10 Things to do in Luxor

Luxor, also known as "The City of a Hundred Gates" or the "City of the Sun," previously known as Thebes, served as the capital of Egypt in the Pharaonic era.

12/9/202312 min read

Luxor, also known as "The City of a Hundred Gates" or the "City of the Sun," previously known as Thebes, served as the capital of Egypt in the Pharaonic era. Situated on the banks of the Nile, which divides it into the east and west banks, Luxor is one of the largest touristic cities in the world. In 2017, it was chosen as the capital of Arab culture.

The city of Luxor possesses an extensive collection of Egypt's ancient relics, earning it the title of the "Land of the Pharaohs." Numerous historical tombs, containing artifacts and mummies dating back thousands of years, continue to be discovered. Luxor holds a significant place in the hearts of Egyptians, with visitors often compelled to revisit due to the beauty that captivates their eyes.

Those who have not visited Luxor have not witnessed half the beauty of the world. Luxor's allure extends beyond its historical sites; it encompasses various places where one can discover something new each morning.

Therefore, it holds a revered status among different nationalities, as they appreciate its beauty and make a special effort to witness it themselves. Almost every corner within Luxor boasts tourist landmarks dating back to the Pharaonic era, as it remains the city with one-third of the world's antiquities due to its status as the capital of both ancient and modern Egypt. The touristic sites in Luxor span both to the east and to west banks, connected by the Nile, serving as a magnet for tourists to experience river transport on wooden boats and traditional feluccas.

Luxor is home to numerous attractions, including the Luxor Temple, Karnak Temples, the city's museum, the Valley of the Kings and Queens, mortuary temples, and the tombs of the nobles, among other enduring relics. In recent years, Luxor has witnessed significant efforts in the restoration of its antiquities and museums. The third floor of Queen Hatshepsut's temple was opened after restoration, and the restoration of Horemheb's tomb in the Valley of the Kings is nearing completion. Electronic gates are being installed at all open archaeological sites to secure them against theft.

The city of Luxor also features various Islamic landmarks, such as the ancient mosque, the Amiri Mosque, El-Shenkara, Khawaja Sitiin Gubran's house, and the remains of Jadawi and Jabakhana.

Observing the faces of Luxor's residents, you find them dealing with their antiquities as they do with each other—with mutual respect and comfort, reflecting a state of contentment that seems to prevail. Thus, those who visit Luxor do not feel any sense of estrangement or boredom, and they are not permanently confined to the limits of their visits as mere tourists. Instead, the city offers them a sense of tranquility, making them feel as if they are stepping into ancient eras while standing in place, holding their smartphones, capturing every passing moment.

  1. Karnak Temple

Let's take a tour of one of the most important Pharaonic monuments in Egypt and the world, the Karnak Temple.

The Karnak Temple is one of the most famous and significant temples in Egypt, serving as a primary attraction for tourists. Located in Luxor Governorate in southern Egypt on the east bank of the Nile River. It is one of the most important temples in the area.

The temple complex consists of a group of temples, churches, and historical and archaeological buildings forming a complete village of heritage and monuments. It is named Karnak because "Karnak" in Arabic means the fortified village.

Many civilizations contributed to the construction of the Karnak Temple.

It was built during the New Kingdom era under the reigns of Pharaohs Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, and Ramses II. However, later civilizations added their distinctive touches, and the construction of the temple continued into the Greek-Roman era, the Ptolemaic era, and early Christianity.

The Karnak Temple houses colossal historical columns with a base area of 16.46 square meters.

The god Amun Ra, present in the Karnak Temple, was served by over eighty thousand servants and worshippers, with around 5000 statues erected in his honor.

Some of the significant features of the Karnak Temple include:

  • The Sacred Lake:

King Thutmose III ordered the excavation of this lake, with a width of 40 meters and a length of 80 meters. It was used for ritualistic washing and various ceremonies. Some still believe that walking around the lake seven times will help them achieve their goals.

  • Sound and Light at the Karnak Temple:

The Sound and Light show at the Karnak Temple narrates the fascinating history of Thebes, allowing you to discover the achievements of the greatest ancient Egyptian kings in skillfully written verses. As you wander through the temple complex, you witness the pharaohs being resurrected, telling you the thrilling stories of their lives, accompanied by mysterious music in the folds of that ancient city!

Let the temple reveal to you the circumstances of its birth, the accomplishments of its heroes, and the myths of the god Amun, leaving you in awe of the magnificence of the presentation!

  1. Hathshepsut Temple:

The Hathshepsut Temple is an ancient temple located in the Arab Republic of Egypt, specifically on the west bank of the Nile River near the ancient city of Luxor in the Deir el-Bahari region. It is considered one of the most important and impressive temples in Egypt, representing architectural wonders of its time that still stand to this day.

The temple is distinguished by its unique design and engineering, carved into the rocks of the Deir el-Bahari region, showcasing the natural talent and skill in engineering of the builders of ancient Egypt. It was constructed to honor Queen Hatshepsut, one of the female pharaohs of ancient Egypt, who ruled during a significant period of stability and prosperity. The temple serves as a testament to her achievements and divine origins, according to their beliefs.

The temple was not dedicated solely to Queen Hatshepsut; it included sections dedicated to her father, King Thutmose I, the deity Hathor, and also the deity Anubis. Additionally, an open courtyard was dedicated to the sky, devoted to the sun god "Ra-Horakhty." A grand place was also dedicated to Amun, and at the end of the upper courtyard, on the main axis of the temple, a passage was cut into the mountain ending at the Holy of Holies.

The temple consists of three successive levels on open terraces, built from limestone. Statues made of limestone were originally placed in front of the columns of the second level, which were originally colored, though only traces of these colors remain today.

The temple holds great religious significance as it was dedicated to the god Amun, serving as a place for worship and sacrifices. Rituals were conducted to please the gods and seek their blessings. Moreover, the inscriptions adorning the temple walls provide valuable historical and cultural information about the rule of Queen Hatshepsut and the New Kingdom period in ancient Egypt. They depict trade expeditions and communication with foreign lands, confirming the flourishing commercial activity and diplomatic relations during that time.

  1. The Luxor Temple:

The Luxor Temple, the most renowned among the archaeological landmarks within the tourist province, boasts a prominent location. Besides being one of the most visited archaeological regions due to its central position in Luxor city, it faces the Nile Corniche from the back. It encompasses diverse civilizations that have left their mark on it throughout a long and accomplished history. Many people are unaware of several facts about the Luxor Temple. Here are some of the key details.

It is the only temple in Egypt topped by a mosque and the remnants of a church dating back to the Coptic era in ancient times. However, it is the oldest, constructed on top of the existing structures. The Luxor Temple is famous for hosting various international events held within its walls and welcoming global figures from various fields. It stands as a major tourist and archaeological attraction for tourism companies, given its distinctive location on the Nile Corniche in Luxor.

Tourists flock to the Luxor Temple to witness its facade adorned with six statues of King Ramses II and Amenhotep III. They capture memorable photos of this prominent facade, among all the Luxor Temple's temples. Additionally, they observe statues of Ramses II inside the temple's precincts, where the Sufi mosque of Abu al-Haggag is located on its terrace, presenting an artistic blend of Pharaonic, Islamic, and Coptic civilizations.

The Luxor Temple is connected by a paved road with stone tiles on both sides, featuring sphinx statues representing King Nectanebo I (of the 30th Dynasty), who built this road during his reign. This road replaced the Avenue of the Sphinx, dating back to the era of King Amenhotep III. Some statues bearing the name of Amenhotep III can be found at the southern gate of the Khonsu Temple. The sphinx statue, carved from a single sandstone block, depicts a lion with the head of King Nectanebo. The statue is placed on a rectangular base measuring 120x330 cm, with 34 sphinx statues revealed on each side so far.

  1. Riding the stagecoach

The name of Luxor city remains strongly linked in the minds of its visitors with the stagecoach that roam its ancient streets and historic alleys, representing an integral part of its heritage that has endured despite disappearing in many Egyptian cities.

A stagecoach tour is considered one of the enjoyable and diverse activities you can engage in while in Luxor. You can embark on a tour passing through historical landmarks and the Nile Corniche. Don't miss out on this delightful tour.

Luxor's visitors usually perform a comprehensive itinerary of visits to archaeological areas and attractions, including an entertaining program of stagecoach rides for leisurely strolls along the Nile Corniche and through the enchanting squares of the city. This includes capturing memorable photos and enjoying the splendid atmosphere of Luxor.

  1. The Valley of the Kings

More than 1500 years before Christ, the largest collection of tombs for kings in Egypt was constructed, and it was named for having more than twenty-six inscribed tombs in the valley for kings during that period—from the eighteenth dynasty until the end of the twentieth. It's a small valley situated on the west bank of the Nile, approximately 5 kilometers west of Luxor in southern Egypt. The mountain of the Valley of the Kings, known as Mount el-Qurn, is an integral part of the splendid natural scenery of this historical valley. The mountain extends along the valley and is known as Mount el-Qurn. This mountain reaches an elevation of 300 meters and stands out with its rugged and attractive terrain. Mount el-Qurn is considered a symbol of the sun god "Ra" due to its pyramid shape that is prominent along the valley.

The mudstone and sandstone rocks, with their oval-shaped colors, create unique natural formations on the mountain, giving it a distinctive and aesthetic appearance. The colors of the rocks intermingle between brown, red, and yellow, forming a magnificent natural painting. The mountain's colors change throughout the day, influenced by sunlight and lighting conditions, making the visit to the Valley of the Kings a unique and astonishing visual experience. The selection of this site was due to several reasons, primarily its geological connection to the valley, which was submerged during floods. Therefore, this site was chosen to preserve the tombs from flooding, ensuring security and suitability for the burial purposes of the kings. It was considered a safe place from a security perspective, providing suitable conditions to preserve the tombs and treasures over the ages.

Among the most important tombs discovered in the Valley of the Kings is the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. It is one of the richest royal tombs in artifacts and a major tourist attraction to appreciate the beauty, inscriptions, and colors of the tomb, including the mummy of King Tutankhamun, his golden mask, and the golden coffin, along with many archaeological treasures.

Truly, this valley has not yet revealed all its secrets.

  1. Valley of the Queens:

The Valley of the Queens is considered one of Egypt's remarkable historical sites, showcasing the heritage of pharaohs, princes, and princesses. Visiting this valley is a captivating journey to explore the tombs and unique artifacts that carry part of the story of the great Egyptian civilization.

The history of the Valley of the Queens dates back to the same period when the Valley of the Kings was built, more than 1500 years before recorded history. The valley hosts over 70 tombs belonging to queens, princesses, and princes, serving as a splendid complement to the famous burial ground used for kings.

Distinguished by its breathtaking landscapes and the magnificent mountain rising to 300 meters, the Valley of the Queens presents a scenic natural setting with unique rock formations and clay and sand hues, creating an unparalleled aesthetic appearance.

Among the splendid tombs in the Valley of the Queens, the tomb of Queen Nefertari, the wife of King Ramses II, and the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, the wife of King Tutankhamun, stand out. These tombs contain astonishing artistic treasures and murals reflecting the cultural and artistic richness of that era.

The site of the Valley of the Queens was carefully chosen to protect it from natural elements, serving as a safe haven during flood periods. This reflects the great care the pharaohs took to preserve their cultural heritage.

A visit to the Valley of the Queens is a unique opportunity for travelers and history enthusiasts to delve into the depth of Egyptian heritage. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature and discover the stories of queens and princesses that have endured for thousands of years.

  1. Marble, or "Alabaster,"

it is a type of luxurious marble rock, composed of "calcium carbonate." It is distinguished by its attractive pattern and diverse colors, boasting a long history in ancient architectural arts. It continues to shine in modern eras, widely used in sculpting, architecture, and decoration due to its luxurious forms, hardness, and exquisite designs.

Marble colors include: Carrara white, gray, pink, icy green, black, and yellow. Marble is characterized by a beautiful luster, giving it an elegant and luxurious appearance.

Luxor City is considered one of the most important centers for learning marble arts, with its history extending to ancient Pharaonic eras. Luxor remains a vital hub for the industry and sculpting of marble.

  1. The Luxor Market

The popular market is situated in the city, around the Luxor Museum, and is a replica of Khan El Khalili in Cairo. It features numerous shops and stalls selling various goods, ranging from historical souvenirs and Pharaonic statues to traditional Egyptian clothing, accessories, vegetables, fruits, and popular cafes located on the outskirts.

During your visit to the Luxor Market, you can do the following:

* If you wish to purchase a variety of shoes and bags, the market includes a diverse range of these stores.

* You can observe and buy some of the handmade crafts displayed in the market if you find attractive and beautifully crafted items.

* Additionally, exploring the available clothing stores in this market allows for a distinctive shopping experience, with traditional attire featuring beautiful embroidery and appealing colors.

Feel free to visit Luxor market with your family and friends, enjoy buying what you like from this wonderful popular market, and get to know the simple Egyptian people at the same time.

  1. Nile boat trip in Luxor

If you're bored of the historical sites in Luxor, you can embark on a boat in the Nile and enjoy an unparalleled Nile cruise with contemplation and relaxation accompanied by soothing music.

Luxor's feluccas stand out as part of its heritage, being the primary river transport in ancient Egyptian times. Queen Hatshepsut used these boats to transport goods from the land of Punt. Felucca passengers are often seekers of leisure and relaxation, as the boat rides are incredibly serene and barely noticeable.

Night boat trips are among Luxor's nightly attractions and romantic activities to relish. You can cruise the Nile at night, savoring a different perspective of the city.

It's a unique pleasure that world travelers should not miss when visiting Luxor, enjoying the gentle breeze in the heart of the Nile while navigating between the east and west of Luxor. You can also relish a journey lasting from half an hour to an hour, depending on the agreed-upon price.

Boat owners prepare feluccas with traditional Upper Egyptian furnishings and distinctive decor, providing food or drinks before the trip. The journeys can extend from half an hour to over an hour, depending on the request and the trip's price, starting from 50 Egyptian pounds and reaching 250 pounds. The trips depart in the morning and evening.

  1. The Ram Avenue.

The royal pathway, the spiritual link connecting the temples of Karnak and Luxor, has returned to the light, revealing itself and witnessing the sun once again after more than 3000 years.

Let us now journey back in time to the magnificent celebration of the Pharaonic festival of "Apet":

Annually held in Thebes (modern Luxor), during the New Kingdom and beyond, it featured the procession of statues of the "Theban Triad," comprised of the gods Amun, Mut, and their son Khonsu. Inside their sacred boats, the statues embarked on a grand festive procession, traveling from the Temple of Amun in Karnak to the Luxor Temple. Covering a distance of 2700 meters, the celebration aimed to reunite the god Amun-Ra, lord of the Karnak temples, with Amun, lord of the Luxor Temple. This symbolized the renewal of birth — the pharaoh's reaffirmation of rule, considering the pharaoh as the son of Amun-Ra, the sun god, renewing his fertility, ensuring the Egyptians receive their desires from the gods, and securing crop fertility.

Additionally, it included the re-coronation of the king and the renewal of his legitimacy to rule the land. The Avenue of the Rams played a crucial role in the celebration as the sacred route for the Theban Triad, connecting the temples of Karnak and Luxor. The avenue, with a length of 2700 meters and a width of approximately 82 meters, comprised a stone pathway in the middle and was flanked by around 1300 statues in the shape of complete rams, as well as statues with ram heads on lion bodies. The ram symbolized the god Amun, the deity of the Karnak Temple.

Construction of this avenue began under King Amenhotep III, who initiated the construction of the Luxor Temple, but the majority of its execution is credited to King Nectanebo I, the founder of the 30th Dynasty.

The "Apet" celebrations extended from 11 to 27 days, underscoring the significance and high status of the royal avenue for ancient Egyptians, priests, and the pharaoh.

However, over centuries, the avenue became buried under layers of sand. The first trace of the avenue was found in 1949 when the Egyptian archaeologist Zakaria Ghoneim discovered eight statues near the Luxor Temple. Additional discoveries were made from 1958 to 1961, and 55 statues were found from 1961 to 1964 — all within a 250-meter radius.

From 1984 to 2000, the entire path was finally mapped, leaving excavators to uncover the road. However, this proved challenging due to the demolition of homes and worship structures.

The project to develop the Avenue of the Rams began in 2007, paused in 2011, resumed in 2017, and continued until 2021. On November 25, 2021, the world witnessed the opening of the oldest royal passage in history after a 72-year exploration journey.