Luxor, once an Ancient Egyptian capital, is known today as the world’s greatest open-air museum. From the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings and the magnificent sunset views at the majestic temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor to the exciting and fun Nile boat trips, Luxor is the perfect choice for culture vultures.
The lifeblood of the ancient Egyptian civilization, the mighty Nile River cuts Luxor in half, and much of your time in Luxor will be spent not far from its banks. The urbanized East Bank is home to most of Luxor’s tourist infrastructure and temples, including the Karnak and Luxor Temples, many hotels, ranging from spartan chic to refined elegance, and transport infrastructure including the train station and airport. The city centre area on the East Bank is fairly compact, and much can be explored on foot. A range of transport options, from ferries, feluccas and boat taxis, to bikes, taxis and horse carriages, make accessing the more distant sights simple.
Across the river on the West Bank sometimes referred to as the Theban Necropolis, and long used as a burial ground for ancient Luxor’s rulers is situated the Valleys of the Kings, Queens and Nobles. Less urbanized than the East Bank, the West Bank’s idyllic countryside gives travellers a glimpse of how Luxor appeared in days gone by. While most hotels are located across the river, the West Bank offers some delightful hotel options, particularly for those looking for more of a rural or off the beaten-track option. A regular passenger ferry connects the two banks.
Luxor’s souks (markets) offer all sorts of souvenirs, clothing and jewellery, some of it kitsch, some fine and uniquely crafted. The Valleys of the Kings and Queens are dotted with alabaster workshops, where this translucent local stone is handcrafted into vases, bowls and statues. The mud-brick buildings are covered with brightly coloured paintings showing scenes of ancient and modern Egyptian life. The Nile Corniche also offers colourful shops and mini-bazaars and the stairs at various intervals along the Corniche lead to the lower, river-side level, where you will find more shops, restaurants and cafés in a pleasant pedestrian-only environment.
An experience you will never forget is a hot air balloon flight over Luxor’s treasures at dawn… or, for an equally leisurely journey, choose a felucca (Nile sailboat) and meander along the Nile’s lush, still untouched banks, powered only by wind and currents.
Visit http://en.egypt.travel/ for information on things to do and see during your stay in Luxor.