Dubbed the world’s greatest open air museum, the famous sights of Luxor need to be seen to be believed. Settled in 3,200 BC and formerly the historic city of Thebes, today Luxor is a monument to the ancient world. Visitors from around the globe arrive by land, air and boat to immerse themselves in ancient ruins, temples and tombs.
Set along the banks of the world’s longest river, the Nile, Luxor is a city of splendour and mythology. For travellers arriving in Egypt, it’s a must-visit destination with plenty of tourist centric infrastructure and a bustling modern city centre. Thankfully it’s all been achieved without detracting from the sacredness and history of the many sites dotted around the Nile Valley landscape, which includes the Valley of the Kings, resting place of King Tutankhamun.
The surrounding Nile Valley offers a range of varied archaeological experiences and excursions. Those arriving in Luxor by river cruise will likely dock alongside the city’s river pier. Ocean cruise liners that offer excursions to Luxor will arrive in Safaga on the Red Sea, offering shore excursions and day trips to Luxor.
Nile cruises that call at Luxor dock on the east bank in the centre of the city along the major boulevard that runs parallel to the river. Some boats may anchor further up the river depending on whether they have their own private docks.
Other cruise visitors wishing to visit Luxor through organised excursions will do so via the ocean gateway city of Safaga, approximately 220 kilometres away. Passengers will dock at Safaga pier, which is 2 kilometres from the city centre. Onward connections across the Red Sea to Duba in Saudi Arabia are also available from Safaga.
Both ports have limited facilities for cruise passengers, with Safaga being primarily an industrial port. Passengers docking in Luxor along the main boulevard will likely be greeted with the sight of several souvenir stalls and other tourist information desks where tours to the famed temples and tombs can be arranged.
How to Get Around
Passengers arriving in Luxor can get around on foot, hire a bicycle or travel by horse-drawn carriage. Be sure to agree on a rate before using the operator. Most of the major monuments are located along the west bank so taking a ferry each way is the best way to get across the river, and is often cheaper than a taxi. Minibuses are also plentiful and have a flat rate wherever you go.
Travel times from Luxor port:
It is a 7 minute journey to the Luxor Museum and Luxor Temple
It is a 28 minute journey to Karnak Temple.
It is a 2 minute journey to Luxor Temple and Luxor Museum
It is a 10 minute journey to the Valley of the Kings
It is a 5 minute journey to Karnak Temple
It is a 16 minute journey to Luxor International Airport
It is a 6 minute journey to Sheraton Luxor Resort.
Currency: Egypt uses the Egyptian Pound (EGP) which is available in 25pt, 50pt and E£1 coin denominations. Bank notes are available in E£5, E£10, E£20, E£50, E£100 and E£200 denominations. US dollars are also widely accepted in Luxor.
Time Zone: Egypt operates on Eastern European Time (EET), which is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC.)
Climate: Luxor is one of the world’s hottest, driest and sunniest cities. During summer, average temperatures are around 40 degrees Celsius and above. While winter evenings can be cool, daytime maximums are still considered warm.
Valley of the Kings: Home to more than 63 tombs and chambers, admission includes a choice to enter one of the 3 major tombs, each with intricate carvings, hieroglyphics and paintings. The mountainside where ancient pharaohs were laid to rest in tombs is one of the world’s most impressive and extensive archaeological sites. Within the Valley area, the most popular sites include the tomb of King Tut and the Tomb of Ramses III.
Luxor Temple: Open daily from 6am-9pm, the Luxor temple gives visitors a glimpse back into what ancient Thebes once looked like. Filled with statues and towering columns, explore the complex where both Alexander the Great and other Roman leaders left their mark of influence. In the central courtyard there is also an impressive mosque.
Souk Markets: Shop for spices, silk and even gold in some of the traditional souk markets or bazaars dotted around central Luxor. The major open-air marketplaces are located in the streets surrounding the Luxor temple. Be prepared for plenty of bargaining and avoid settling on the first price given.
Karnak Temple: Officially the world’s largest place of worship, this 42-acre temple complex is filled with several sanctuaries and monuments, including an impressive avenue of enormous sphinxes. The great court in the centre of the complex is completed with 134 columns, and each evening there is a daily light and sound show in the area.