Once known as the ancient city of Thebes, Luxor has become one of the most sought-after destinations for the culturally inclined. The city of Thebes was the capital of Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdoms, and its political influence was felt across the nation for hundreds of years.
The Pharaohs eventually moved north, but the city of Luxor has remained the cradle of most of the cultural, religious and artistic achievements of Ancient Egypt. For adventurous holidaymakers looking to embrace Egypt’s past wholeheartedly on a Nile river cruise, we’ve put together our top five suggestions for things to do in Luxor.
Go and see the temples
There are six major temples in the area, including the famed Luxor and Karnak temples. Karnak is the second-largest ancient city site in the world after Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat. It is made up of four main complexes, the most striking of which is a structure built for the Egyptian God Amon, the patron deity of Thebes. In contrast, Luxor has had sections added to it over the years making it a diverse building with various influences. Alexander the Great is said to have contributed to the temple and even the ancient Romans left their mark, since Luxor served as a centre for the local Roman governors once Egypt lost independent rule.
Visit the Valley of the Kings
On a par with the iconic Pyramids of Giza, Egypt’s Valley of the Kings was designed for the burial of the nation’s distinguished figures. Pharaohs, priests, dignitaries and queens (in the adjoining Valley of the Queens) were buried and preserved in the most elaborate ways. Indeed, it is here that the tomb of Tutankhamun was found, and it soon became the most renowned discovery of the era when it was uncovered in 1922 by British explorers Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter. Experience the peaceful atmosphere of the unusual landscapes here as you explore Luxor.
Have tea at the Winter Palace Hotel
Watch traditional felucca sailboats languorously make their way down the Nile, or see fisherman haul in their daily load of fish from the banks as you stop for refreshments inside the Winter Palace Hotel. Built in 1905, this building has firm colonial roots and housed Lord Carnarvon during his excavation trips. Indeed, the hotel played host to the international press corps after the aforementioned Tutankhamun discovery. Feel like you too are a part of this exciting period of history by heading to the Nile Terrace Bar that overlooks the West Bank, or relax in the Victorian Lounge bar frequented by King Farouk, the last King of Egypt.
Explore the Luxor Museum
This museum has a varied and fascinating collection that preserves items recovered from the nearby burial grounds. Discover mummified pharaohs Ahmose I and Ramesses I, as well as the treasures and remains of the boy-king Tutankhamun in this comprehensive and detailed collection. Though smaller than the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, the Luxor Museum houses one of the best antiquity collections in the world, purposefully kept small to highlight its greatest treasures. For anyone who wants to see the inner workings of ancient Egyptian culture, visiting the museum is a must.
Sample the local flavours
A hearty mixture between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, Egyptian food will please just about everyone with its variety and flavours. Egypt has a huge shoreline, which brings with it fresh fish for seafood lovers. Stews and rice dishes dominate in the winter, but in the summer, dips, vegetable dishes, fruit and fish will be the biggest part of your diet in the heat. If you have a sweet tooth, get ready to put it to the test, as Egyptians love their sweets too! Fine dining can easily be found for those looking to dress up for a formal meal in the evenings.
Egypt tops a lot of bucket lists, and it’s easy to see why; you can delve into the very heart of ancient and documented human history in a country that is renowned for its hospitality, its sunshine and its culture. So, what are you waiting for? Look at our selection of cruises, which include those to the Nile, and you will soon be floating amid the fishing vessels and fascinating historic sights.