The Karnak Temple Complex is the most popular attraction in Luxor. Karnak is a house of the Gods and over 30 pharaohs contributed to its construction meaning it held great religious significance. The complex is filled with columns, obelisks, pylons and chapels.
Sphinx Avenue, Sacred Lake, Temple of Ptah and Temple of Ramses II are some of the structures you will come to see within Karnak. The 1997 James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, was filmed right here amongst the columns of Karnak also known as the Great Hypostyle Hall.
In 1468 BC, Queen Hatshepsut built 6 chapels dedicated to Amun-Ra (chief of the Egyptian gods) in between Karnak and Luxor Temple. Then in 370 BC, Hatshepsut’s temples were destroyed to construct the Avenue of Sphinxes.
1,350 sphinxes pave the road from Karnak to Luxor Temple which is 2,700 metres long and 76 metres wide. The road was used for an annual ancient Egyptian festival, The Feast of Opet. The festival reenacts the marriage Amun (god of the sun & air) and Mut (mother goddess).
In 30 BC the Avenue of Sphinxes was then renovated by Queen Cleopatra. In more recent times, residential housing was built on the avenue but the Egyptian Government has now re-located the residents and they are currently in the process of excavating the 1,350 sphinxes in the hope to never lose them again.
The day our tour group visited Karnak it was a scorching day with no cool breeze to relieve the heat. It was around 35-40°C accompanied with clear blue skies. Once inside the Complex, we found shade amongst the Hypostyle Hall as our Intrepid Travel tour guide briefed us on everything Karnak.
We were given 2 hours to explore Karnak and shade was limited. Most of our tour group quickly wondered through main parts and retreated to a large outdoor cafe to a cold beverage along the Avenue of Sphinxes. Nicole and I explored almost every inch of the Karnak Temple Complex and battled on through the heat until it was time to meet our group.
Luxor is 504km/313miles from Cairo. A 1 hour EgyptAir flight away for around 138USD / 110GBP / 189CAD / 203AUD*.
GoBus travels from Cairo to Luxor via Hurghada, a top holiday destination in Egypt. The first leg of the journey to Hurghada takes 6 hours, costing 255EGP / 16USD. The second part to Luxor takes 4 hours for the small price of 135EGP / 8USD.
There’s always the option of the Watania Sleeper Train which I spoke about in the ‘Abundance of Attractions in Aswan’ post. The Sleeper Train travels from Cairo to Luxor or from Aswan/Edfu to Luxor.
Sofitel Pavillion Winter Luxor – 9.1 rating (Booking.com) – From the centre of Luxor, this hotel overlooks the Nile and is a 100m walk from Luxor Temple. Offering 3 restaurants, 2 bars, live music, enormous outdoor pool and airport shuttle, making it a luxurious place to stay.
New Memnon Hotel – 9.7 rating (Booking.com) – Located on the West side of the Nile giving the best possible access to Hatshepsut’s Temple, Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens which is a 10-minute drive away. This hotel will immerse you into the Egyptian way of life with its structure and decor. It offers a rooftop coffee bar and restaurant with stunning views overlooking the crops, the dusty mountains and the early morning hot air balloon adventures.
Karnak Temple (50EGP / 3USD / 2.50GBP / 4.50AUD / 4.20CAD)
Luxor Temple (40EGP) Unlike all other temples, this one was built in dedication to the rejuvenation of kinship. Pharaoh Amenhotep III began construction, followed by Tutankhamen, Horemheb and lastly Ramses II.
Luxor Museum (120EGP / 7.50USD and an extra 50EGP / 3 USD for a photography permit) The bare-bandaged mummies of Ramses I and Ahmose I can be found here.
Sound & Light Show (162EGP / 10USD) Karnak & Luxor Temple will light up the night sky and their history will be spoken to you in great detail. A show is presented in English each night. I always say if you’re travelling Egypt without a guide these shows are a must.
Ramesseum (25EGP) The mortuary temple for Ramses II. 18-metre tall statues of the pharaoh once stood here but have since fallen. It contains a hypostyle hall, courtyards and many special rooms and halls.
Valley of the Queens (25EGP for the entrance fee and access to the tombs of Titi, Amunherkhepshef and Khaemwaset). 80 tombs have been found here. Open from 6 AM-5 PM. The tomb of Nefertari is closed to the public due to high C02 and moisture levels which was gradually ruining the artwork. It’s important to know that each day different tombs may be open or closed to help preserve them.
The Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple and the Colossi of Memnon will be talked about in much-needed detail in my next post.
Al-Sahaby Lane Restaurant – An easy-going restaurant that offers traditional and international options. The terrace gives you gorgeous views of the city and its temples.
Sofra Restaurant & Cafe – The fine dining restaurant with Egyptian cuisines on offer.
Koshary Alzaeem – The place to find Egypt’s national dish. Koshary is a combination of rice, chickpeas, pasta, lentils, onion, tomato, garlic and tomato sauce.
Pizza Roma.It – The best Italian restaurant in Luxor.
The Lantern Room Restaurant – The place for comfort food – especially for the Brits!
Wenkie’s German Ice Cream & Iced Coffee Parlour – A well-known place for desserts in Luxor.
*Based on currency rates at the time of being published.