I have finally visited Luxor last January 2017. I spent two days in luxor, and as much as I was not excited to go, and wanted to spend my full vacation in Aswan to enjoy the beautiful Nubian vibe, turns out I was wrong! Luxor is pretty enjoyable too, in a different way.
I thought two days was not enough, but here is the perfect two day itinerary. Standard, pretty much the same on any other website suggesting Luxor itineraries!
I arrived in Luxor at about noon by train from Aswan. We haggled for a bit with a taxi driver to take us to our hotel, and on the way to the hotel deal was done. We agreed that we will call him later today so he’d pick us up, and we will see Luxor in two days, as he suggested. So yes, we actually followed the itinerary suggested by our taxi driver! We agreed that, apart from the drive from the train station to the hotel, we will pay him EGP 250 to be with us all evening of day one and morning/afternoon/almost evening of day two, to show us all around the places he suggested.
Rested, had lunch, we called our driver. His suggestion was to see the east bank on the first day, and cross to the west bank the next morning.
Now I mentioned a bit earlier that I was not so excited to go to Luxor…I feel I should explain why. I believe history is something that is very interesting, and archaeological sites, especially when they have interesting architecture, are something always worth seeing. But, I was not excited for Luxor for the following reasons:
- Too many tourists
- Pharaoh history is VERY complicated, so unless you know what you’re seeing, it is just a bunch of stones
- I thought I had seen enough tombs and temples and hieroglyphs for a life time.
I WAS WRONG!
Persuaded by my friend that we should go there, and bargaining it from 3 nights in Luxor to just two, I eventually had to do what wasn’t so much to my liking. If you ask me now, I am glad he insisted that we should go see Luxor, because I WAS WRONG!
Yes, Luxor was very crowded in terms of tourist numbers, and pharaoh history is not any less complicated, but I realized that some places are just crowded because they are worth seeing…it is like going to Paris and deciding that the Eiffel Tower is not worth a couple of hours, despite all the crowds there.
Also, I realized that you can easily find cheap tour guides inside each temple or tomb you go to… Or you can just be sneaky (ahum) and follow behind any tour guide that is speaking your language. Yes they come in lots of languages. Moreover, you can enjoy the fun of having the guard (usually local person) of that tomb or temple tell you what they know about it, this is unsolicited tour guiding, a way of asking for tips, and the information is most probably 90% wrong, but they make a lot of fun stories that I would categorize as urban legends.
So without much more talking, here is the two days itinerary in Luxor that I followed (strictly personal opinion, worked well for me, something else might work for other people…)
You should start your visit to Karnak early-ish, while the sun is out. Note that the temple closes down before sunset, as there are light and sound shows at night (everyone said they are completely worth it. I am a cheap traveler so…). I was in Karnak at about 2.30 pm. The place is HUGE and it takes a lot of time to walk around it, so keep that in mind.
Luxor temple is open for visiting at night, which is very interesting! The lights and the atmosphere of the place is different than any other temple I have seen in day light, darkness and spot lights give it this magical vibe that is just irresistible.
Day two had to start early than usual… A quick/early breakfast in the hotel and we were in the taxi by 8 am
The Colossi of Memnon:
Conveniently situated on the way to the west bank, it was just a quick photo stop on the way. Anywhere, I repeat, anywhere, is a potential “worth it” photo stop. So I never said no when the driver stopped and said he’ll wait for a few minutes while we take pictures.
The next stop would be buying tickets. It is one ticket window serves all kind of thing, so you need to buy all your tickets from this place before you continue onto your adventure.
Known is Arabic as Madinet Habu (Habu city), this was one of the highlights of my second day in Luxor. The place is simply majestic, it is huge, tall, and architecturally beautiful (in my opinion). The plus was that it is also fairly empty as many tourists decide to skip it! The guides there were nice, for a cigarette, me and my friend were allowed into some of the closed doors, and given as much time as we wanted exploring behind locked gates.
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut:
Again, HUGE! The walk, the climb, the sun, it was just tiring. Now for any Egyptian like myself, Hatshepsut is one of the most iconic archaeological sites that we would remember from the days we were kids. This is simply because of one movie that was shot there that was a huge hit in the 80s, with a song that had the word Hatshepsut said about a million times by the chorus…Anyway so I was happy to finally be there in person.
Now call me ignorant, but I was not amazed by the “beauty” of this temple. I mean, yes, to have something of this style and size built a few thousand years ago, AMAZING! But it was kind of out of style than the other places we were seeing. I did not fall in love.
Valley of the Kings:
A true highlight of my whole visit to Luxor. Kings realized that tombs were being stolen, so they decided that they should have their tombs hidden, to avoid theft of the treasures they kept for the king, so he can come back to the afterlife later on and not need anything. Thanks to their genius idea, the tombs are in an almost perfect condition! Most treasures were found intact too, and moved to museums! Colours! It is lots of colourful drawings inside those tombs. I suck at this, I do not remember which tombs I have seen, complicated names…BUT I will tell you this, we just asked around when we were inside!
Trying my luck with black and white in Luxor . . . . . #pharaoh #luxor #habu #temple #blackandwhite #bnw #bnwphotography #thisisegypt #experienceegypt #myegypt #egyptshots #africanportraits #visitlafrique #visitegypt #egypt #travel #culture #heroglyphics #pillar #everydayluxor #everydayegypt #everydayeverywhere #iphoneography #snapseed
Your ticket allows you to enter just 3 tombs (some tombs, like King Tutankhamun tomb, have separate, more pricey tickets). So we asked our taxi driver, and inside we asked again, guards or tour guides, and finally we visited three beautiful tombs. A bonus, we went so deep inside the valley, to a place that had no one but a few guards, and after a brief friendly conversation, they let us into the fourth tomb for free! Yay friendliness!
So, now that I am done with the itinerary, just a few extra thoughts that might be useful when you’re planning your trip to Southern Egypt
- Winter! It is so warm in southern Egypt, so go in the cold season! Even then, make sure you have sufficient protection from the sun. Also be prepared for slightly chilly nights despite all the heat in the morning sun.
- If you’ll make it all the way to Luxor, be sure to also visit Aswan! I have written about Aswan before, I love this place, and I am sure it is very enjoyable.
- If possible, while you’re at it, go for the extra leg and visit Abu Simbel too, the legendary temple on the shore of Lake Nasser!
Winter is upon us! Are you planning on where you will escape the cold this year? Southern Egypt, as well as many other coastal places in Egypt if you have time, are an option worth considering if you haven’t planned yet! Have you been there before? Or do you plan on going soon?