What to Know Before You Visit Luxor

Luxor is home to the second-most visited historic site in all of Egypt (Karnak Temple), only beaten out by the Pyramids in Giza. It’s definitely on your Egypt bucket list, but you’re going to want to know a few things first. Here is what to know before you visit Luxor, Egypt.

Bring Water, Drink Water

If we got as dehydrated as we did in January, I can’t really imagine just how hot and uncomfortable Luxor would be in the summer! Bring bottled water with you, or buy some while you’re here. Honestly, even inside the underground tombs it was hot and stuffy; and I thought the temperature was always cooler underground!

All the main attractions have cafes onsite, so you will definitely have access to water, juice, etc. There is little cloud cover any time of year, so the sun is pretty relentless. Don’t be a hero, drink your water.

The heat will get to you before you know what happened!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Egypt

Karnak Temple is Bigger than Luxor Temple

If you’ve never been to either temple, it might make sense that Luxor Temple would be the biggest temple in Luxor. But it’s not! Nearby Karnak Temple is actually the second-largest religious complex in the world, only behind the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Cambodia. Luxor Temple is well worth a visit, but I recommend visiting it first, and Karnak second.

These are the largest columns in the ancient world.
Keep reading: How to Spend Two Days in Luxor

This is Not a Day Trip Destination from Cairo

While it’s only a one-hour flight from Cairo, it’s still not a reasonable day trip destination if you hope to base yourself only in Cairo. Luxor is small, but it’ll take you more than just one day to see it all, and see it well. Don’t rush yourself! There are many fantastic hotel options here, including Djorff Palace, a true boutique hotel on the more peaceful west bank of the Nile.

You definitely want to stay at least one night in Luxor.
Read next: Why Egypt is a Safe Place to Visit (even as a woman!)

Fly or Cruise to Get Here

There is a 10-hour overnight train that will get you here from Cairo, but please, do yourself a favor and pay for the short flight! Or better yet, fly to Aswan, see all the things there, and then take a cruise down the Nile to Luxor from there.

You can choose from large cruise ships, the historic P.S. Sudan steam-powered ship, or traditional Egyptian dahabiya boat. Our dahabiya cruise was one of the most memorable and unique experiences of our entire trip! Note: It is not possible for tourists to drive here from Cairo.

The dahabiya cruise was one of our favorite experiences in Egypt!
Read on: What It’s Like to Take a Nile Cruise on a Traditional Dahabiya

Driving from East Bank to West Bank Takes 45 Minutes

My husband and I are not road trippers! But we definitely wanted to see sites on both sides of the Nile: Valleys of the Kings and Queens on the west side, Luxor and Karnak Temples on the east side. The closest bridge is pretty far south of the town of Luxor, so driving from one side to the other takes 45 minutes.

The alternative is a 5-minute ferry ride across on a motor boat, or a bit of a longer sail in a traditional felucca boat! The catch is that you’ll need a car to be available on the other side. Egypt Elite made that easy for us and arranged to have our driver make the journey while my husband, our guide Dina, and I ate lunch. When we finished eating and took our ferry boat across, Kareem the Super Driver was waiting there for us!

If you can take the ferry and have a car waiting for you on the other side, it’s a great option!
More here: Why Egypt Elite is the Best Tour Company in Egypt

Your Ticket to Valley of the Kings Doesn’t Get You into Every Tomb

This is a big disappointment, and maybe a tight budget breaker, if you don’t know it until you show up. Your ticket to the Valley of the Kings will get you into three “general admission” tombs, which are all pretty great and worth going into. However, if you’re hoping to go into the famous Tomb of King Tut, impressive resting place of Seti I, or the Tomb of Ramses V and VI, you will need to purchase extra tickets.

Want to see King Tut’s Tomb? That’ll be an extra ticket!
Keep reading: Your Ultimate Guide to Valley of the Kings in Luxor

Queen Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple is in the Valley of the Kings

Did I just blow your mind? It’s the truth! Queen Hatshepsut endeared herself to the priests of her time so that she could be treated the same as a man. She even wore a false beard to look more like a king than a queen (fun fact: the kings also wore false beards). She was the only woman buried in the Valley of the Kings, which shows how she was respected and revered the same as an ancient Egyptian king would have been.

Queen Hatshepsut was the only woman buried in the Valley of the Kings!
Read on: Exactly How to Travel Egypt Like a Pro

You Need to Go with a Guide

Luxor, known in ancient Egypt as Thebes, was the capitol of Egypt a couple of times over the millennia. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and archaeologists are finding new things here nearly every day! With so much history, such significance, and so much information to keep straight, you definitely want to hire a guide for your trip. Otherwise, you won’t even know what you’re looking at!

Because we booked with Egypt Elite, we knew we would be with the best of the best. Our guide’s name was Dina, and she was like a non-stop fountain of knowledge. I have no idea how she kept all the dates and facts straight! While we were walking around with her, everyone seemed to know her because everyone stopped to say hello! Even one of the guards with the Tourist Police stopped us, pointed to Dina, and said, “You have the best guide in Luxor!”

If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is!

Our local guide, Dina, was basically a celebrity!
Read next: 7 Reasons Why Every Traveler Needs to Visit Egypt

Want more? Check out my dedicated Egypt Page!

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One response to “What to Know Before You Visit Luxor”

  1. Great tips 👌

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