sculptured torso rising out of the landscape. “Colossal” doesn’t even begin to describe these Colossi of Memnon! Our car was the size of one of the twin statues’ feet!
The Colossi of Memnon are two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, which have stood for the past 3400 years – since 1350 BC. Their original function was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep’s memorial temple (or mortuary temple), very little of which remains today.
11.30am – Medinet Habu
Medinet Habu is the name commonly given to the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III (1186–1155 BC). Every inch of the temple, with the exception of the floor, is chiseled with intricate hieroglyphics and reliefs.
The Medinet Habu temple is by far the most spectacular thing I have ever seen! I was completely blown away by this place. I felt so small, as if I was in a fantasy wonderland. I don’t think I will ever forget the experience of being here for as long as I live.
From the rows of colossal statues, colorfully painted and carved ceilings and massive pillars, the ancient remains of Medinet Habu are a true testament to the temple’s former splendor. I was particularly impressed by the afternoon sun’s play of light and shadow on the pillars and columns, which beautifully illuminated the carvings.
Tip: Unless you are a professional cyclist, avoid renting a bike to visit the Valley of the Kings and Deir el-Bahr. After noting the distances we had to drive, moving from one attraction to the next, as well certain steep climbs, I was glad I chose to go by taxi. Your best option for cutting costs is to try and get other tourists to join your group so you can split the taxi fare.
7pm – Horse & Carriage
After a busy day of touring the ancient monuments, I had lovely horse and carriage ride on the cobbled streets of Luxor. It was a great opportunity to unwind while riding past Luxor’s buzzing nightlife.
|Luxor Horse-Drawn Carriage City Tour|
Explore the local streets of Luxor on this unique horse drawn carriage tour. Visit the markets, coffee shops, middle class housing and other cultural highlights of Egypt.
10am – Time to leave for Aswan and Final Thoughts
After breakfast, I picked my luggage and made my way to the bus station. I got onto the mini-bus to Aswan with a touch of melancholy. Of late, I had been having this sad feeling and could only attribute it to the fact that my stay in Egypt was drawing to a close. I had begun to miss Egypt even days before I left. It had been a wonderful 45 days there, but even with the visa extension, I felt as if I was leaving while hardly having scratched the surface of its amazing attractions.
Luxor was absolutely amazing, only that I wasn’t able to see more attractions as not all its 60 plus tombs are open year round. While I’m glad I was able to explore Medinet Habu, I heard that the Ramesseum is even more spectacular. So now I have a good reason to return to Luxor!
These were the highlights of my visit to Luxor. If you need some help planning your own Luxor itinerary, feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below.