On our first day in Luxor, we ventured out in the evening to visit Luxor Temple (E£60), which is right in the middle of the city and stays open until 9pm.
The temple is not as well preserved as some of the others we visited, but it has an impressive obelisk at the entrance, as well as four massive statues (Ramses II’s had just been restored when we visited).
Many people (including us) choose to visit this temple in the evening, as it looks amazing with the lights on. In front of the temple there’s the Avenue of Sphinx, which back in the day used to lead the way to Karnak.
VALLEY OF THE KINGS
We had an early breakfast and got a taxi to visit the West Bank of the Nile. The Valley of the Kings is one of Egypt’s most famous attractions, and it is home to Tutankhamun’s tomb.
We started our visit with Ramses IV’s tomb, which is beautifully decorated with lots of hieroglyphs and depictions of gods and the pharaoh. This was a really great tomb, and it was the first time we saw well preserved painting in Egyptian tombs – and the Valley of the Kings really is the place to see this.
Next we visited Tutmosis III’s tomb, which has really unique and detailed paintings, with lots of fine details mostly in black. Our third tomb to visit was Merneptah’s. This was a very large tomb with long corridors covered in carved hieroglyphs from floor to ceiling.
We then reached Ramses VI’s tomb – probably the best one we saw. Not only is it massive and covered in decorations, but also it’s incredibly well preserved. Despite it being one of the highlights of the Valley of the Kings, we had it all for ourselves.
Finally it was time to end our visit of the Valley of the Kings by seeing the famous King Tut’s tomb. This is the best preserved tomb of any pharaoh, but because it was built at short-notice it isn’t as intricate as some of the others. The wall decorations still carry almost all of the original colours and detail. On location you also get to see Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus covered in gold and his mummy. The tomb’s treasure is in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which we visited a few days earlier.
Our second stop of the day was Hatshepsut’s temple (tickets E£40). Although it’s mostly reconstructed, it’s impressive because of its location by the mountain. Most of the detail is lost, but the building itself is very impressive. The temple is located in one of the hottest places on earth, and when we visited we could definitely feel the 40 degree heat burning our skin.
On the West Bank there are also other places to visit: the Valley of the Queens, the tombs of the Nobles, the Ramesseum and the Colossi of Memnon (which we saw from the road). We chose not to visit these as we had already seen many other sites in better condition elsewhere, but if you have time then these are probably worth a visit.
We got up early and got a taxi to Karnak temple (taxi journey E£50 one way, tickets E£80). This is one of Egypt’s highlights, mostly because of the sheer size of this temple – it is one of the biggest temples in the world. The highlight is the Hypostyle Hall, with over 100 columns decorated from top to bottom.
We spent a good couple of hours exploring, and although there were a few groups of tourists, the place was very empty, so we could take our time taking in all the detail.
Not too far is the Luxor Museum (tickets E£50), a relatively small museum which has a nice collection of Egyptian artefacts. This is a great place to visit, the collection is well presented with explanatory notes (a rarity in Egypt) and the air con is a big plus.
For lunch we visited Sofra, a very nice restaurant serving traditional Egyptian fare. We had a very nice koshari and falafel (a light meal for two including soft drinks and tip for E£80).
We then ventured into the souk, which had a few interesting shops, but being mostly empty we got lots of attention. To get a break from the sun, we headed back to our hotel to hang out by the pool with cold beers while the sun set over the Nile.
A relaxing ending to an amazing trip!
HOW TO DO IT:
- Visiting the Valley of the Kings: Tickets cost E£100 and give you entrance to three tombs (the guy in the ticket booth suggested the ones we visited), but there were three others open on the same day. You pay an extra E£50 to visit Ramses VI’s tomb and E£100 for Tutankhamun’s. You also pay E£4 for a transfer from the ticket office to the main site. You can see everything in about 2h, and it’s good to visit early because of the heat. Apparently back in the day there were large queues, but nowadays the place is very empty, and we mostly explored by ourselves. There’s no photography allowed, but you can tip the keepers and they will allow you a sneaky photo. The Valley of the Kings is about 40min from Luxor – you can hire a taxi to take you there and wait for you at the entrance (we paid E£250).
- Stay: We stayed at Jolie Ville, a resort a couple of miles south of Luxor. We only paid £45 per night including breakfast which is a massive bargain. The hotel also organises taxis with fixed prices which are cheaper than what we’ve paid elsewhere. The hotel had three swimming pools, three bars and three restaurants, and as usual staff were very helpful. As is often the case in Egypt, wifi was mostly unavailable. What we paid really didn’t reflect the standard of the place – it’s probably a reflection of the low volume of tourists.