Luxor is one of the most ancient cities in Egypt. For many thousands of years, this southern region of the country was home to the most famous Kings and Queens in Egyptian history.
For many, it became their final resting place too in the Valley of the Kings.
Luxor is a modern city with an ancient heart because this was once the city of Thebes, an iconic Ancient Egyptian settlement.
In the city center, you can find ruins and temples that date back over four thousand years.
Nearby, you can also discover the Valley of the Kings, where infamous mummies such as that of Tutankhamun have been unearthed over the years.
The Nile River provides a green and verdant backdrop to the archaeological sites of Luxor. While you can find great hotels, you can take to the skies in hot air balloons, or you can cruise south to Aswan and the Sudanese border.
It’s a great place to explore, and to inspire your visit, here are our favorite things to do in Luxor, Egypt.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Egypt (Travel Guide)
15 Things to Do in Luxor, Egypt
1. Go to the Luxor Museum
Start your journey to Luxor with a trip to the Luxor Museum, where you’ll be able to learn all about the region’s long and ancient history before you start exploring the multitude of archaeological sites.
The museum is found in a wonderful location overlooking the Nile River, and you can spend hours examining all the artifacts and exhibits on display here.
The Luxor Museum is not only one of the best things to do in Luxor, but it’s often seen as one of the best museums in the country.
It is the only one that can rival the legendary Museum of Ancient Antiquities in Cairo.
Book this 5-hour private tour with an Egyptologist for an unforgettable experience at the Luxor Museum.
See artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb and the impressive statue of Sobek to the crocodile god.
2. Contemplate History at the Luxor Temple
Take a quick walk south along the River Nile and you’ll soon arrive at one of the city’s most impressive ancient sites, the Luxor Temple.
You’ll quickly realize just why the city is said to be one of the world’s greatest open-air museums, and that’s down to the fact that archaeological sites in Luxor are literally in the city center.
The Luxor Temple dates back to around 1400 BC and archaeologists believe that it’s here that Egyptian Pharaohs and later kings might have been crowned.
Alexander the Great even claimed that he was crowned at the Luxor Temple, although this is unlikely to have been true.
Looking for a great guided tour? Book this great 5-hour private tour with your own Egyptologist guide.
3. See the Massive Columns at Karnak
If you walk north along the Nile River from the Luxor Museum, then you’ll come to what is perhaps Luxor’s most famous temple complex, Karnak.
Visiting Karnak is one of the best things to do in Luxor because this ancient religious site is one of the most important in Egpyt.
Construction began here many hundreds of years before the nearby Luxor Temple was built, and Karnak is thought to date far back to around 2000 BC, and perhaps earlier.
The Karnak complex is huge and you’ll find a separate museum on site too, the Karnak Open-Air Museum, where you can enjoy a wealth of information and artifacts.
Enjoy an exciting day exploring Luxor in comfort at your own pace on this full-day guided tour.
In addition to visiting the Karnak Temple, you will also explore the Luxor Temple, the Theban Necropolis, Valley of the Kings and many more!
4. Learn About Mummies at the Mummification Museum
It’s not always high up on lists of the best things to do in Luxor, but while you’re exploring the museums and temple complexes in the center of the city, you’ll want to pop into the fascinating Mummification Museum too.
This unique museum is small but intriguing, and you’ll learn in-depth the process and mythology that was behind mummification, the preferred method of burial for the Ancient Egyptians for centuries.
Looking to dive into Egypt’s ancient past? This private half-day tour takes you to both the Luxor Museum & Mummification Museum, plus, you’ll have a personal Egyptologist guide to give extra background.
5. Explore the Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is one of the most iconic archaeological sites in Egypt, and it’s a must-visit when you are in Luxor.
Located on the west bank of the Nile River, it’s just a short journey outside the city itself.
The Valley of the Kings, while being a dramatic outdoor attraction in its own right, is iconic because this is where Egyptian kings chose to have their lavish tombs and burial chambers built.
Many have been opened, including that of Tutankhamun, and it’s in the Valley of the Kings where modern Egyptology really began to be popularised.
Experience the fascinating Valley of the Kings with your own qualified Egyptologist guide on this 4-hour morning private tour from Luxor.
Travel by private, air-conditioned vehicle, explore three of the stunning tombs that were burrowed into the mountains around 4,000 years ago as burial places for the pharaohs.
6. Don’t Forget the Valley of the Queens
The Valley of the Queens is the next valley along from the Valley of the Kings, and as the name might suggest, this is where the Ancient Egyptian Queens were buried in their own lavish burial chambers.
There hasn’t been as much excavation here as has been done in the Valley of the Kings, but it’s equally as dramatic and just as important. Not quite as many of the tombs and archaeological sites are open to the public though.
Looking for a great introduction for first-time visitors? Check out this jam-packed full-day private tour takes you through all the standout sights in Luxor.
Get detailed commentary and background from your personal Egyptologist guide as you visit monuments in the Valley of Queens, the West Bank of Luxor, and ancient Thebes.
7. See the Tomb of Tutankhamun
The Tomb of Tutankhamun, known more simply to Egyptologists as KV62, is the most well known and indeed, one of the most important Egyptian tombs to ever be excavated.
Opened by Howard Carter and his team in the 1920s, the tomb is open to a limited number of visitors each day.
You can also visit the unnervingly exact replica tomb, which is found just outside the Valley of the Kings, where the actual tomb is located.
Visit the ancient treasures of Luxor’s West Bank on a full-day guided tour. This itinerary goes inside Tutankhamun’s tomb, plus three other Valley of the King’s tombs with fascinating artwork.
8. Be Stunned by the Tomb of Nefertari
The Tomb of Nefertari is located in the Valley of the Queens, and it’s another must-see archaeological site and one of the best things to do in Luxor.
Nefertari was an Ancient Egyptian Queen, who is thought to have lived in Thebes many thousands of years ago.
The tomb is mostly closed to the public, for preservation reasons, but there are limited, although incredibly expensive tickets for sale.
That said, during the last visit we had the chance to visit the Nefertari Tomb. This was spectacular as the tomb is rich with color.
The visit is highly regulated, having only been open for public visits for the past year. Previously, to visit this tomb required several thousands of dollars and special permission from the Egyptian Government.
It is expensive and the wait can be long, but it is totally worth it to see what the tombs looked like when the mummies were first placed.
Take in the ancient history of the Valley of the Queens on a full-day guided tour that also includes stops at the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Hatshepsut.
9. See the Tombs of the Nobles
After exploring the opulent tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, it’s worth taking a trip to the little-visited Tombs of the Nobles.
This separate burial area was used by the common folk and not just nobles, but simple soldiers and merchants too.
There are hundreds of tombs, and it’s a unique place to explore to gain a different perspective on ancient history.
Explore the temples and tombs of the Valley of the Nobles on a private half-day tour.
This private tour includes pickup and drop-off in Luxor, entrance fees, and guided visits with your Egyptologist guide.
10. Climb to the Temple of Deir el-Bahari
Also located on the west bank of the Nile River, the Temple of Deir el-Bahari is one of the most impressive sites surrounding Luxor.
Also known as the Hatshepsut Temple, the temples and tombs here are carved into the cliffs, and make for a dramatic sight. The tombs and temples date to around 1500 BC and were initiated by Mentuhotep II.
The architecture and construction of the grand temple are simply superb, and the design and the engineering that went into it, so many thousands of years ago, is truly difficult to comprehend.
Learn about the archaeological treasures of this famed city and venture into ancient tombs with your own Egyptologist.
This private day trip includes private air-conditioned minivan transport, an expert guide and a whole lot of history and fun.
11. Contemplate Greatness at the Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon are two colossal statues that were dedicated to Pharao Amenhotep III. Constructed around 1350 BC, they marked the Pharaoh’s reign and memorialized him on the same level as the gods.
Originally, there was a temple at the same site as the statues, but an earthquake destroyed the building, leaving just the Colossi standing.
They still stand tall today and are a marvelous sight to see on the edge of modern Luxor, on the west bank of the Nile.
12. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the most popular things to do in Luxor is to take to skies for a hot air balloon ride.
An increasingly popular tourist activity, the skies will be filled with balloons as the sun rises.
It’s a great way to see the city and the surrounding area, as you’ll be left with a grand impression of the vastness of the valleys and the landscapes were the Ancient Egyptians lived and built their temples and tombs.
Book your hot air balloon tour with the #1 rated company, Hod Soliman Hot Air Balloon tour operators.
Soar above Luxor’s West Bank for an aerial perspective of the city’s archaic sights. Enjoy scenes of vast temples and tall statues illuminated and richly colored by the sun sitting low in the sky.
Your expert guide provides the essential context so you get the most from the flight.
13. Take a Nile River Cruise
From Luxor, one of the most popular excursions is a Nile River Cruise. The mighty Nile, the longest river in the world, flows for thousands of miles through Africa before it heads north into Egypt, eventually reaching the Meditteranean.
From Luxor, cruises head south to the city of Aswan, an important trading city on the banks of the Nile, and one of the largest major destinations before you reach Sudan.
You can take rustic local boats to make the journey, or you can join multiday, luxury cruises to travel along the Nile River in style.
Looking for an option that allows you to explore over a couple of days with a guide? Book this Nile River Cruise with highlights of ancient Egypt and an Egyptologist guide on an all-inclusive 4-night cruise.
Explore Luxor’s key attractions over your first two days, including the Valley of the Kings.
Then spend the night in Edfu and tour the temples at Edfu and Kom Ombo before cruising to Aswan
14. Take a Day Trip to Aswan
Aswan can be reached by boat or by vehicle from Luxor, and it makes for either a great next destination on your Egypt travel itinerary or even a quick day trip if you’re short on time.
Aswan is a melting pot of history and culture, as this was historically always the Egyptian frontier.
Even today, it’s the last major city before you reach the border with Sudan.
Visit the Nubian Museum to learn more about the local history, and explore the islands on the Nile and the many nearby archaeological sites.
15. Take a Day Trip to Dendera & Abydos
Located north of Luxor, along the Nile River, are the rarely visited sites of Dandarah Temple and Abydos.
One of the oldest cities in Ancient Egypt, Abydos has mostly been left in a deteriorated state. The majority of the ruins are underground and have yet to be excavated.
That aside, there are two major sites that have been unearthed that make the journey to this site worth it. Both the Temple of Seti and the Osiris Temple feature stunning examples of Egyptian hieroglyphs and art.
Near to Abydos, Dendera is one of the most impressive temple complexes you can visit in Egypt.
The complex covers 40,000 square meters and the entire site is open for exploration with the exception of the roof on the Temple of Hathor.
The complex features some massive and ornately decorated rows of columns, which are great for photography.
Dendera is also famous for the reliefs of Cleopatra VII and her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion that can be found on the walls.
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