Luxor stands above Egypt’s other towns for its sheer wealth of temples and tombs. This was the site of ancient Thebes, the great city of the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom pharaohs who covered the banks of the Nile with their mammoth building works and began the vast tomb structures snugly hidden amid the rocky valley of the West Bank. The scope of their ambition is best appreciated today in the magnificent Karnak Temple complex, but there are so many monuments here that you could easily spend a week simply soaking up the elegance and grandeur.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to Egypt then best times to visit Luxor are from March to April and between October and November. These brief shoulder seasons offer pleasant temperatures, small crowds and more affordable hotel rates.
Top Places to Visit in Luxor
1. Karnak Temple
Temple Complex of Karnak has to be its most astonishing and beautiful feat out of all Luxor’s many monuments. Within its precincts are the Great Temple of Amun, the Temple of Khons, and the Festival Temple of Tuthmosis III, as well as many other buildings.All the monuments here are on a gigantic scale, reducing visitors to ant-like proportions as they gaze up at mighty columns and colossal statuary. Even if you’re short on time, don’t scrimp on your visit here. You need at least three hours to try and make sense of the entire complex.
2. Valley of the Kings
The famed Valley of the Kings, hidden between rocky escarpments, was the final resting place for the kings of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties. Their main attraction is their wonderfully vivid wall paintings. Since it was believed that the dead man, accompanied by the sun god (or perhaps having become one with the sun god) sailed through the underworld at night in a boat, the walls of the tombs were adorned with texts and scenes. Within the valley are 63 tombs that are a roll-call of famous names of Egyptian history including the famous boy-king Tutankhamun.
3. Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple is an ode to the changing face of Egypt through the centuries. Built first by Amenophis III (on the site of an earlier sandstone temple), it was known as “the southern harem of Amun” and was dedicated to Amun, his consort Mut, and their son the moon god Khons. Like all Egyptian temples, it comprises the chapels of the deities with their vestibules and subsidiary chambers, a large Hypostyle Hall, and an open Peristyle Court, which was approached from the north by a great colonnade.
4. Temple of Deir el-Bahri
The Temple of Deir el-Bahri or Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple is magnificently situated at the foot of the sheer cliffs fringing the desert hills, the light-colored, almost white, sandstone of the temple standing out prominently against the golden yellow to light brown rocks behind. The temple complex is laid out on three terraces rising from the plain, linked by ramps, which divide it into a northern and a southern half. Along the west side of each terrace is a raised colonnade.
5. Luxor Museum
One of Egypt’s best museums, Luxor Museum holds a beautifully exhibited collection from the local area that tells the story of ancient Thebes from the Old Kingdom right up to the Islamic Period. The museum’s prize possessions are the two Royal Mummies of Ahmose I and what is believed to be Ramses I in two rooms on the ground floor, which are worth a visit here alone.
6. Medinet Habu
With the famous Valley of the Kings and Temple of Deir al-Bahri the main attractions, Medinet Habu often gets overlooked on a West Bank trip, but this is one of Egypt’s most beautifully decorated temples and should be on everyone’s West Bank hit list. The complex consists of a small older temple built during the 18th dynasty and enlarged in the Late Period, and the great Temple of Ramses III, associated with a royal palace, which was surrounded by a battlemented enclosure wall four-meters high.
The great mortuary temple built by Ramses II and dedicated to Amun, lies on the edge of the cultivated land, some one-and-a-half kilometers south of Deir el-Bahri. Although only about half of the original structure survives, it is still a highly impressive monument.