Located 300 miles south of Cairo on the Nile River, Luxor is vibrant and oozing with history. With some of the world’s oldest temples, and the opportunity to ride in a hot air balloon over the pharaohs tombs it’s a destination that deserves a top spot on your Egypt itinerary.
When I visited, I stayed in Cairo (see my Top 10 things to do in Cairo guide here) and took a day trip to Luxor – up and back in the same day. While I easily could have spent another day or two here, here are my top recommendations for how to spend the perfect day in Luxor, Egypt.
Getting to Luxor
Egypt Air has great domestic flights at an affordable price. I took a flight first thing in the morning and took the last one back to make the most of my day. I paid about $125 USD round trip and actually ended up changing my flight while I was there to get back to Cairo a little earlier because all of the attractions and sites close between 5-7pm.
I recommend hiring a tour guide for your day in Luxor that way you don’t have to worry about getting transportation to and from each place you want to visit. The West Bank isn’t very close to the East Bank and could be a hefty taxi fee. Send me an email if you want the contact information for the tour company I used – they were amazing!
Valley of the Kings and Queens
The Valley of the Kings and Queens is a valley with carved out tombs where all of the pharaohs and their queens were buried from the 18-20th dynasties in Ancient Egypt.
There are 8 tombs open at a time (they rotate which ones are open periodically) and a main entry ticket allows you to enter 3 of the tombs. That said, there are special tombs that require an extra ticket at an additional price – prices vary according to the tomb.
The extra ticket tombs are:
KV9 – Ramesses V & VI 100 EGP per person
KV17 – Seti I 1,000 EGP per person
KV62 – Tutankhamun 300 EGP per person
I would recommend spending extra to get a ticket for KV9 and KV17. Seti I was my favorite tomb because it was MASSIVE and so colorful and had tons of chambers to explore.
Ramesses V & VI was incredible as well for the vivid color and sarcophagus at the bottom but it basically one straight passageway.
The tomb of Tutankhamun (King Tut) is famous because it was the only tomb that hadn’t been raided. When it was found in 1922, it was untouched and had all the treasure inside, including his mummy. The tomb itself if pretty small and unimpressive and all his treasure is up in Cairo at the Egyptian Museum so I personally would skip this tomb, unless you really want to see his mummy because that is still in the tomb!
Valley of the Queens sits on the opposite side of the valley as Valley of the Kings and is just a short drive. Here you will find the Temple of Hatshepsut who was one of the few women to be Pharaoh over Egypt (she actually took the throne from her stepson!)
Lunch at Marsam Hotel
Our tour guide took us to the hole in the wall, hidden gem of a restaurant that was off the beaten path so I HAVE to share.
He told us that Howard Carter (the archeologist who discovered King Tut’s tomb) used to stay and eat here during his excavations.
We got there just before lunch and let me tell you, it was one of the most peaceful things and one of my favorite parts on the trip.
We ate the most delicious authentic Egyptian food overlooking the farm with camels and donkeys. We each ordered an entree, drink and ordered an appetizer and it was about $22 USD with tip.
Karnak Temple is a mix of temples, pylons and chapels and is the 2nd largest religious site in the world. It’s known for its Hypostyle Hall with 134 towering columns in 16 rows.
The main reason why this temple is so famous and the 2nd most visited historical site in Egypt is because of the length of time it was developed. Construction began in the Middle Kingdom and carried into Ptolemaic times with about 30 Pharaohs contributing to its building.
Just a quick 5 minute walk south of Karnak Temple is Luxor Temple. You can walk down the newly opened Avenue of Sphinxes that connect the two and marvel at more ancient relics on your way to another equally impressive site.
It’s said that Luxor Temple was dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship and may have been where the new pharaohs of Egypt were crowned. This temple is a sight to see and so beautiful as the sun is setting.
If you’re only spending one day in Luxor like me, it’s probably time to head back to the airport to catch your flight back to Cairo or wherever you’re staying. Although I’m sure you’ll be exhausted after a jam packed day, I know you’ll be glad you made the extra effort to spend a day in Luxor.
For more guides and tips on what to do in Egypt, see my Cairo guide HERE.
Enjoy your trip!