Luxor - Egypt
Once known as the ancient city of Thebes, Luxor is a city of nearly half a million people located on the River Nile in the southeast part of Egypt.
Tourists flock to Luxor due to the large number of monuments and remains from ancient times that are within the city and its surrounding areas.
What to see in and around Luxor
Luxor is divided into two parts thanks to the Nile River, the older West Bank and the more modern East Bank where the main part of the city is. Most of the hotels, restaurants and where most tourists stay are on the East bank.
On the East Bank you can visit…
The Temple of Karnak: Built over 4700 years ago and in an area over 2 square kilometers, this temple is the largest religious structure that has ever been built in the world. It is huge and you can easily spend hours walking around the many ruins. Check out the sound and light show at night for another perspective of it. Open 6am-5pm (Cost LE50 adult – LE25 children – Dec 2012)
The Luxor Temple: Once connected to the Temple of Karnak by an avenue of small sphinxes, the Luxor Temple is smaller than Karnak, though it is still big and requires a 2-3 hours to appreciate all that it has to offer.
On the West Bank you can visit…
You have the famous Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens but some other archaeological sites that are sometimes overlooked yet worth a visit are:
Temple of Medinat Habu: Also known as the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, the beautifully carved columns and decorated ceilings in this complex are amazing.
Valley of the Artisans (Deir el-Medina): This is where the workers, craftsmen, carvers and painters of the Royal Tombs lived. This place gives you insights of how “normal” life used to be in the time of the Pharoahs.
Valley of the Nobles: This area just south of the Valley of Kings contains over 400 tombs of nobles, officials and “high society” from the time of the Pharoahs. This place is less crowded than the other main attractions.
If you are all tired of tombs then there are other activities that could try while in Luxor. Try a Felucca boat ride (or cruise) on the River Nile or how about a hot air ballooning excursion floating over the desert and its valleys at dawn (www.magichorizon.com).
Getting around in Luxor
The main part of Luxor is on the east bank so if you are not on a tour then you may need to learn how to use the local ferry that crosses the River Nile in order to get to the attractions on the west bank.
Taxis in Luxor: Most of the taxis in Luxor are modern (with air-conditioning) since the government decided not to renew the licenses of any that are over 20 years old. Since taxis don’t have meters, make sure you negotiate the price before getting in and confirm that the price is in Egyptian pounds, not any other currency. Or, if you would like to organize a taxi beforehand (getting to and from the airport or trips to the tourist sites), check out www.luxor-taxi.com.
Calèche: A popular way for tourists to get around Luxor is using the “calèche” or horse-drawn carriage. You have to haggle the price before you hop on though it seems like LE20 per hour is the norm.
To and From Luxor
Luxor Airport: Flights to Luxor arrive at Luxor International Airport which is only 6 kms (4 miles) east of the city (about a ten-minute drive). A taxi ride from the airport to downtown should cost around LE50 (Dec 2012).
Trains to Luxor: Luxor is a major stopping point on the journey between Cairo and Aswan. There are four types of train that go from Ramses Station in Cairo to its counterpart in Luxor (and continuing on to Aswan). There is the air-conditioned daytime train or its overnight version leaving at 10pm. There is the overnight deluxe sleeper that most tourists take. Then there is the slow train that is incredibly basic, very rough and not recommended at all.
If you found this guide to Egypt interesting or useful, let others know about it: