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A Travel Guide to Luxor, Egypt

What to see in Luxor, Karnak and Thebes


Luxor, Egypt

Luxor, Egypt

Dylan Presman


Travel to Luxor and you will know why it is one of Egypt's great tourist attractions. It is also commonly known as the world's largest open air museum. Luxor is built on and around the ancient site of Thebes. Tourists have been visiting the area since the Greco-Roman times, so you won't be the first! There are so many splendid temples and monuments to visit you will have to be picky if you don't want to get "templed out". Luxor is actually three separate areas each with their own highlights.

The City of Luxor

Luxor Temple situated in the center of town, was built by the New Kingdom Pharaoh Amenophis III. It is spectacular and so compact it can be visited in an hour. Hours are 9am - 6pm and admission is 20 Egyptian Pounds.

The Mummification Museum has everything you've ever wanted to know about mummies and the process of mummification. Who knew that reptiles, birds as well as humans were mummified?!

The Luxor Museum houses many of the relics found at the Theben temples and necropolis on the west bank. The museum comes highly recommended because it will enrich your experience when you visit the rest of the sites.


North of Luxor city are the spectacular Temples of Karnak. In ancient times, Karnak was known as Ipet-isut, 'The most select of places'. The temple complex of Karnak was built over a time period of 1500 years and was the most important place of worship in ancient Egypt. The site is huge, measuring 1500 x 800 meters, and is a spectacular complex of sanctuaries, kiosks, pylons and obelisks, all dedicated to the Theban gods. It is thought to be the largest surviving religious complex in the world. If you don't have the energy to cover all that ground then don't miss the Hypostile Hall in the Great Temple of Amun. There are several performances of the sound and light show a night with mixed reviews, but mostly good.

Ancient Thebes (West Bank)

Crossing the Nile to the West of the city of Luxor lies the necropolis of ancient Thebes. Because there is so much to see and so much ground to cover, guided tours usually enter 3 tombs at the major archaelogical sites.

The Valley of the Kings:
This is where the pharaoh's were buried and hoped to meet their Gods in the afterlife. Tutankhamun's tomb discovered in the 1920's almost untouched is perhaps the best known to most of us non-archaeologists. But he was a minor king in the scheme of things and had it not been for centuries of looting, the larger more impressive tombs would have yielded riches unsurpassed to the impressive haul found in King Tut's burial ground. For a complete list of tombs that are open to the public in the Valley of the Kings see this list from the Egyptian Monuments site.

The Valley of the Queens:
The Valley of the Queens lies at the southern end of the necropolis. This is where the queens and their children were interred. Only four tombs are open to the public in the Valley of the Queens and if you had to choose just one, it would have to be Queen Nefertari's tomb. Tickets are limited to just 150 a day and you are only allowed in for 10 minutes, but it is worth the effort.

The Colossi of Memnon:
Two giant statues make up the Colossi of Memnon. Most visitors get a glimpse of them on their way to the Valley of the Kings but it is worth a stop to see them up close.

Note: Not all the tombs are open, some close for restoration purposes. You can check this Luxor Magazine site for updates.

Next Page:

Information on Getting to Luxor, Getting Around Luxor and Where to Stay.
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