Luxor has often been called the world’s greatest open air museum, as indeed it is and much more. The number and preservation of the monuments in the Luxor area are unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Actually, what most people think of as Luxor is really three different areas, consisting of the City of Luxor on the East side of the Nile, the town of Karnak just north of Luxor and Thebes, which the ancient Egyptians called Waset, which is on the west side of the Nile across from Luxor.
To say that the Luxor area is a major attraction for tourists in Egypt would be an understatement. It has been a tourist destination since the beginning of tourism. Even in ancient times, during the late Dynasties of the Greek and Roman periods, the area drew tourists, and has been doing so ever since. Today Luxor is well equipped to accommodate tourists with many hotels and in general a tourist industry ready and willing to serve the people from many countries that descend on this area of the Nile Valley every year.
Why not try an enjoyable experience in a caleches or horse-carriages; these operate in the same way as taxis for short journeys. This is a more leisurely way to get about and can be cool and pleasant on a warm day or evening.
The most popular attractions are listed below;
Winter Palace Hotel
Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Queens
Medinet Habu (memorial temple of Ramesses III)
The Ramesseum (memorial temple of Ramesses II)
Deir al-Madinah (workers’ village)
Tombs of the Nobles
Deir el-Bahri (temple of Hatshepsut, etc.)
Malkata (palace of Amenophis III)
Colossi of Memnon (memorial temple of Amenophis III)
How to get there
Luxor international airport. The airport is situated four miles (6km) east of the city.
There are many car hire companies within Luxor, but be aware roads can be bad, lanes are meaningless, and drivers must watch out for everything from donkey carts to open utility holes. The trick in Egypt is to always look ahead; you’re responsible for those in front of you. On rural roads, trucks and cars routinely pass in the face of oncoming traffic; the vehicles simply convert a two-lane road into three, the two outside cars pulling onto the shoulders of the road if necessary.
Don’t drive at night if you can avoid it; Egyptian drivers don’t use their lights (so that they won’t blind oncoming cars). They simply flash their lights on and off when they see an approaching car.
Egyptian National Railways. The views from the train can be wonderful, especially on the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan and Cairo-Alexandria routes.
Air-conditioned expresses are modern and comfortable with 1st and 2nd class plus refreshments. Ordinary trains are slower and much less comfortable, with 2nd and 3rd class non-air-conditioned. A few trains also have 2nd class air-conditioned.
Buses are the main mode of transportation for Egyptians, and they are cheap, but most of the intercity buses are uncomfortable, old, dirty, and break down with incredible regularity. But if you have the time and don’t mind the hassles, they do connect places that are otherwise inaccessible. Bus lines like Super Jet and East Delta run more plush buses: clean and air-conditioned, with a video and onboard catering. These types of buses run between Cairo and Alexandria, and to Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sinai, and the Red Sea coast.
Each region has its own festivals which are closely linked with the Muslim culture of Egypt.
Abu Simbel Festival – Twice every year, 22nd February and 22nd October)
Abu Simbel is located in the heart of Nubia and is accessible by road or air from Aswan. The most remarkable feature of the site is that the temple is precisely oriented so that twice every year, on 22 February and 22 October, the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the temple-cave to illuminate the back wall of the innermost shrine and the statues of the four gods seated there
Ramses II, in a fit of precision and despotic architectural egotism, carefully angled his temple at Abu Simbel so that the inner sanctum would light up twice a year: once on the anniversary of his rise to the throne, and once on his birthday. The combination of human endeavour and natural phenomena provides what must be one of the most spectacular sights in the world.
Eating Dining Shopping
In Luxor you will find a host of air-cooled international restaurants serve some of the finest cuisine in the country, offering Egyptian, Japanese, Korean, French, Italian and Mexican from menus that proclaim, “Enjoy your dining in Egypt – the land of the year-round summer”.
When shopping learn to haggle the Arab way – DO NOT PAY THE FIRST PRICE OFFERED. You can buy anything from papyrus leather goods, jewelry, special perfumes and the usual souvenirs.
Luxor and its surrounding area contains almost 80% of Egypts ancient treasures. The city itself is an enormous open air museum, and tourists have been coming here since antiquity. It was as much on the Greek and Roman world tour as it is in the 21st century.
For some reason or other Luxor is best known to history by its Greek name of Thebes though its real name was Weset. The actual name Luxor derives from the Arabic for palace: al-Uqsur.
Although we tend to talk in terms of Luxor the area is in fact made up of three distinct sections. Luxor town, Karnak to the north, and the Necropolis on the west bank.
Thebes had been the capital of Egypt a number of times either of Lower Egypt or the combined kingdoms. During the period of the New Kingdom (The XVIII and XIV dynasties: 1540 – 1186 BC) Thebes was a thriving centre and one time capital of all of Egypt. This was the period of huge investments in building by the various rulers. The most famous of these rulers was Ramses II, but there is also a fair chance that you will have heard of one of the lesser kings of the XVIII dynasty: Tutankhamun.
Useful telephone numbers
Emergency Number 122
Airport Information tel (Luxor Airport)+20 95 374 655
Train station: Egyptian National Railways
Tourist Office: Tel: (095) 382 215 or 373 294
Holiday rents online:
National Transport Line
24 hour medical service