- Word’s cannot describe the beauty of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut on the Westbank of the Nile.
- Who hasn’t heard of Tutankhamun – the famous boy king who left us an unimaginable hoard of gold in its grave.
- In ancient times, two majestic obelisks were standing in front of it. Only one remains. You’ll find the other on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Are you planning to spend one day in Luxor (or more)? But now you are unsure about the best things to do in Luxor? Then, you are in for a surprise: Ancient Theben (how the city was once called) has plenty of tourist attractions to keep you occupied for a week!
No, I’m not joking. The city is as old as it gets (Thebes was inhabited ever since around 3200 BC!), and many monuments from the time of the Pharaohs remain – some of them virtually unscathed. As there are so many stunning landmarks and UNESCO World Heritage sites, and it’s easy to get sidetracked, I compiled a list of the top 15 places you have to visit!
The ancient city on the banks of the River Nile truly is a must-stop in any Egypt itinerary (make sure to check out mine). As many travelers also worry about safety in Egypt, you should read my Egypt safety report before you go (but yes, it’s safe!).
But let’s dive in the best places to visit in Luxor together, eh?
1. Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut / Deir el-Bahir
Word’s cannot describe the beauty of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut on the Westbank of the Nile. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful sights in Egypt, and certainly in Luxor.
Hatshepsut gained fame as one of the few female Pharaohs in the long history of the ancient Egyptian kingdom(s). Definitely make sure to have a closer look at the many murals throughout the temple, where her famous expedition to the African kingdom of Punt is displayed.
Once a tunnel is said to have connected the temple with the Valley of the Kings (which lies on the other side of the mountain).
2. Valley of the Kings
Who hasn’t heard of Tutankhamun – the famous boy king who left us an unimaginable hoard of gold in its grave. Howard Carter discovered the lost tomb (KV62) in November 1922 and unsealed it only a couple of months later in February 1923. The unbelievable findings within forever changed our view of the Ancient Egyptians. This is the reason I ranked the Valley of the Kings as #2 in my list of the best places to visit in Egypt.
Do know then, that there is way more to see in the valley of the Kings than just King Tut’s 18th dynasty tombs. In fact, his is by far the most inconspicuous of the lot. Definitely make sure to visit the tombs of Ramesses the 4th, the 5h & 6th and Seti I. Some of the tombs are quite expensive to enter (like 49$ for the tomb of Seti), but it’s so worth it. And remember: If you like to take pictures, you will need to buy a special photography license.
3. Karnak Temple
The Karnak Temple complex is certainly one of the top tourist attractions in Luxor you really cannot miss. It’s so huge, it truly beggars comprehension. It also happens to be one of the most important temples in ancient Egypt.
If that isn’t enough reason to visit, then the gigantic Hypostyle Hall with its forest of ancient columns should convince you. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures on social media already – and yes, it does live up to the hype!
You really shouldn’t think of Karnak as one temple, there are actually a couple of them. Most famous of them are the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu and the Precinct of Amun-Re (that’s the main site most tours start).
Note: There is a sound & light show at Karnak Temple almost every night.
4. Tombs of the Nobles
The Theban Necropolis is a place unlike no other. You probably know that burial rites were very important for the Pharaohs. But also the lesser nobles and even the commoners invested heavily into elaborate tombs to ensure their spot in the afterlife.
There is an endless mass of tombs on the Westbank most of them fell victim to grave robbers (most of it already happened in antiquity). You should definitely visit the Tomb of Ramose. I loved the beautiful mixture between the traditional and the Amarna style.
5. Luxor Temple
The grand temple in Luxor sometimes called the “southern sanctuary”, is a must visit while you are in town. It’s not consecrated to a single goddess or cult but is rather dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship and the royal Ka.
In ancient times, two majestic obelisks were standing in front of it. Only one remains. You’ll find the other on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Once a year, a big festival was held, that saw a huge procession from Karnak to Luxor. An avenue lined with hundreds upon hundreds of sphinxes connected the two sites (only the first couple of hundred meters are excavated today). The Avenu of Sphinxes is over one and a half miles long, can you believe it?
Note: Make sure to drop by in the evening, when lights illuminate the temple. Seriously one of the best things to do in Luxor at night!
6. Valley of the Queens
The Valley of the Queens doesn’t appear on a lot of lists of things to do in Luxor. Like in antiquity, the names of most wives got lost in obscurity. Still, you should absolutely consider visiting. The Tomb of Queen Nefertari is nothing short of breathtaking (the colors are so extraordinarily vibrant).
Note: Deir-el-Medina is quite close, so you can combine visiting the two sites).
7. Colossi of Memnon
Ever wondered what Pharaoh Amenhotep III looked like? Probably not! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop by at the Colossi of Memnon. These two statues depicting the Pharaoh from the 18th dynasty are an unrivaled feat of engineering. The gigantic monoliths had to be transported 420 miles overland (too heavy for a boat) from what is now Cairo to Luxor.
Even today, they still count as the fourth largest (moved) monoliths ever quarried by mankind. To be quite fair, visiting the Colossi of Memnon is just a 15 minutes stop on a tour, there really is nothing else to do but take a picture of the statues, and leave again. Of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep, nothing remains. Still very interesting!