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Luxor - Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
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Ancient Thebes, the fourth Capital of ancient Egypt

Moving onto what’s possibly the major and most important sight in the whole of Egypt, and to the humanity after some days visiting Cairo. The greatest archaeological site anywhere in the planet, Luxor. The once glorious and largest capital city of ancient Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdom eras, from 2130 to 1279 BCE and known as Waset and Thebes, time of the greatest dynasties ever, right after Thinis the first ever capital (3150-2686 BCE), Memphis (2686-2160) and Heracleopolis Magna (2160-2040). Almost a thousand years when the development of the civilization was at its height, notably in society, economy, expansion, power, every possible knowledge and of course, architecture which after all, it is what we can really tangibly see and admire when we come to this region of Egypt with such pharaonic constructions like no others and the most imposing tombs ever created in the world by the once most advanced civilization known in the planet.

For anyone coming to Egypt, especially if on a tour, this would be the busiest place in terms of tourists you will find at every site. The tours coming from the north from Cairo, the ones coming from the south from Aswan, the ones starting in Luxor and the thousands of twice weekly arrivals from the cruises either upriver or downriver. Honestly it can be stressing in small spaces within the temples considering the summer months temperatures when you end up absolutely soaked in sweat especially when inside the tombs but in the other hand, it does not really matter. The experience to see all that is priceless, and as you continue reading this guide I will let you know about some stunning tombs you might be visiting pretty much alone!

The modern day city of Luxor itself, is pretty much irrelevant in terms of sightseeing or anything worth to visit. Only the area around the Nile riverside is in general the busiest place as the docks for the dozens of ships are here, with many little shops around but nothing special as opposed to other cities we visited later on such as Kom Ombo or Aswan. Still within the city itself there are the two fabulous great temples of Karnak and Luxor, and having a calesa ride in the late afternoon or evening through the city when the temples are lighted up will be a great experience! Most if not all the tours do include it in their program however if not or you are not in a tour, it is easy to spot them and previously negotiating a price, do not hesitate in doing it.

Now moving to what’s really important here, the sites. First of all let me start by giving you the best tip of them all whether you can have some flexibility if on an organised tour or if you came at your own peace: head to the Karnak Temple early in the morning and leave the Luxor Temple for the late afternoon. By doing this, you will actually avoid the hordes of tourists in both places. I know the organised tours do generally have these temples in different days of course including later on something else for the day, but from experience we made the best choice. Honestly speaking, this was just a matter of chance we did not know, but before completing the booking for the full organised tour in Egypt, I did notice the timings of some flights and visits when flying from Cairo to Luxor as not really appropriate.

This is, while initially the flight would have been around 12.00pm from Cairo, meaning losing the entire morning and afternoon for doing nothing else than breakfast in the hotel before heading to the airport, and upon arrival in Luxor and dropping you in the hotel, going to visit very quickly Karnak to end up in Luxor Temple just in time before closing, I asked for a change to another flight from Cairo to Luxor as I could check beforehand there are plenty of options much earlier. This was not a problem to switch the times and while we had to wake up around 4.30am for the 7am departure, it could not work any better! Directly from the airport we were picked up and went straightway to the Karnak Temple just in time for the opening. Just a small bunch of us from the larger group had this flight, and enjoyed the guided tour in Karnak as if it was a private site for us. Very, very few other tourists around. Then when we finished the tour here, we were dropped at the hotel where we did the check in and had a great time to have lunch while our guide went to pick up the rest of the group at the airport and doing them the Karnak tour, at the very peak of the tourists rush hour and unbearable heat under the sun. Our guide gave us the tickets for the Luxor Temple and asked as to meet there inside later on, with the rest of the group. Therefore not only we had time to visit the Luxor Temple on our own without many tourists and in day light, we also enjoyed thereafter the guided tour as it was getting dark with the gorgeous night illumination. But again to mention, a circumstance like ours might be difficult to repeat yet if you have the chance, it will work fantastic.

On the following two days in Luxor we were taken to the next impressive sites, all of which at the western bank of the river Nile, “the land of the death” as the Egyptians understood it. The sun (God Ra) raises in the east (the land of the living) and hides on the west (the land of the death). Starting with the Colossi of Memnon and Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III, following with Deir el-Medina or Valley of the Artisans, the Ramesseum right next door, the stunning Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the speechless tombs of the Valley of the kings, literally at the opposite side of the mountain where the Temple of Hatshepsut is carved from.

Needless to say there are way more sites so near each other that you will see them as you move from one of the major landmarks to the next, but unfortunately when in a tour, time is priceless and will be physically impossible to do everything unless you count with plenty of time. All these secondary places are vastly empty of tourists, so definitely would be an added plus to be on your own and discover as you wish. To name a few which I would consider on a future trip here, would be Medinet Habu being one of the best preserved and complete, the Mortuary Temple of Merenptah some 5 minutes walk from the Colossi of Memnon and just before the Ramesseum, the Mortuary Temple of Thutmose III which is adjacent to the Ramesseum, the Mortuary Temple of Seti I, and plenty of tombs from nobles, kings and queens scattered in the area.

All in all, another extra 2 days would have been perfect to visit several more places, and doing a hot air balloon to see the area from above. Speaking of which, the hot air balloon tours are very earl in the morning just before the first rays of light, and while it is a beautiful sight to see so many balloons in the air in the early hours from any of the hotels overlooking the Nile, certainly would be better if being in one of them.

Lastly to give you some inputs in terms of food, we found out that even the great hotels have fantastic restaurants and bars where they serve super cheap and copious food. Being a city where the likes of being in a hotel or a ship are highly likely, and considering the modern city is a disaster to figure out some place to go, if I were you I would not look any further! From experience, even though the breakfast and dinner was included in our tour, some lunches were not as was in Luxor, but we ate fabulous at the cafe bar of our hotel, the Sonesta Saint George for so little money we could not believe it. In the other hand, this very same hotel has other and larger restaurants serving more European style food and even sushi places, although quite expensive.

For more information about Luxor, visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Egypt’s currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change especially in a country with such hyper inflation and.

What to see and do in Luxor

  • East Bank of the Nile Back in ancient Egyptian times, anything east of the river Nile was meant to be the land of the living, where they would live and develop their society, whole anything west of the Nile, was the land of the death where they would build the tombs, pyramids and memorial monuments and temples.

-Modern Luxor There is nothing especial other than being a large base for anyone coming this area, home to an enormous selection of hotels many of which, large luxurious properties. The area around the riverfront is where all the cruise ships dock, becoming extremely busy at the time of the ships arrival and departures. In general, over 80 ships depart in a timeframe of an hour all together when heading south towards Aswan, and so they arrive at once when navigating the other way around. Nevertheless, while the city has really nothing to offer, the temples of Karnak and Luxor are within walking distance from the riverfront, and the vast array of archaeological sites merely few kilometres away.

-Temple of Amun Widely known as the Temple of Karnak. The second largest religious temple ever built by the ancient Egyptians and the longest in terms of construction period at over 2000 years. It was dedicated to Thebe’s patron deity Amun-Re. This huge complex is stunning wherever you walk and look, especially the Great Hypostyle Hall which was built under Pharoah Seti I and completed by Ramesses II, with gigantic columns with capitals in lotto flower and papyrus. Other main points of interest within the complex are the temple of Ramesses III, Temple of Thutmose III and the Temple of Khonsu, the later one located just by the southern entrance to Karnak by the beginning of the Avenue of Sphinxes and stands today as one of the best preserved examples of a New Kingdom temple. Further constructions include many courts, rooms and statues all over the place and 2 obelisks (a third one is now in Rome) plus the Sacred Pool from where you will get very nice views towards the ruined complex. Both the Temple of Kanark and adjacent Temple of Luxor plus the Avenue of Sphinxes comprise the world’s largest archaeological site. Entrance fee EGP 220 (as of October 2022).

-Precinct of Mut Located south from the Karnak complex, yet still part of it, is placed just where the Avenue of the Sphinxes switches its angle. There’s not much left compared to the great temples, but still wise to have a walk around if you are walking through the ancient avenue between the temples.

-Avenue of Sphinxes Interconnecting the Temple of Karnak and the Temple of Luxor, has no equal across the entire ancient civilisation. At 2.7 kilometres long you can admire it nowadays and walk in its full length after seven decades of restoration culminating in November 2021, showcasing 1057 sphinxes.

-Temple of Luxor Built around 1400 BCE and largely well preserved as it was buried under the desert sand for thousands of years, was not dedicated to any god or deity but instead to the rejuvenation of kingship, therefore a place understood to have been the crowning place of many pharaohs, and major landmark during the Opet Festival, where the sacred barque of the Theban Triad travels from Karnak to Luxor temple highlighting the godly significance of the pharaoh’s re-coronation. Likewise any Egyptian temple of this scale, there was two twin obelisks right by the first pylon, unfortunately, the second is the one you can see today in Place de la Concordie in Paris, and plenty others moved to other cities like London, New York City, Istanbul and Rome where there are no less than 8 scattered in the main squares. Notice the rather old Abu Haggag Mosque built atop part of the complex right after the first pylon over the ancient columns. It was first a Roman temple, then converted into a mosque as you see today in 640AD. Entrance fee EGP 180 (as of October 2022).

  • West Bank of the Nile Home to the spectacular Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Valley of the Artisans and incredible palaces and monuments. Not enough days to explore everything in this vast area unless you come on your own and plan several days in Luxor. Otherwise in an organised tour as most people come, what you get to visit is the most important.

-Colossi of Memnon And Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III, is the little that remains of the once glorious and largest temple in the Theban Necropolis. Pretty much destroyed by an earthquake around 1200 BCE, and later ones damaging everything, the Romans were in part the saviours of these statues as they did restore them, however later earthquakes and the pass of time left them as you see today.

-Mortuary Temple of Merenptah Some 5 minutes walk behind the Colossi of Memnon and just before the Ramesseum. It was built to commemorate the 13th son of Ramesses II, his successor, and copied the same architecture as the Ramesseum, but in a smaller scale. Unfortunately like many of the temples built in this area it was destroyed in antiquity after the Nile floodings.

-Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu Located some 5 minutes walk southwest from the Temple of Amenhotep III, it is in this case, pretty much intact with its complete pylons and courtyards.

-Ramesseum Located very near the Colossi and Deir el-Medina, the stunning Mortuary Temple of Ramesses II is nowadays just a fraction of what once was, still, you can admire the largest ever statue created by the ancient Egyptians, although fallen into pieces to the ground after old earthquakes. This statue was created at a quarry 270 kilometres away thus still to this day, it remains as the largest even statue in the world not created in-situ. Notice the enormous columns in the main hypostyle hall, and the mortar-free arches of the granary storages located along 3 sides of the temple. Entrance fee EGP 80 (as of October 2022).

-Mortuary Temple of Thutmose III Literally adjacent to the Ramesseum along the north east, you can see one another from whichever of these you are. While not impressive at all because of the poor state of preservation, it does still showcase plenty of mud-brick walls in the perimeter.

-Mortuary Temple of Seti I Merely 2 minutes drive from the Temple of Thutmose III or 15 minutes walk simply following the only “main” road linking all these sites towards the north east. Likely to have been completed by his son Ramesses II after Seti’s death. Only the final room and courtyard are surviving pretty much complete after restoration, with a large portion of the complex occupied by the current village of Qurna.

-Deir el-Medina or Valley of the Artisans Home to the burial place of the artisans who worked on the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and where you will get a first glimpse of the spectacular art in the tombs you will get later to see in the Valley of the Kings, yet way smaller. Aside from several tombs with paintings so vivid and perfect as if these were created a year go (but in truth are some 3500 years old!), there also lies the remains of the village where they lived, and the larger Temple of Hathor. Entrance fee EGP 100 as of October 2022. To name some of the splendid tombs you can get inside are:

-Tomb of Inherkha Containing some of the best artistic examples of the 20th Dynasty with images form the Book of the Death and the Book of the Gates and the Underworld.

-Tomb of Sennutem Another masterpiece of art in its paintings, so overwhelming wherever you look in the small chambers. The intact funerary furniture found is now at the Cairo Museum.

-Family Tomb Consisting of 3 tombs belonging to the father Amun Nakht and his two sons, servant workers during the period of Ramesses II.

-Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut One of the most recognisable worldwide images one can think about ancient Egypt. Built during the reign of Pharoah Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty. Comprising 3 terraces off the desert sand and partly carved into the cliff, where at the other side is the Valley of the Kings. Its design is influenced by the adjacent Temple of Mentuhotep II, currently still laying in the ground but slowly to take shape once again as it is being reconstructed based on anastylosis. Thankfully after the completion in 2023 of the lengthy consolidation and restoration works, the temple looks as stunning as ever. Entrance fee EGP 160 (as October 2022).

-Valley of the Kings A place like no other in the world. The most stunning legacy of art from the ancient Egyptians is here, the royal burial place from the 18th through the 20th Dynasties (some 500 years) home to the most incredible tombs ever in the world. And while the Egyptians moved away from creating pyramids as the royal tombs for their pharaohs aiming to avoid looting, creating this tombs “hidden” in this valley thereafter did not help either. They knew looting in ancient times was a big trouble and unfortunately, all but one of these tombs were looted back in the ancient Egyptian times. This is a large area yet easy to navigate and see. Basically your main entrance grants you access to 3 tombs of your choice (it costs EGP 260), and you pay extra for other extra ones, for example, the Tomb of Tutankhamun (EGP 300), Seti I (the priciest at EGP 1000, but the largest of them all) or the Tombs of Ramesses V and VI (EGP 100). Please note all prices are based as October 2022. When coming in an organised trip, you will not have much time here so the likes of being able to explore other tombs is quite reduced, nevertheless, aside from the 3 included, the Tomb of Tutankhamun which absolutely every tourist do even though it is the simplest and smallest, you can consider doing one more extra. Now let me give you a tip here, while plenty of people decide to do Seti I merely for being the largest but also incredible paintings, you have another one at a fraction the cost where you might be lucky enough to even explore on your own! That’s Ramesses V & VI. It is immaculate, long and such paintings out of this world.

-Valley of the Queens Likewise the tombs for the male Pharaohs, these tombs were built for the queens, princesses and other high ranking officials. While not as spectacular as the other ones, it is still a nice place to visit should you have the time. Noting here, no organised tour will include this visit, however if you are on your own and have enough time planned while in Luxor, it is a nice place to consider, especially that you will be pretty much on your own with very few other tourists as opposed to the hordes of tourists you will need to make your way at the Valley of the Kings and queuing to get inside any tomb moving at turtle steps.


Reaching Luxor is straightforward in various ways. First of all, international flights directly link the city with many across the world, not to mention is a base for every flight across Egypt. Merely an hour away from Cairo and same from Aswan with super frequent flight times and relatively inexpensive internal flights. Of course best is to book well in advance and avoid high prices or fully booked planes during the peak season as yes, this is likely to happen here.

Coming overland from anywhere else in Egypt is also easy and great, yet more time consuming. You have trains and buses, but having the option, go for the train instead. The Egyptian railways are dramatically improving and they have the newly Spanish built Talgo trains on the route Alexandria to Aswan, and while there are plenty of schedules from Cairo to Alexandria, these are not that frequent south towards Aswan, with just some Talgo services, with the rest of services, the Egyptian standards. The trip is nevertheless amazing as you will be continuously parallel along the Nile. Best seat of course, to the right when heading south, this is, towards Luxor and beyond, or left if in the direction towards Cairo or Alexandria.

Now, since the likes you are coming here as part of an organised tour, then you do not need to worry about anything else. You will be taken by buses everywhere, and you will be very glad for this and enjoy a little bit of air-con in the journey. Also to note here, the tour buses do have a fridge and they sell you cold bottles of water!


As the fourth largest city in Egypt, but the second most visited after Cairo, the impressive choice of hotels mean it is easy to find a good deal, however as mentioned in the Cairo guide, the large 4 and 5 stars properties tend to be quite pricy if not booked well ahead of time. Another good point to consider here is that any organised trip you might book in your home country, usually gets better deals on these great properties and certainly this was our case. We stayed at one of the best properties in the city, the Sonesta Saint George right along the river front, next to several other large worldwide important chains and merely few minutes walk from the main dock where all the cruise ships dock and depart from. It was, likewise the hotels we had in Cairo and later on in Abu Simbel, incredible altogether. Extra large room, very comfortable, clean and neat. Super friendly staff across every department, very large included breakfast and fantastic cheap food in the lobby’s main bar area. Adding to all these the balcony with superb views over the Nile and the valley beyond home to the Valley of the Kings and visible in the distance, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, and in the early morning hours the spectacle of the hot air balloons raising in the sky, that’s priceless. Absolutely recommended hotel, 10 out of 10 stars.

Should you with to stay in one of the most historic properties not just in the city but across the whole of Egypt, coupled with the Cataract Hotel in Aswan, check the stunning British colonial Winter Palace Hotel, a 5 stars property along to the Nile riverfront and surrounded by pretty much all the up-scale properties such as the Sonesta Saint George mentioned earlier.

In the other hand, if coming on your own and needing a place, the best starting point would be having a look at some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as,, Expedia,, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers. However, fares when booking as general public without being in an organised tour can be very high for these types of up-scale properties, but if your budget is still not met, there is a good selection of properties through airb&b and the likes of course.

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Luxor, Egypt, October 2022

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