Luxor In Egypt: 10 Best Things To Do When Visiting Luxor
Updated: Sep 17, 2022
Luxor is arguably the most historical place on earth in terms of civilization. This city‘s history goes back thousands of years. It was once the capital of Egypt and a true hub of power and wealth. Today, you can find ancient temples and tombs of these intriguing dynasties along the West and East Banks. We recommend staying on the West Bank since it’s quieter and closer to the best things to do in the area. Taking a ferry boat to the East Bank is also quick and easy when needed.
Check out our video on Luxor to get a sense of what it's like there!
Where is Luxor and how to get there?
Luxor is located along the Nile River in the south of Egypt. You can get there by plane. Luxor has its own airport. From the airport, you can either take a taxi to your hotel or, if you're lucky, the hotel will have a shuttle bus from the airport. If you come from Cairo you can either fly, take a bus, do a Nile Cruise, or take a (sleeper)train. More information about this can be found here.
Important things to know before you go to Luxor in Egypt
Luxor can get very hot, so the best time to visit is between October and April. When you go to Luxor you'll get pretty far with English. Everyone in the tourist sector knows at least the basics, but if you want to get a ticket at a train station or speak to locals they may not understand you (especially the older generations). The official language is Egyptian Arabic. If you speak Arabic you'll definitely be able to communicate. We found Luxor to be relatively safe. As long as you use common sense, don't disrespect the locals, and dress appropriately, you'll be fine. The people in Luxor were also very friendly and welcoming. It's easy to book tours where the company picks you up at your hotel and brings you back, but if you have enough time we advise you to go see the sights by bike or foot. In this way, you can do the attractions at your own pace but also find some hidden gems and beautiful landscapes along the way.
Best things to do in Luxor
We'll break down our top 10 things to do in Luxor, Egypt for you so you can have the best trip possible.
10. Tombs of the Nobles
At number 10, we have the Tombs of the Nobles. Nestled in the Theban Hills of the West Bank, there are hundreds of tombs here that date back to as early as the 6th dynasty in 2300 BC. These tombs are filled with hieroglyphs showcasing scenes of the people's daily life in ancient times. Often overlooked since they are in the same proximity as the more famous Valley of the Kings, we consider them a hidden gem of Luxor.
9. Felucca ride
Taking a Felucca ride at sunset is another great thing to do in Luxor. Feluccas are traditional wooden sailing boats that are built to change direction quickly depending on where the winds shift. Feluccas are unique to the Nile and the captains of the boats are often running around at a fast pace to change the sail directions on the move. We took a private Felucca ride for 3 hours from a local captain on the West Bank and made a stop at Banana Island during sunset. You can find many captains on the shore of the East or West Bank offering rides with no pre-booking needed. It's also possible to take a felucca ride all the way down to Aswan, but this takes at least 5 days. Make sure to watch our Nile Cruise video where we show you how to book and enjoy the best cruise possible if you plan on going to Aswan from Luxor via the Nile River.
8. Luxor Temple At Night
Visiting Luxor temple is another highlight and it’s most beautiful at night in our opinion. Located on the shores of the East Bank, it is very well-preserved and a popular tourist attraction. We were struck by the beauty of this temple when walking through the main entrance. The lights shine perfectly in the evening, casting a golden glow on the giant statues and ancient hieroglyphs. The temple itself was mainly built by the pharaohs Ramses the 2nd and Amenhotep the 3rd in the 14th century BC. You can also combine this temple with the sound and light show at the temple of Karnak.
7. Valley of the kings
At number 7, we have the Valley of Kings. Tucked away in the glorious Thebes mountains, this historical site is located in a beautiful setting. The Valley boasts 63 magnificent royal tombs, each of which has its own style and identity. In contrast to the tombs of the nobles, the pharaohs decorated their tombs with cryptic passages from the Book of the Dead to guide them through the afterlife. You will find rich colors, designs, and creativity within each one you visit. This is a heavily visited area, so go early in the morning to avoid crowds if you can.
6. Explore local life by donkey in Luxor
One thing we highly recommend doing in Luxor is exploring the local life in the villages that are scattered around the area. The Egyptian culture is rich and the people are very welcoming. We explored the West Bank villages by donkey with Hassan. He toured us around his hometown for two hours and also taught us about the local culture. We even learned a few Arabic words and had tea at his family’s house.
5. Mortuary temple Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut is one of the most awe-inspiring temples in Luxor. It’s absolutely massive and stands alone underneath a giant mountain. The temple was built in honor of the second woman to ever be in power as a Pharaoh in Egypt. She was beloved and ruled for an impressive 15 years. This temple is located right between the Tombs of the Nobles and Valley of the Kings, so all 3 can easily be combined in a day.
4. Bike the West Bank
At number 4, we recommend renting a bike and touring the lesser-known areas of the West Bank. Biking gives you the chance to stay away from the crowds and enjoy many attractions at your own pace. It is also relaxing to pedal next to the palm trees and sugar cane fields. You can easily explore 2-3 temples and tombs we mentioned before in one day. Make sure to make a stop at the free site of Colossi of Memnon. We rented our bikes from Spring Hotel on the West Bank, which is where we stayed during our time in Luxor. The staff was really nice and helpful, such as our friend Ashraf.
3. Explore Karnak
The third best thing to do in Luxor in our opinion is to explore the world-famous Karnak. This complex is more than a temple and is actually a mix of sanctuaries, pylons, and obelisks. Karnak was the most important place of worship in Egypt during the New Kingdom and was very important both economically and spiritually. In fact, the priests of the temple owned 65 cities and had over 80,000 people working for them at one point. This site is extremely popular, so make sure to time up your visit well! You can also enjoy a light and sound show if you come during the evening.
2. Visit Habu Temple
Habu Temple was our favorite ancient site in all of Luxor. The intricacy of designs within the walls took our breath away since the walls still maintain most of their original colors. The colors give an inside look into what all temples must have looked like. The beauty and craftsmanship shine through here since this temple is one of the only ancient sites in Egypt that has been fully excavated. But besides its beauty, this temple is also a lot quieter than any of the others we visited.
1. Hot air balloon ride
The best thing to do in Luxor is taking a hot air balloon ride. Seeing the temples, tombs, and fields from above at sunrise is something you truly can’t miss. We booked our hot air balloon tour with hod hod soliman and highly recommend them. They were professional, took safety very seriously, and passionately told the history of Luxor during the flight.