The majority of foreign visitors to Egypt choose to visit the country’s capital, Cairo, and its ancient attractions such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, or the popular Red Sea resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh. However, the number of visitors who choose to travel to Luxor, also known as the location of the Valley of the Kings, is on the rise.
Located on the east bank of the Nile River in the south of Egypt, Luxor is the site of the ancient city of Thebes, the capital of Egypt at the peak of the pharaohs’ power. In addition to the ancient tombs of the Valley of the Kings, modern Luxor offers a range of other monuments from Ancient Egypt to explore, including the remains of two huge temple complexes.
Before traveling to Luxor, it is a good idea to be informed of what to expect when arriving to ensure a smooth trip, including whether it is necessary to obtain an online visa for Egypt to visit the ancient city. Read on for a complete travel guide to Luxor.
Is Luxor Worth Visiting?
Luxor is full of monuments and artefacts from Ancient Egypt and so is a must-visit for all travelers interested in this period of Egyptian history. Visitors to Luxor also have the option to explore the Nile River either directly from the water on a traditional felucca sailing boat or cruise ship, or from the air on a hot air balloon ride.
You need a minimum of 3 days to see all of the main Luxor attractions. The city is divided into two parts by the Nile River, the East Bank and the West Bank, with key historical sites found on both sides.
East Bank attractions include:
- Downtown Luxor
- The Luxor Temple Complex
- The Karnak Temple Complex
- The Mummification Museum
- The Luxor Museum, which contains many artifacts recovered from the tombs.
West Bank attractions include:
- The Valley of the Kings
- The Valley of the Queens
- The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
- The West Bank Necropolis, which includes the tombs of Tutankhamun and Ramses III.
When preparing to pack for a trip to the city, it is important to take the weather in Luxor into account. It can be incredibly hot in Luxor in summer, although the night can also be quite cool, so travelers are advised to pack for both conditions. The best time to visit Luxor is during the winter, from November to March, when the weather is predictable and temperatures are generally mild.
Is Luxor Egypt Safe for Tourists?
Yes, in general Luxor is considered safe for tourists to visit. Petty crime is generally much lower than in bigger Egyptian cities such as Cairo, and visitors are able to walk around the entire city freely without encountering any problems.
One annoyance for visitors to Luxor can be the large number of tourist groups and taxi drivers who tend to be quite pushy in selling their services. In particular, there are a large number of caleche (horse-drawn carriage) drivers who can be quite persistent in trying to persuade foreign visitors to take a ride. One way to avoid the attention of caleche drivers when walking around the city is to walk in the direction of oncoming traffic, as drivers are less likely to stop.
Tourist touts also tend to hang around outside of Luxor International Airport hoping to get some business from arriving visitors. Travelers are advised to keep a firm grip on luggage when leaving the airport, as some touts may try to carry it to a taxi for you and then demand a fee for having done so. Firmly but politely declining is the best way to deal with the touts in Luxor.
To check whether other locations in Egypt are safe to visit for tourists, please check our online Egpyt travel advisory.
Visa Requirements for Luxor
It is important that travelers to Luxor read Egypt’s visa requirements and see if they require a visa for Egypt before planning to visit the country. There are only a few nationalities, including citizens of all Gulf Cooperation Council countries, who are exempt from obtaining a visa to Luxor. All other foreign citizens are required to obtain a travel eVisa to enter Egypt and travel to the city.
A number of foreign passport holders are able to obtain an Egypt eVisa to travel to Luxor for purposes of tourism, through a simple online application form which only takes a few minutes to complete. The online tourist visa for Luxor is available as either a single-entry visa which allows a consecutive stay of 30 days, or as a multiple-entry visa which allows a total stay of 30 days across a 180-day period of validity.
It is also possible to obtain a Luxor visa on arrival for purposes of tourism when entering Egypt through the city’s international airport, although the online electronic application is much more efficient and eliminates the need to wait in immigration lines at the border. Applicants are simply required to present a printed copy of the eVisa alongside their passport upon arrival to gain expedited entry to Luxor.
Travel to Luxor from Cairo
Many visitors to Egypt choose to first visit the country’s capital and then make their way down the Nile River Valley to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. As a rail line follows the Nile all the way down to Luxor and beyond, a popular option is to take a train to Luxor from Cairo.
Although slower than flying, the train is comfortable and fairly cheap, especially if traveling during the day. The night train to Luxor is more expensive. Those who prefer to take a flight to Luxor can do so on one of the many frequent services from Cairo. The travel time is approximately 1 hour.
The Airport in Luxor also receives a large number of flights from European and international destinations, with around 8 million passengers passing through every year. Renovated in 2005, the airport now boasts a range of modern services, including:
- Restaurants, a cafeteria, and duty-free shops
- A post office, bank, Bureau de Change, and ATM
- A VIP Lounge
- Car rental services
- Disabled facilities
- A business center.
Luxor International Airport is located 6 kilometers east of the city. There are no public bus services from the airport, so many foreign visitors arriving in Luxor arrange a shuttle bus to take them from the airport to their hotel. If your hotel does not provide a shuttle service, the best option is to take a taxi from outside the airport terminal.
Taxis should cost no more than 60-80 Egyptian Pounds (US $3.50-5). There is often a large number of touts waiting to offer taxi rides to arriving passengers, but it is best to directly approach a driver waiting in a taxi and then negotiate the price.