What’s the one place visitors to Egypt want to see right after the Pyramids of Giza? It’s the Valley of the Kings! Everyone wants to go, but if you’ve never been, there are definitely some unexpected things you’ll need to know before you get there. Did you know not every tomb is included? Did you know there was a queen buried there? Here is your ultimate guide to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor!
Where is the Valley of the Kings?
You may already know it’s located in Luxor, but did you know it’s on the west bank of the Nile? Most of the hotels, along with Karnak and Luxor Temples, are on the east bank. No big deal, right? But the drive from one side to the other will take you 45 minutes. That needs to go into your plans, right?
The other option is to take a motor boat or felucca across the Nile, but you’ll still need to have a car waiting for you on the other side. There is an amazing hotel called Djorff Palace on the west bank of the Nile, if you want to stay closer to the Valley of the Kings. Otherwise, make sure you have transportation plans on the day you want to visit.
Read all about it: Staying at Djorff Palace in Luxor, Egypt
Once you get to the Valley of the Kings, you can explore all the tombs, right? Well, not quite. Your general admission ticket will get you into three tombs, but you can’t just pick any three tombs! Some of the most popular actually require an extra ticket, but you definitely shouldn’t let that general admission ticket go to waste.
There are many excavated tombs in the Valley of the Kings, with more still to be found. Not all tombs are open at the same time, so you may see some different tombs than I saw in 2023, but you will certainly be glad to see the ones that will be available! Here is a little about the general admission tombs we saw.
Ramses IX (KV 6)
This one is an easy starter tomb for anyone who wants a taste of the tombs but is maybe a little bit “done” in the sun and heat. It has a nice, wide entrance, is only a short walk down an easy ramp, and is very colorful inside. It’s the whole experience without the workout, and it’s a great option for visitors with mobility limitations.
Merenptah (KV 8)
Merenptah was the son of Ramses the Great, or Ramses II. Because Ramses lived so long and reigned 62 years, Merenptah only took the throne at 60 years old, and was king of Egypt just 10 years. Unlike King Tut, who also reigned about 10 years, Merenptah’s tomb was completed by the time he needed it.
Keep reading: Cruising to Luxor on a Traditional Dahabiya Boat
Ramses III (KV 11)
Most of the tombs are accessed by one long, steep, straight corridor, but not this one. It takes a bit of a turn. Why? Because when they were building it, the workers ran into another king’s tomb! Whoops. This tomb was first started by his father, Setnakhte, but abandoned when the existing tomb was disturbed by the workers. Ramses III didn’t mind, though. He took it as his own, hung a right, and kept on going.
*Note: Prices and general practices in Egypt change often. Any of these tombs could go from general admission to paid admission, or be closed entirely for restoration, without consulting me first!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Luxor
What’s Worth the Extra Ticket?
Want to see King Tut? Do does everyone else! That’s why a visit to his tomb requires a separate ticket. But it’s not the most expensive ticket in the Valley. Here are the tombs for which you will need extra admission, along with a little information to help you decide whether it’ll be worth it to you.
Ramses V and VI (KV 9)
This is a unique one. Or maybe it’s a unique two. This tomb was used twice! Ramses V was buried here first, but his uncle, Ramses VI, re-used it for himself later. The chamber at the end has elaborate artwork from the Book of the Dead. The King had to defeat 12 animals in the afterlife in order to talk to Osiris.
Seti I (KV 17)
This one was once included in the general admission ticket, but now it’s the most expensive ticket in the Valley of the Kings! We thought it was worth our while, though, because it’s the longest one (meaning the deepest) in the Valley, and the reliefs are elaborate and colorful. Fair warning: It’s hot down there!
Read next: The Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel in Egypt
Tut Ankh Amun aka King Tut (KV 62)
This is the one you really came for, right? King Tut reigned only about nine years, and his tomb is the smallest of them all. He has the last laugh, however, because his tomb was found intact, with all its treasure, and so he has become the most famous! Go here first. If you visit this one after seeing the larger, more elaborate tombs, you’ll be less than impressed with this one.
*Note: Prices and general practices in Egypt change often. Any of these tombs could go from paid admission to general admission, or be closed for restoration, without consulting me first!
The Unexpected: Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple
Oh, wait. There was a queen buried in the Valley of the Kings?! It’s true. Queen Hatshepsut was an ambitious woman who wanted to be Pharaoh, and so she became one. She was a great diplomat, found favor with the priests (the ones who were really in charge), and took a golden opportunity to become regent to her three-year-old nephew when her half-brother-husband died. (Did you catch all that?)
After reigning 22 years, her nephew (likely, but not conclusively) had her killed so he could assume the throne. Her mortuary temple had already been built, but her successor tried to erase her from history. Her mortuary temple stands out and is a ticket you won’t want to miss, but it will require an extra ticket!
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Egypt
A Note on the Valley of the Queens
I thought I’d write a full blog post about the Valley of the Kings, and a separate full blog post on the Valley of the Queens. The reality, though, is that there’s not much to see in the Valley of the Queens. The 92 tombs here are not well-preserved. There is one notable exception, however, and it’s actually the most expensive ticket in all of Egypt.
Queen Nefertari’s Tomb (QV 66)
Queen Nefertari was Ramses II’s favorite wife (just check out the temple he built for her at Abu Simbel), so it makes sense that he would want to make sure her tomb was the most elaborate in the Valley of the Queens. She was said to be very beautiful and fashionable. This is apparent in the fun clothes depicted on the walls of her tomb.
Her tomb is the most well-preserved in the Valley of the Queens, and it’s been called the “Sistine Chapel” of Egypt. You’ll find Nefertari in glamorous leopard print, in an all white gown, wearing gorgeous jewelry, etc. She remains a fashion plate to this day.
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